News at Mason
The shows will go on, but without Barry Geisler
December 16, 2019 / by Damian Cristodero
Barry Geisler is not one to fill his office with mementos of the big shows he has booked or photographs of the stars he has met.
That’s because for Geisler, general manager of George Mason University’s EagleBank Arena, the thrill comes when the lights go down and the roar of the crowd amps up.
“That’s still an exciting moment for me,” he said. “The energy of the audience is fabulous.”
There are not many of those moments left for Geisler, who after 34 years at EagleBank Arena, including 32 as general manager, is retiring on Dec. 31.
There are no grand plans, he said. Perhaps he and his wife, Meredith, who have two adult children, will travel. But after regularly ending his work days at midnight or later, even on weekends, Geisler, 60, said he is just looking forward to taking it easy.
“The business is tough on your time,” he said. “When you’re 30 or 35, it seems like you have an endless supply of weekends ahead of you. When you’re 60, not quite as many. I just felt this was a good time for me to transition out of here.”
Eric Cuthbertson, previously the vice president of operations for AEG China, providing best practices and logistical planning for the company’s arena operations, will take over the position.
Geisler, who is employed by Monumental Sports & Entertainment, which operates EagleBank Arena, has been part of the building since it opened on Oct. 4, 1985. He began as director of arena administration. Two years later, he was elevated to general manager, responsible for booking acts into the 10,000-seat venue, which is home to Mason’s men’s and women’s basketball teams.
Back then, he said, every show had to be approved by then university president George W. Johnson. As such there could be no professional wrestling shows or any musical acts deemed too risqué.
Those constraints were loosened by subsequent university presidents, Geisler said, and EagleBank has been host to big-name acts such as Bruce Springsteen, Prince, Gloria Estefan, Gwen Stefani, Demi Lovato, Neil Young, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and Selena Gomez.
In July, EagleBank Arena was ranked by Pollstar as the world’s 63rd busiest venue, with 163,190 tickets sold since the beginning of the year.
But it’s not all about ticket sales, Geisler said.
“The business itself has changed,” he said. “The focus on security is so much greater now after 9/11. It’s taken on a completely different dimension. It’s a key part of every discussion for every event.”
“The GM position requires juggling many priorities and pleasing many different user groups,” said Stephen Morehouse, director of Business Services and Student Centers at Mason. “Barry did an excellent job of that over his 34 years at the arena. Barry always was clear and concise in answers to questions and solutions to problems.”
Now, Geisler’s only problem will be figuring out what to do with all his free time, and how to replace the roar of the crowd.
“The plan is to take each day as it comes,” he said. “We’ll see how it goes.”