CURRENT STATUS: The new Kansas City Current women’s pro soccer stadium, shown here in a recent construction photo, opens in six months for pre-opening events. (Courtesy KC Current)
Veteran stadium manager ready to raise bar again
Scott Jenkins had such a strong feeling about running the new Kansas City Current soccer stadium that he started shopping for a new home in KC before signing an agreement to become the team’s vice president of facility development.
Jenkins, a big league stadium manager since 1997 with the Milwaukee Brewers, Philadelphia Eagles, Seattle Mariners and Atlanta Falcons, is in his second week on the job. He takes charge of the first venue specifically designed for a women’s pro sports team. The 11,500-capacity building opens its doors in six months for pre-opening events prior to the 2024 National Women’s Soccer League season.
“I was leaning on this and thought we could get (a deal) done,” Jenkins said. “I’ve been to Kansas City a few times; when (baseball’s) All-Star Game was here (in 2012), I worked with MLB. I call it a little big town; it’s got everything you want, without all the traffic, and people are incredibly friendly.”
For Jenkins, a Midwest guy from Kenosha, Wisconsin, the venue became the right fit after TurnkeyZRG, a recruiting agency, reached out to him about the position. Since he left AMB Sports and Entertainment in 2020 after opening Mercedes-Benz Stadium three years earlier, Jenkins worked for PlanLED, a lighting firm in Seattle, and kept active with the Green Sports Alliance, the sustainability group he co-founded in 2011.
“As soon as I heard about the job and learned about the vision of (Current owners) Chris and Angie Long and the commitment they had to the community, I knew it was right up my alley,” he said. “I’ve always been interested in making a difference and trying to raise the bar. It’s not how many seats you have, it’s how high do you want to reach. We have a chance to change the game in women’s sports and the entire industry.”
At this point, there’s a lot to learn to find out where he can contribute leading up to next year, according to Jenkins. The good news is construction is on schedule and on budget for the $117 million facility, he said.
Jenkins gave credit to Kim Stone, an Oak View Group executive and president of UBS Arena, for her guidance on the project. The Current hired Stone as an operations consultant and she’s been a great help, he said.
One of his first priorities is hiring full-time support staff and game day workers. In addition, the Current’s goal is to earn LEED Gold certification, the second-highest level for that program administered by the U.S. Green Building Council. Along that front, Jenkins works closely with the project development team, owner’s rep Legends and Levy, the stadium concessionaire, to keep that goal intact.
As Jenkins gets back in the game, he’s getting acquainted with new technology tied to venue-related operations. It helps that AMB Sports is among the leaders in that part of the industry.
“It’s fun, because the last time I was shopping for technology was between 2014 and 2017,” he said. “There’s still some of the same companies, but with more robust offerings and capabilities. Everything is digital these days and cashless, which we pioneered at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Now, that’s the way things are done, and how far up the learning curve we’ve all gone in terms of what these products do for us.”