Sarah Miskew was watching the Super Bowl halftime show, which featured Bruno Mars, and just grinned.
"Here I am, sitting at home watching the Super Bowl, and Bruno Mars is performing," said Miskew, the director of marketing at the Independence Events Center, "and he was just performing at the Events Center a couple of years ago.
"After I saw him here in Independence, if someone would have asked me if he would have been performing at the Super Bowl within five years, I would have said yes. He was that good. There was just something about his show that was fun and unique.
"And the way he treated his meet-and-greet guests was special. They were giddy, and you could tell he was enjoying every minute of it. It just amazes me the talented people we have had at the Events Center and how this venue has become such an important part of Independence."
While she refuses to take any credit for the Event Center’s success, Miskew is the behind-the-scene force that helps mesh hockey, soccer, concerts, high school and collegiate events and big-time public figures into the framework of the center.
"If you want to talk about concerts at the Events Center, we’ve already had some special moments," said Miskew, a Kansas City native who graduated with a degree in communications from the University of Miami.
"B.B. King is the nicest person I have ever met in my life," Miskew said, sporting that smile that lights up a room. "At the end of the night, our general manager met with him to settle up on his appearance and he invited him and about 15 other people on his bus.
"He was telling stories and having as much fun as all the guests. And you’re talking about a legend - he’s 88 and had just performed for 90 minutes to a capacity crowds and he had more energy than all of us. Those are the moments you never forget."
The first band to appear in the Events Center was the Zac Brown Band.
"They went from our venue to Arrowhead," Miskew said, with a touch of pride in her voice. "They took off like a rocket. And we had Miranda Lambert here right after she won Country Music Association’s Female Vocalist of the Year and believe it or not, Eric Church opened for Miranda. We’ve been incredibly lucky to work with some amazing promoters that have brought us artists on the cusp of becoming true giants in the music industry. We just want to keep getting bigger and better."
With Miskew behind the scenes, it’s a given that the Events Center’s future is as glittering as the musicians who have performed on its stage.
And don’t forget about the two main tenants - the Missouri Mavericks, who have been named the CHL Franchise of the Year the past three years - and the Missouri Comets, who like the Mavericks, have reached postseason play each year they have been in existence.
The Comets reached the MISL championship series last year, where they fell to the Baltimore Blast, while the Mavericks have reached the seventh game of the CHL semifinals the past two seasons only to lose to the eventual league champions.
"We have two great tenants in the Mavericks and the Comets," Miskew said. "We share offices with the Mavericks (while the Comets have offices in Overland Park, Kan.) and they are both amazing to work with. Brent (Thiessen, team president of the Missouri Mavericks) is a genius when it comes to marketing.
"He and his staff took a grassroots approach to their team, and they were out selling the Mavericks when the Events Center was nothing more than a pile of dirt. And look what he’s accomplished. They are the Franchise of the Year the past three years, they lead the league in attendance and this community has fallen in love with the Mavericks.
"We have a great relationship with our tenants, and that’s not always the case in other facilities. For example, when Miranda Lambert’s promoter was putting together her tour schedule, they asked me if we could possibly accommodate a second show on Friday, Nov. 19. Coincidentally, the CHL schedule was finalized and ready to be announced the very next day with the Mavericks scheduled to play that very same day.
"I ran down to Brent’s office and told him the situation and he immediately gets on the phone with the league to move his dates around so we could accommodate a second show. That really impressed me. As it turned out, it was a bit of a fire drill and the routing didn’t work out, but Brent and the Mavericks were willing to go out of their way to help us make it happen."
Miskew brings a rich history of marketing to her position at the Event Center. After graduating from the University of Miami, with what she says her father called, "A degree in under-water basket weaving," she joined the staff at WTMI in Miami, a 100,000 watt monster.
"Unfortunately, it was sold to Cox Broadcasting about six months after I got there," Miskew said. "Everybody bailed, looking for new jobs, but I stuck around helping them close their books."
Through her contacts with WTMI, Miskew was asked to join PTG Theatrical, which produced Broadway shows in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach.
For four years, she worked with Broadway promoters and press agents of many touring productions including "Phantom of the Opera," "Les Miserables," "Mamma Mia!" and more but "Disney’s The Lion King" was always her favorite.
"I started in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach, which was great," Miskew said, "then I was asked to help market shows in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, which was not so great. I’d be the only one on the plane flying from Florida to Pennsylvania, then on the return trip to Florida the plane would be full."
From Florida, Miskew packed her bags and headed west to Los Angeles, which proved to be a decision she regretted.
"I was working with groups that marketed ‘The Producers,’ and I loved that musical, but hated LA," she said, shaking her head. "I was there four or five months, and then headed back home to Kansas City. To this day, I can never see myself moving any farther west than Colorado."
She immediately got a job with Clear Channel Entertainment, and marketed concerts and shows at venues like Sandstone (Verizon Wireless), Kemper Arena, City Market, Starlight Theatre, Uptown Theater and the Midland Theater.
After spending two years with Clear Channel, Miskew joined the staff of the Kansas City Convention Center, where she marketed the convention center to booking managers and meeting planners.
While working for the Convention Center, she was contacted by a former colleague who was involved with Disney Theatrical Productions. "Disney’s The Lion King" was coming to Kansas City and she was asked to help market and promote the show.
"I immediately said, ‘Yes!’" she said. "The Convention Center was interesting, but you could work on a project for years, and not know if or when it was going to become reality. I was so grateful to be back doing what I loved the most and promoting ‘Disney’s The Lion King’ in my hometown. It was incredible. The feedback was immediate and something I missed working at the convention center and that was so exciting."
As her work on ‘Disney’s The Lion King" wrapped up, Miskew got a call from a friend and former general manager at Kemper Arena.
"He told me there was going to be a new arena in Independence and wanted to know if I would be interested in applying for the director of marketing position."
That was five years ago, and the rest - as they say in the movies - is history.
"This place is my second home," Miskew said. "I actually spend more time here than I do in my own home. And I love it. We want people who come to the Events Center to feel like they are attending an event with their extended family.
"From the ticket takers, to the ushers, to everyone who works here, we try our best to make your experience the best it can possibly be. We don’t try to be downtown Kansas City or Wyandotte County - they have amazing venues and I know they are as proud of them as we are of the Events Center - but we want to create a warm, family affordable environment that is unique to Independence.
"And I am so proud to be a small part of it."