SBJ/June 19-25, 2017/Power Players

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  • Introducing Power Players 2017: Today’s Facility Managers

    Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
    Continuing our recognition of Power Players in sports business, we highlight the facility managers whose day-to-day leadership and innovation make it possible for millions of fans across North America to witness history being made on the field, court or ice.

    The editorial staff of SportsBusiness Journal selected the 56 individuals honored in the following pages based on their experience and leadership; the revenue generated by the facility or facilities they manage; their ability to train and mentor staff; and the creativity they have exhibited keeping their venues booked throughout the year.

    In the pages that follow, staff writer Don Muret highlights their work.

    A mix of team employees and those of building management companies, these behind-the-scenes leaders handle everything from logistics to scheduling to security. They also focus their energy on staying up to date on technology, adjusting premium seat options, planning renovations and improving customer service. Collectively, they represent centuries of experience in sports facility management across professional and collegiate sports.

    Introducing the Power Players: Facility Managers.


    Multiple venues
    Roger Dixon, CenturyLink Center and TD Ameritrade Park
    Xen Riggs, Nationwide Arena and Schottenstein Center
    Allen Johnson, Amway Center and Camping World Stadium
    Terry Savarise, United Center and Guaranteed Rate Field
    Dave Touhey, Verizon Center, Kettler Capitals Iceplex and EagleBank Arena
    Dave Jolette, Pepsi Center and Dick’s Sporting Goods Park
    Bob Hunter, Air Canada Centre, BMO Field, Ricoh Coliseum and Tribute Communities Centre
    Alain Gauthier, Bell Centre and Bell Place

    Mike Fox, Indianapolis Motor Speedway
    Michael Printup, Watkins Glen International

    Jim Mercurio, Levi’s Stadium
    Darryl Dunn, Rose Bowl Stadium
    David Young, CenturyLink Field
    Scott Jenkins, Mercedes-Benz Stadium
    Roy Sommerhof, M&T Bank Stadium
    Jim Nolan, Gillette Stadium
    Paul Turner, AT&T Stadium
    Ron VanDeVeen, MetLife Stadium
    Danny Zausner, USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center
    Jimmie Sacco, Heinz Field
    Todd Boyan, Hard Rock Stadium

    AEG Facilities
    Brenda Tinnen, Sprint Center
    Lee Zeidman, Staples Center
    Katie Pandolfo, StubHub Center
    Dennis Petrullo, KFC Yum! Center

    Tim LeFevour, Soldier Field
    Steve Tadlock, Save Mart Center
    Hugh Lombardi, Chesapeake Energy Arena
    Patrick Talty, U.S. Bank Stadium

    Doug Behar, Yankee Stadium
    Rick Nafe, Tropicana Field
    Carl Rice, Wrigley Field
    Joe Abernathy, Busch Stadium
    Bob Rice, Kauffman Stadium
    Pete Nesbit, Fenway Park
    Mike Landeen, Citi Field
    Jim Folk, Progressive Field

    Antony Bonavita, Quicken Loans Arena
    Amy Latimer, TD Garden
    Stephen Collins, Chase Center,
    Jack Larson, Xcel Energy Center
    Jim Goddard, SAP Center
    Ralph Marchetta, Talking Stick Resort Arena
    John Page, Wells Fargo Center
    Brett Stefansson, Philips Arena
    Susan Darrington, Rogers Place
    Matt Brown, Greensboro Coliseum Complex
    Rich Claffey, Madison Square Garden
    Tim Ryan, Honda Center
    Kim Stone, AmericanAirlines Arena
    Pat Nagle, Allstate Arena
    Jimmy Earl, Frank Erwin Center
    Tim Padgett, Little Caesars Arena
    Dave Brown, American Airlines Center
    Tim Friedenberger, Bridgestone Arena
    Dan Quinn, T-Mobile Arena

    Where they work: Tracking Power Players across North America 
    Humble beginnings: How some Power Players got their start
    Pass it on: Advice from Power Players to young people hoping for a career in sports venue management
    Need to know: How will the job, skill sets and requirements of a facility manager change over the next 10 years?

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  • Joe Abernathy, St. Louis Cardinals

    Vice president, stadium operations
    St. Louis Cardinals

    Abernathy’s 40-year affiliation with the Cardinals covers two ballparks and two ownership groups. He was first hired in 1977 by the Anheuser-Busch Cos., former owner of the Cardinals, and in 1995, joined the Cardinals full time as director of stadium operations before being promoted to vice president in 1997. As a member of MLB’s advisory committee on stadium operations and the Green Sports Alliance, Abernathy oversees benchmarks for sustainability in ballparks.

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  • Doug Behar, New York Yankees

    Senior vice president of stadium operations
    New York Yankees

    Behar has been with the Yankees for almost 20 years, and he met the challenge for developing new Yankee Stadium at the same time he was operating the old ballpark, a four-year overlap. He first worked for the Bronx Bombers as an intern in 1997 before taking a full-time job in marketing and then switching to operations a year later. Behar was named vice president of stadium operations in January 2010, and was promoted to his current position.

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  • Antony Bonavita, Quicken Loans Arena

    Senior vice president of facility operations
    Quicken Loans Arena

    Bonavita has spent seven years running “The Q,” a building that’s helped transform downtown Cleveland into a thriving entertainment center since it opened as Gund Arena in 1994. He previously spent two years as assistant general manager at AT&T Center in San Antonio. Bonavita moved to the big leagues after spending 13 years in college athletics at Stony Brook (N.Y.) University, where he worked his way up from an intern to the assistant director of athletics for facility and event operations.

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  • Todd Boyan, Miami Dolphins

    Senior vice president of operations
    Miami Dolphins

    Boyan runs Hard Rock Stadium, which is going through the final touches of a $500 million renovation, topped by a roof canopy that puts the building back in the Super Bowl rotation starting in 2020. He’s spent more than 20 years in the NFL, including the past 11 years with the Dolphins after filling the same role for nine years with the Washington Redskins and opening FedEx Field in 1997. Previously, Boyan worked three years in ticketing with the then-Florida Marlins.

