SBJ/October 10-16, 2011/Game Changers

Game Changers: Janet Marie Smith

BOSTON RED SOX
Smith played a key role in the development at Camden
Yards, then led revenue-producing renovations at
Fenway Park.
Janet Marie Smith
Baltimore Orioles
VP, Planning and Development

For years an iconic name in the sports facility business, Janet Marie Smith is still turning underutilized and outdated facilities into gleaming revenue machines.

Smith first played a key role more than 20 years ago, with the development of Oriole Park at Camden Yards. In so doing, she helped redefine industry expectations of sports architecture for a generation. Since then, she has had a major hand in the creation of Turner Field, significant multiyear renovations of Fenway Park, and redevelopment of the Orioles’ Sarasota, Fla., spring training facility, Ed Smith Stadium.

Now, Smith has come full circle, returning her attention to Camden Yards as it celebrates its 20th anniversary next spring and pursues a more targeted refreshing. Far from simple efforts, each of these projects has involved a major rehabilitation element and direct integration into the venue’s surrounding neighborhood.

“These projects are all different, but in many ways the basic questions are all the same,” Smith said. “How do we extend the useful life of these facilities? How can we breathe new life into them? How do we make them more contextual with what’s around them?”

— Eric Fisher
  • First job: Typing letters for the “Sun ’n Sand” hotel the summer after 10th grade in an effort to grow convention business in downtown Jackson, Miss.
  • What is the best advice you've ever received?: Learn to write, learn to listen, learn to speak in public. There are many talented designers and project managers who can’t always get their point across due to limited communication skills.
  • In 10 words or less, how would you describe your management style?: Search for facts, listen to different viewpoints, don’t fear decision-making.
  • Person who had the biggest influence on your career in sports: Larry Lucchino, who hired me for the Camden Yards project and the Fenway Park renovation. He has the ability to think three steps ahead of everyone else, challenges you to put your best ideas out there for discussion, and encourages you to defend them first to him, then the rest of the world.
  • Woman in sports business you'd most like to meet: Jane Chastain, Donna de Varona, Jeannie Morris, Phyllis George, Jayne Kennedy, Lesley Visser — any of the first women in sports broadcasting.
  • If I had to do it all over again, I would …: Do it again, but I would be fluent in many languages so I could do it all over the world.

WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING

“Her sports venues have a sense of place and time. They connect with the history and deeper emotions of our relationships with sports and community. In many respects, Janet’s true genius is her ability to build a bridge between generations through the structure of a sporting venue.”

  • Alan Rifkin, Maryland attorney and longtime outside legal counsel to the Baltimore Orioles
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