[media-credit name=”Amanda Lewark” align=”alignright” width=”300″][/media-credit]
How many people does it take to get Stewart Stadium ready for game days? It takes Joe Strand, event and guest relations manager, and approximately 250 other individuals.
Strand is quick to point out that an event at the stadium is a “campus-wide partnership with many parties invested, putting in many, many hours every game. I know it is cliche to say that it takes a village, but it is true.”
The “village” consists of many departments that work on campus, including the police department, Parking Services, landscapers, concessionaires, a full-time electrician, plumber and an electronics systems technician. It also includes the volunteers for the officials and 45 guest service individuals. That also includes the janitorial services, including the workers who set up the garbage cans, wipe down the bleachers and then clean up after the football game, emptying the cans and putting them away, and then they do it all over again for the next event.
Strand arrives five hours before kick-off; his staff begins arriving later according to their assignments. Two hours before the start of the game, he meets with his staff to review the event for that day and any last-minute details that need to be taken care of. The gates then open to the public 90 minutes before kick-off.
“Every game is different and exciting,” Strand said.
During the game, Strand does not have a command post and can be found anywhere in the stadium, on his cell phone, radio or both, answering questions and assisting where needed.
On Sept. 8, 2001, Stewart Stadium opened the 38,000-square-foot Skybox suites and press box for the 2001 football season. As a result of the events of Sept. 11, the game scheduled for that week was canceled.
“Safety for our fans is something we are always concerned with and cognizant about,” Strand said.
Paramedics, the police department and security are at every event at Stewart Stadium, in case of any kind of conflict or injury that might come to players or those attending the event.
Strand is married with three children. He began working for Weber State University 13 years ago as an hourly employee.
“Because of the opportunities afforded me by the college,” Strand said, “I am in my current position now.”
As a WSU alumni, Strand has three degrees from WSU and an MBA.
“It is a wonderful opportunity and a fantastic way to make a living,” Strand said.