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  • Dave Brown, American Airlines Center

    Chief operating officer and general manager
    American Airlines Center

    Brown has played a key role in arena operations in Dallas for more than 30 years. He ran the old Reunion Arena for 12 years before taking a job in 1998 with Center Operating Co. to help develop and manage American Airlines Center, which opened in 2001. Brown took over the top spot at the Mavs and Stars facility in 2012, when Brad Mayne became president and CEO of MetLife Stadium.

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  • Matt Brown, Greensboro Coliseum Complex

    Photo by: JULIE KNIGHT
    Managing director
    Greensboro Coliseum Complex

    In his 23 years running the complex, Brown has led expansion of the city’s publicly owned venues to include an aquatics center, an amphitheater and the ACC Hall of Champions. A few years ago, the 21,000-seat coliseum underwent a $24 million makeover to remain in competition with bigger markets for the ACC men’s basketball tournament. Brown’s résumé includes stints with both SMG and Spectacor, its forerunner in Philadelphia.

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  • Rich Claffey, Madison Square Garden

    Senior vice president and general manager
    Madison Square Garden

    Claffey returned to the “World’s Most Famous Arena” last fall as its general manager after Alex Diaz left the organization. Claffey worked 20 years at MSG, starting as a stagehand in 1983, and was most recently general manager of Radio City Music Hall until November 2015, at which point he became a consultant whose clients included the Garden. His current job includes oversight of The Theater at Madison Square Garden, a 5,600-seat venue.

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  • Stephen Collins, Chase Center

    Chief operating officer
    Chase Center

    Two years ago, the Golden State Warriors hired Collins to lead development of their new $1 billion arena in San Francisco, scheduled to open in 2019. Collins previously worked at MSG for 13 years and, as its executive vice president of facilities, oversaw the transformation of Madison Square Garden, another billion-dollar project. From 1988 to 2001, Collins worked for the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority at the Meadowlands Arena and old Giants Stadium.

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  • Susan Darrington, Rogers Place

    Vice president and general manager
    Rogers Place

    Darrington, an Edmonton native, returned home in 2015 to run the NHL’s newest arena (which opened last fall) after managing a new soccer stadium in Brazil for about three years. From 2004 to 2012, Darrington served as vice president of facility operations and services at CenturyLink Field, home of the Seattle Seahawks and Sounders. She got her start in Edmonton as a 15-year-old usher at Northlands Coliseum, the Oilers’ former home.

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  • Roger Dixon, Metropolitan Entertainment & Convention Authority

    President and CEO
    Metropolitan Entertainment & Convention Authority

    Dixon has spent the past 17 years in Omaha, Neb., operating both CenturyLink Center Omaha and TD Ameritrade Park, home of the College World Series. Creighton University men’s basketball, the arena’s primary tenant, remains a big draw. This past season, the Big East Conference school averaged 17,413 in home attendance, good for fifth in the nation behind four bigger arenas. Previously, Dixon developed and managed Scottrade Center, home of the St. Louis Blues, and before that he served as senior vice president and general manager of the old Spectrum in Philadelphia.

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  • Darryl Dunn, Rose Bowl Stadium

    Photo by: SIERRA KEMP
    CEO and general manager
    Rose Bowl Stadium

    Dunn has operated the iconic stadium — home to UCLA football and the Rose Bowl Game, college football’s oldest bowl contest — since 1999. He was principally involved in planning the facility’s $182 million renovation completed three years ago, a project that added new suites, club seats and indoor lounges to the 95-year-old building. Dunn got his start in sports selling tickets for the Los Angeles Kings and the former Los Angeles Raiders before getting a job with the organizing committee for the 1994 FIFA World Cup, where he sold suites for matches held at the Rose Bowl.

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  • Jimmy Earl, Frank Erwin Center

    Senior associate director
    Frank Erwin Center

    Earl’s tenure at the University of Texas arena dates to 1977, when the building opened its doors with Oklahoma-Texas men’s basketball game. He spent a three-year stretch running the convention center in Fort Worth before returning to Austin in 1990. From 2004-05, Earl served as president of the International Association of Venue Managers, and last year, he received the Charles A. McElravy Award, IAVM’s highest honor.

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  • Jim Folk, Cleveland Indians

    Vice president of ballpark operations
    Cleveland Indians

    This month, Folk celebrates 25 years with the Indians, most of which have been spent running Progressive Field, which opened as Jacobs Field in 1994. Previously, he opened and operated the Florida Suncoast Dome, now Tropicana Field. Folk got his start in sports with the Chicago White Sox as a part-time security guard in the summer of 1979, and he worked the infamous Disco Demolition promotion at old Comiskey Park.

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  • Mike Fox, Indianapolis Motor Speedway

    Senior director of facility planning and management
    Indianapolis Motor Speedway

    Fox recently completed his first Indianapolis 500 after taking over track operations in March. Fox spent the past 33 years running two NFL stadiums for the Indianapolis Colts before the speedway hired him to replace David Shaw, who took a job at the local airport. During his NFL tenure, Fox worked multiple Final Fours, as well as the 2012 Super Bowl held at Lucas Oil Stadium.

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  • Tim Friedenberger, Bridgestone Arena

    Vice president of facility operations
    Bridgestone Arena

    Friedenberger manages one of North America’s busiest concert venues, given its location in the heart of Music City. He got his start in sports with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 1992 as an ice technician before being promoted to run the team’s arena. His path to Nashville four years ago followed Sean Henry, who left the Lightning in 2010 to join the Predators and who is now their president and chief operating officer.

