This is an excerpt from Managing Sport Facilities 4th Edition With Web Study Guide by Gil B. Fried & Matthew Kastel.
This chapter explores what is involved in managing multiuse college facilities. The concepts apply to more than just college facilities, but we felt a college example would best demonstrate the concepts. Multiuse college athletic facilities can include a wide variety of different facilities and as such the college is like a high school with multiple facilities. A college, though, might have anything from a handful of fields, a gym, and a fitness center to possibly several dozen facilities, including practice fields, field houses, stadiums, arenas, golf courses, and rowing houses. It all depends on size. The larger the university, the more athletic facilities it normally has. As an example, Yale University has the following athletic facilities: Brady Squash Center, The Course at Yale, Coxe Cage, Cullman-Heyman Tennis Center, Cuyler Field/Dwyer Track, DeWitt Family Stadium, Frank Field, Gales Ferry, Gilder Boathouse, golf course, Ingalls Rink, Payne Whitney Gym (the largest gym in the world), Johnson Field, McNay Family Sailing Center, an outdoor education center, Ray Tompkins House, Reese Stadium, Smilow Field Center, Carm Cozza Complex, Yale Bowl, Kenney Center, and Yale Field (Official website, n.d.). Not every large college will have so many fields, but Yale is a good example of the diverse number of facilities that could be the responsibility of a facility manager.
Yale Athletic Facilities—Ingalls Rink
Mr. Makins has a bachelor of arts degree in economics from the University of Michigan and a master of business administration degree in marketing from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Mr. Makins has had a long and distinguished career in sport marketing and facility management. That journey includes the following:
- Yale University. Director of ticket operations; associate athletic director, ticket and rink operations; senior associate athletic director, ticket and rink operations
- University of Illinois at Chicago. Volunteer graduate assistant; coordinator of ticket sales and outreach
- Chicago Bulls. Game-day sales
- Chicago Rush. Game-day hospitality
- Chicago Steel. Game-day operations
I did not take a traditional path to enter the sport administration field. I gained most of my industry-specific knowledge as on the job training, and my first supervisor, Scott Garrett, did an incredible job of teaching, training, and advising. I could not have asked for a better mentor, and he helped set me on my current path. I can directly connect a lot of my current philosophy to what Scott taught me.
At Yale, our deputy athletic director, Wayne Dean, has been an incredible mentor. He has taught me practical skills while always serving as my go-to guide when looking for advice or help. He is incredibly well respected in the collegiate hockey world, and I am very fortunate to be able to work with him.
For better or worse, I was not given a lot of advance training when I took on these job responsibilities. That meant it was a steep initial learning curve, but it also allowed me to introduce an outsider's perspective, which has proven to be successful.
Our on-campus rink, Ingalls Rink, serves as the home to the Yale men's and women's hockey programs. A small group of staff members works together to service all operational needs. I am responsible for day-to-day scheduling, revenue generation, and oversight of our varsity hockey events. One other staff person handles most of the day-to-day building operations and maintenance needs. Finally, one other staff person focuses on the expenses, capital projects, and overall responsibility of the venue.
Ingalls Rink is an architecturally important venue, and on a daily basis we are focusing on regular building operations and also serving as hosts to tour groups and general public visitors who just want to see it. We had a major renovation about 10 years ago that helped keep the building viable for current usage needs. That renovation added new spaces that can be used for our men's and women's hockey teams (new locker rooms, strength and conditioning, coaches' offices, team rooms, etc.) while also upgrading many of the mechanical systems. Recently, we added light-emitting diode (LED) lighting over the ice surface.
As a part of Yale University, we work closely with the central university facilities office to ensure that Ingalls Rink continues to be one of the most beautiful and significant hockey rinks in the country.
Ingalls Rink, often called the whale, is an iconic sport facility.
Working at My Facility
Being a part of the team that services our incredible student-athletes is very fulfilling. There is immense satisfaction at the end of a big win, especially if played in front of a sellout crowd. Our university president refers to it as BIRG—basking in reflected glory. We have some challenges that can make my job more challenging. Being an iconic facility minimizes the things we can do with the outside of the facility. We also have coaches who want their athletes to have access to work out and train in the enclosed gym at any time. Thus, we had to issue swipe cards to hockey players so they can come in at any time to train. That can raise security issues, such as lights being left on or a door being left ajar. These issues might not be unique just to my facility, but the politics around our campus and the issues that might arise between the university, students, coaches, and the public requires careful navigation.
A Day in the Life of a Facility Manager
Ingalls Rink is open during the university's academic season—essentially from September through the end of March. However, that doesn't mean that we only focus on the rink during those months.
I spend the majority of my summer (May to August) planning and preparing the upcoming year's schedule. This means regular e-mails, phone calls, and meetings to set up the coming year. By the time August rolls around, 90% of the rink's schedule is finalized for the year. After agreeing to a tentative schedule, I interface between our users and a team at Yale that consists of risk management, the general counsel's office, and the tax and bond office to review and approve the facility use agreements (FUAs). It's my job to prepare the FUAs so that the internal Yale team can quickly review and approve them.
During the academic year, I have a number of administrative duties not related to rink operations, so my time is not exclusively spent at the rink. On a daily basis, however, I maintain regular correspondence with our lead operations staff person—we discuss any number of things, although the conversations typically focus on rink schedule, staffing schedule, custodial schedule, weather forecast, and event preparation and logistics.
Our big event days include men's and women's varsity games. For a weekday game played at 7:00 p.m., I will typically be in my main office (not located at the rink) at 9:00 a.m. That time is spent collaborating with other athletic department personnel and preparing for the weekend's events (since we are a collegiate athletic department, we are preparing for all of our events—not just hockey). I will typically be on-site at the rink 4 hours before game time.
I have a routine and checklist so that I can set up the building for the game (tables, stanchions, scanners, laptops, ticket printers, etc.). Most of our game-day staff arrive between 1-1/2 and 2 hours before the game, so I need to make sure I'm ready to greet them and give them game-specific information. Once the game-day staff are prepared, they'll get into position and be ready for us to open our doors to the public.
During an event, I am typically walking the rink. For me, that means that I am constantly scanning the crowd, checking in with game-day staff, talking with security and police, walking outside to check on parking operations, handling customer service issues, and managing crowd control. If things are going well, I may get to spend a couple minutes in the third period to watch the end of the game!
Our typical game lasts about 2 hours and 15 minutes, so by 9:15 p.m., the teams should be off the ice. Some nights, we have other events scheduled to go on after the varsity game, but typically we don't schedule anything afterwards. My postgame routine includes breaking down the tables, signage, laptops, scanners, and other items that were set up a couple hours before the game. I ensure that fans safely leave the venue, the visiting team gets to its bus, and that the postgame cleaning crew gets started; and then I do a final check of the building to see if any immediate damage was incurred. On an average night, I usually leave the rink around 10:30 p.m.