Henry B Gonzales Convention Center

Director

Biography

Michael Sawaya joined the City of San Antonio as Director of Convention and Sports Facilities in November 2003. He is responsible for the operations and management of the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, Lila Cockrell Theater, The Alamodome (which includes the Illusions Theater), the Carver Cultural Center, and ground lease management for the Nelson Wolff Baseball Stadium and the Grand Hyatt Hotel with a budget of $485 million and a staff of 335 employees. Activities in these facilities include conventions, trade shows, concerts, consumer exhibit shows, national and local sporting events, and a variety of civic, religious and private social functions. More than 600 separate events occur in the facilities each year with a total attendance in excess of 2 million.

Since joining the City of San Antonio, Mr. Sawaya has led efforts to significantly improve the convention and sports facilities through a strategic and progressive capital project agenda. Convention Center capital improvements during his tenure include a $26 million renovation of the Lila Cockrell Theater in 2010, and the largest single capital project in the city’s history – the $325M expansion of the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center completed in 2016. In 2017, the Alamodome will complete a $60M renovation – the largest in its 24-year history. In 2009, Mr. Sawaya served as Interim Aviation Department Director during the $500M airport expansion program that was completed in 2010. Mr. Sawaya also represented the City in its negotiations to purchase Toyota Field, and is Chairman of the Public Facilities Corporation that was formed in partnership with Bexar County in 2015.

Mr. Sawaya has more than 40 years of experience in the visitor and hospitality industry. Before joining the City, he served as General Manager for Omni Hotels in San Antonio and Indianapolis, IN, and as General Manager of 11 other hotels around the United States. He also has served as chairman of the San Antonio Convention and Visitors Commission, president of the San Antonio Hotel and Lodging Association, and as an executive committee member of the San Antonio Area Tourism Council. Additionally, he has served on the board of directors of the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce and on the board of the San Antonio Free Trade Alliance.

Education

  • Bachelor of Business Administration, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, 1984
  • Certified Hotel Administrator

Professional Memberships and Community Involvement

  • Visit San Antonio Board of Directors, 2017
  • Valero Alamo Bowl Board of Directors, 2015 - present
  • San Antonio NCAA Local Organizing Committee – Executive Committee, 2007 - 2017
  • Leadership San Antonio, 2006-2007
  • International Association of Venue Managers, 2003-2017
  • San Antonio Hotel and Lodging Association, Board of Directors; President, 2003
  • San Antonio Convention and Visitors Commission, Chairman, 1999-2002
  • Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, Board of Directors, 2000-2003
  • San Antonio Tourism Council, Board of Directors, 2000-2017
  • United Way of San Antonio, Tourism Division Chairman, 2003; Free Trade Alliance of San Antonio, Board of Directors, 2003; Campaign Chairman – City of San Antonio, 2008-2010
  • University of Texas Health Science Center, President’s Council, 1999-2003;
  • Greater Houston Hotel/Motel Association, Board of Directors, 1995-96
  • Greenville, SC Convention and Visitors Bureau, Board Treasurer, 1992-93
  • Mississippi Hotel/Motel Association, Board of Directors, 1989
  • Jackson Hotel/Motel Association, President, 1989

Honors

  • San Antonio Hotel & Lodging Association, Manager of the Year, 2002;
  • Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, Pinnacle Award Winner, 2001;
  • Holiday Inn Worldwide, Outstanding General Manager of the Year, 1994;
  • Outstanding Young Men in America, 1992

Personal

Mr. Sawaya is married and has two children.

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