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Ed Morrell

New position: Executive director, Tampa Bay Amphitheatre, Tampa

Previous position: Market manager, music division, Clear Channel Entertainment, Cincinnati

Ed Morrell is in the middle of building his house _ his house of performance. He is the newly appointed executive director of the Tampa Bay Amphitheatre, under construction at the Florida State Fairgrounds.

The $22-million amphitheater is scheduled for completion in July, Morrell said. So, while overseeing construction, Morrell also is charged with hiring a staff and lining up performers for the second half of 2004 and thereafter.

The open-air facility, visible from Interstate 4, will have 10,000 reserved seats under a roof and space for more than another 10,000 on the lawn in front of the stage.

"We'll clearly be bringing in the best in musical entertainment," Morrell said, including the occasional Broadway and major comedy acts. But the focus will be on musical acts, the whole gamut _ from pop to rock _ "the very best of what's available," he said. "While we can do smaller, intimate types of events by only seating in the pavilion, most of our events will be larger scale productions."

The Tampa Bay Amphitheatre will not be competing with other area performance venues as much as offering a facility not otherwise available in the area, thus attracting acts and events, such as the Lollapalooza concert tour, which requires multiple stages and space for video game booths and other modular vendors, Morrell said.

Morrell grew up in New York City and graduated from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., in 1980 with a bachelor's degree and a double major in theater and in radio, TV and film. "My game plan was to get a job in the live entertainment genre but at that time, those jobs were few and far between, so I figured I'd get the electronic expertise," he said.

After gradation, Morrell went to work with Taft Broadcasting in Cincinnati for eight years. He then relocated to Los Angeles as director of development for Bietak Productions, a live and TV production company. He left Bietak in 1995 and moved to Louisville, Ky., as executive director of the 3,000-seat Palace Theater.

After two years in Louisville, Morrell was back in Cincinnati, working for a company later acquired by Clear Channel Entertainment. There, he directed operations at the Riverbend Music Center, Taft Theatre and Bogart's Showcase Club.

"I've been very fortunate that what I wanted to do from a very early age is what I've been able to do," he said. "I enjoy making (performers) look good.

"For all of us in the entertainment business, it's the end result. There's a lot of work that precedes the actual event that folks don't see," he said. Part of the payoff of managing a live performance venue is "seeing 20,000 folks on an evening having a great time."

Morrell said the hours he works will be directly proportional to the events he books. On the days when there is a performance, management works long hours, he said. "It's not unusual to be there from 7 a.m. to midnight or 1 a.m. on an event night," he said.

Morrell, 45, said he has yet to relocate his family from Cincinnati but hopes to find a home and move them soon. "Right now, I'm living in a hotel and going home every other weekend," he said.

Morrell and his wife, Gena, have three daughters: Christine, 18; Chloe, 7; and Claire, 5.

_ FRED W. WRIGHT JR., Times correspondent

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