Venue Giant Finfrock Dies

Dennis Finfrock, one of the most influential figures in venue management and design, died in Las Vegas 13 years after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. He was 62.

Finfrock, a former IAAM president who is in the National Wrestling Hall of Fame and Professional Bull Riders Hall of Fame, was a nationally recognized venue consultant and former exec of box office agency Advantix.

But it was his indelible mark on Las Vegas that he is most known for. As athletic director of UNLV, he convinced the state legislature on the risky proposition of portable seating at the under-construction Thomas & Mack, which turned it from a basketball arena to a multipurpose venue.

He convinced the late Sam Boyd to contribute $1.2 million to install turf at the soon-to-be Sam Boyd Stadium, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, turning that structure, too, into a multipurpose venue.

He moved on to become special events VP for the under-construction MGM Grand Garden. There, he brought in Barbra Streisand to open the Garden – her first arena concert in 20 years – booked The Rolling Stones and signed Mike Tyson, fresh out of prison, to a $20 million, six-fight deal, solidifying the MGM as an Vegas entertainment mecca, according to the Review-Journal. He also brought in professional bull riding as an annual event.

As an independent consultant, Finfrock helped build the Olympic stadium for the 2000 Summer Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, the Bangkok Dome in Thailand and the Staples Center in Los Angeles, the paper noted.

Finfrock had some national attention as interim athletics director at UNLV. It was a job he reportedly coveted, but had to resign after just 15 months after being embroiled in the events that led to the resignation of popular UNLV basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian.