What does it take to be a stadium manager and what do they do to support the delivery sporting events? Jonas Djian was Stadium Manager at Stade de France, the biggest Stadium in France before launching his own company, organising stadium tours around the world and lecturing in Sport Management. Here, Jonas shares his experience and insights from being a stadium manager for a global sporting venue, the skills needed to succeed and the impact of the global pandemic on venue management.
There are 2 different cycles in a Stadium that dictate the rhythm of a stadium managers day: non-event days and event days.
Depending on the team the Stadium Manager works for, will depend on the scale of the operations they run. This can include overseeing pitch management, security and safety, ticketing, service delivery at hospitality level and more. The Stadium Manager will work in close collaboration with the marketing and sales departments, but also have very close working relations with the other departments such as finance, legal, HR and the communications teams.
The role has both a global and a support function, which means that while the Stadium Manager is involved in every aspect of the venues management, they can also be involved in more specific areas focusing on a particular requirement.
The main responsibility is to deliver the experience of the stadium, as imagined and designed by the other departments. The underlying objective is to deliver the most successful event experience possible to customers (which includes not just fans but also spectators, sponsors etc.), so that they will want to return again and again.
During the event days, the Stadium Manager’s responsibility which is supported by services and teams including catering, cleaning, security, audio-visual services and equipment rental is to ensure they deliver event success in the eyes of the customer.
“On event days a Stadium Manager can coordinate between the 2 to 3 thousand people, all of whom need to be mobilised to deliver the best event possible for a 80,000 seat stadium.
On non-event day the Stadium Manager is preparing upcoming events and during periods where events are not being held, he/she will be working on the development of the stadium in order to increase the number and quality of activities and events that are delivered by the venue.
Sporting stadiums today host a wide range of event types, from concerts to fundraising and even festivals, all of which require a very different approach and management requirements. During concert preparations for example, there are a lot of external logistics coming into the stadium bringing in staging and equipment and thus requires more administration than for a football or rugby game for example.
“Many European stadiums are now being used 365 days a year.”
However, non-event days are increasingly rare. Venues are today increasingly commercially focused with a drive to diversity opportunity and revenue. In Europe, during the summer months, concerts take over stadiums and it's also a popular time for guided tour activities. This means that the Stadium Manager will have to carefully plan tour routes that not only provide a great experience but avoid any works and developments that are taking place in the off-season.
During school holidays and weekends, family focused events are often planned, attracting families to the venue, facilities and onsite shops. During the week seminars, trade shows, conventions and forums are planned to attract business users, so there is rarely a down time!
A new post-COVID reality brings new challenges in event delivery and venue management for 2021 and beyond.
There are new best practices, advice and resources to make operations more efficient and secure.
“COVID poses a new challenge, but the processes of event control and venue management remain essentially the same.”
You have to address the risks, paying attention to having a good oversight of your venue and plan to be able to implement all requirements to keep the fans safe via updated rules and protocols (masks, hygiene, distancing measures etc.), Successfully implemented and you will be able to deliver great events as it was the case before the pandemic.
In my opinion, The future of sports venues is contactless. Stadium technology is helping enable a safer and smarter fan experience and will help to create brand new stadiums which will offer opportunities to be used not only for sports and for a wide range of events and audiences.
To be a good stadium manager it is really important to be organised, to know your stadium and all it's details, as if it were your home. You need be a ‘people person’, to know each manager of each supplier and also to be creative - you will need translate peoples ideas into reality by organising diverse activities and make them happen.
On event days, the days can be long and tiring. it is important to be comfortable working under pressure and be 'dynamic' for a long periods of time. On match days we can work from 8am to 2, 3 or 4 am as we are responsible for opening and closing the stadium.
You have contact with a diverse set of people from many different departments and backgrounds and a stadium manager needs to thrive in this setting if you are to succeed.
The role is often like being a ‘Swiss Army Knife’, being prepared to make a quick decisions using the resources you have at your disposal.
Overall though, it’s an amazingly rewarding career. One that puts you at the beating heart of planning and delivering amazing sporting events with the knowledge that you played a key role in bring fans experiences to life. Match days are a special occasion for any stadium manager, watching your teams hard effort come to life.
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