Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Home / Profile / James LeBeau:
Event manager and Frontier Field director

James LeBeau:
Event manager and Frontier Field director

James LeBeau, director of Frontier Field, riffles through his desk, opening and closing drawers.
He is looking for a copy of his resume, a search for which he several times has interrupted a 1/ -hour, high-energy monologue in which he has spun a convincing picture of an entertainment mecca rising in downtown Rochester.
“I’m not a detail man,” he explains, dismissing the resume quest with a not-to-worry shrug.
The confession, associates say, could be described as a gross understatement. Those who know him best say LeBeau is not merely careless of details, but heedless of them as well.
LeBeau, 43, is a former Eastman Kodak Co. corporate real estate official, onetime manager of the Pioneer Development Co.’s Canal Ponds Business Park and a part-time concert and events promoter. In the past year or so he has emerged as a sort of Harold Hill to Rochester’s River City, a man with a plan for a forgotten corner of downtown.
Admirers describe LeBeau as a visionary whose apparent inability to cope with small-picture details such as the exact location of his own resume is more than compensated for by his grasp of the big picture.
“Jim is a macro person. He doesn’t get down to minutiae. Don’t expect him to spell out the nuts and bolts, but he’ll darn well have the organization in place that will,” says John Englert, a Kodak corporate real estate official who worked with LeBeau for roughly a decade.
Indeed, a faxed copy of LeBeau’s resume was waiting at the Rochester Business Journal office following the interview for this profile.
Nevertheless, some detractors fear, LeBeau could be leading Rochester economic development officials down a garden path.
His downtown promoter role is only partially a function of the stadium directorship. LeBeau holds the stadium position under a contract with the Greater Rochester Outdoor Facilities Corp., a non-profit firm created by the Monroe County Industrial Development Agency to oversee Frontier Field.
The contract gives LeBeau’s for-profit promotions company, Beau Productions Inc., a one-year shot at managing the stadium.
As stadium director, LeBeau’s immediate task is to oversee construction and to make sure some 30 luxury sky-box suites find tenants. Later, he is supposed to line up a schedule of concerts and other events to fill spots amid Rochester Red Wings and soccer games.
At the same time, LeBeau has been a spark plug in the city’s efforts to develop a High Falls entertainment district.
The two sites sit nearly adjacent, with the stadium at Platt Street and Plymouth Avenue a block away from the High Falls-Brown’s Race area.
Jeffrey Carlson, Rochester deputy mayor, says in all likelihood he will recommend that High Falls management also be contracted to Beau Productions, making LeBeau a sort of Rochester entertainment czar.
During the 1980s, Rochester pumped $25 million into High Falls to create an urban cultural park from what had been a back-alley collection of decaying warehouses and factories overlooking the downtown waterfall that powered much of Rochester’s early industry.
High Falls now sports a museum, banquet facility and parking garage. The city plans to relocate its Festival Tent to a building called the Trolley Barn at High Falls.
But the cultural park, which was expected to spur private investment, so far has cost Rochester $1 million a year in upkeep.
The entertainment district is supposed to attract a mix of clubs and restaurants, which, coupled with city-sponsored special events, will turn the area into a moneymaker or at least less of a loser.
To Carlson, LeBeau is a “rainmaker” with the entertainment connections and the real estate know-how to pull it off.
Carlson says he and LeBeau first met when LeBeau attended High Falls Committee meetings as a stadium representative 18 months ago. Last year, LeBeau served as a liaison in stillborn negotiations to have Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly put a restaurant at High Falls.
LeBeau says Kelly decided the area lacked focus.
But Carlson says he liked what he saw of LeBeau.
Likewise confident in LeBeau is Rochester Downtown Development Corp. executive director Robert Lee, who arranged for LeBeau to keynote RDDC’s annual meeting with a High Falls presentation that for the most part wowed an audience of the city’s business and political elite.
Among a less-impressed minority were two at-large Democratic members of the City Council: Brian Curran and Michael Fernandez. Both remain skeptical, sensing a triumph of style over substance in LeBeau’s presentation.
Several times the pair have counseled caution, expressing fears that LeBeau will beguile the city into propping up restaurateurs and club owners with subsidies while High Falls continues to fizzle.
“It was a great sales presentation, but I didn’t see anything else there,” Curran said after the RDDC event.
Curran and Fernandez were sole dissenters last month when the council voted 7-2 to authorize a $68,000 High Falls marketing study.
Such doubts notwithstanding, LeBeau says, he and Jeffrey Springut, proprietor of the Creek in Henrietta, have lined up Rochester and out-of-town investors ready to move into High Falls when the time is right.
