Stadium Venues Require Flexibility In Labor, Scheduling
Building service contractors that service sports stadiums and arenas truly have to be on their game every day that they are performing work in huge, high-traffic facilities such as sports stadiums, auditoriums and arenas. Hospitality comes first when fans and patrons are paying big bucks to attend events, and the focus should always remain on providing a positive experience for guests.
Stadium venues, whether they house professional football, baseball, basketball and other sports teams, college teams or events such as concerts, offer a unique and sometimes challenging set of requirements from service providers.
From handling the volume needs posed by tens of thousands of people attending single events to covering hundreds of thousands of square feet before, during and after events, the first imperative is to have a skilled, dependable workforce and quality managerial staff in place to direct them.
Heavy traffic, high volume
Cleaning up after thousands of people using the restrooms, eating everything from popcorn and shelled peanuts to ice cream and hot dogs with stadium sauce, and drinking margaritas, soda pop and frothy beer, janitors are dealing with a huge volume of waste and consumables — sometimes in a very short amount of time.
“The events that happen, a lot of them are quick turnovers, they’ll go from hockey, like an ice rink, to basketball, or to a rodeo, within a matter of hours,” says Marylin Oldaker, vice president of business development for Midwest Maintenance in Omaha, Neb., which services three major arena/stadium facilities there — an auditorium, a baseball stadium and a convention center, which are operated by one organization, the Metropolitan Entertainment and Convention Authority.
Between the different venues and different types of events, staffing requires mastery of employee scheduling, planning and organization — so much so, Midwest started up a temporary staffing service, enabling it to specialize in filling the labor needs of their customers.
Typically, for events, crews are staffed in two shifts: one works during the event to maintain common areas and restrooms, and one works afterward for clean-up.
“During events, janitors will walk around with dustpan and broom. If they see a spill they take care of it. They’re making sure, in restrooms, that trash is emptied, the dispensers are filled, paper products are filled to make sure that the guests who are there attending the event have what they need and are satisfied as well,” says Kate Revollo, business manager for Midwest Maintenance.
Being able to schedule quality, full crews to work with little notice is part of what BSCs that service stadiums need to know how to do well.
During the baseball season at Busch Stadium, home of the St. Louis Cardinals, janitorial staff only works during home stands, says Steve Crain, COO of Mitch Murch Maintenance Management in St. Louis. With home stands ranging from three to seven days every two weeks, staffing those games can be a significant challenge for the company, which has serviced the ballpark since 1997.
Midwest cleans TD Ameritrade Park, which hosts the College World Series of Omaha baseball tournament, and employees know from the get-go that their work schedules are as unpredictable as the outcomes of the games themselves, Oldaker says.
Even for special services, such as window cleaning, which are done on a seasonal, periodic basis, flexibility is required.
“A lot of times, their schedule changes rapidly and they want to have you in on a different date than you anticipated,” says Mike Behrent, manager for Brite Way Window Cleaning in Neenah, Wis., which services Lambeau Field, home of the Green Bay Packers, and Camp Randall Stadium, home of the University of Wisconsin Badgers in Madison, Wis.
Having large, well-trained crews that are able to perform services in an efficient manner is the key to getting work done well and on time, Behrent says.
“[We take] great pride in the high quality standard with the crew so that the job’s done right the first time. You don’t have to come back and do unneeded touch-ups in certain areas,” he says. “It takes a little more of a generalized tracking of these areas because there’s not a lot of time in between when you start and when you’ve got to be out of those areas.”
Besides labor and scheduling challenges, BSCs deal with all sorts of weather, events that require high levels of security around celebrities and heads of state, short periods of time in which to clean between events, and time-sensitive work requests that may come at a moment’s notice — such as pest complaints or inclement weather.
A BSC never knows what it might have to deal with at a stadium account. Crain recalls the 2010 All-Star game, which was attended by President Barack Obama — and his crews had less than five hours to clean the entire ballpark prior to the event.
“The other unique challenge would be the weather, be it wind or rain, the ballpark must be cleaned several hours prior to gates opening each day no matter what the weather situation might be,” Crain says.
While weather is especially a consideration for outdoor venues, the tracking in of rain and snow is a consideration in indoor venues as well, says Oldaker.
“That all has to be managed at the last minute, like they require more people because of that — or less people because of that, if events are cancelled or something,” she says.
The most important area of focus is anticipating work while ironing out the contracts, Behrent says. Managers need to know the layout of the building well enough that crews will be able to move from one area to another with ease.
“We try to go in ahead of time, see where they’re going to have events, and note areas we should avoid, make a job plan of the job so that everything runs smooth when you’re on site — but they also require a little more than what the average customer does in flexibility and adjusting the schedule during your cleaning,” Behrent says.
These facilities also provide opportunities for bundling of interior and exterior services such as landscaping, pest control, lighting, window cleaning, snow removal, parking lot maintenance and more.
Window cleaning, for example, is performed at set intervals during the year — usually once in spring and once in fall, Behrent says. But additionally, Brite Way performs concrete cleaning and sealing, mineral deposit removal, banner-hanging, re-lamping of scoreboards and just about anything else the specialized equipment and skilled employees can help with.
Building relationships with stadium clients based on dependability and quality of service lets them know that a BSC will be there whenever they are needed.
“Stadium cleaning is a service that we’re proud to offer,” Behrent says. “It allows us to showcase our work.”
Also, stadium accounts allow BSCs and their employees to engage in the community spirit associated with sports and entertainment venues. Employees generally love working in these facilities, and truly enjoy and take pride in what they do, Oldaker says.
“It’s an event-driven cleaning environment, which is totally different from cleaning a facility like a university or a commercial business of some sort, it’s a different kind of way to teach to clean,” Oldaker says. “And to be honest, it’s a fun environment to be in. I mean, it’s exhilarating.”