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  • Alain Gauthier, Montreal Canadiens

    Executive vice president and general manager, facilities operations
    Montreal Canadiens

    Gauthier runs the show for the Canadiens at Bell Centre, one of the NHL’s marquee venues. He’s also in charge of building operations at the Bell Sports Complex, the team’s practice facility, plus Bell Place, a 10,000-seat arena that opens this fall in suburban Montreal as the new home of the Canadiens’ AHL affiliate. Gauthier has been employed with the Canadiens since 1987 at the old Montreal Forum.

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  • Jim Goddard, SAP Center

    Jim Goddard with Olympic gold medalist Shawn Johnson
    Photo by: SAP CENTER
    Executive vice president of business and general manager
    SAP Center

    Goddard’s career spans 50 years dating to his custodian’s job at the old Met Center in Bloomington, Minn. In San Jose, Goddard has run the Sharks’ arena since it opened in 1993, and oversees all revenue and marketing efforts after being promoted in 2013. He was part of a group of former Minnesota North Stars executives that migrated west in 1990 to develop the NHL arena.

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  • Bob Hunter, Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment

    Chief project development officer
    Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment

    Hunter’s vast reach in Greater Toronto covers three arenas and BMO Field, an MLS facility that’s undergone a $150 million retrofit to accommodate the CFL’s Argonauts. In his current role, Hunter oversees all development and construction activities across the company, and he’s training Nick Eaves, Maple Leaf Sports’ chief venues and operations officer, as his replacement. Hunter was on the ground floor for developing and operating Air Canada Centre, as well as Rogers Centre (the former Toronto SkyDome) and BC Place in Vancouver, both of which opened in the 1980s.

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  • Scott Jenkins, Mercedes-Benz Stadium

    Photo by: KARA DURETTE / AMBSE
    General manager
    Mercedes-Benz Stadium

    The Falcons hand-picked Jenkins to run their cutting-edge facility, set to open in August, and his management crew includes Dave Duernberger, former vice president of facility operations at MetLife Stadium. Jenkins has built a 23-year career managing buildings including two retractable-roof stadiums, Safeco Field and Miller Park, as well as Lincoln Financial Field. He’s heavily involved in sustainability, serving as board chair for the Green Sports Alliance since the group was formed in 2011.

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  • Allen Johnson, Orlando Venues

    Executive director
    Orlando Venues

    As a city employee, Johnson runs Amway Center, among the NBA’s finest arenas, and Camping World Stadium, the former Citrus Bowl renamed in 2016. Under Johnson’s leadership, the stadium, now 81 years old, underwent a $208 million renovation, bringing new life to the only building that plays host to three college bowl games. Johnson managed the Lakeland (Fla.) Civic Center before moving to Orlando in 2004 to operate the old O-Arena.

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  • Dave Jolette, Kroenke Sports and Entertainment

    Senior vice president of venue operations
    Kroenke Sports and Entertainment

    Jolette oversees four facilities for KSE in Greater Denver, which include Pepsi Center and Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. Combined with 1stBank Center, a midsize arena, and the Paramount Theatre, those four venues play host to 400 events annually. Jolette has been employed with the Avalanche and the Nuggets since 1995 when he first served as event manager for the old McNichols Sports Arena.

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  • Mike Landeen, New York Mets

    Senior vice president of venue services and operations
    New York Mets

    In his 13 years with the Mets, Landeen has managed old Shea Stadium and now Citi Field, Shea’s successor that opened in 2009. Landeen got the new building certified under the Department of Homeland Security’s Safety Act program, and played a principal role for managing the 2013 MLB All-Star Game at Citi Field. Landeen started his career in concessions and served as Aramark’s division manager at Shea Stadium for about 6 1/2 years before moving to the Mets.

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  • Jack Larson, Xcel Energy Center

    Photo by: JORA BART
    Vice president and general manager
    Xcel Energy Center

    Larson has been a fixture at Twin Cities sports venues for about 45 years, and his experience running NHL arenas extends to San Jose, where he helped develop a new facility for the Sharks in the early 1990s. He worked seven years at Target Center before taking over at Xcel Energy Center in 2001, a year after the Wild’s arena opened. His first job in sports came as a college student sweeping the concourses at the old Met Center after North Stars games.

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  • Amy Latimer, TD Garden

    TD Garden

    Latimer, one of the few women in sports to fill the role of president of a big league venue, has worked at the Boston arena since it opened in 1995. She served in a variety of positions for Delaware North, the arena’s owner, before being promoted to president in 2012. Three years later, she took on additional responsibilities as head of Delaware North’s United Kingdom operations, which includes food service at Wembley Stadium and five other soccer facilities.

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  • Tim LeFevour, Soldier Field

    Photo by: B3 CONSULTING
    General manager
    Soldier Field

    LeFevour at Soldier Field has more than 25 years of experience running stadiums, and he understands the NFL’s rules and best practices as well as anyone in the business, according to his boss, Doug Thornton, SMG’s executive vice president of stadiums and arenas. LeFevour and his staff work hard to book special events at the Chicago Bears’ facility, consistently scheduling three to five concerts every summer plus international soccer, rugby and college football.

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  • Hugh Lombardi, Chesapeake Energy Arena

    Photo by: BOB FERGUSON
    General manager
    Chesapeake Energy Arena

    In Oklahoma City, Lombardi recently marked his first year with SMG after spending six years at TD Garden as the Boston arena’s senior vice president and general manager. At the OKC Thunder’s home, he delivered Paul McCartney and Lady Gaga this year as part of an effort to drive more concert business to the midmarket arena. Lombardi got his start at the Palace of Auburn Hills in 1989, before running NHL arenas in Tampa and Nashville.

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  • Ralph Marchetta, Talking Stick Resort Arena

    General manager for sports and entertainment services,
    and senior vice president of ticket operations
    Talking Stick Resort Arena

    Marchetta has been entrenched at the downtown Phoenix arena, home of the Suns, since it opened in 1992. As part of his job, Marchetta books special events at the facility, and last year the building finished among the top 40 arenas worldwide in concert ticket sales, according to Pollstar rankings. He was promoted to his current position in 2007.

