Taking a break on July 24 was no easy feat for Jerry Goldman. Sitting in the Medtronic Club of U.S. Bank Stadium, the facility’s assistant general manager talked about the challenges of opening an NFL stadium in the midst of the “People’s Stadium” open-house weekend. With the first paid-ticket event coming up on August 3, Goldman talks about the building, what it’s like to move his family around the country, and settling down (hopefully) in Minnesota.
What’s been your path to Minneapolis?
I’ve been with SMG, which manages the stadium, for 13 years. I opened up the Gwinnett Arena in Atlanta; then moved to the AT&T Center in San Antonio. I opened up the BOK Center in Tulsa and we were there for 4 ½ years. And then moved to Long Island was the GM of the Nassau Coliseum in the final stint of the Islanders playing there and closed that building down. This was the sexiest thing that SMG had. There’s only 31 football stadiums, so to open up a brand new one is pretty amazing.
Is this the biggest challenge career-wise because of the magnitude?
You definitely have pinnacles of your career and this is definitely one. The challenge, yes we’ll do our 10 football games and that’ll be great, but we’re going to do 220 baseball games here. We’ll be a baseball factory; we’ll start games at 6 a.m. and end about 2 a.m. and do it again. We’ll have other youth sports. We have six clubs where we’ll have weddings, Bar Mitzvahs, business meetings. We’ll have field events, we’ll have concerts, we’ll have motorsports. We just got the X Games for 2017 and 2018. We have the Super Bowl in 2018 but also the Final Four in 2019. It opens up this huge avenue of a lifestyle enhancement for the people of the Twin Cities.
What’s the biggest challenge that comes with the job?
Everything is just a lot bigger. The concerts are bigger; the games are a lot bigger. Coming from the Islanders, you have 41 games and you get into a groove. You have eight regular season football games, so everything is so massive. It’s a massive scale. What we have found is the employment market is so good that recruiting staff and trying to train the staff and getting the numbers we need is challenging. Because the labor market is so thin at the moment that trying to get everyone signed on and trained is very challenging. Although we’re very happy where we’re at, we probably have work to do.
What’s the coolest part of the stadium not talked about?
Obviously everyone wants to go into the Vikings locker room, and from a cool point of view, that’s definitely awesome. We have a club called Mystic Lake’s Club Purple. It has outside views, a 5,000 square foot patio looking at downtown, and inside you can overlook the entire field and has couches. Personally, it’s one of my favorite spaces of the stadium. It’s the most popular space to hold different events.
Is it easier or harder to be a fan of the team you manage the facility for?
I think it’s easier. You’re invested in it. You want them to do good so people come down to the stadium. I wasn’t an Islander fan when I moved there, but to this day I’m still an Islander fan. You work so closely day in and day out with their front office you get vested in it.
Trying to find concerts seems like it would a challenge because there’s only so many acts that warrant a place this size.
Booking and marketing the facility, and sales of the facility fall directly under me. That’s a lot of my background. I have great relationships with the agents and promoters and manager of the biggest bands. That’s one of the main things I bring to the table. So it’s going out and getting a Metallica, that does not tour and hasn’t toured in seven years. They were ecstatic to open up the stadium. Luke Bryan has been a stadium act and arena act. That was a big get. We’re already working on shows for 2017. The touring cycle for this year has pretty much ended because stadium productions are mostly outside. Because we aren’t opening until August, we didn’t have an opportunity to host the Beyonce or Zac Brown shows that went to other stadiums.
We open up Aug. 3. Hopefully we’ll have a sellout soccer game with AC Milan and Chelsea. The first concert is Aug. 19. We have monster trucks coming in December.
All the stuff the dome would have hosted, you’re taking on?
That’s one of the big things from the [Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority] and the state was that we have to honor the legacy events that have been in there. We’re going to bring back Rollerdome, that has a new name now, called Skatium. We’ll have the running club that will run in the upper concourse. That will roll out in the winter months. High school football and soccer championships will still be there. It’s a different look, we’re still going to honor it. We’re the “People’s Stadium.” To get the management contract, we had to make sure we were going to honor that and keep competitive rates to the Dome. But as you can see, it’s not the Dome.
How exhausting has the last couple weeks been?
This is my third opening and it’s definitely been the most challenging opening. It’s the enormity of it. But it’s also very rewarding. You see people’s faces as the walk in. No one in venue management is getting completely rich off this, so you do it for the love of being a part of it and creating memories for people. I’ve moved my family all around the country and they are so supportive. If you can let people get here for a couple hours for a concert or sporting event or a dinner or whatever it is, and forget about life for a little bit, that’s why we do what we do. But it’s been extremely exhausting.
How taxing does it get for everyone to move every few years?
It’s always been by choice. And it’s always been for a career move up. When we moved here, the kids are getting older and Heather told me we’re done until the kids are out of high school. We have no family here. None of the places we have. So it’s yanking up the kids’ support system–and our support system–right out from under them. You have to join a Temple, meet friends, figure where to live. We’ve gotten pretty good at it. For better or worse. They had a great group of friends back in New York. As did we. But it was an opportunity we couldn’t pass up. Hopefully this it for a long, long time.
Favorite Jewish holiday?
Hanukkah, of course. I don’t get any presents anymore; it’s all the kids.
Favorite Jewish food?
Fried matzah.Click here to nominate your favorite TC Jew to be featured on our weekly Who the Folk?! series!