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Volume 20 No. 42
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Jim Foss, senior vice president and general manager, Arena

Jim Foss has been through most of the ups and downs tied to the Phoenix Coyotes’ shaky tenure at Arena. He’s now in his seventh year with the Coyotes as the arena’s senior vice president and general manager. Prior to joining the Coyotes, he spent 16 years working at arenas in Worcester, Mass., Bakersfield, Calif., and points in between. He graduated from UMass with a degree in sports management after serving in the U.S. Navy from 1983 to 1986.

We have no room for error here when you’re selling anything, whether it’s hockey or a concert. We have to be on our ‘A’ game all the time.

On dealing with the Coyotes’ uncertainty:
It’s not as distracting as one would think. When you’re on the outside, it may appear distracting. When you’re focused on the things you can control, you have no other choice but to do your job. That’s been our energy, really: You get up, you book the building and maintain it, whether it’s chillers or light bulbs, refrigeration units, the ice. You hire good people, let them do their job, get out of their way and provide good customer service.
Balancing the team’s situation and fans’ needs: We can provide superior customer service; it’s more or less the culture. We have the best part-time staff since I’ve been in this business. There are so many former military here that are retired and just looking for something to do. A lot of husband-and-wife teams; a great group of people that care.

How military experience helps: Military people have a great appreciation for chain of command, for doing the right thing. We are also blessed that we have a lot of former police officers and firefighters that work here.

About Westgate Center, the development surrounding the arena: Tanger Outlets just opened 80 stores across the street [in November]. When we had the Super Bowl [at adjacent University of Phoenix Stadium in 2008], it’s like someone came along and sprinkled Miracle-Gro all over Westgate. All these hotels and restaurants were popping up. Now we have all these outlet stores. It’s amazing, like when you see all the Canadian visitors come down from Edmonton when the Oilers were in town [in late January]. They can go golfing, shopping, stay at the Renaissance hotel, catch the game and then go out to dinner at Fleming’s. It’s all within a block and a half.