SBJ/June 20 - 26, 2005/Other News

McBride selling to Active Network

Hockey agent and former NHL marketer Bryant McBride is selling his Vision Sports Entertainment Partners to The Active Network in a mid-seven-figure equity and cash deal. The Active Network offers applications and marketing services for participatory sports.

For McBride, who was at the NHL from 1993 to 1999, the deal brings him full circle. He was a senior vice president of organizational alliances at Myteam.com, which was absorbed by Active three years ago.

McBride will serve as group vice president of team and youth sports, and Vision will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Active. The future of McBride’s athlete representation business, which included NHL players like Jason Allison of the Los Angeles Kings and Byron Dafoe of the Atlanta Thrashers, is unclear.

In three years, Waltham, Mass.-based Vision has carved out an impressive niche in the youth sports market, building a client roster that includes Kraft’s Capri Sun beverage and Upper Deck for Little League Baseball and Pop Warner Football activation, Choice Hotels for Little League Baseball, LPGA and other national governing bodies, The Hartford with the NCAA, Sunkist for Little League Baseball, Bryant Heating and Cooling for Little League Baseball and U.S. Youth Soccer, and Masterfoods’ Snickers brand for Little League Baseball and U.S. Youth Soccer.

McBride saw retail activation as a key growth area. “There are 52 million participants in youth sports driving billions in purchases,” he said. “We’ll help them connect at the store level.”

San Diego-based Active, which handles the online registration business for participatory sports, has achieved impressive growth in the past few years. It ranked No. 99 on Inc. magazine’s ranking of the fastest-growing private businesses in 2004, with four-year average annual sales growth of almost 284 percent, and rumors of an IPO remain rampant even after it pulled back from an initial earlier filing.

“We’re looking at Vision as becoming our marketing engine for youth sports,” said Matt Landa, president of Active.

Active’s investors include Ticketmaster President and CEO John Pleasants and Lance Armstrong.

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