The opening of the Cajundome in 1985 was not the best timing - oil prices were falling, the economy was faltering, and many oil field workers were moving to Texas. Greg Davis, business director of the facility at the time, was in the precarious position of convincing promoters to take a chance on the Lafayette market.
Davis remembers well the opening concert, featuring Kenny Rogers, bringing some 13,400 people – which is still the attendance record.
After becoming Cajundome director in 1993, he was responsible for managing the day-to-day operations, from box office sales and marketing promotions to facility operations, event management, and maintenance, involving nearly 1,000 employees.
According to a 2015 economic impact study, over 5,000 events were performed at the Cajundome by that time. Some of Davis’ personal favorites included: Luther Vandross, Whitney Houston, BB King and The Eagles.
Bringing the iconic Eagles band to what promoters consider a second-tier market was the first big feat in Davis’ 33-year career. “We were trying to recover from a depressed oil recovery at the time, so it was doubtful whether we’d sell enough [$75] tickets to break even. We booked The Eagles with the support of Shilling Distributors and Acadiana Bottling putting their own money on the line to help us break even. Within 30 minutes of the box office opening, we sold 7,000 tickets and covered our expenses. The concert was a sellout. That made believers out of promoters, agents and artists around the country,” Davis remembers.
The coup also helped Davis and assistant director Pam Deville bring ice hockey to the Cajundome, where the Louisiana IceGators were headquartered for 10 years, while building a loyal fan base.
As proud as Davis was of that feat, he will tell you his most satisfying accomplishment in his time at the Cajundome was opening its doors to provide a home, for 59 days, to the citizens who evacuated from New Orleans and Calcasieu Parish after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Davis succeeded in making the adjacent Convention Center an excellent support of income as a venue for conventions, annual meetings, UL graduations, Mardi Gras balls – and, the LAGCOE Oil show for 33 years.
Since retiring last October, he has been busier than ever traveling to Lobdell, LA each week to care for his father, while also checking in on his mother in Houma.
In what little spare time he has available these days, he remains involved in community and civic organizations as much as possible. He stresses, “Our communities need the wisdom and vision of retirees to make them better places for our children and grandchildren. Stay engaged; it’ll work your mind!”