Interview with the SMA’s Mary Mycka

Katie McIntyre speaks with Mary Mycka (MM), Executive Director at the Stadium Managers Association (SMA).



Firstly, can you tell us about the Stadium Managers Association (SMA), what it stands for, what it does, its Mission Statement, etc.?

MM: Stadium Managers Association (SMA) is a networking association dedicated exclusively to stadium operations, which promotes professional, efficient and state-of-the-art management of stadiums around the world. Our members are administrators and operations personnel from teams, colleges and universities, public sports authorities, and suppliers to the industry.


We focus our efforts on being a resource to members on priorities they have identified. Our members utilise SMA to remain connected with other leaders through networking. They rely on the association to research and provide a wide variety of relevant education. Our members are finding more leadership opportunities becoming involved on the Board of Directors, active committees and partner organisations.


Can you tell us about the organisations that SMA partners with? And what kind of support they offer?

MM: SMA works with several key partners who complement our mission to support safe and efficient operations.


As international security efforts have evolved from a primary focus on protective security to a greater emphasis on disrupting potential threats, our industry becomes more vital to the resilience of our nation. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has been a key partner since 2004. SMA’s position on the Commercial Facilities Sector (which oversees public facilities and sports sectors) has resulted in a higher level of intelligence reports and earlier alerts on local and global incidents.


DHS provides critical information via cost-free webinars and onsite exercises like Active Shooter workshops. They develop and distribute extensive awareness training materials for leadership and facility staff. SMA members participate on focus groups and committees that help keep these resources relevant to our operations.


We value our relationship with TEAM (Techniques for Effective Alcohol Management) Coalition. This alliance promotes responsible drinking and safe alcohol service, incentivises positive fan behaviour, trains facility staff in alcohol service, and supports their efforts to reduce alcohol related incidents.


Our partnership with the Green Sports Alliance assists members in enhancing environmental performance and innovations in their stadiums.


SMA cooperates with EnergyStar, who offers our members educational webinars, an EPA volunteer program that helps stadiums protect our climate through superior energy efficiency, and best-practice resources like the Portfolio Manager for commercial buildings.


The National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security (NCS4) supports our members with safety and security training, professional development and research.


What kinds of organisations, end-users make up SMA’s membership?

MM: SMA members are VPs and Directors of Facility Operations for most Major League Baseball (MLB) ballparks and National Football League (NFL) stadiums, a good number of collegiate stadiums, minor league ballparks and a growing number of soccer and racing facilities. Our vendor sponsor members represent the best goods and services suppliers in the industry. Our affiliate members include professional and collegiate league officials and partner organisations.


sma-presentation sma-at-the-rose-bowl sma-session


SMA runs an annual event. Can you tell us more about this, as in who attends, what those in attendance can expect to learn, hear, etc.?

MM: SMA’s Annual Seminar brings together facility leaders and vendors who collaborate on solutions that enhance safety, profitability and service; prioritising learning in creative environments like the parking lot of a stadium in construction.


Member attendees get a yearly update from league officials in MLB, NFL, NCAA, MLS and CFP. Another favourite session on the agenda is a behind-the-scenes recap from the NFL of the recent Super Bowl game. Other hot topics are stadium renovations, security innovations, new technology and guest services. Member speakers discuss lessons learned from recent incidents that are relevant to facility leaders and our service providers.


Just as important as the educational sessions, the Seminar’s social events highlight the meeting location and encourage family and guest involvement. Our members work long hours away from their families, creating memorable guest experiences for others. The Seminar is time for a little work/life balance. We have amazing corporate sponsor support that makes this happen without needing to charge huge registration fees.




Why are organisations like the SMA so important in terms of industry knowledge-sharing and learning?

MM: Our members are typically working 12 hour days, many holidays and most weekends. It is hard to find time to connect with people that share their concerns or companies that can help them improve efficiencies.


SMA helps them connect with each other during times that are convenient for them – like during the 10th inning of a Monday night baseball game! We have an e-mail discussion group where members can instantly share policies or ask for help. Many members recently shared their strategy for dealing with Pokemon Go players in and around their facilities. I have heard from our NCAA and MiLB members who greatly appreciate resources from MLB and NFL that have been shared.


Yearly operations surveys can be completed and reviewed during down times, and our Seminar is always scheduled for the time when most of our members can be away from their facility. There are many learning opportunities available. Our goal is to keep our programs efficient, relevant, and convenient, knowing the time challenges our members face.




What kind of educational programs does the SMA offer?

MM: SMA began with a group of stadium managers that wanted a yearly meeting that was entirely focused on the concerns of stadiums and ballparks. 2017 will be the 43rd year of this 4-day educational program.


Throughout the rest of the year, SMA supports and promotes educational opportunities with our partners like TEAM Coalition and the Department of Homeland Security. We partner with the Department of Energy and ENERGY STAR on webinars that are relevant to the needs of our members.


What does the future hold for SMA?

MM: SMA will continue to be a strong connection between operations leaders, partners that support our mission, and innovative vendors that keep our facilities on the leading edge of this industry. SMA will remain a member-driven organisation, led by stadium managers. I imagine that our methods of communication will keep changing. I am sure we will always prioritise our real time together at the Seminar and visiting each other’s facilities.


You can contact Mary Mycka on P: +1 515-282-8192 or via email at:


For further information on the SMA, go to:


NB: This interview was first published on PanStadia & Arena Management’s website:

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