Kristin Ropp is the Vice President & General Manger of U.S. Bank Arena & The Cincinnati Cyclones (since 2002). Previously, she was Director of Operations / Production Manager at Riverbend Music Center & The Taft Theatre.
She is responsible for bringing the biggest names in music to the Queen City and continues to have record years and much success in an admittedly outdated facility. Imagine what she could do with a brand new building!"
We sat down with the impressive Kristin Ropp about being a Woman Behind the Music in Cincinnati.
What prompted your career behind the scenes in Cincinnati music and events?
I was a sophomore or junior in college and I was bouncing all over every undergrad degree Ohio University offered trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my adult life when I had a conversation with my Dad that stuck with me. He told me to identify what I was passionate about. At that age most of my friends were looking at reports of what would likely pay out the most upon graduation with the highest likelihood of employment. My Dad encouraged me to find something that made me, “want to get out of bed every day for.” If you go for the money job, and you aren’t passionate about it, you will burn out. He couldn’t have been more right.
I loved live entertainment…music in particular. Back then there was no such thing as majoring in special events; I reached out to the concert promoter from my hometown and for two summers interned 40+ hours/week with no pay to learn as much as I could about promoting and producing events. Once I moved to Cincinnati I called every venue in town until one hired me. I’m still grateful to Riverbend for giving me a shot…I answered phones for over six months until I was able to start working in the marketing department and then production. I just never gave up my hope of producing major events.
Given that you have brought the biggest names in music to the Queen City, I’m sure this is a tough question. What are some of the events that made you especially proud?
The Arena has hosted so many amazing artists over the years. There have definitely been some surreal moments where I’ve thought of the times when I scraped together money or begged my parents to let me go see these musicians when I was growing up. But as far as narrowing down to a specific event that I was especially proud of I would have to say when we hosted Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band after we were able to lift the ban on festival seating in the city. It was such a long process to get to that point and when we finally opened doors the night of the show it was very satisfying seeing everything going off without a hitch. It was also such a huge group effort—everyone on staff played a vital role in making that happen.
What does your day to day look like?
I guess that depends on what events are on the calendar that week. Last week was the NCAA Men’s Regional Hockey Tournament so I sat in a lot of meetings or walked the arena with my staff to make sure everything was perfect. This week sees three Cyclones games so that means lots of sales & marketing meetings and next week is Billy Joel and Monster Jam. It’s never the same day twice and rarely a short day. I am normally here by 9:30 every day and if we have an event I stay through that. Makes for fun mornings running to make the school bus!
As a woman behind the scenes at so many Cincinnati music events, do you feel that your gender has ever hindered your path? Do you feel that you have (or had) to work harder to get your voice heard?
I don’t know that I would say my gender hindered my path, I definitely think I had to prove myself more so than my male counterparts. I was without a doubt thrown terrible tasks with the hope that I would flush out of the system. It just made me work even harder.
What advice would you give to others behind the music scene in Cincinnati?
The advice I would give others in music in Cincinnati is the same advice I give my kids about virtually anything….do it, and do it right.
What do you want people to take away with them when they think of you?
That I’m fair. That I introduced live entertainment to kids who otherwise wouldn’t have seen it. That I helped take someone’s mind off of what they were worrying over and gave them a few hours of escape from reality. That’s what we do…we allow people to escape reality and think about nothing more than what is being played out in front of them. Reality will be there when the house lights come back on.
March is Women’s History Month, in celebration, CincyMusic.com featured a number of important women behind the music scene in Cincinnati. Cincinnati is the home of so many amazing women within the music industry. These women included; a Venue Owner, a well known DJ, Educators, the First Lady of Cincinnati Music, an Assistant Program Director, and a beloved fan.