“The dollars are there,” Carlson says. “Jimmy’s got the contacts. He gets things done.”
Completion of the marketing study, some determination of the fire-wracked Gorsline Building’s fate and relocation of the Festival Tent to High Falls are the only details to be worked out before the investors LeBeau has on the string move in, he believes.
Curran’s and Fernandez’s scruples are understandable, Englert says. Watching LeBeau in action can be like watching a high-wire act.
LeBeau’s wife, Susan, concurs.
“He drives me nuts,” she says. “It’s not just that he doesn’t sweat the small stuff. I sometimes wonder how he sleeps at night.”
Her husband of 13 years “doesn’t see limits like normal people,” she adds. “He can be up to his eyebrows in events, and it doesn’t bother him. But he’s very lucky. Somehow he always lands on his feet, and I’ve learned to trust that.”
The couple–parents of a son, 11, and a daughter, 13–met while both worked at Kodak. They are partners in Beau Productions, launched in 1982.
The promotion firm’s major credit is the Lilac Festival, which it has run for several years, bringing the Highland Park event out of the red to a small profit in three seasons. It also has produced several rodeos and country-music concerts, bringing stars such as Johnny Paycheck to Rochester.
The business began as a hobby, LeBeau says, “a fun way to make money.”
The couple produced their first event after Susan LeBeau, who then worked in Kodak’s human resources department, volunteered for the Rochester Downtown Promotions Council as a Kodak representative.
One of Beau Productions’ early events –a party to promote a much-hyped renovation of the Powers Building by a supposed developer named Thomas Termotto –turned into one of Rochester’s most memorable scandals.
The 1986 party in the Powers Building penthouse gallery was intended to be one of the greatest galas the city had ever seen. But days after Termotto had persuaded virtually every big-name artist in Rochester to lend works to serve as backdrops for the event, he fled to Europe amid allegations he had double-dipped bank accounts and fleeced investors.
Termotto eventually returned to face a prison term.
Beau Productions, meanwhile, possibly alone among those who dealt with Termotto, got paid.
The fiasco was an example of her husband’s uncanny ability to walk blindfolded off a cliff and come up unhurt, Susan LeBeau says.
Indeed, she adds, LeBeau’s decisions to quit a secure Kodak job and jump to Pioneer in 1992 and his subsequent move from Pioneer to the stadium job in July both were calculated leaps of faith.
LeBeau had worked at Kodak 13 years, when he left for Pioneer. He was a star of the corporate real estate department, which he helped found, Englert recalls.
A Rochester native, LeBeau graduated from Cardinal Mooney High School in 1970.
Under prodding from his father, a former vice president of Farash Construction Co., he studied civil engineering at the Indiana Institute of Technology in Fort Wayne, earning a bachelor’s degree in 1974.
Although he now resembles a slimmer version of “Cheers” star George Wendt, LeBeau was a high school athlete and attended the school on a partial soccer scholarship.
After graduation, LeBeau worked briefly for a Boston engineering firm, but again at his father’s urging applied to Kodak.
He started in Kodak’s property development department in 1974. By 1984, he had progressed to international project manager, and for most of that year oversaw construction projects in South America, Africa and the Middle East.
From that job, he moved to construction oversight jobs in Rochester, and became a department manager in Kodak’s construction division in 1986.
A year later, LeBeau helped set up the firm’s corporate real estate division, creating a property management department.
While working at Kodak, he also attended the University of Rochester’s William E. Simon Graduate School of Business Administration, earning an MBA in 1981.
LeBeau describes his jump to Pioneer in 1992 as a logical extension of his Kodak career. It was time to make a change, he says.
In fact, LeBeau’s primary responsibility at Pioneer was development of the Canal Ponds Business Park, a 305-acre joint venture with Kodak.
Ironically, it was through Canal Ponds, which was briefly touted as a stadium site, that LeBeau made his first connection with Frontier Field.
The decision to leave Pioneer in July came after the firm asked him to relocate to Syracuse, where it is headquartered, so he could focus on national accounts, he says.
The Syracuse job would have meant more money–in fact, “a lot more,” says Susan LeBeau wistfully. But the couple decided they preferred to take their chances here.
And while LeBeau’s ultimate success in his new incarnation might seem iffy, she believes he will land on his feet once again.
Englert concurs.
To the uninitiated, LeBeau can appear to be hopelessly disorganized, he says. But part of LeBeau’s genius is a talent for lining up the talent that can carry his ideas through.
Indeed, Susan LeBeau says, her husband has put together such an organization at Beau Productions, assembling a core staff that will let him keep his head in the clouds and their feet on the ground.
Says Englert: “Jim will deliver. I know it. I’ve seen him deliver.”

