Matt Gibson aims to expand entertainment at Northern Quest Resort & Casino
For more than 20 years, Matt Gibson has helped create memorable concerts and events in Spokane.
Gibson began his career in the sports and entertainment industry as a marketing assistant for Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena in 1999.
He rose through the ranks to become general manager of the arena in 2011 and was responsible for reservations, contract negotiations as well as event and staff management.
Gibson helped bring Pearl Jam, Metallica, Bon Jovi, Elton John and other nationally known musicians to Spokane.
He has also partnered with US Figure Skating and the NCAA to host several national championship sporting events in 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 VIBE manager, 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 site was the “best decision ever”.
“These people are incredibly warm and friendly, and they want nothing more than to increase guest satisfaction and service in the hospitality industry,” he said.
“It really fits my personality and I’m just very, very happy to be here.”
Create meaningful experiences
Gibson grew up in Spokane Valley and graduated from Central Valley High School. Growing up, he wanted to be an illustrator or comic book animator, but later realized he didn’t have the discipline to sit in front of a drawing board for hours.
Gibson attended Eastern Washington University and midway through his sophomore year 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 went to Disneyland and experienced that magic of going to an alternate environment. “And for a day you just forget where you were,” he said. “I really wanted to do that.”
Gibson transferred to the University of Washington and earned 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 few retail jobs, including as a draftsman at a woodworking factory.
One day he saw an ad in a newspaper for a marketing assistant at Spokane Arena.
“I thought, ‘Well, I didn’t go to school to be a marketer, but I could do it,'” he said. “I got the job.
“I really wasn’t into live entertainment. I was more into live experiences. But once there, I discovered that it was my calling.
Gibson held several positions at Spokane Arena, including director of marketing, director of events and reservations, 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 rewarding to work with a group of people and to work as a team,” Gibson said. “And we developed that to really showcase some amazing things for Spokane.”
Creative Marketing A favorite Gibson event was Walking With Dinosaurs, a show that featured life-size models of walking dinosaurs at Spokane Arena in 2007.
“The show was, ‘Where are you going to see these life-size machines walking around? “, Gibson said. “And we have to be one of the very first buildings in the country to do it.”
He remembers mounting giant speakers under a van truck and covering it with large banners that read “Warning: Keep Away” and a dinosaur eye, which was the show’s logo.
He hooked up an mp3 player that played the roars of T. rex and the grunts of velociraptor from the truck, which was part of the Armed Forces Torchlight Parade at the Spokane Lilac Festival.
“It wasn’t too long after we announced the show,” Gibson said. “It was 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 show,” Gibson said. “It must be something that they leave thinking, ‘Oh my God, I’m so glad I bought a ticket for this or I’m so glad I got to experience this. ”
Event Manager to Educator
Gibson resigned as general manager of Spokane Arena in 2019 to pursue other opportunities.
In early 2020, Gibson and Becca Watters, former deputy general manager of Spokane Arena, launched Silverscout Presents, a live entertainment and event management company.
“We had a lot of amazing ideas. We had a launch pad that we were going to do some really fun things on,” Gibson said.
But then COVID-19 took hold in the state, forcing the cancellation of in-person events and temporary closure of restaurants and retail stores.
Gibson and Watters realized now was not the time to operate an events company.
Gibson did some soul-searching and decided to go into education.
He earned 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 the Northern Quest Resort & Casino.
“It was one of the most rewarding experiences I will ever have,” he said of teaching at Cheney High School. “The crew there is amazing.”
Live entertainment has changed tremendously over Gibson’s 20-plus-year career, he said.
Technology is playing a bigger role in getting tickets to events and how people listen to and discover new music.
“If music streaming services are tracking what you’re listening to and they’re always suggesting the same thing, it’s harder for people to get out of this attempt to discover new things,” he said. “In terms of entertainment, live, I have to watch what will appeal to the greatest number of guests who would be willing to buy a ticket to see this act.”
Gibson strives to grow and expand Northern Quest events at its venues by bringing a variety of established acts as well as new acts that appeal to the growing population of the Spokane area.
“We’re at the point where people here are listening which would be fun,” he said.
“My vision is to work with them to develop ways for guests to come and enjoy any event.”
Amy Edelen can be reached at (509) 459-5581 or [email protected]