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DENVER-The board of directors of the Denver Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau late Tuesday voted to terminate its contract with Eugene Dilbeck, president and CEO of the DMCVB. The board action came at the conclusion of a board meeting that included a presentation by Dilbeck.

“While difficult, the board, in overwhelming numbers, felt it was in the best interest of the bureau to take this action, at this time,” says a somber Walter Isenberg, chairman of the board of directors of the organization. Isenberg is principal of Sage Hospitality, a locally based hotel owner and management company.

“We will now begin the process of identifying and hiring a new president and CEO,” Isenberg adds. “Because this is a personnel matter, the board and the bureau will have no further comment on this decision.”

Dilbeck, 60, was hired almost exactly 10 years ago and was at the helm of the bureau during unprecedented growth in the city’s economy. He is a big supporter of the $168 million expansion of the Colorado Convention Center and the new $220 million, 1,100-room Hyatt Regency convention center hotel under construction.

He lost his job in the wake of a Channel 7 TV report that revealed some of his staff had attended a strip club called the Diamond Cabaret on Sept. 30. Dilbeck wasn’t there, and no tax dollars or bureau dollars were spent on the after-hours meeting, he says.

The board’s executive committee placed Dilbeck on administrative leave with pay last Friday. Richard Scharf, the bureau’s EVP of sales & marketing has agreed to serve as acting president & CEO until a replacement for Dilbeck has been found.

Mayor John Hickenlooper served on the bureau’s board for about a dozen years and was one of those who originally hired Dilbeck in November 1993. Dilbeck’s 2002 pay and bonus approached $275,000. His term was set to expire at the end of 2004, sources say.

“I recognize that this was an extremely difficult decision for the Denver Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau board of directors, but I respect their right to determine the best course for the bureau,” Hickenlooper says.

“I wish Eugene the best of luck in his future endeavors and thank him for his years of friendship and service to our city,” Hickenlooper continues.

“The Convention and Visitors Bureau is a critical part of Denver’s economic future, and we in the City and County of Denver look forward to continuing a strong and productive working relationship,” Hickenlooper adds. “Denver has so much to offer to tourists and conventioneers, and the DMCVB will continue to play a vital role in bringing that crucial economic activity home.”

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