x

Check Also

Cybersecurity advice: keep current on employee training, changes in laws (access required)

Cybersecurity should be a top priority for any business, regardless of its size or industry, according to one legal expert.“You ...

Downtown development focused on street level experience, catalytic projects (access required)

Despite continued improvement and ample development in Rochester in recent years, the city still lacks the energetic nightlife and retail ...

Before raising prices, consider these strategies for combatting inflation (access required)

Soaring gas prices. Higher cost of goods. Rising rates for services. Inflation has an impact on every business across every ...

The Bonadio Group (access required)

The Bonadio Group announces the addition of Christopher Wagner as assistant accountant to their staff, as well as the promotions ...

Preventing employee burnout and supporting mental health in the workplace (access required)

Among the mental health concerns that were exacerbated by COVID-19, one that impacts employers of all types and sizes shows ...

Flexibility in the workplace isn’t a free-for-all (access required)

Over the past few years, we’ve all expanded our policies and evolved our cultures to accommodate flexible work arrangements. That’s ...

Mindless scrolling through social media can wear on mental health (access required)

Kathryn DeVinney reaches for her phone to check the weather before going outside.“Five minutes later, I haven’t checked the weather, ...

Converting Proactive Thought to Proactive Action (access required)

Writing this column is surprisingly similar to posting on social media, which is not something I anticipated when I started ...

Don’t forget the golden rule in times like these (access required)

Well, it’s official – we’re now in a bear market!  Stocks, as measured by the S&P 500 Index (a proxy ...

State, city of Rochester strive for social and economic equity in cannabis industry (access required)

When state lawmakers approved the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) in March 2021, one of the key provisions in ...

N.Y. initiatives provide momentum for adult-use cannabusiness to move forward (access required)

From propagating plants to educating about equity opportunities, this summer will be anything but a time for rest for those ...

Thoughts about the recent market turmoil (access required)

Investors are currently experiencing one of the worst stock markets in years and one of the worst bond markets in ...

Cannabis ventures face getting enough startup money so entrepreneurs can reap benefits (access required)

Talk about the potential value of the legal cannabis market in New York and you’re talking big money — very ...

Seen 6/3/2022 (access required)

Seen Embrace Your Sisters  May 1, 2022 - Embrace Your Sisters raised $50,000 at their 15th annual Tea at Two ...

Bountiful careers are like well-tended gardens: we reap what we sow (access required)

I was working in a vegetable garden last week and got to thinking about how growing vegetables is akin to ...

Treat your employees more like your valued customers (access required)

"My boss goes to great lengths to recognize our longtime customers even to the point of sending gifts for special ...

Best hedge against inflation is keeping emotions at bay, trusting your plan (access required)

You have to go back to the mid-1970s to early 1980s to find inflation rates near where they have been ...

Former pro baseball player is still in a league of her own

These days, Maybelle Blair clocks her pitches in years rather than miles per hour. So, when the former All-American Girls ...

Tips for planning a business succession  (access required)

Planning for retirement and creating a contingency plan in the event of an unexpected exit from the workforce are critical ...

Succession plans critical for survival of family-owned businesses (access required)

While family-owned businesses are commonplace in the United States, those that are multigenerational remain rare gems. According to Cornell University’s ...

Is your strategic plan both strategic and a plan? (access required)

There is a lot of discussion about strategic planning in not-for-profit circles lately. Evidently, moving through a global pandemic and ...

What’s so great about the 2022 Great Places to Work? (access required)

It’s my favorite time of year: Great Place to Work just announced the 25th Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work ...

