John O. McDonald

Assistant General Manager

Alltel Arena

Little Rock

John O. McDonald

After deciding against going to law school and a free-agent stint with the Philadelphia Eagles that didn’t pan out, 33-year-old John McDonald wanted something different.

So he got a master’s degree in sport and facility management from Appalachian State University in North Carolina and parlayed it into a venue manager job at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

But he said his most significant professional achievement is the opening of the Alltel Arena in North Little Rock.

“This building was under a lot of pressure from the public, the media and time constraints,” McDonald said. “When I came in there [were] a number of issues with parking and logistics ”

In a typical day, McDonald makes calls for events, works with the finance director on budget forecasting, checks with department heads to ensure proper equipment and sufficient personnel are on hand, works with sponsors and issues contracts to rent the facility.

“In this industry, my philosophy is the patrons are the most important people we deal with,” he said. “The taxpayers are the reason we’re here. If we’re not bringing them quality events our numbers will be down.”

And that’s why he keeps laying the Smackdown. Yep, so far WWF Wrestling is the biggest event.

“It’s a phenomenon,” McDonald said. “Our goal is to do two per year.”