OVG Appoints JoAnn Armstrong, Joyce Szudzik, Ruth Hill To Key Roles At Coachella Valley Arena


JoAnn Armstrong
– JoAnn Armstrong

Oak View Group, Pollstar’s parent company, has added industry veterans JoAnn Armstrong, Joyce Szudzik and Ruth Hill for key positions at the company’s Coachella Valley Arena. 

With Armstrong named vice president of programming, Szudzik vice president of marketing and Hill vice president of finance, the three will be based  in Palm Desert, Calif., reporting to the arena’s general manager, John Bolton. 
“As we continue to build a world-class arena in the Coachella Valley, we’re committed to hiring the best industry professionals to lead us forward,” Bolton said in the announcement. “I am very pleased to officially welcome each of them to our team.”
 As vice president of programming for Coachella Valley Arena, Armstrong will be responsible for strategic content programming of all concerts, family shows, and special events, as well as facilitating the AHL hockey schedules. 
 “I’m thrilled to join the inaugural OVG team for the Coachella Valley Arena under the guidance of SVP, GM John Bolton, working together to elevate the artist and fan experience for the Coachella Valley,” Armstrong stated. “This already top destination will have an amazing new home for our touring artists around the world, as well as home to the AHL team of the Seattle Kraken, among the other diverse programming planned.”
 Armstrong comes from the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., after 28 years during which she oversaw all programming for the arena bringing some of the biggest artists to the fans of Orange County as well as scheduling for the NHL home team Anaheim Ducks. 
Szudzik joins from AEG Worldwide and will oversee the planning and implementation of the arena marketing strategy including brand, ticket sales, media buying, partnership marketing, social and digital media, according to the announcement.  Additionally, she will act as a liaison and work in collaboration with OVG Los Angeles and other arena stakeholders to ensure brand alignment. 

Joyce Szudzik
– Joyce Szudzik
“The opportunity to build an Arena in a pristine market, and with Oak View Group, so rarely happens, I knew it would align with my sustainability mindset,” said Szudzik. “Coupled with the chance to work with John Bolton and with my dream to build the entire martech stack and marketing strategies from the ground up for an Arena, I knew it was the next challenge I wanted to take in my music career.”
 Szudzik started her career in PACE (Live Nation Entertainment) amphitheaters and quickly worked her way to national tour marketing at AEG Live, leading the marketing campaigns for award-winning artists including Bon Jovi, Justin Bieber, The Rolling Stones, Prince, Usher, Enrique Iglesias, Carrie Underwood, and dozens more before building the digital marketing team. Szudzik most recently led AEG’s social media listening and strategy, consumer data governance programs.
With more than 20 years of entertainment and hospitality industry experience, Hill joins OVG as vice president of finance. She will be responsible for establishing the financial infrastructure and compliance, develop budgets and monthly forecasts, assist with projecting event deals and P&L while overseeing the daily operations of all accounting and finance functions.
Hill commented, “I’m thrilled for the opportunity to work for a company as successful as Oak View Group and specifically under the proven leadership of John Bolton. The Coachella Valley Arena is going to be a game-changer for quality entertainment and a positive impact for the surrounding Palm Springs area.” Prior to joining OVG, Hill worked for NBA teams such as the Utah Jazz, Sacramento Kings, and San Antonio Spurs; the NHL’s Nashville Predators and Dallas Stars; and most recently the full-service marketing agency Mod Op. She also taught accounting at the University of San Francisco Masters Sports Program. She received a bachelor’s degree in accounting followed by an MBA from the University of Utah.
 The three appointments follow the announcement of Steve Fraser being named president of Coachella Valley Arena and its to-be-named AHL expansion team. Additional new hires include Frank Torres, formerly of the San Antonio Spurs, as director of sales and services; Samantha “Sam” Wright, formerly of Audacy (previously Entercom Communications) as Intergraded Account Manager; and Annika Heine as sales/preview center coordinator. 
 Located on 43.35 acres of land at I-10 and Cook Street, in Riverside County on land owned by the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation, the arena will be more than 300,000 square feet and feature 11,000-plus seats, and include modern suites and premium hospitality clubs, according to the announcement.  It will be the home of the Seattle Kraken’s American Hockey League (AHL) team and will include an adjoining facility that will serve as a year-round community gathering space and the training center for the AHL team. The arena is projected to open in the last quarter of 2022.