Loyalty programs – what you should know about compliance with the CPPA (access required)

From the straightforward “buy 9 smoothies, get 1 free,” to sophisticated frequent flyer programs, loyalty programs are a staple in ...

Are cover letters really necessary? Hiring professionals have differing opinions (access required)

“I’m a hiring manager at a local company looking to fill several positions. I’ve noticed that about two-thirds of our ...

Investment acumen or inside information? (access required)

If you had known, in early 2020, that you might be working from home during a multi-year, global pandemic, would ...

Opining on Dick Vitale’s courage, more Bills nicknames, stadium names

By the time he finished delivering a motivational speech that would have made Knute Rockne proud, Dick Vitale looked like ...

The importance of female mentorship, leadership, and innovation in banking (access required)

In my 10 years at Tompkins and 35 cumulative years in the banking field, I’ve witnessed the industry undergo several ...

Highland Hospital Gala (access required)

This year’s casino-themed Highland Hospital Gala raised its second highest amount ever, with more than $650,000 gross net income thanks ...

Inflation: How did we get here and what can be done about it? (access required)

If you’re in your 50s - o.k. early 50s - you probably remember a time when a gallon of gas ...

Reflections on pediatrics, the pandemic, and the Golden Circle (access required)

Imagine this: Your business has been open for only five months and is doing really well. Revenue is higher than ...

Will 2022 be the year of the vacation home? (access required)

With some COVID-19 restrictions relaxing and others already lifted, the smell of tourism is in the air. Demand for leisure ...

Transition services valuable for aging population (access required)

What do you need to stay safe in your family home, even if your home is getting to be too ...

Elder transition planning: Family mediation for older adults & their loved ones (access required)

The journey of aging is rarely a smooth one. As older adults and their families face emotional, financial and health ...

Senior living communities consider how to be more diverse, inclusive, accessible (access required)

The nation’s senior population is the largest and most diverse in history, according to the most recent census data from ...

Why is inflation so scary for my retirement plan? (access required)

Over the past decade, investors experienced a best-case scenario of relatively low inflation and strong investment returns from both stocks ...

A thoroughbred racehorse whose impact was not lost on us

It seemed like a good deal at the time – a rattletrap Ford van with more than 100,000 miles on ...

Ensuring your financial plan can withstand negative conditions  (access required)

Financial plans differ based on individuals’ incomes, future goals, age and tolerance for risk, but often unconsidered in those plans ...

Boomerang employees: tips on how to welcome team members home (access required)

Every manager at every level has experienced it — that awful feeling in the pit of your stomach when one ...

Spring cleaning: Considering program sustainability (access required)

There has never been a better time to consider the sustainability of your program activities and take action to address ...

Financial advisors can guide through tough times (access required)

With the country facing rising inflation and interest rates, as well as the lingering COVID-19 pandemic and the war in ...

Are you discriminating against employees with caregiving responsibilities? (access required)

As the world enters year three of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) has issued a warning ...

Rochester accelerates its pace to become top tech hub in America (access required)

Rochester is on its way to becoming a national hub for technology innovation. Experts predict that it has the highest ...

A simple game for investors: How would you play? (access required)

Some years ago, financial author and advisor, Bill Schultheis, devised a simple game to illustrate the difficulty faced by investors ...

You need to improve your technology, but where do you start? (access required)

Technology is advancing at warp speed and certainly some innovations could benefit you and your company, but it’s easy to ...

Innovation advancements on display as Rochester continues to grow its technology ecosystem (access required)

From LIDROTEC, a company with patent-pending wafer dicing laser machines for the semiconductor industry to Stratio, which provides artificial intelligence ...

Milo the Dog has had a golden impact on Red Wings baseball, community

They had trained together five days a week for nearly six months in the backyard solitude of Josh Snyder’s rural ...

M&A middle-market activity: What businesses need to know (access required)

 Understanding the ins and outs, trends and activities going on in M&A markets can help businesses make informed decisions including ...

5 things to consider before deciding to work for yourself (access required)

When people ask me what I do, now that I’m out of television, I simply say, “I have my own ...

M&A lawyers keep busy despite pandemic barriers (access required)

2021 was a record-breaking year globally and nationally for mergers (combining two separate businesses into one new legal entity) and ...

