Lexie Boone got his first non-intern facility job at the brand new Colonial Life Arena in Columbia, South Carolina when the building opened in 2002. Eager to do well in his new position, Boone threw himself into his work at all hours of the day, lovingly referring to it in hindsight as his “reactive year.”
“My first day on the job was the beginning of our busy season. There wasn’t any time to build a template of how to do things, then operate within that,” Boone tells Amplify. “I spent all my 9 – 5 work-day responding to calls and emails, then my after-work hours were spent processing requests or other paperwork for however long into the night I needed to be able to start fresh again the next day. And that was on the days and nights that we didn’t have an event of some sort.”
The arena was new and there was a lack of structure for his position as Premium Sales and Services Coordinator, turning it into a sink or swim scenario for the newcomer.
“Don’t get me wrong, I knew I had the support of my superiors, but the message was clear: ‘Figure it out,'” says Boone. “That first season is a blur.”
Boone recalls around his 90th straight day without a day off, his boss called Boone into his office and demanded that Booone not show up for his next day of work.
“He said specifically, ‘I don’t know what it is you do in your spare time, but you are doing it tomorrow. I don’t want to see you or talk to you until Thursday,'” Boone says.
By year two, however, Boone was on cruise control and by year three he was looking at his future in a business he didn’t know existed growing up in Mississippi.
“I’m not just a Mississippi boy, it was a small town. I grew up in Grenada, Mississippi which is North Mississippi about two hours south of Tennessee. Very small town with salt of the Earth kind of people,” says Boone. “I didn’t know that facility management or any kind of booking or anything like that existed. Once my eyes were opened to it and I really got to see how things worked, it fascinated me and it was something that I fell in love with quite easily.”
Hailing from a small town in Mississippi, it was certainly jolting when Boone decided to accept a job offer in Philadelphia, the home of Global Spectrum headquarters.
“A Mississippi boy living in South Philly, working at the Wells Fargo Center and Spectrum as the Event Manager for the Philadelphia Flyers, and other concerts and family shows. I understand that Philly doesn’t sound like a great fit for a Mississippi boy, but I loved it! The job, the people, the food… Great memories,” says Boone.
Since then, Boone has jumped to other venues, but has been back at Colonial Life Arena for six years. He feels like a dedicated part of the team that helped build the venue up in what he refers to as the progressive and progressing city of Columbia. Returning as the senior AGM, Boone now gets to watch his employees find that first year balance like he had to at the origins of his career.
“When it is something new and people are curious and there is a thirst for the knowledge and the advancement, you can get caught up in your job and not take the time to step away and say some things can wait a day or two,” says Boone. “You learn as you get older that you can prioritize and you can take some time to yourself. It is good to have the kind of employees that have that thirst for the industry.”
Amplify caught up with the Mississippi boy to find out about five of his favorite shows.
Metallica & GNR at the Superdome in New Orleans
August 29, 1992
It was my second concert ever. I lived in North Mississippi at the time. A friend of mine drove us down to Baton Rouge, picked up another friend, then headed down to New Orleans for the show. I liked Metallica but was a huge fan of GNR. Our seats were way up in the nose bleeds. We couldn’t see them all that great, but we could sure as heck hear them! Even to this day, I think it’s the loudest show I’ve ever been to. I knew virtually every word to every song of that GNR set. Then, of course, Bourbon Street…
Widespread Panic at Bonnaroo
June 23, 2002
The festival was unlike any event I had ever been to. It was the inaugural year, yet it sold out(roughly 70K) mostly by word of mouth marketing. This was one of those weekends where everything fell in place. We barely waited in traffic, parked and camped relatively close to “Centeroo,” and ran into so many old friends that I hadn’t seen in years. I was turned on to so many great artists that weekend, but Saturday night’s Panic set was the highlight. Great energy, great setlist, and great musical guests. Dottie Peoples, Randall Bramblett, Steve Winwood and a few others. That Tallboy > Testify > Tallboy was unbelievable. Dottie Peoples took us to church!
Prince at Colonial Life Arena
April 21, 2004
I admit, I was not necessarily a Prince fan at this point. It’s not that I disliked his music, I just didn’t really know much about it apart from the hits that got airplay when I was growing up. That night changed my perception of him forever. I was working the event, but by the time he started playing I was in a place where I could sit, watch and listen. There was a point in the show where it was just him onstage, sitting and talking to the audience; telling stories and leading sing-a-longs. I remember thinking how intimate of a setting he made it feel. There were over 16K in attendance that night and felt like 1,600. Then, of course, I heard him play the guitar and watched his presence and performance onstage. I was floored. That man must have had talent oozing from his pores. Musical genius!
Paul McCartney at Colonial Life Arena
June 25, 2015
The Beatles. The best there ever was or ever will be. I am a true fanatic, so it should be no surprise this one is on my list. Whenever I’ve been asked “Who’s the #1 band you’d like to book?” I’ve always said that both from a personal perspective and as a building manager my answer is one and the same: Paul McCartney. It took some time, but finally came to fruition in 2015. The show was 3 hours of pure elation. What a writer; what an entertainer! Barrie Marshall and Jon States could not have been better to work with. The best ending to any concert ever has got to be Golden Slumbers > Carry That Weight > The End
James Taylor at Colonial Life Arena
July 29, 2015
A truly unique talent. His guitar picking, his voice. Very distinguishable and very unpredictable. I used to put on his records, grab my guitar, and act like I was playing along with him even though I had no clue how to. He came to Columbia, SC a little more than a month after the tragedy at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC, and was joined onstage by Charleston choir Lowcountry Voices. Together, they sang “Shed a Little Light” in memory of the victims and their families. A moment never to be forgotten for those in attendance.
Last night in Columbia SC, James was joined onstage by Charleston choir Lowcountry Voices. Together, they sang “Shed a Little Light” in memory of the victims of the Charleston shooting and their families. The entire audience stood in support. #CharlestonStrong(Video: Pull:Brand Stories)
Posted by James Taylor on Thursday, July 30, 2015