Brad Mayne spent 12 hours at MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J., Saturday (Aug. 18) meeting staff, watching the game and prepping for his official arrival Sept. 5 as president and CEO of MetLife Stadium. That stadium is home to the New York Giants and New York Jets of the National Football League.
He was also planning for temporary and future permanent housing in New Jersey. He and his wife, Cheryl, “have this down. This is the fifth time we’ve moved. I pick the community and she picks the house.”
The search for a replacement for Mark Lamping, who moved to Jacksonville, Fla., to work with the Jaguars, has been ongoing since February. Mayne, who is currently president and CEO of Center Operating Co., which operates American Airlines Center, Dallas, received a call from executive headhunter Len Perna, Turnkey Sports & Entertainment, asking him to come to New Jersey for the interview, which took place Aug. 3. Mayne was named president and CEO and let his current bosses know Aug. 4. When asked if he could be there in two weeks, he had to defer for three and a half, having planned a family vacation three months ago to spend next week in Medford, Ore., to be with one of his three daughters and her family.
“My youngest is 31 and has two children. All three daughters moved [to Dallas] with us. All seven grandchildren born were here in Texas,” Mayne said.
In fact, Mayne has been in Texas the longest of any stint in his career, having helped form COC and open American Airlines Center in 1998. Prior to that he was regional manager for Ogden Entertainment, 1994-98; general manager of Honda Center, Anaheim, Calif., 1991-94; executive director of Five Seasons Center, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, for Ogden, 1989-91; and deputy director of the Tacoma Dome, 1987-89. He started in the business at the Salt Palace, Salt Lake City, 1981-1987.
“I was a journeyman plumber before that. My dad wanted me to get a degree and I wanted to be a plumber, so I got my degree and became a plumber,” he said. His degree was in leisure studies, which was originally called commercial recreation management, in deference to a postindustrial-age world that was interested in health spas and recreational programs.
Other than hosting Seattle Seahawks preseason games at the Tacoma Dome, this is Mayne’s first job in the National Football League world. He did serve on the transition team deciding how best to help the employees who worked for the Super Bowl Host Committee in Dallas after the big game. He will be hosting the 2014 NY/NJ Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium. And he has been on the executive committee for the Cotton Bowl for the past eight years.
“Football has always been my favorite sport,” declared Mayne, noting he started out selling hot dogs at the age of 14 for University of Utah football games, and played football, and “I’ve always really enjoyed football. New York is one of the biggest stages in the world. MetLife Stadium is the only NFL stadium with two teams, both with great ownership. There is no question in my mind it’s a step up from operating arenas because I’m moving from the fourth largest market to the largest. No one could argue that now, and for the past while, the NFL is the stronger league of the major leagues.”
Mayne’s qualifications for the job are unique, including having reported to two team owners in Dallas – the Dallas Mavericks of the National Basketball Association and the Dallas Stars of the National Hockey League.
MetLife Stadium does have a smaller staff – a little over 50 full-timers compared to 94 in Dallas. American Airlines Center hosts 185-200 events in the arena bowl, and another 200 in meeting rooms and on AT&T Plaza. MetLife Stadium hosts far fewer.
Both feature “good people working long hours, who are passionate about taking care of guests and giving the teams every opportunity to be successful,” Mayne said. While visiting, he ran into old friends from a lifetime in the industry, among them manager Ron VanDeVeen who handed him a bullet point list three pages long of things he needed to be aware of coming in the door, including some key positions that need to be filled, like finance director, he said.
No announcement has been made in Dallas regarding a successor or interim director, Mayne said, deferring such questions to the team owners.
Mayne has always been an arena guy, having helped form a lot of different arena groups, most notably ArenaNetwork. But he is truly looking forward to the next phase of his career.
His best advice to admirers who might want to follow his footsteps: “Put in the time, have a lot of energy, be aggressive, and be passionate about what you do.”
“Frankly, I don’t know why I like challenges and new adventures. MetLife Stadium intrigued me and it’s a step up: New York, two teams, NFL, stadium, that has me excited.”
Interviewed for this story: Brad Mayne, (214) 665-4240