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SBJ/20100308/Forty Under 40
Published March 8, 2010
Major change was in the air in Boston last spring when Mike Dee, Red Sox chief operating officer and Fenway Sports Group president, departed the Hub after seven years to become chief executive of the Miami Dolphins and their home stadium.
But rather than look outside for new operational leadership, John Henry, Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino stayed in-house and promoted Sam Kennedy to largely assume Dee’s responsibilities. Kennedy was Dee’s right-hand man and already a key executive for both the Red Sox and FSG.
Shouldered with the additional burdens, Kennedy did not disappoint. While the Red Sox were quickly bounced from the MLB playoffs, the club’s league-record sellout streak at Fenway Park passed the 500-game mark last year and remains alive and well. Club sponsorship revenue actually grew slightly in 2009 despite the global economic recession, with 15 new deals, including ones with JetBlue, Comcast and Qdoba.
FSG, under Kennedy’s guidance, added several clients, including Athletes’ Performance and English Premier League team Fulham FC, and did important early work on Dee’s new stadium naming-rights deal in Florida with Sun Life Financial. And Kennedy was a key liaison with the NHL for January’s wildly successful Winter Classic at Fenway Park.
“You’re always going to have changeover sometimes,” Kennedy said of the period around Dee’s departure. “But what ownership did was refocus and recommit to what made us successful, and made the decision to retain and lock up a number of key members. That really gave us the drive to go after business knowing we were all singing from the same sheet of music.”