SBJ/Feb. 17-23, 2014/Facilities

Legends hires Koger for new division

Legends has strengthened its position in the sports facility development space by hiring construction management executive Dale Koger.

For the past 13 years, Koger has served as vice president and general manager of Turner Construction, one of the top three builders of arenas and stadiums in North America. Before that, he worked at Clark Construction. Now, he moves to Legends to spearhead a new division within its Global Planning group focusing on project management services for teams, colleges and municipalities. The common phrase covering those services is owner’s representative, the entity filling a critical role between the facility stakeholders’ interests and the architects and contractors.

Koger’s official title is senior vice president and managing director of Legends Project Development. His first day on the job is today and he’ll continue to be based in Northern Virginia. His initial project is the new practice headquarters for the Dallas Cowboys in Frisco, Texas, that includes a 12,000-seat indoor stadium.

“I wasn’t really looking for a job,” Koger said. “But I like a big challenge, and particularly when it’s with an organization that’s already such a player in the sports venue business, it seemed like a natural for me. Frankly, it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.”

In addition to Koger, Legends hired John Dixon and Mark Hickman, two former principals with Manhattan Construction, the company that built AT&T Stadium, the Cowboys’ home.

Driving the hires, especially of Koger, was Legends’ need to close the loop on its facility development services. They start on the ground floor with CSL International, a market research and feasibility company they acquired in 2011, and continue through their sales and marketing and hospitality groups. Putting Koger in the driver’s seat for its new project management services extends the relationships CSL develops from the feasibility side of the business and takes its expertise in that space to a higher level, Legends’ Bill Rhoda said.

Koger will report to Rhoda, who now oversees Legends Global Planning as group president covering three divisions: market feasibility (CSL), project development and analytics.

Shervin Mirhashemi, Legends’ president and chief operating officer, said the move “fills a phenomenal void that we had that quite frankly others were jumping in and controlling the process, when really we’re the ones who were going to be with that asset for a long time.”

It’s a smart move for Legends, said Michael Rowe, president and CEO of Positive Impact, a New Jersey sports consultant. By taking charge on the front end of project development, Legends can help the facility stakeholder eliminate potential design barriers for successfully marketing a building, keeping in mind its Global Sales division could later be selling those assets, Rowe said.

Most recently at Turner, Koger helped the firm win three NFL projects: the construction of Levi’s Stadium, the San Francisco 49ers’ $1.3 billion facility, plus renovations to FirstEnergy Stadium and Lincoln Financial Field. Turner also won the Sacramento Kings’ $448 million arena project.

Now, as Koger moves to the middle of the facility development process, he will represent Legends as it competes against firms such as Icon Venue Group, which he often submitted proposals to in an effort to win construction jobs. Icon, headed by founder and owner Tim Romani, is the dominant player in that space, representing stakeholders for new NFL stadium projects in Atlanta and Minnesota and NBA and NHL arenas in Sacramento and Edmonton. Hammes, PC Sports, Brailsford & Dunlavey and JMI Sports are other project managers in sports.

Koger had heard Rhoda was seeking to expand his company’s reach in facility development. They’ve known each other for 15 years, and talked a few weeks ago about the job. “Things accelerated pretty quickly from there,” Koger said.

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