When the Las Vegas Golden Knights won the 2023 Stanley Cup championship in T-Mobile Arena this June, Niagara University alumnus Christian Glowinski, ’07, was working behind the scenes, ensuring that the guests had a remarkable experience and the team had everything it needed.
A month earlier, Glowinski had been named director of facilities for the Knights’ home rink, a 17,000-seat arena on the Vegas Strip. Although he had more than 15 years of experience working in arenas, this was by far the largest undertaking he had overseen, and the highlight of a career that started as a student in Niagara University’s College of Hospitality, Sport, and Tourism Management.
Growing up in Buffalo, N.Y., Glowinski played hockey for youth leagues in West Seneca and Buffalo, often skating at Niagara University’s Dwyer Arena. When he was considering his college options, Niagara was an obvious choice for him, both for its proximity to his home, and because it offered a sports management program, which would enable him to pursue his interest in the industry.
Glowinski’s focus on managing facilities and large-scale events evolved through the courses he was taking and was sharpened during an internship he had the summer of his sophomore year with the YMCA in Pittsburgh. As a culminating project, he assisted in organizing and running a triathlon.
“It was something that I never even dreamed of or imagined that I would be doing,” he said, “but it was that opportunity to focus on a single large-scale event that really kind of pushed the envelope for me.”
He enjoyed the challenge of managing the event for the 250 athletes, their families and fans, and the numerous partners who sponsored it. The experience taught him how to think on his feet and gave him the confidence that he could make good decisions quickly.
In his senior year, Glowinski worked at Niagara’s Dwyer Arena, adding to the experience he obtained working at a local ice arena during the summers of his freshman and junior years. At Dwyer, he did everything from driving the Zamboni to serving coffee at the snack bar, gaining valuable hands-on experience in all aspects of the operations side of facilities management.
After a brief role with a rink management company in Philadelphia, where he learned more about programming by organizing youth hockey leagues and tournaments, he returned to Dwyer Arena as part of a small management team. In this position, he was able to return to operations, which was his passion.
In October 2016, Glowinski’s career took a huge step forward when he accepted a position at what was then the brand-new T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The job offered him the opportunity to gain experience in large-scale events as a member of the arena’s conversion team.
Just seven months into this role, Glowinski was offered the job of director of operations for City National Arena, a practice facility built for the NHL’s Golden Knights, the first professional sports team to call Las Vegas home.
Glowinski was brought on toward the end of the construction phase and remained through the Knights’ first season.
“That really cemented the true operations side of things for my career,” he said. “It allowed me the opportunity to get involved toward the end of construction in opening a facility of that size.”
In 2019, Glowinski had the opportunity to return to T-Mobile Arena as facilities manager. Under the mentorship of his director, he learned more about the nuts and bolts of arena operations and, when his director resigned, Glowinski applied for the position. In May 2023, he was named director of facilities.
In his current role, Glowinski focuses on the planning side of events, which include boxing matches for champions like Canelo Álvarez, and pay-per-view Ultimate Fighting Championship fights. He also works closely with the Golden Knights, who use the facility as their home rink, and with the NHL to be sure the rink meets all regulations and requests.
T-Mobile Arena is owned by MGM, so Glowinski is responsible for meeting that organization’s standards concerning the guest experience, as well.
“Our goal within MGM is to really wow our guests and to make sure everybody has that really positive, high-end experience,” he said.
The real-world experience Glowinski obtained during his time at Niagara University prepared him well for the fast-paced, ever-changing environment in which he works.
“The one thing that the professors always told us is that real world experience is going to be more valuable in the long run,” he said. “They encouraged us to get internships and summer jobs within the industry we wanted to work so that we are successful right off the hop when we graduate.”