SBJ/February 20-26, 2012/Marketing and Sponsorship

Knapple to help Van Wagner expand scope

Knapple is a veteran of numerous sports naming-rights deals.
Photo by: TERRY LEFTON / STAFF
Van Wagner Sports and Entertainment has hired veteran sports marketer Jeff Knapple as executive vice president, a new position that will see Knapple spearhead a company initiative to offer a broad range of marketing services, including naming rights, brand integration and signage.

Knapple, who has handled myriad naming-rights deals during his career — ranging from Target Center in 1989 to MetLife Stadium last year — will be based in Los Angeles.

“The idea is to pull together more of the different parts of our company and to be able to provide a large variety of services to teams and venues,” said Van Wagner Sports President Cliff Kaplan, adding that the company works with about 200 teams and venues in North America. “We think we can offer a range of services that will differentiate us from anyone else in the space.”

Knapple, who will report to Kaplan, was with Wasserman Media Group since selling his Envision agency to WMG in 2002. Kaplan and Knapple have known each other since 1997, when The Marquee Group, where Kaplan worked, bought the agency where Knapple was employed, ProServ. The two worked on opposite sides of the MetLife deal last year, with WMG representing the New York Jets/Giants and New Meadowlands Stadium and Van Wagner working on behalf of MetLife.

“It’s about harnessing and multiplying assets,” said Knapple, who said he had been talking to Van Wagner for about six months. “So many times, when you go in to pitch naming rights to a team or venue you see a wider range of marketing opportunities that we can really take advantage of.”

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