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  • Jim Mercurio, Levi's Stadium

    Vice president of stadium operations and general manager
    Levi’s Stadium

    Mercurio enters his 25th season with the San Francisco 49ers, which includes four years as director of stadium operations at Candlestick Park, the team’s home from 1971 to 2013. Under his leadership, Levi’s Stadium in its first three seasons — apart from 49ers games — has played host to Super Bowl 50, WrestleMania, the NHL Stadium Series and the Grateful Dead’s 50th anniversary tour. Mercurio was recently appointed to the NFL Stadium Security Directors Committee, a new group responsible for updating security policies across the league to guard against terrorist threats.

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  • Rick Nafe, Tampa Bay Rays

    Vice president of operations and facilities
    Tampa Bay Rays

    For 37 years, Nafe has managed stadiums in Tampa, including Tropicana Field, home of the Rays since their inception in 1998. From 1980 to 1992, he ran old Tampa Stadium, the Buccaneers’ original home, before spending four years as executive director of the Tampa Sports Authority. Nafe joins the retired Bill Lester [Metrodome] as the only facility managers whose buildings have played host to a Super Bowl, World Series and NCAA Final Four.

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  • Pat Nagle, Allstate Arena

    Executive director
    Allstate Arena

    Nagle took over as executive director in 2013 after Harry Pappas retired. Last year, Allstate Arena sold about 495,000 tickets to concerts and other special events apart from Chicago Wolves and Chicago Sky games, which placed it among the top-25 arenas worldwide and ahead of three dozen NBA and NHL arenas, according to Pollstar rankings. Nagle got his start at Chicago’s second-biggest arena as an accountant in the late 1980s, and later expanded his duties to booking the building before being named general manager in 1999.

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  • Pete Nesbit, Boston Red Sox

    Vice president of ballpark operations
    Boston Red Sox

    Nesbit, in tandem with Jonathan Gilula, executive vice president of business affairs, runs Fenway Park, the big leagues’ oldest venue that’s undergone about $300 million in renovations over the past 15 years. Nesbit first started working for the Red Sox in 1999 as a security guard and was promoted to his current position in 2015. As part of his duties, Nesbit is point man for producing special events at Fenway Park, covering concerts, hockey games, college and high school football and its newest event, a marathon booked for Sept. 15 on the outfield warning track.

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  • Jim Nolan, Gillette Stadium

    Chief operating officer
    Gillette Stadium

    Nolan took over management of Gillette Stadium in 2003, one year after the facility opened and eight years after he started working for New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft in the team’s finance department. Over the past 13 years, Nolan has spearheaded multiple stadium upgrades, including last year’s $30 million project to build a field-level end zone club and a fantasy football lounge, among other improvements. Nolan was an accountant at Ernst & Young in Boston before taking a job with the Patriots.

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  • Tim Padgett, Olympia Entertainment

    Vice president of venue operations and general manager
    Olympia Entertainment

    Padgett plays a principal role in the development of Little Caesars Arena, the new home of Detroit Red Wings and Pistons opening this fall as a linchpin for the city’s redevelopment efforts. For the past 12 years, Padgett ran Joe Louis Arena after coming over from Comerica Park, where he served as the Detroit Tigers’ vice president of park operations. Padgett has been a part of four Stanley Cup championships in his more than 20 years with Olympia Entertainment, the Ilitch family’s facility management firm.

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  • John Page, Wells Fargo Center

    Photo by: HUNG TRAN
    Wells Fargo Center

    Page has been a lifer with facility management services firm Comcast Spectacor. In 2015, Page was promoted to president of the Flyers’ and Sixers’ arena after the company grew to running 135 venues under his tenure as chief operating officer. The former USC Trojans offensive lineman got his start in 1991 as an event coordinator at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and Sports Arena.

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  • Katie Pandolfo, StubHub Center

    General manager
    StubHub Center

    In Carson, Calif., Pandolfo has served as general manager of StubHub Center since 2009. Now, she can add NFL stadium manager to her résumé. The complex’s 27,000-seat stadium, home to the MLS Galaxy, will be the temporary home of the Los Angeles Chargers for the next three seasons.

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  • Dennis Petrullo, KFC Yum! Center

    General manager
    KFC Yum! Center

    In Louisville, Ky., Petrullo runs KFC Yum! Center, home of University of Louisville men’s basketball, a venue with NBA-caliber amenities. He took over as general manager soon after AEG signed a contract to manage the arena in 2012. Petrullo has been with AEG since 2009, and his experience includes serving as general manager of Scottrade Center, where he ran food service for Delaware North Sportservice before switching to facility operations.

    Among other standouts in the extensive AEG family:

    • Chris Wright, general manager of Oracle Arena and the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, is the only individual to run buildings for NBA, NFL and MLB teams.

    • Steve Rosebrook has expanded his role to become AEG’s regional general manager, covering both Barclays Center and Nassau Coliseum, which reopened this year after a $260 million renovation.

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  • Michael Printup, Watkins Glen International

    Michael Printup (left) at Watkins Glen International with FIA race director Charlie Whiting
    Watkins Glen International

    Printup has been in charge of the road course for eight years, coming over from Michigan International Speedway, where he led $30 million in upgrades as senior director of facility management. At Watkins Glen, Printup has resurrected the facility as a concert venue, playing host to Phish festivals in 2011 and 2015 to generate revenue apart from auto racing. His experience includes 15 years with Delaware North Sportservice, running concessions at multiple stadiums before joining International Speedway Corp. as vice president of Americrown, the group’s food service company.

