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Volume 22 No. 27
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Maureen Smith, Minnesota United FC

Photo: Jordan Johnson

Sometimes when Allianz Field is empty, Maureen Smith will hike to the top of the stadium’s supporters section and look out. Several St. Paul, Minn., church steeples rise in the background. It’s a fulfilling sight for Smith, who oversaw the privately funded stadium’s $250 million construction project, which she kept on budget.

 

Maureen Smith

Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Minnesota United FC

Born: Pontiac, Mich.

Education: University of Michigan, B.A.

“I had never consistently written $15 million checks a month for an extended period of time,” she said.

Throughout her career, Smith has reinvented herself, and the organizations in which she works. As a single mother in her 20s, she switched careers, leaving behind social work to become an accountant and better support her family. When the opportunity to help steer Minnesota United FC’s transition from the NASL to MLS appeared, she left behind another career as a health care administrator. 

MNUFC handles its own stadium operations at Allianz Field, which Smith oversees. She developed a program called “Loonatic” that set high expectations for customer service, something the club thinks will set its game experience apart in a crowded Twin Cities sports market. For training, Smith asked a data analytics company and an improv comedy theater to combine their training, which proved more effective than either would have been on its own.

“We’re doing everything for the first time,” Smith said, “and I’ve gotten to be part of something that we’re building from scratch. That excites me.” — Bret McCormick

Getting to know...

Favorite day-off activity: Playing hockey with my team the “Loonachicks.”

Something your friends would consider “so you”: I don’t eat at buffets or potlucks, and I don’t like my children to be barefoot in hotel rooms.

Misperception of working in sports business: That sports is big business. We have big business visibility with small business-sized staff. 

Woman in sports business you’d like to meet: Jessica Diggins. She won the United States’ first-ever cross-country skiing gold medal. She’s from Minnesota, competes in a sport that I think requires the most discipline of any sport, and is an ambassador for Fast and Female, an organization committed to inspiring the next generation of female athletes.