Inside the Spurs: Chris Garcia
The atmosphere of any Spurs Family event leaves a lasting memory, and that’s exactly what Director of Game Operations Chris Garcia got after his first day on the job.
Garcia started his Spurs career as a game operations volunteer, helping at a Spurs Fan Fiesta at the Alamodome in 1998. “After that first fan fiesta I went to, I knew this is where I wanted to be,” said Garcia. “The energy and the fun of the game night experience is something you can’t get anywhere else.”
Starting out as a volunteer, Garcia knew it would be a tough road to become a full-time member of the Spurs game operations crew. “I pretty much took any opportunity there was to help out,” he said. “I looked for anything that was going on at the building or in the community that I could help out with. Whether it was making copies or any other small task, I did it.”
Garcia’s volunteer efforts eventually landed his first position with the Spurs - in ticket sales.
“When I was in sales I still helped out on game nights,” said Garcia. “After I finished at the fan shop, I’d still go to games and help out when I could. There weren’t as many staff members back then so there was a lot more department crossover.”
The long days of ticket sales and game night work paid off for Garcia in May 2000 when he finally got his shot as an assistant to the director of game operations. The position allowed him to learn more about the intricacies of game night planning and prepared him for his current role as director.
“We never stop planning, brainstorming or thinking of ideas,” said Garcia. “We have a very strategic group of people in game ops that can take those ideas and execute everything day in and day out at a very high success rate.”
One of those individuals that helps make magic happen behind the scenes is Sr. Manager of Franchise Game Operations Evan Maxwell. While he never knows what will happen during the course of a game night, Maxwell knows who to count on for guidance.
“One of the awesome characteristics Chris has is keeping calm under pressure,” said Maxwell. “Having a calm collected individual on the headset during those chaotic times in games is a very good asset to have.”
Garcia knows how quick things can change during the course of the game, but like the mind of a carpenter building stairs, he’s thinking one step ahead. “If we have a sponsor promotion we’re about to run and a player hits a three-pointer to put us up by 10 over L.A., we’re playing music and throwing out t-shirts to keep the crowd going,” he said. “That leads us to changing everything else and still balancing those sponsorship commitments we have and the entertainment commitments we have to the fans that pay good money to be here.”
The behind-the-scenes efforts of Garcia and his crew usually fly under the radar of fans, and Garcia wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Our whole goal is for fans not to notice we’re there,” said Garcia. “It’s not about us, it’s about the show.”
HOW I GOT HERE
My senior year of college, I basically walked up to the Alamodome and said I’d work for free. That led to me getting in contact with the game ops director at the time who said, “Sure, talk to this person,” and long story short, I ended up interviewing for a part-time game night position. My first day of work was October 3, 1998 and we had a big fan fiesta at the Alamodome. I walked in the door not knowing anyone and by the end of the evening I had met all the staff that put on the game night production. I pretty much knew at that point that that’s exactly where I wanted to be and that’s what I wanted to do.
WHAT I LOVE MOST ABOUT MY JOB
I think it’s probably those “Forrest Gump” moments that are incredible. I’ve worked All-Star games, I’ve been in the interior circle with Puff Daddy at an event, and obviously the Spurs championship celebrations. When you can look back and see in pictures that you’re right there in the middle of it, those situations I think are really, really cool.
WHAT YOU MIGHT BE SURPRISED TO KNOW ABOUT MY JOB
With all the stops in play, all the time outs, every single second of every game production is scripted. There’s always room for improvement, there’s always room to try something new, but there’s also a huge amount of respect for the game itself and serving our basketball operations staff in balancing what they’re trying to do on the court with what we’re trying to accomplish.