Ending violent crime requires building trust between police, community (access required)

Rochester has recently been the recipient of many state, federal and private investments that create a true path for transformational ...

Former UR assistant Jay Wright continues working his hoops magic

Mike Neer likes to joke that he doesn’t get enough credit for helping Jay Wright become the best-dressed coach in ...

Four ways to prepare your business for the future of digital payments (access required)

Digital transformation continues to sweep the country — especially as more companies and their customers embrace digital payment technologies.Here are ...

Managing Our Manufacturing Plants in 2022 (access required)

There have been dramatic shifts in both the needs and the realities of manufacturing the United States over the past ...

“Rounding Errors” Can Add Up Quickly (access required)

It’s time to talk about time. For many employees, their lunch break is a time when they can step away ...

Just In Time production method becoming obsolete with supply chain issues (access required)

Just In Time (JIT) is a production method pioneered in the 1930s by Toyota Motor Corporation as a means to ...

Rochester firms embrace 3D printing for multiple purposes (access required)

Firms are using 3D printing to create unique tools, parts and other objects right here in Rochester, allowing for new ...

From mentee to mentor: the benefits mentorship provides for women in business (access required)

March marks Women’s History Month. It is a time to honor the strong, brave women who have broken down barriers, ...

Working across the ages: multigenerational teams offer multiple benefits (access required)

Quick: How long is the average career? If you guessed 40 years, you would’ve been right a few years ago. ...

Energy, dedication drive entrepreneurs at any age (access required)

Younger women who grew up with technology and worked in the gig economy may be more comfortable with the pace ...

Opining on Brandon Beane, SU hoops, a poor investment, baseball’s return

If you pressed me to rank the most indispensable Buffalo Bills of this glorious era, I’d go with quarterback Josh ...

Topics that don’t focus on COVID-19 for nonprofit leaders (access required)

For obvious reasons, COVID-19-19 and the many elements of disruption it has caused continue to dominate conversation at organizations of ...

March worldwide water, climate events are close to home (access required)

March marks two worldwide awareness events for the environment: World Water Day and Earth Hour. In Rochester, New York, these ...

Revisiting Art Schlichter’s sad tale of gambling addiction

Monday’s seismic news that Atlanta Falcons star receiver Calvin Ridley had been suspended for the 2022 season for betting on ...

Mentoring is an art passed from one generation to the next (access required)

Ahhh, what to say about the important art of mentoring? It is certainly an art and, in preparation for this ...

Protect intellectual property from the start (access required)

When it comes to intellectual property (IP), the old English idiom “penny wise and pound foolish” never goes out of ...

A loving team helped Chris Lillis ascend to Winter Olympic gold

Bernie Lillis points with pride to a framed photograph on the mantelpiece above the fireplace of his Fairport home. There ...

Three takeaways from Super Bowl ads to apply to marketing (access required)

Super Bowl ads deliver on a few recurring themes every year, and this year was no different. Whether it’s nostalgia ...

I Bonds: A rare bright spot for the income investor (access required)

Investors have a natural affinity for income-producing investments. A steady stream of investment income is comforting even if it is ...

What AG report on ‘credential stuffing’ hacks mean for your business (access required)

In January, New York Attorney General Letitia James released a report summarizing the findings of a broad investigation into so-called ...

Data privacy and security concerns with rise of online betting, gaming (access required)

As of January 8, 2022, New York State joined the ranks of more than a dozen states that have legalized ...

Potential headwinds are coming — what this means for your business (access required)

An abundance of liquidity and market exuberance in the world’s recovery from COVID-19 have made this a promising time for ...

Rochester’s Roland Williams hoping his Rams do it again

Eric Weddle is one of those feel-good stories that Rochester tight-end-turned-broadcaster Roland Williams has followed closely in recent weeks. Late ...

Default predicted for ‘troubled’ Eastview mall loan (access required)

The $210 million loan against Eastview Mall, labeled in February as "troubled" by Moody's Investor Service, has been transferred to ...

Urban League awarded $2 million for job-training programs (access required)

The Urban League of Rochester has been awarded a $2 million Growth Opportunities grant from the U.S. Department of Labor ...

Sutter will become president and CEO of LandPro Equipment (access required)

Thomas Sutter of Pittsford has been named president and chief executive officer of LandPro Equipment, a John Deere dealer with ...