Leger Replaces Rodrigue as Chairman of Morial New Orleans Exhibition Hall Authority

NEW ORLEANS – From the Morial Convention Center:

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Walt Leger III (right) will follow Melvin Rodrigue as the chairman of the Ernest N. Morial New Orleans Exhibition Hall Authority.

The Ernest N. Morial New Orleans Exhibition Hall Authority (“Authority”), the governing board of the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, has announced that Melvin Rodrigue, the Authority’s longest running Chairman, is stepping down to focus on his duties as Chairman of the National Restaurant Association as they weather the COVID-19 crisis. Rodrigue will remain as a Commissioner, replacing Steve Pettus. Governor John Bel Edwards named, , a former State representative and the current general counsel for New Orleans & Company, to succeed Rodrigue as Chairman of the Authority.

In his twelve years of service as Chairman of the Authority, Rodrigue has been at the forefront of discussions and major legislation changes that have allowed for increased investment in the city’s critical infrastructure, and lead the Center through a period of extraordinary growth, spearheading a five-year $557 million comprehensive renovation and modernization plan now underway that will establish the Convention Center’s competitiveness for years to come.

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Highlights of Rodrigue’s tenure as Chairman include:

  • Adoption of a 5 year $557 million Capital Improvement Plan that will transform the building and Convention Center District.
  • Renovation of Hall A and creation of the Great Hall and new sense of arrival at Julia Street.
  • Visioning of the upriver end of Convention Center Boulevard to include a 1,200 room headquarters hotel, housing and dining, entertainment and retail establishments. Reimagining of Convention Center Boulevard and addition of the Transportation Center, along with contributions to enhancements of the traffic patterns in the downtown area.
  • Execution of a Cooperative Endeavor Agreement (CEA) with NOCHI and investment of twelve million dollars to promote workforce development within the hospitality industry in New Orleans
  • Multiple CEAs with the City to promote the hospitality industry, enhancing public safety for visitors and residents, and contributing to critical city infrastructure totaling over $84M
  • Twenty-eight million dollar capital contribution to the New Orleans Sewerage & Water Board Infrastructure Trust Fund.
  • Significant improvements in Small and Emerging Business (SEB) engagement in convention center business opportunities.

“Melvin’s visionary, and selfless commitment to the success of not only the convention center but the entire hospitality industry in New Orleans is something that stands as a national model to be admired.  Rarely has there ever been this level of performance and length of commitment by a chairman of an enterprise such as ours in this country. Not only does our company offer him its gratitude, but the entire national tourism industry that has been positively affected by his leadership.  We continue to be motivated by the pursuit of the vision that you have led us toward,” said Mike Sawaya, President and General Manager of the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.

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