October 3, 2022
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Matt Gibson aims to expand entertainment at Northern Quest Resort & Casino

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For more than 20 years, Matt Gibson has been involved in creating memorable concerts and events in Spokane.

Gibson’s began his career in the sports-and-entertainment industry as a marketing assistant for the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena in 1999.

He rose through the ranks to become general manager of the arena in 2011 and was responsible for booking, contract negotiations as well as event and staff management.

Gibson was instrumental in bringing Pearl Jam, Metallica, Bon Jovi, Elton John and other nationally recognized musicians to Spokane.

He also partnered with U.S. Figure Skating and the NCAA to bring several national championship sporting events to the Lilac City.

Gibson resigned as general manager of the arena nearly three years ago to pursue other opportunities.

Now, Gibson is aiming to expand entertainment at Northern Quest Resort & Casino.

Gibson was hired in June as Northern Quest’s director of VIBE, a role in which he oversees the property’s entertainment department as well as organizes and manages concerts and special events.

Gibson said joining the venue was the “best decision ever.”

“These people are incredibly warm and gracious, and they want nothing more than to increase guest satisfaction and service in the hospitality business,” he said.

“It really suits my personality and I’m just very, very happy to be here.”

Creating meaningful experiences

Gibson grew up in Spokane Valley and is a graduate of Central Valley High School. While growing up, he wanted to become a comic book illustrator or animator, but later realized he didn’t have the discipline to sit at a drawing board for hours.

Gibson attended Eastern Washington University and midway through his sophomore year, he began evaluating potential career paths.

“I wanted to help contribute to that feeling you got when you went to see a Star Wars movie, the latest Disney feature or you went to Disneyland and you experienced that magic of going into an alternate environment. “And for a day, you just forget about where you were,” he said. “I really wanted to do that.”

Gibson transferred to the University of Washington and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in industrial design in 1994.

Gibson thought he would move to California, but life circumstances brought him back to Spokane where he worked a couple of retail jobs, including a draftsperson at a woodworking facility.

One day, he saw a newspaper advertisement for a marketing assistant at the Spokane Arena.

“I thought, “Well, I didn’t go to school to be a marketing person, but I could do that,” he said. “I got the job.

“I really wasn’t into live entertainment. I was more into live experiences. But once I got there, I found that it was my calling.”

Gibson held several roles at the Spokane Arena, including marketing manager, events and booking manager and assistant general manager before becoming general manager in 2011.

Gibson learned how to market, book and manage events, negotiate contracts and implement budgets.

“It was very gratifying to work with a bunch of people and work as a team,” Gibson said. “And we grew that to really present some amazing things for Spokane.”

Creative marketingA favorite event of Gibson’s was Walking With Dinosaurs, a show that featured life-sized, walking models of dinosaurs at the Spokane Arena in 2007.

“The spectacle was, ‘Where else are you going to see these life-sized machines walking around?,’ ” Gibson said. “And we got to be one of the very first buildings in the country to do it.”

He recalls mounting giant speakers underneath a box truck and covering it in large banners with the message ‘Caution: do not approach’ and a dinosaur eye, which was the logo for the show.

He connected an mp3 player that played T. rex roars and velociraptor snarls from the box truck, which was part of the Spokane Lilac Festival’s Armed Forces Torchlight Parade.

“It wasn’t too long after that we announced the show,” Gibson said. “It was just so much fun because it allowed us to be so creative.”

The key to a successful event or concert is providing excellent guest service and ensuring attendees enjoy the experience, Gibson said.

“It has to be a spectacle,” Gibson said. “It has to be something that they leave thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m so glad I bought a ticket to that or I’m so glad I got to experience that.’ ”

Event manager to educator

Gibson resigned as general manager of the Spokane Arena in 2019 to pursue other opportunities.

In early 2020, Gibson and Becca Watters, former assistant general manager at Spokane Arena, launched Silverscout Presents, a live events and entertainment management company.

“We had a lot of amazing ideas. We had a launch pad that we were going to go off and make some really fun things happen,” Gibson said.

But then COVID-19 took hold in the state, forcing cancellation of in-person events and temporary closure of restaurants and retail stores.

Gibson and Watters realized it was not the right time to operate an events company.

Gibson did some soul searching and decided to go into education.

He obtained a master’s degree in education from Western Governor’s University and a state teaching certificate in 2021.

He was hired as a CTE design and business educator at Cheney High School where he taught for a year before joining Northern Quest Resort & Casino.

“It was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ll ever have,” he said of teaching at Cheney High School. “The crew there is amazing.”

Premier destination

Live entertainment has changed immensely over Gibson’s more than 20 year career, he said.

Technology plays a bigger role in buying event tickets and how people listen to and discover new music.

“If music streaming services track what you’re listening to and it keeps suggesting more of the same, it’s harder for people to break out of that try to discover new things,” he said. “In terms of entertainment, providing it live, I have to look at what’s going to appeal to the most amount of guests who would be willing to purchase a ticket to go see this act.”

Gibson strives to further develop and expand Northern Quest’s events at its venues by bringing in a variety of established as well as new acts that appeal to the Spokane area’s growing population.

“We’re at the point where the folks here are listening to what would be fun,” he said.

“My vision is to work with them to develop means for the guests to come in and enjoy an event, no matter what it may be.”

Amy Edelen can be reached at (509) 459-5581 or at amye@spokesman.com.



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