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Anaheim Due to Decide on Convention Center Head

Times Staff Writer

An Orange County, Fla., city administrator will trade Disney World for Disneyland when he arrives here to become the new manager of the Anaheim Convention Center, pending final approval by the City Council today.

After a one-year nationwide search, the council is expected to appoint Lynn Thompson, 43, to the post, Anaheim Stadium Operations Manager William I. Turner said Monday.

City spokeswoman Sheri Erlewine would not confirm Thompson’s selection, saying the council is expected to make an announcement today. Although the council could reject the candidate, Turner said it would be unlikely.

“It’s rather doubtful they would. If it’s proposed by the city manager, it’s very doubtful they would turn him down,” Turner said.

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City Manager William O. Talley was in Orlando last week checking Thompson’s references. An Orlando employee since 1972, Thompson for the past six years has overseen five facilities known as “Centroplex,” including the Orlando (football) Stadium, Expo Center, Tinker (baseball) Field, Ben White Raceway and the Bob Carr Performing Arts Center.

Thompson’s previous jobs included a four-year stint as assistant to the mayor. He later became director of public facilities, in charge of parks, recreation and sanitation.

Orlando Chief Administrative Officer Lex Hester called Thompson “a true professional” and “a good man all around,” adding that “he’s done an outstanding job for us.” Hester said he could not confirm Thompson’s departure, pending final approval by the Anaheim council.

Thompson’s current Florida salary is $52,635. His new salary would be negotiated with the council.

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Thomas F. Liegler, the former Anaheim Convention Center manager, earned about $82,000 a year. He was in charge of what Anaheim officials call the “Family Foursome,” including the Convention Center, Anaheim Stadium and two city-owned golf courses.

Split Recommended

However, a study by Bob Simpson, Anaheim’s former fire chief who stepped into Liegler’s shoes last May, recommended that these responsibilities be apportioned among several managers.

“There was so much going on, so much business, it became difficult for a single administrator to handle it all,” Turner said.

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Liegler’s diverse responsibilites were one of the reasons why he announced a year ago this May that he was leaving Anaheim after 20 years. Liegler traded his Anaheim post for a job as executive vice president and general manager of the planned San Diego Convention Center.

In an interview last year, he said, “I want to wear out, not rust out.” One reason why city officials took a year to find a replacement for Liegler was that they were waiting for Simpson’s report and recommendations on splitting management responsibilities, Turner said.

“They didn’t actively solicit for a while because they wanted to decide whether to separate (the jobs),” he said.


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