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  • Dan Quinn, T-Mobile Arena

    Vice president and general manager
    T-Mobile Arena

    Quinn works for MGM Resorts International, which partnered with AEG to develop the $375 million arena that opened in 2016. The Las Vegas Golden Knights, the NHL’s newest expansion team, starts play there this fall and the UFC signed a multiyear deal to book four events annually at the facility. Quinn was previously vice president of entertainment for Mandalay Bay and its venues, including Mandalay Bay Events Center, a 12,000-seat arena.

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  • Bob Rice, Kansas City Royals

    Vice president of ballpark operations and development
    Kansas City Royals

    Rice has been with the Royals for 13 years, and together with Kevin Uhlich, the team’s senior vice president of business, led the $250 million renovation of Kauffman Stadium, which was completed in 2009. Before joining Kansas City, Rice spent 16 years with facility manager SMG at the Ice Palace (now Amalie Arena) in Tampa, the old St. Louis Arena and two arenas in England. In the early 2000s, Rice, a former corporal in the U.S. Army, was involved in the development of Coliseo de Puerto Rico, an 18,500-seat arena in San Juan.

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  • Carl Rice, Chicago Cubs

    Vice president of Wrigley Field restoration and expansion
    Chicago Cubs

    Over the past two years, Rice has focused his attention on the ballpark’s $600 million renovation and booking concerts. This summer, the Cubs have scheduled a record 10 shows at the Friendly Confines. Rice was vice president of ballpark operations before handing those duties over to Patrick Meenan in 2015. Rice has been employed with the Cubs since 1982, when he first worked part time for the team as a high school student.

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  • Xen Riggs, Columbus Arena Sports and Entertainment and Columbus Arena Management

    Photo by: GREG BARTRAM / CASE
    Columbus Arena Sports and Entertainment;
    Chief operating officer
    Columbus Arena Management

     Riggs oversees both Nationwide Arena and Ohio State’s Schottenstein Center as part of a joint operations agreement, signed in 2010, to eliminate competition for events and cut financial losses at both facilities. On campus, Riggs holds the title of associate vice president for student life and executive associate athletic director. He’s been at Ohio State since 1997, after managing Assembly Hall (now State Farm Center) for seven years at the University of Illinois.

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  • Tim Ryan, Honda Center

    President and CEO
    Honda Center

    Ryan was at the front end of the NHL’s second growth spurt in California, operating the Anaheim arena since it opened in 1993. In addition, as executive vice president and chief operating officer for the Anaheim Ducks, Ryan brought food service in-house in 2013 to assume greater control over quality and a seamless process for signing food-related sponsorships. Ryan’s 38-year career includes running Long Beach Arena.

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  • Jimmie Sacco, Heinz Field

    Vice president of stadium operations and management
    Heinz Field

    For close to 50 years, Sacco has been an integral part of sports facilities in Pittsburgh, dating to his first job in 1969 as an usher at the old Civic Arena. He spent 20 years at the arena, the Penguins’ former home, before taking over as manager of Three Rivers Stadium, and later, Heinz Field, when it opened in 2001. Four years later, Sacco co-founded the Gridiron Stadium Network, a group of NFL facilities taking financial risk to book concerts at their buildings, effectively changing the business model for how those venues secure those special events.

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  • Terry Savarise, United Center and Guaranteed Rate Field

    Senior vice president of operations
    United Center and Guaranteed Rate Field

    For more than 30 years, Savarise has managed Chicago sports venues of the Blackhawks, Bulls and White Sox for Jerry Reinsdof, owner of the Bulls and White Sox. Over the course of his career, Savarise developed new buildings to replace obsolete Chicago Stadium and Comiskey Park, plus the Bulls’ new practice facility and upcoming Blackhawks practice facility down the street from United Center, and Camelback Ranch, the White Sox’s spring training facility in Arizona that opened in 2009. Savarise was initially hired in 1981 as an intern for the MLB team, and four years later, he moved into facility operations.

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  • Roy Sommerhof, Baltimore Ravens

    Photo by: SHAWN HUBBARD
    Senior vice president of stadium operations
    Baltimore Ravens

    Sommerhof’s nearly 40-year career in sports covers both big league teams in town. He’s operated M&T Bank Stadium for the past 17 years after spending four years in the Ravens’ ticket office. Previously, Sommerhof served as stadium operations manager for both Camden Yards and old Memorial Stadium, after first working for the Orioles at their Florida spring training facility as a college student in the late 1970s.

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  • Brett Stefansson, Philips Arena

    Rendering shows the theater boxes, terrace seating and new suites that are part of Philips Arena’s renovation.
    Executive vice president and general manager
    Philips Arena

    The Atlanta Hawks hired Stefansson in October to help lead the $192 million renovation of the 18-year-old arena. Stefansson came from AT&T Center, where he served as vice president and general manager of the Spurs’ arena. During Stefansson’s three-year stint in San Antonio, AT&T Center went through a $110 million makeover. His more than 20 years’ experience also includes 14 years running BB&T Center, home of the Florida Panthers.

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  • Kim Stone, AmericanAirlines Arena

    Kim Stone with her AmericanAirlines Arena team at Arena Alley: Matthew Jafarian, Edson Crevecoeur, Brian Babin and Garrick Amos.
    Executive vice president and general manager
    AmericanAirlines Arena

    Stone has run the Miami Heat’s arena since 2006, working her way up to become general manager 10 years after getting her start in media relations. Three years after she took over arena operations, the facility became one of the first NBA venues to earn LEED certification for existing buildings. Before joining the Heat, Stone worked in sports information for the University of Miami and the University of Texas women’s athletic department.

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  • Steve Tadlock, Save Mart Center

    General manager
    Save Mart Center

    Tadlock has operated Fresno State’s Save Mart Center since it opened in November 2003, and he serves as one of SMG’s booking directors for the West region. Save Mart Center is the top-ranked on-campus facility on Pollstar’s list, placing 73rd last year overall with 225,000 tickets sold for special events. Tadlock and Jeff Nickler, GM of BOK Center in Tulsa, are among the company’s best at generating live content at their buildings, said Doug Thornton, SMGs executive vice president.

