Murdaugh to run BACVA during search for new chief

He oversaw evaluation of convention association

January 29, 2003|By June Arney | June Arney,SUN STAFF

Marshall Murdaugh, a veteran tourism strategist who oversaw the recent outside evaluation of Baltimore's convention association, is to become interim head of the operation during its search for a new leader.

Murdaugh, founder of Marshall Murdaugh Marketing in Richmond, Va., is to assume his new duties Saturday when Carroll R. Armstrong steps down as president and chief executive of the Baltimore Area Convention and Visitors Association.

Murdaugh was named in September to oversee the recently completed evaluation, which was ordered after The Sun reported in June that the $151 million expansion of the Baltimore Convention Center has not lived up to its projections. In a reversal of previous statements, BACVA's board voted not to release the evaluation's findings.

In November, sources said that the review was critical of some areas of BACVA's operation and that the board was exploring ways to replace Armstrong while providing him with a "soft landing." Armstrong is to stay on as special consultant to the chairman of the BACVA board.

"One of the things I'm going to do is serve as the glue," Murdaugh said yesterday. "I have a certain kinship already with the staff. This is a great way to maintain the continuity of the organization."

Murdaugh, who previously headed convention bureaus in New York; Atlantic City, N.J.; and Memphis, Tenn., said he expects to head BACVA for about three months, but would consider staying longer if asked. He said he was not interested in assuming the post permanently.

"Absolutely not," he said. "It's not in the picture."

Murdaugh launched his consulting firm two years ago and said he plans to pursue that work until he retires. He will continue to serve as a consultant while spending Tuesday through Thursday in Baltimore in the aftermath of BACVA's review and Armstrong's departure.

"Marshall knows the tourism industry; he knows BACVA, and he managed BACVA's recently completed review and evaluation," Clarence T. Bishop, BACVA board president, said in a statement. "That makes him the best choice during this transition period. Our goal is to make this leadership change with little disruption in business."

Murdaugh said he plans no major changes. He said he will help the board and make sure that BACVA staff have the financial and manpower resources needed. There also will be continuing internal assessments of productivity, he said.

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