SBJ/20100524/Sports Business Awards

Big night for Jones, NFL

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is known for many things in sports, including putting together a team that won three Super Bowls in the 1990s. Among his sports business peers, who have watched him turn the Cowboys into a marketing powerhouse and one of the most valuable sports franchises in the world, Jones is now known for an accomplishment that is, literally, much bigger: building a shrine that has changed the way people will forever view sports facilities.

Jerry Jones accepted the award for Sports
Executive of the Year and another for Sports
Facility of the Year.

The opening of the staggering new Cowboys Stadium in 2009 was one of the biggest stories of the year. As a result, Jones was honored as Sports Executive of the Year and Cowboys Stadium as Sports Facility of the Year at the 2010 Sports Business Awards, held in New York last week by SportsBusiness Journal and SportsBusiness Daily.

“We, from my standpoint, have never thought we owned the Dallas Cowboys,” Jones said as he accepted the award for facility of the year. “You cannot own Notre Dame; you cannot own the University of Texas. You just get a chance to carry the ball for a little while.”

The construction of the monumental Cowboys Stadium is a testament to the power of the NFL, which is evident not only in the strength the league has shown through the economic downturn, but also in its influence throughout the industry.

In addition to Jones and Cowboys Stadium, more than half of the 15 winners at the awards have a connection to the league, including the NFL itself, which was named Professional Sports League of the Year. Among the others:

Super Bowl XLIV was named Sports Event of the Year.

CBS Sports was named Best in Sports Television, in part for the strength of the network’s Super Bowl production and ratings.

Mitsubishi Electric, which provided the stunning scoreboard that stretches from 20-yard line to 20-yard line at Cowboys Stadium, received the nod for Best in Sports Technology.

Visa, which renewed its long-running deal with the league, was named Sports Sponsor of the Year.

ESPN, which had a successful run last season with “Monday Night Football,” was named Best in Sports Media.

“We always say the NFL is the ultimate team game, and it takes a lot of people to make a success,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said after accepting the League of the Year award. “It’s more than just ownership; it’s more than just management. It’s our partners, and I appreciate the work that everyone in this room has done in helping us keep this game strong.”

Michael Lynch, Visa’s head of global sponsorship, said, “The NFL is such a blue chip. Nothing compares to it in the U.S. for fan engagement, and we consistently see it deliver for us.”

Even the Professional Sports Team of the Year, MLS’s Seattle Sounders, had a helping hand from the NFL. The team’s staff, which features NFL Seahawks and MLS Sounders employees, beat out more established competitors such as the New Orleans Saints and Cleveland Cavaliers. The Sounders have rewritten the rules of what a pro soccer team in America could become, selling 32,000 season tickets this year.

“We have proven to lots of communities that this league can operate at a very high level,” said Tod Leiweke, Sounders chief executive. “It’s capable of filling stadiums. It’s capable of giving back. It’s capable of high-end relationships with its fans.”

Staff writers Eric Fisher, Daniel Kaplan, Terry Lefton, John Ourand and Michael Smith contributed to this report.

Sports Event Marketing Firm of the Year
Accepting award: Erik Peterson (Pictured),
Kara Peterson and Andy Cook, Principals
Presenter: Molly Solomon, NBC Universal Sports & Olympics

Sports Facility of the Year
Accepting award: Jerry Jones Jr.,
Charlotte Anderson Jones, Stephen Jones, Jerry Jones, Gene Jones
Presenter: Patrick McEnroe, USTA Player Development

Best in Digital Sports Media
Accepting award: Kenny Gersh, Senior VP of Business Development
Presenter: MARY Wittenberg, New York Road Runners

Athletic Director of the Year
Accepting award: Gene Smith, Ohio State University
Presenter: Sean McManus, CBS News and CBS Sports

Best in Property Consulting, Sales and Client Services
Accepting award: Alan Rothenberg (left),
Chairman, and Randy Bernstein, President/CEO
Presenter: Rita Benson LeBlanc, New Orleans Saints
Professional Sports League of the Year
Accepting award: Roger Goodell, commissioner (right), With Tod Leiweke (left) and Jerry Jones
Presenter: Christine Driessen, ESPN
Sports Event of the Year
Accepting award: Frank Supovitz, Senior VP, Events, NFL
Presenter: Jon Litner, Comcast Sports Group
Best in Sports Television
Accepting award: Sean McManus, President, CBS News and CBS Sports
Presenter: Joe Leccese, Proskauer

Best in Sports Technology
Accepting award: Mark Foster, general manager
Presenter: Lisa Baird, U.S. Olympic Committee
Best in Talent Representation and Management
Accepting award: Howard Nuchow, co-head
Presenter: Stacey Allaster, Sony Ericsson WTA Tour
Sports Sponsor of the Year
Accepting award: Michael Lynch, Visa
Presenter: Adam Silver, NBA
Best in Corporate Consulting, Marketing and Client Services
Accepting award: George Pyne, President, IMG Sports & Entertainment
Presenter: Peter McLoughlin, St. Louis Blues Enterprises
Professional Sports Team of the Year
Accepting award: Tod Leiweke,
Vulcan Sports & Entertainment
Presenter: Tom McGovern, Optimum Sports
Best in Sports Media
Accepting award: Christine Driessen, Executive VP and CFO
Presenter: Don Garber, Major League Soccer

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