Imagine planning a wedding for 1000 guests—invitations, clothing, food, party favors, music, dancing, security, preparing (and cleaning up) the facility, parking, transporting elderly guests, managing social media, and following “rules” when it comes to seating assignments.
Now imagine doing all this—and more--for over 35,000 people six times in a four-month period and you’ll get about 10% of the way to understanding what goes on behind the scenes at a Boise State home football game.
Each time my student assistant Madison Motzner and I talk to one of the people who make the game day experience so great, we’re overwhelmed…again.
Putting on a football game involves at least 14 different operational areas, not including the program itself (e.g., recruiters, trainers, “costume and props”). We’re talking media to tickets, security to parking, marketing to concessions, the band/cheer/dance squad to compliance. And they all have to coordinate.
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So what are a few of those behind the scenes elements? Let me give you a tiny peek.
Bob Carney, Associate Athletic Director/Operations, oversees about 130 on-site NCAA competitions annually across the 20 sports that 397 Boise State student athletes engage in. Each sport has its own manual and checklist to be sure things are done according to NCAA, Mountain West Conference and Boise State rules. The football manual, for example, is 6” thick--300 double-sided pages. Carney’s involved in everything from stadium “lock down” a week before a game to overseeing clean up afterward, which requires six 40-yard dumpsters for recycling and trash.
Assistant Athletic Director Matt Thomas manages marketing and promotions on the screens and the field (think “Ford punt truck”). He has 250-300 “script lines” of what promotion goes where, at what time, and for how long (10-60 seconds). He also coordinates media breaks, time outs, and even monitoring the time it takes the band onto the field (55 seconds). In addition, he oversees social media around sports, making sure Boise State’s 120,000 Facebook followers and 30,000 Twitter followers get the information they want.
For 20 years, Bob Royce has worked with the 65 ticket takers and ushers on game day, helping people find seats, settle disagreements (1 or 2 per game) and have a great time. He walks 19,000 steps during a game, and assures me you can enter almost any gate and get to the other side of the stadium from the inside.
Associate Athletic Director for Development Dusty Clements helps the Bronco Athletic Association raise scholarship money for student athletes, but also gets involved in game day activities. His crew does things like oversee the 1500 reserved tailgate spots, transport guests who are unable to walk easily, and wipe down the orange seats in the stadium that season pass holders buy for the fall. They also help BAA members solve problems (“I am driving in from McCall and just noticed I forgot my tickets”).
The longtime ticket office guru, Anita Guerricabeitia, runs the selling of about 240,000 football tickets per season (36,000 times six plus any extra games) and tickets for the other sports, including basketball, gymnastics and wrestling, track and field and so many more. Given that some 2000 football season ticket buyers change their seats each year, she also manages the “relocation event” that happens in the spring where people decide on new seats, and often, buy more.
NCAA Compliance plays a big role throughout the academic year but also for games. Associate Athletic Director of Compliance, Matt Brewer quotes his five year-old daughter in how she explains his job: “my dad makes sure the Broncos follow the rules.” Indeed. Given that the NCAA generates about 20 new rules a year and each rule may have 10-15 “interpretations,” he’s got to be on top of what athletes, coaches, donors—and even academic staff—can do relating to student athletes and potential recruits. He monitors everything from who can be on the sidelines before the game (boosters on the visitor side, recruits on the home side) and insures that all leave the field before kickoff to how many coaches and others can “talk into headsets” (i.e., coach) versus just listen in.
As Bob Carney says, “we do our jobs well when people come to a game, leave and never knew what happened behind the scenes.” It’s all about having a great experience. What a treat.