    Other SMG GMs making their mark:

    • Mark Miller at NRG Stadium is a fixture in Houston dating to 1980 at the old Summit, former home of the Houston Rockets.

    • Bill McConnell at EverBank Field and five other sports and entertainment venues in Jacksonville moved to SMG in 2013 after spending 25 years at the NFL.

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  • Patrick Talty, U.S. Bank Stadium

    Patrick Talty with U.S. Bank Stadium staff members
    General manager
    U.S. Bank Stadium

    In Minneapolis, Talty enters his second season at U.S. Bank Stadium and third year overall with SMG. He previously ran WWE’s touring division, which speaks to his ability to market special events at sports venues. Under Talty’s leadership, net operating revenue at the Vikings’ facility exceeded budget projections for the first year of operations. Talty served as assistant GM at University of Phoenix Stadium for about five years before heading overseas to run Zayed Sports City, a multisport complex in the United Arab Emirates.

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  • Brenda Tinnen, Sprint Center

    Senior vice president and general manager
    AEG Kansas City / Sprint Center

    In Kansas City, Tinnen is an AEG senior vice president and has been general manager of Sprint Center since the arena opened in 2007. This year marks her 50th year in the sports industry, dating to 1967 when she worked with her mother in ticketing for the former Kansas City Athletics. Over those five decades, she has run arenas in Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Houston and Phoenix, in addition to Kansas City.

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  • Dave Touhey, Monumental Sports & Entertainment

    President of venues
    Monumental Sports & Entertainment

    Touhey oversees operations at four facilities: Verizon Center, the arena shared by the Washington Capitals and Wizards; Kettler Capitals Iceplex, the NHL team’s practice facility; George Mason University’s EagleBank Arena; and the Wizards’ new $65 million practice facility opening in 2018. He was promoted in February 2016 as part of the company’s restructuring by Ted Leonsis, owner of the Capitals and Wizards. Touhey has been a building manager since 1996 when he was employed by the old Globe Facility Services, and later, Global Spectrum, before joining Leonsis’ group in 2004.

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  • Paul Turner, AT&T Stadium

    Senior director of event operations
    AT&T Stadium

    Turner runs the Dallas Cowboys’ facility, which has become one of the busiest stadiums in sports and entertainment since it opened in 2009. Apart from building operations, Turner plays a leadership role in the industry, serving on boards of the International Association of Venue Managers and the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security. Turner got his start in performing arts centers before switching to sports, working for the Portland Trail Blazers and Philadelphia Eagles before the Cowboys hired him in June 2008.

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  • Ron VanDeVeen, MetLife Stadium

    President and CEO
    MetLife Stadium

     Over the course of his 27 years at the Meadowlands, VanDeVeen has operated and booked events at multiple facilities including the Jets and Giants stadium. Since it opened in 2010, MetLife Stadium has been one of the top-grossing stadiums for concerts, due in large part to VanDeVeen’s strong relationships with promoters. VanDeVeen was promoted to president and CEO in 2016 after Brad Mayne stepped down from the position.

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  • David Young, CenturyLink Field

    Vice president of operations and general manager
    CenturyLink Field

    Young enters his third season running the Seahawks and Sounders stadium, which is recognized as one of the most intimidating buildings in sports for NFL and MLS games. He initially worked six years at CenturyLink Field as assistant GM and director of guest services, and then spent five seasons as the Kansas City Chiefs’ vice president of stadium operations before moving back to Seattle in 2015. From 1997 to 2002, he served as operations manager at Walt Disney World.

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  • Danny Zausner, USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center

    Photo by: USTA
    Managing director and chief operating officer
    USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center

    Zausner played a critical role in the massive $600 million expansion of the facility, the centerpiece of which is a new retractable roof over Arthur Ashe Stadium. He has been in charge of the home of the U.S. Open tennis tournament since 2001. From 1994 to 2001, Zausner served as senior vice president of the old Ogden Entertainment, and before that, he worked 10 years for concert promoter John Scher.

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  • Lee Zeidman, Staples Center

    Staples Center

    Zeidman runs Staples Center, AEG’s flagship arena in Los Angeles, and his responsibilities extend to overseeing L.A. Live and the Microsoft Theater after he became president of all three facilities in 2014. Zeidman was hired as Staples Center’s first employee in 1998 after coming over from the Great Western Forum, which he ran for 10 years for the Kings and Lakers. Last year, Staples Center sold 574,000 tickets to shows apart from its four sports tenants, placing it among the top 20 arenas worldwide, according to Pollstar rankings.

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  • Tracking Power Players Across North America

    Illustration by: Liz Spangler
    Honda Center, Anaheim
    StubHub Center, Carson
    Save Mart Center, Fresno
    Rose Bowl Stadium, Pasadena
    Staples Center, Los Angeles
    Chase Center, San Francisco
    SAP Center, San Jose
    Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara

    New York
    Yankee Stadium, Bronx
    Madison Square Garden, Manhattan
    v Citi Field, Queens
    USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, Queens
    Watkins Glen International, Watkins Glen

    Amway Center/Camping World Stadium, Orlando
    AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami
    Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens
    Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg

    Allstate Arena, Rosemont
    Soldier Field, Chicago
    United Center/Guaranteed Rate Field,
    Wrigley Field, Chicago

    Fenway Park, Boston
    TD Garden, Boston
    Gillette Stadium, Foxborough

    Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City
    Sprint Center, Kansas City
    Busch Stadium, St. Louis

    Progressive Field, Cleveland
    Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland
    Nationwide Arena/Schottenstein Center, Columbus

    AT&T Stadium, Arlington
    Frank Erwin Center, Austin
    American Airlines Center, Dallas

    Air Canada Centre, BMO Field, Ricoh Coliseum, Toronto/Tribute Communities Centre, Oshawa
    Bell Centre, Montreal / Bell Place, Laval
    Rogers Place, Edmonton*

    Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta
    Philips Arena, Atlanta

    U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis
    Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul

    Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia
    Heinz Field, Pittsburgh

    Talking Stick Resort Arena, Phoenix

    Pepsi Center, Denver / Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, Commerce City

    Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Indianapolis

    KFC Yum! Center, Louisville

    M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore

    Little Caesars Arena, Detroit

    CenturyLink Center/TD Ameritrade Park, Omaha

    T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas

    New Jersey
    MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford

    North Carolina
    Greensboro Coliseum Complex, Greensboro

    Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City

    Bridgestone Arena, Nashville

    CenturyLink Field, Seattle

    Washington, D.C.
    Verizon Center/EagleBank Arena

    * Not featured on map.

