"I can't count the amount of special moments I've had", says Hidde Salverda. The operations manager of the Johan Cruijff ArenA has had this function for ten years now, and he's worked at similar organisations in the past. From 1999 he worked at EURO2000 for about a year and a half, this was the organisation that made the European Championship possible in the Netherlands and Belgium. After this, he got his first job with the Johan Cruijff ArenA; he worked at the departments crowd and event management for about six years. From 2007 he was an event manager at the KNVB, and in 2012 he came back to the familiair ArenA.
A busy schedule
'How can the Johan Cruijff ArenA give renters and visitors the best service?' That's the question Salverda thinks about daily, so that renters of the stadium can focus on the event itself and the visitors on having an amazing night. Subjects like security, ticketing, catering, mobility, accessibility and the optimalisation of the building all come by Salverda. "It's quite easy to fill your schedule with that", says Salverda about his tasks. Because of these different tasks, every day looks different, which is one of the things that make his job special.
Every day is different, that's what makes it so fun.
It's clear that Salverda cares a lot about how everything happens in the Johan Cruijff ArenA. On the question what makes his job interesting, he said the following: "Mostly the experience of an evening. On Saturday we had AMF, on Wednesday a Champions League match - that busy schedule, it makes me proud that we can do something like that with our team and give so many people an unforgettable experience. That's what makes the work worth it." He referred to Amsterdam Music Festiaval 2022 on October 22, which happened in a filled ArenA for the first time since 2019, and the Champions League match of October 26. There were only three and a half days between the last minute of AMF and the start of the match, so multiple departments of the Johan Cruijff ArenA had to work with precision and timing to make sure everything was perfect for the match.
One big wonderful experience
When someone has worked at the Johan Cruijff ArenA for over fifteen years, there are bound to be unforgettable days. Salverda was at the memorial service of André Hazes, the wedding party of king Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima and he's got a picture with no one other than the Rolling Stones. The experiences are just as diverse as the tasks he's got. "The variety of artists and matches, everyone who comes here is the best of the best and that makes it one big wonderful experience. There are peaks of course, the European Championships of Ajax, getting a picture with the Rolling Stones, it's all so crazy. Everything has something special. There's not really one thing that makes me go 'that was the most memorable experience I've had.'"
You're alive to collect wonderful experiences.
Always on the move
The biggest stadium of the Netherlands is always working on the future. Salverda tells us that the Johan Cruijff ArenA is working on innovation, sustainability, investing and improving on different subjects. "We've got to stay ahead. Always state-of-the-art, function at our best, keep surprising people. Our job is never done." He names projects like the expansion of the stadium, which has been realised on the east side of the second ring already, the customer journey which can be improved and the challenge on the job market. "There's more than enough challenges for us."
Want to know more on what the Johan Cruijff ArenA does with innovation? Click here to go to Johan Cruijff ArenA Innovation.
A dream come true
Salverda is looking forward to the concert summer of 2023, when artists like Harry Styles and Coldplay will perform in the Johan Cruijff ArenA. Salverda specifically mentions the concerts of Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band, since he's a big fan of Bruce Springsteen. "Getting a picture with the Rolling Stones was already an amazing moment, but if I can get a picture with Bruce Springsteen it'll be a dream come true!" A nice look to the future!