Friday, November 30, 2001

Christian hopes to continue success at PTC amphitheater, tennis center


Virgil Christian admits to being a little scared about becoming the first-ever executive director for the Peachtree City Development Authority.

But he already knows practically half the job inside-out anyway: running the city's tennis center. But as executive director of the authority, Christian will also be responsible for the city's amphitheater, and the key to its future is letting the employees there be successful and take certain risks when necessary. Trust your employees' instincts, in other words, and it can lead to professional satisfaction along with success for the business, he said.

Christian has applied that concept to his management of the tennis center, and it has been a huge success, drawing praise from the tennis world far and wide as one of the best publicly-owned tennis facilities in the country.

But Christian admits that former Amphitheater Director Kristi Rapson "and the Beach Boys" are going to be hard acts for him to follow, alluding to the pressure of finding quality acts for the amphitheater's summer concert series.

"But she's got a good team there," Christian adds, including Donna Romeo, who will likely become the amphitheater's top on-site administrator. "We're going to work hard because the expectations are very high. As a team I hope we make it the finest amphitheater around."

In his new role, Christian will also be charged with economic development, and he plans to use his athletic connections to draw athletic companies to at least visit Peachtree City by having their company meetings and executive training here.

That's a good way to sell the city, he noted by bringing corporate America to the city's doorstep so they can marvel at the city's many amenities, chiefly the tennis center, amphitheater and its extensive cart path system.

Although Christian admits he doesn't know much about traditional economic development, he believes his approach with athletic companies will have a benefit.

Christian also wants to use synergy with the tennis center and amphitheater to help attract larger corporate events to Peachtree City by helping coordinate the use of both facilities for those private events.

"Corporate entertainment is big and we definitely need to do more of that," Christian said.

He also plans to get direction from the experienced members of the authority who have been working in economic development for years.

Christian is not worried about the tennis center's operations; he has already turned over full day-to-day operations to other employees including head professional Sean Ferreira, who is likely to become the next tennis center director.

Part of that has been because of the building project that will bring covered courts and a new administrative building to the tennis center, Christian said. The project was cut in cost from its original $3.1 million price tag to just over $2.5 million, and it's taking some work to keep the project's budget from cost overruns.

But Christian committed that the project will be done without significant compromises in quality; he commended the efforts of the contractors and sub-contractors on the project to help keep costs down.

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