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  • Power Players built careers from humble beginnings

    Doug Behar, Yankee Stadium
    Worked for the Bronx Bombers as an intern in 1997.

    Antony Bonavita, Quicken Loans Arena
    Was an intern to assistant director of athletics for facility and event operations at Stony Brook (N.Y.) University.

    Rich Claffey, Madison Square Garden
    Worked as an MSG stagehand in 1983.

    Susan Darrington, Rogers Place
    As a 15 year old, worked as an usher at Northlands Coliseum.

    Tim Friedenberger, Bridgestone Arena
    Was an ice technician at Expo Hall in Tampa.

    Jim Folk, Progressive Field
    Served as a part-time security guard for the Chicago White Sox in the summer of 1979.

    Jim Goddard, SAP Center
    Worked as a custodian at the old Met Center in Bloomington, Minn.

    Jack Larson, Xcel Energy Center
    Was a college student sweeping the concourses at the old Met Center.

    Pete Nesbit, Fenway Park
    Started working for the Red Sox in 1999 as a security guard.

    Carl Rice, Wrigley Field
    Worked part time for the Cubs as a high school student.

    Terry Savarise, United Center and Guaranteed Rate Field
    Hired in 1981 as an intern for the Chicago White Sox.

    Jimmie Sacco, Heinz Field
    Worked as an usher at the Civic Center in Pittsburgh.

    Roy Sommerhof, M&T Bank Stadium
    Worked for the Orioles at their Florida spring training facility as a college student in the late 1970s.

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  • Pass it on: Advice to young people seeking facility management career

    DAVE BROWN, American Airlines Center: The advice I’ve been giving for years is to be flexible with expectations when looking for opportunities in sports venue management. The competition for jobs is so fierce you can’t be too selective where your entry point might be. Facility executives come from all areas of the operation and nothing will stop you from advancing once you’re in the door and in the game.

    SCOTT JENKINS, Mercedes-Benz Stadium: Get your foot in the door anywhere you can — every experience is a good experience. Meet as many people as possible and prove your worth. The more you give, the more you get — it’s not about you. Have fun, work hard, and find unexpected ways to make a difference. Be thankful for any opportunity that comes your way. Be able to articulate your values and work with an organization that aligns with them.

    ALLEN JOHNSON, Amway Center/Camping World Stadium: First, I’d suggest getting as much education as possible that includes marketing, analytics, forecasting, accounting, negotiation, business, sales, contract law, psychology among other core classes. I would suggest an internship or entry-level position with a minor league sports team. I usually suggest baseball since there are so many leagues and opportunities. During that job they should try everything from marketing, sales, concessions, operations, ticket sales, etc. that the team will allow. One day you’re staffing the mascot, the next day you are the mascot.

    JIM MERCURIO, Levi’s Stadium: My first piece of advice would be to enter the business with “your eyes wide open,” meaning it is extremely important to understand that this is not a 9-to-5 job. It can be difficult on relationships, friendships and family given the demand of the schedule. Weekends, spring, summer, fall, holidays are all primary targets and seasons for when fans and customers want to be entertained. While others are heading to dinner on Friday or Saturday night, you’re likely prepping the field, the arena, the stadium for Saturday or Sunday’s event; or even preparing to open the doors for the multiple private or catered special events that you might be hosting in your venue that evening.

    Secondly, it is important to remain vigilant, patient and poised. Nowadays, it seems that careers are made up of 2-3 year stints (if not less) as skill sets develop quicker and employee desires for upward mobility seem to be on the fast track … However, the frustration for employees itching to move up in the world can be daunting at times given the fact that many tend to stay once they’ve landed what seemingly was, or is, their dream job, ultimately limiting the desired upward mobility.

    JOHN PAGE, Wells Fargo Center: Get your foot in the door, ask a lot of questions, be engaged with every department in the facility to learn everything and anything you can while becoming an expert in your job and, last but not least, find a mentor that will support your goals and assist with your personal and professional development.

    ROY SOMMERHOF, M&T Bank Stadium: Try to gain as much experience as possible working in various disciplines. In my experience, the more well-rounded you are, the more marketable you will be to your employer or to future employers.

    BRETT STEFANSSON, Philips Arena: Other than a solid education, young people need to realize the importance of developing their soft skills.

    KIM STONE, AmericanAirlines Arena: Networking is critical, but even before that step, you need to start with a passion for this industry. While it is an immensely rewarding career, it is also an extremely demanding one that requires working nights and weekends. If you love this industry, the long hours never feel like a sacrifice. They are energizing and you have a lot of fun.

    DAVE TOUHEY, Verizon Center: The best bits of advice I can give to someone is to always try to start with yes, always try to find solutions to a problem or make something work. Being a problem solver and being able to make things work is an invaluable asset. Also never pass up an opportunity to learn or grow in the business. The more well-rounded you are the more opportunities you create for yourself. The last bit would be to make sure you are enjoying what you are doing. It can be long hours and hard work, but if you are enjoying it, neither of those will matter as much.

    PAUL TURNER, AT&T Stadium: Join different industry associations as a student or young professional member and get involved. The International Association of Venue Managers and Stadium Managers Association is a good start. You can connect with various professionals and ask for informational interviews, attend industry events, and visit venues to see firsthand how venues and events function. Start making connections and seek to understand the different career opportunities and how your skills connect with them.

