The Life of an Event Coordinator at Ford Field
Event coordination is an excellent example of a job where no two days are the same. Each event can be anywhere from exhilarating and exciting, too stressful and strenuous. Event coordinators are best known for planning and executing events. However, what a lot of individuals fail to realize is that there is way more to the career than just that. While every coordinators journey into their career is different, I decided to sit down with Nathaniel Sass who is an event coordinator for the Detroit Lions to listen to his story and life within his profession.
Growing up in Canton Michigan, Sass always shared a love for the game of sport. Throughout his life, he participated in many different sports including baseball, hockey, and football. After high school, Sass decided to attend Western Michigan University and major in Sports Management, with a minor in Event Management. This led him to earning his Bachelors degree and graduating in the Fall of 2017. While at Western, Sass worked at an on-campus job in athletic facilities, where prior to this, he met a professor that changed his life. “ If it wasn’t for Dr. Lewis, I would have never been introduced to the job opening or what the behind the scenes world of sports looked like,” said Sass. He claims the day he started the job, he knew he wanted to do this for the rest of his life because it gave him a feeling that nothing else quiet had before. Following graduation, Sass continued his job search within the world of sports, while working side jobs to receive income. He eventually gained a job working in security at Ford Field in Detroit, which overtime led to a position working as a conversions coordinator, which ultimately led him to his current role, that he has held for about 3 years.
Sass works with clients to visualize what they want and then works with the event team at Ford Field as well as vendors to provide clients with what they need. This includes events such as Lions games, concerts, dirt shows, graduations, college football games, the Quick Lane bowl, and much more. On Lions game days, Sass is in charge of DTE Power Hour, which takes place the first hour of gate openings where they offer activities as well as food and drink specials located in different areas of the stadium. Sass is also in charge of the visiting teams TSA screenings. “ I work with the visiting teams to make sure the screening team and airline officials are on-site. I also control our Tv directionals throughout the stadium and make sure they are up to date and running correctly,” said Sass.
The first event Sass coordinated was a small corn hole event at Ford Field for the Detroit Lions season ticket holders. He describes the experience as “a lot of pressure, but beneficial,” Going through the process of gathering quotes and working with the staff was a massive help to his growth. Small events like the event for corn hole, eventually led Sass the opportunity to work the large events he does today. One of those being a Garth Brooks concert which Sass explains was his most successful. The event was very demanding and stressful but Sass explains it was all worth it because it was a huge success and being able to watch it turn out the way it did was rewarding to everyone apart of the team. The event ended up making history for being the largest concert at Ford Field, with an attendance of nearly 74,000 people.
There are many skills that are necessary in this job field. Things such as time management, communication, problem solving skills, and being a positive teammate. Things are often thrown at the workers that may not be involved in the original plan. “You have to diagnose the situation and communicate to the client or team which sometimes means you have to make a decision on the spot and be confident in it,” said Sass. It is also important to stay up with current trends in the industry. For Sass, he does this by making and maintaining contacts around the league who he can reach out to and work with directly. It’s very crucial to network and have those communication skills because you never know how beneficial it can be or when you’re going to need something that only someone else can offer or help you with. The biggest challenge as described by Sass, is trying to juggle many events at one time. Management skills are a must because the career requires balance. Some events require more attention and work than others. On the flip side, Sass says the most enjoyable part of this job is the experience of putting on an event, and watching it come to life. A lot of work goes into planning an event and it can be very stressful if you let it be, but being able to watch it come to life is amazing.
Expect the unexpected and keep your eyes on the prize. Those are two things I took away from my conversation with Sass. This job, as well as many others is very demanding. It’s amazing that these individuals are able to do so much and still stay extremely motivated. Every day is not the same. However, throughout talking with Sass I realized that’s what these people like about the job. A lot of them appreciate and admire the day to day changes and the thrill of not knowing and being in control. Due to COVID- 19, these individuals are no longer allowed the opportunity to fully do what they love every day anymore along with many others and have no idea when they will be able to fully do what makes them happy again. But if one things for certain, it’s that when events are granted the opportunity of being the same as they used to be, I will no longer overlook the hard work and dedication it takes, and neither should anyone else.