Arizona State head football coach Todd Graham and construction team members lead a media tour of the new football building being built in the north end zone of Sun Devil Stadium on Wednesday, March 1, 2017. Tom Tingle/azcentral sports
Who is Lindsey Campbell? And how is it that she does knows more about the $268-million renovation of Sun Devil Stadium than most anyone other than the architects and construction managers?
Campbell periodically asks herself the second question because even she at times finds her progression to be unimaginable. From being an incoming Arizona State freshman seeking a way to stay involved in sports to a full-time employee with the company representing ASU on the largest construction project in school history.
“You never know where volunteer work is going to take you,” said Isaac Manning, president of Trinity Works, hired by ASU to manage the stadium project, now in the fourth of five years including a preliminary phase before the 2014 football season.
Campbell is Manning’s right-hand woman. She got there she said by “not saying no” to much of what came here where after enrolling at ASU in fall 2012 out of Peoria Liberty High School, where she played softball and other sports. So she was duly impressed meeting ASU softball pitcher Hillary Bach, 2011-12 Pac-12 Woman of the Year, then working toward a master’s in business administration.
“I asked to meet up with her and get her take as a woman about how she got involved in the sports industry,” Campbell said. “A few weeks later, she messages me and says she has an opportunity in athletics she thinks I could be a part of.”
That’s how Campbell wound up in a small formative meeting of what became the 942 Crew, ASU’s student booster group best known for staffing the basketball Curtain of Distraction. She served on the 942 Crew executive board for four years, progressing from “an incoming freshman where they think they know everything to a senior that actually knows a lot of things,” said Bill Kennedy, ASU associate athletic director. “She took great pride in being one of those you count count on to do a good job. She is 100 percent maroon and gold. She would do anything for this department.”
One opportunity begat another and another.
In fall 2014, Campbell was elected as a Tempe campus representative on the athletic fee operations board, leading to her selection as chair of the stadium renovation committee working specifically working on concepts for ways to make the stadium usable year round.
That work brought Campbell onto the radar of Manning, who is essentially the man when it comes to making certain what ASU expects the stadium — including a football operations facility at the north end — to be is delivered. Manning founded Trinity Works in 2002 and his previous projects include a 65-acre downtown development in Dallas anchored by American Airlines Center, home of the Dallas Mavericks.
Campbell set up a meeting with Manning in January 2016 to get an update on the stadium, then early into the second major renovation phase to rebuild the west side. “I had no idea he was about to offer me an internship,” she said. “I was taken aback a little bit and kind of just stared for a second.”
Manning said Campbell was easy to hire, first for a five-month internship then full time after she graduated with a marketing degree.
“Sometimes the obvious answer is hiding in plain sight,” Manning said. “I needed help and was trying to figure out who I was going to bring on the team. She is smart as hell, already knew everybody and was trusted by everybody. Jimmy Johnson used to say as long as they’re fast, I can teach them how to play football. I can teach her the development business. She’s got a great raw skill set.”
Before joining Trinity Works, Campbell was working two jobs to cover her living expenses and had another lined up for after graduation. To say her life has taken an abrupt turn, given she had no background in architecture or construction, is an understatement as large as the stadium project itself.
Now she’s attending weekly stadium coordination meetings, giving tours of the new football building that she has memorized and working with Manning on branding and graphics. When Manning leaves in September on a 3,700-mile bike ride across the country promoting depression and suicide awareness and prevention, Campbell and Allison Schapker will be in charge for Trinity Works.
Originally the stadium renovation was to be completed before this season before Manning’s scheduled bike ride. Instead, east side reconstruction was put off for a year to allow for more shading, cooling and other upgrades.
“We will be holding down the fort and making sure the coordination between athletics and the design team and the construction team is gearing up and getting ready for phase three,” Campbell said. “Once that east side gets done, we’re going to realize the full capacity this building has to become not just an athletics asset but a university asset.”
For Campbell, 23, working with Manning, major stadium donor Jack Furst, ASU Vice President for Athletics Ray Anderson, ASU Vice President for Cultural Affairs Colleen Jennings-Rogenstock, project managers Luke Ngo and Todd Raven among others is like earning a master’s degree while being paid.
“She thinks she wants to to go back to school and get an MBA,” Manning said. “I told her you’d be a hell of a real estate person if you stick with it. Todd Graham (ASU football coach) wants to know when he can hire Lindsey. My business model has been to hire really smart young people and give them a ton of responsibility. It’s something I take great pleasure in since I don’t get to teach any more.”
Campbell isn’t certain what awaits her after the stadium renovation is complete before the 2018 season. But five years ago, none of what’s happening now seemed possible.
“Your brain develops a whole new language,” around Manning, Campbell said. “The honor of working with him has been a blessing and an amazing opportunity. Being able to work with coach Graham and see him not on the level of a coach but as himself and the passion he has for the Sun Devil program has been the biggest thing for me.
“I want the plunge pool that’s going to be in the locker room in my house. And the weight room. I’m going to talk to coach Graham about letting me have a lifetime pass for that (football) facility.