In this installment of The SportsField Management Interview, we meet Dan Bergstrom, CSFM, director of turf and grounds at BBVA Stadium in Houston, Texas. Over a long career in the sports field management industry, he has worked in multiple cities including Cleveland (Browns), Lexington, Ky. (University of Kentucky), Lincoln, Neb. (Haymarket Park), and Houston (Minute Maid Park and BBVA Stadium). Bergstrom graduated with a degree in Horticulture/Turfgrass Management from Iowa State University. He is married to his wife, Krista, and they enjoy providing a home to senior rescue dogs in their spare time.
SportsField Management (SFM): Please tell us a bit about the fields/facilities you manage, your staff/crew, your typical duties, and any other details you would like our readers to know.
Bergstrom: I’m the director of turf and grounds at BBVA Stadium in Houston, Texas. I oversee our department of six crewmembers, as well as our stadium field and the seven fields at Houston Sports Park. We are home to the Houston Dynamo of MLS, the Houston Dash of NWSL, and the Texas Southern University football team. Numerous groups use our Sports Park – from public to universities to international soccer teams, and, of course, our Dynamo Academy teams.
SFM: What attracted you to the sports field management industry, and what was your path into the industry?
Bergstrom: I come from an agriculture background, and have always enjoyed sports and working outside with my hands. My path into the industry started with a summer of golf course maintenance, acceptance into the Turfgrass program at Iowa State University, and multiple internships.
SFM: Who were your mentors in the industry, or who has impacted your career the most?
Bergstrom: Too many to mention without forgetting some, but Dr. Nick Christians and the Turf/Horticulture program at Iowa State; Vince Patterozzi in Cleveland gave me a chance after college; and Bucky Trotter helped me tremendously at Kentucky.
SFM: What would you say are the biggest accomplishments of your career and/or what are you most proud to have achieved?
Bergstrom: All the friendships made as a result of my career and my longevity and success in the industry. I’m thankful for all the great crews I’ve been blessed to work with over the years.
SFM: What are the biggest challenges you have faced in your career, and what advice do you have for other sports field managers when it comes to facing similar challenges?
Bergstrom: Managing the expectations of executive teams is a universal challenge for sports field managers. My advice is to communicate the realities of your situation as early as possible with regard to weather or event challenges that come along. Become known as someone who can “see the future,” not as someone who is always reacting to a challenge.
SFM: What is the best advice you received during your career?
Bergstrom: Keep an outside consultant as part of your agronomy program to bounce ideas off of and to help provide backup in challenging times.
SFM: How has your career benefitted from being a member of national STMA?
Bergstrom: I have benefitted from being a member of STMA in many ways, including personal friendships, networking, continuing education and keeping up to date on the latest technologies available in the sports turf industry. Serving on boards and committees has helped me to grow personally and professionally.
SFM: How do you think the profession and industry will change in the next 10 years, and/or what would you most like to see in terms of industry advancement in the future?
Bergstrom: We will see continued advancement in turfgrass cultivars, equipment and software for our industry. We will see continued expansion of robotics in our industry.