SBJ/June 13-19, 2011/Franchises

Red Bulls, Pacers pick up execs Heck, Taylor

The New York Red Bulls of Major League Soccer have hired veteran NBA executive Chris Heck as president of business operations, while the Indiana Pacers have hired a new chief sales and marketing officer in veteran industry executive Todd Taylor.

Heck joins the Red Bulls after spending seven years at the NBA, most recently as senior vice president of marketing partnerships, a position in which he was responsible for running the day-to-day business operations of USA Basketball.

Heck will begin his new job with the Red Bulls on Wednesday. He reports to Erik Soler, the team’s general manager.

Heck previously worked for the athletic department at Villanova University and for the Miami Heat and Philadelphia Eagles.

“I’ve been working for 20 years with the hopes of having this opportunity and couldn’t ask for a better setup with committed ownership, a new facility and being in the best market in the country,” Heck said.

Heck joins the Red Bulls during a season in which the team is averaging 17,776 fans a game at 25,000-seat Red Bull Arena, the seventh best attendance in the 18-team MLS, which is averaging 17,245 fans a game.

“The focus is to emphasize season-ticket sales and the fan experience,” Heck said, “build on the team’s authentic sponsorships, and reflect the Red Bulls franchise as New York’s soccer team.”

Taylor will join the Pacers on June 20 as senior vice president and chief sales and marketing officer. He comes to the Pacers after working for the Texas Rangers as executive vice president of ticket sales and marketing since November 2010. He previously worked for the Milwaukee Brewers, Portland Trail Blazers and Columbus Blue Jackets. He reports to Rick Fuson, chief operating officer of Pacers Sports & Entertainment.

“Todd’s multi-league experience helps expose us to different ways things are done,” Fuson said. “We think we are headed in the right direction and know Todd will be here to help us.”

The Pacers this past season lost to the Chicago Bulls in the first round of the NBA playoffs and ranked last in average attendance in the 30-team NBA, drawing 13,538 fans a game at 18,165-seat Conseco Fieldhouse.

“Historically, the Pacers have been a good franchise with strong ownership, and there is a lot of opportunity to make an impact,” Taylor said.
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