    LEE ZEIDMAN, Staples Center: First, become a sponge and soak up as much information as you can about sports venue management by offering to spend time with each and every department or business unit within the venue. That may mean sweeping the arena bowl after an event or converting it to the next event or working in sales/marketing/event coordination or the venue’s social media department. The more you know about the venue or industry the more valuable you are when it becomes time to fill positions from within and I’m a firm believer in promoting from within.

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  • Need to know: How will facility management skills change?

    DAVE BROWN, American Airlines Arena: The venue operating environment is changing very rapidly due to external factors, and venue professionals must adapt just as quickly to stay current. Look at how social media and security threats have changed our profession in the last 10 years. Certainly there are things we don’t even know are coming over the next 10 years that will have the same impact. Venue executives must stay informed and ready to address what the next big things may be.

    SCOTT JENKINS, Mercedes-Benz Stadium: Technology-driven data and social media are all around us in our hyperconnected world. We’ll need to sort through the noise of an over-abundance of data to find actionable information. At the same time, we need to stay connected on a personal level with our customers and associates. Being good at both will be key.

    ALLEN JOHNSON, Amway Center/Camping World Stadium: Technology will continue to evolve and change the way we work and the expectations of our patrons. The experience will continue to be what we should focus on and how we can make that better, easier and pertinent. We must continue to adapt to the changes coming as well as to anticipate what is next. We will be challenged to find ways to make more money and to spend less.

    JIM MERCURIO, Levi’s Stadium: I can see the next 10 years requiring a more centralized approach on how we serve our customers. For example, what we know and understand about our customers’ wants, needs and desires, spending habits, arrival patterns, etc. all helps toward delivering upon the needs of our customers. Using and understanding data and analytics is and will likely remain an important tool and skill set in developing mechanisms to be sure that we deliver quality customer service as we strive to exceed our customers’ expectations, which are consistently on the rise and for good reason.

    I think our focus on safety and security will need to remain at the forefront. That said, we must continue to strive toward integrating smart technologies, guest services and event staffing training initiatives that complement our security programs.

    I might also suggest that in 10 years, the baby boomer generation might need some additional assistance with targeted focus on their needs, desires and accommodations given the fact that they make up a substantial amount of the North American population — somewhere around 20 percent.

    Lastly, I will contend that the job will continue to require what it has for the 25-plus years that I’ve been in it. That is, people you can believe in. Employees you can trust. Mentors that can and actually teach. Leaders who aren’t afraid to make mistakes.

    We’ve got all of that at the 49ers. I’ve been fortunate enough to have that around me my entire life.

    JOHN PAGE, Wells Fargo Center: Adaptation to technology to allow venue relevance. There’s been so many recent developments and our job as facility managers will continue to be the incorporation of the technology to assist with the overall live experience. There’s still nothing like seeing your favorite team win or hearing that special song, but the recognition that technology integration makes all of those an even more special impression.

    Management of the new generation will also be a challenge with their expectations. We will need to leverage our business culture to allow the future leaders to engage, embrace and commit to our organizations. Obviously what we do (the nights, weekends and volume) isn’t always easy but at the end of the day we still need to have fun doing what we do … we’re in the best business ever and the envy of many. Need that to translate to all of those that we touch!

    ROY SOMMERHOF, M&T Bank Stadium: Security of our venues and their surrounding areas will continue to be a high priority. To that end, venue managers will likely need to pay particular attention to incidents globally, nationally, and locally to develop strategies that deal with ongoing threats. Those strategies will need to be adaptable to the threat at hand. The challenge for the venue manager of the future will be to implement security practices that keep the venue and fans safe from all types of threats, and at the same time produce minimal detrimental impact to the guest experience.

    BRETT STEFANSSON, Philips Arena: We will continue to see rapid advancements in technology and analytics and having an understanding of these areas and how they influence the day to day business is critical.  

    KIM STONE, AmericanAirlines Arena: To be effective venue managers, we have to stay ahead of how the world is changing and consumer behaviors are evolving. That is a daily challenge. The macro forces I’m watching that will have a long-term impact on the industry are mobile technology, data analytics and terrorism, both physical and cyber. The successful venue managers, therefore, will acquire the necessary expertise in these areas to maximize the opportunities and minimize the risks.

    DAVE TOUHEY, Verizon Center: I think the more well-rounded with a complete understanding of the industry will be important. I think that technology is a huge growth area especially when coupled with experience at the venue. We are all competing for the same entertainment dollars across a lot of platforms, and venues need to stay on top of that. Another area that will continue to be a focus will be security. We are in a completely different place with security at venues than we were in the past, it is a critical area that requires attention. People skills and strong time management will always be important skill sets in this industry.

    PAUL TURNER, AT&T Stadium: As a venue manager, our profession continues to evolve with the development of standards and practices, the application of new technologies, and efforts to make attending live sports and entertainment experiences compelling. Over the next 10 years the people who will be successful are those who continue to innovate, people who have a balance of creative skills with analytic abilities. Successful leaders will be people who build organizations that are able to adjust to changing situations and who put their people in a position to be successful.

    LEE ZEIDMAN, Staples Center: I’ve always told young people trying to get into this business that it is not just a career or profession but a lifestyle. The hours and days can be incredibly long, it is event driven and there are no weekends and holidays off if you are hosting events. It can take its toll on relationships and families and it’s a must to understand and figure out a life/work balance early on or this industry could burn you out quickly. That said, the job takes strong leadership and relationship-building skills, the ability to coach and counsel employees, incredible amounts of patience, dedication, the ability to change decisions on the fly and a strong understanding of analytics and social media. Outside of understanding the latest and greatest technology that may be introduced over the next 10 years, I don’t see these core skill sets or requirements changing.

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