Leadership / 08.02.23
Ticketing Pro Manzella Turns That Toddlin’ Town Into That Toni Town
Antoinette “Toni” Manzella currently wears several hats in the ticketing and live events space of Chicago. “And I wouldn't have it any other way!” she exclaims.
Her full-time job is Ticketing Director at McCormick Place/Wintrust Arena/Arie Crown Theater in the Windy City. Part time, she serves as Box Office Treasurer/Director of Special Events at Soldier Field and Ticketing Consultant/Director at University of Notre Dame/University Events. Both are contract positions. In addition, she is also the Vice President of IATSE Local 750 Chicago, Treasurers & Ticket Sellers. For those who are unfamiliar with the acronym, IATSE is the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees.
Manzella began her ticketing career as a seasonal ticket agent with Live Nation Chicago. That was in 2011. “I was looking for a fun summer job where I could see concerts without having to buy tickets before starting graduate school,” she says. “I discovered a new passion and took advantage of every opportunity that came my way.”
From there, she worked at different venues throughout the city, everywhere from the United Center to Wrigley Field to Guaranteed Rate Field. “Through those various jobs, I met co-workers, colleagues, bosses and friends who would all play a part in my upcoming career trajectory,” she says.
Among her favorite former posts was working part-time with Rob Dixon at Soldier Field in 2013, helping with special events (“I found myself running the day-to-day operations for the historic Grateful Dead Fare Thee Well tour in 2015”). In 2017, she was hired by McCormick Place to help open the Wintrust Arena alongside David Kennedy. A year later, she was contacted by Lee Sicinski at the University of Notre Dame to help with their first concert (Garth Brooks) at Notre Dame Stadium. She became the Vice President of IATSE Local 750 in 2022 after serving three years as a board member.
For her current full-time gig, her responsibilities include every aspect of ticketing and box office operations, regardless of venue. She says, “I work closely with venue staff, promoters, teams and clients from the onset to get the events on sale. I manage inventory, orders and promos throughout the life cycle of the event, and I provide on-site support during the day of the events with fully staffed box offices and fully trained staff to ensure we are providing the best possible experience for everyone involved — starting with the fans!”
So, what gets her energized? What’s the favorite part of her work? “I mean this wholeheartedly when I say that I truly love what I do and anyone who knows me would agree. I find every aspect of the work to be personally fulfilling. But my favorite part has to be the relationships that I've been able to foster over the years. I have empowering bosses, incredible colleagues and amazing staff. And I would consider every one of them a friend, too.”
That said, the job of Ticketing Director at such major venues certainly has its share of challenges. “No two events are ever the same,” Manzella says. “It's challenging, but it ensures that I'm always focused on using solution-oriented and collaborative practices to make sure that every single event, big or small, is a success for everyone involved.”
But every once in a while, a career in this business leads to a truly amazing experience. For Manzella, she will always call back to when the Wintrust Arena opened in October 2017. “One of the first events that we hosted was in partnership with the Obama Foundation,” she says.
“President Obama was in attendance. And, to our surprise, the venue staff had the opportunity to meet him and take a group photo. I was so nervous about introducing myself that I kept rehearsing it in my head. When it was my turn, I shook his hand and almost introduced myself as ‘Barack!’ But I ended up stumbling and said my own name. We all shared a good laugh afterwards.”
And along the way, she has heeded the advice of several mentors. One piece of counsel that has really stuck with her is: “Don't stay at a job if you're not appreciated. By letting go of jobs over the years that didn't fulfill me, I was unknowingly making space for new opportunities that would end up fulfilling me in ways that I could have never imagined. I'm now filled to the brim!”
This being our Women in Ticketing series, Manzella had some specific advice for any young woman reading this that just starting out in the ticketing/live event business: “Find people at every step in your career who will uplift you and hang onto them. Then make sure that you become one of those people.”
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Tags: Leadership , Women in Ticketing