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Sports Facility Managers

The Job

Stadium, arena, and facility managers are responsible for the day-to-day operations involved in running a sports facility. In the simplest terms, the manager of a sports facility, like other facility managers, must coordinate the events that occur in the facility with the services and people who make those events possible.

The manager of a sports facility, stadium, or arena spends most of his or her time in the office or somewhere in the facility itself, supervising the day-to-day management of the facility. The manager usually determines the organizational structure of the facility and establishes the personnel staffing requirements, setting up the manner in which things will be done and by whom. The facility manager is constantly analyzing how many different workers are needed to run the various areas of the facility efficiently, without sacrificing quality. The manager addresses staffing needs as they arise, setting the education, experience, and performance standards for each position. Depending on the size of the facility and the nature of the manager's assigned responsibilities, they may hire a personnel director to screen prospective employees, or the manager personally screens job candidates when a position opens up. Usually, all policies and procedures having to do with the morale, safety, service, appearance, and performance of facility employees (and which are not determined by the organization itself) are determined by the manager.

The manager of a sports facility is also responsible for assisting with the development and coordination of the facility's annual operating calendar, including activity schedules, dates and hours of operation, and projections for attendance and revenue. Often, a manager for a sports facility directs and assists with the procurement of activities and events to take place at the facility, depending on the size of the facility. A large, multipurpose stadium, for example, will probably have at least one individual devoted to event planning and the acquisition of activities. Even in this case, however, the sports facility manager must be involved in coordinating the event with all the other aspects of the facility.

The sports facility manager handles the negotiations, contracts, and agreements with industry agents, suppliers, and vendors. Jobs that once were handled in-house by staff employees are now contracted out to private companies that specialize in that aspect of the event. Food service and security, for example, are two areas that are usually privately managed by outside vendors and firms. It is the responsibility of the sports facility manager to hire such contractors and to monitor the quality of their work.

Finally, it is the manager's duty to make certain that the facility, its workers, and the services it offers are in accordance with federal, state, and local regulations.

Although certain responsibilities are shared, the job description for a sports facility manager varies according to the type of sport played and the level of the organization that employs the manager. For example, the duties of a manager for a parks and recreation facility in a medium-sized town will differ considerably from those of the general manager of Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky; the former will perform many of the duties that the latter would most likely delegate to others.

The type of sports stadium, arena, or auditorium in which sports facility managers work also varies, from race tracks to natatoriums to large, multipurpose stadiums that host football games and rock concerts.

Some sports facility managers may be involved with sports facility planning, including the buying, selling, or leasing of facilities; facility redesign and construction; and the supervision of sports facilities, including the structures and grounds, as well as the custodial crews. This may mean months, sometimes even years, of research and long-term planning. Crucial resources and issues the manager might investigate include: sports facility design firms; prospective sites for the new facility and analyses of neighborhood support for a facility; and zoning laws or other federal, state, and local regulations concerning the construction of new buildings. Politics can play a key part in this process; the manager might be involved in these political meetings, as well. Once ground is broken on the new site, a sports facility manager may then divide his or her time between the construction site and the existing site, supervising both facilities until the new one is completed.

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