Job Profile: Sports Facility Director

While you’ve probably attended many sporting events in your lifetime, you may not have stopped to think about the hard work that goes into keeping these games running smoothly. That’s precisely where the sports facility director comes in. Also known as athletic facilities managers, sports facility directors are focused on overseeing the daily operations of football fields, basketball arenas, baseball stadiums, tennis courts, ice rinks, boxing rings, swimming pools, golf courses, and all other playing surfaces. Sports facility directors work hard behind the scenes to ensure the quality of play and safety of athletic teams. In this service-oriented and often thankless position, sports facility directors make sure that sporting events go off without a hitch so that spectators can sit comfortably to enjoy the game.

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According to Payscale, the median annual salary for sports facility directors in the United States is $82,110, or a median hourly wage of $24. On top of this salary, sports facility directors can make up to $44.18 per hour of overtime, $22,931 in bonuses, and $20,273 in profit sharing too.

Beginning Salary

When just starting as a sports facility director, individuals can expect to fall within the bottom 10 percent of the profession with a yearly salary around $49,269. However, it’s important to note that highly experienced sports facility directors in large stadiums or on university campuses often report breaking the six-figure salary mark for $122,762 or more each year.

Key Responsibilities

In general, sports facility directors are given the sole responsibility of coordinating, planning, and supervising the operation of various sporting facilities. On a typical workday, sports facility directors may be involved in scheduling practice sessions, keeping inventory of supplies, preparing a budgeting plan, setting up property security systems, organizing evacuation routes, arranging for equipment repairs, ordering new equipment if needed, and overseeing necessary preparation for a scheduled competition. Some sports facility directors may also hire new employees, determine salaries, establish facility fees, and set membership or ticket costs. Sports facility directors spend time building cooperative relationships and connections with the directors at other facilities too.

Necessary Skills

A sports facility director must be a jack-of-all trades with a slew of different skills to maintain smooth operations for their arena or stadium. To be successful, sports facility directors must possess strong interpersonal and public relations skills for communicating details about events properly. Leadership abilities are essential because many sports facility directors often manage at least 10 or more employees. Having managerial, critical thinking, problem solving, decision-making, strategic planning, and other related business skills is crucial. Sports facility directors should also be equipped with the technical skills in turf management, HVAC, sound systems, and First Aid to handle any emergency situations confidently.

Degree and Education Requirements

Having a post-secondary education isn’t always required for sports facility directors, but it’s often required to stand out against competition in this niche field. Many aspiring sports facility directors head to an accredited university to earn a bachelor’s degree in sports management, facility management, turf management, business administration, management, physical education, or recreational management. If possible, earning a sports management degree is advised for building essential knowledge specifically in sport management, sport marketing, sport law, facilities management, sport revenue, sport sales, fitness management, event management, sport licensing, and more. Pursuing a master’s degree in sports management or MBA may also be helpful for those looking to advance as executive sports directors.

Pros and Cons of the Position

For avid sports fans with a passion for their team of choice, becoming a sports facility director can be a rewarding option with the benefit of attending every home game. Sports facility directors receive rather competitive salaries and good benefits without the need for strict post-secondary education requirements. Sports facility directors get the chance to interact with coaches, athletes, team owners, fans, and many different employees on a daily basis. On the flip side, working as a sports facility director will require hard work with a heavy dose of high-profile responsibility to keep sporting events running smoothly. Since games tend to occur on weekends and during evening hours, sports facility directors almost always work outside the normal 9-to-5 work schedule.

Getting Started

If you’re dreaming of becoming a sports facility director, then you’ll simply need to start getting into the stadium. Build your resume by interning at a sports complex, working part-time in sports maintenance, grabbing a temporary job in the ticket sales office, or even hopping behind the counter at the concession stands. Begin by gaining experience in sports facility operations and learning the skills needed to take care of the facility. You should also receive First Aid and CPR certification to quickly react to any health-related emergencies. With time, you’ll be prepared to confidently begin applying for positions like stadium operations manager or sports facility manager before working up to director. Aspiring sports facility directors can also set themselves apart by receiving professional certification from the International Facility Management Association (IFMA) as a Certified Facility Manager (CFM).

Future Outlook

Statistics show that the sports industry in the United States is thriving with an annual revenue of over $485 billion dollars! As sports continue to grow in popularity as our nation’s favorite pastime, it’s expected that job prospects in sports facility management should remain relatively steady for the next few decades. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of administrative services managers, including facility managers and directors, is expected to grow slightly faster than average at 12 percent before 2022. Due to the fact that many graduates wish to enter the spectator sports industry, competition for jobs will be fierce. Sports facility directors are more likely to succeed with a strong academic background, solid facility work experience, and a burning passion for sports.

Much like an innkeeper or apartment superintendent, a sports facility director serves the role of taking care of the physical day-to-day operations for sporting event venues. Not only do sports facility directors have the task of overseeing any maintenance or repair projects that must be completed before a big competition, but they also need to keep the teams and fans happy while sticking to a budget plan. Even if you don’t have an athletic bone in your body, it’s possible to be heavily involved within what happens on the field and in the stadium seats as a sports facility director.

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