SBJ/January 14-20, 2013/Media

Dew Tour creator Martin leaving NBC

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Wade Martin, who spent the last decade leading the Dew Tour, is leaving NBC Sports.

The president of Alli Sports, NBC’s action sports group, is taking a job with Powdr Corp. He will be the CEO of a new division known as Powdr Enterprises that will be focused on building an event, sponsorship and media business around the company’s nine mountain resorts, Woodward Camps and Outside Television network.

Eric Grilly, NBC Sports regional sports group executive vice president and chief digital officer, is expected to succeed Martin as president and CEO of Alli. An announcement is forthcoming, sources said.

Martin will oversee event sponsorship and media business for a new division of mountain resort owner Powdr Corp.
Photo by: JOHN DUNN
Grilly will report to Rob Simmelkjaer, NBC Sports Ventures senior vice president. Martin will stay with the company for three to five months to assist in the transition.

“It’s hard to leave the team and the people I work with, but I’m really excited about starting over again,” said Martin, who joined NBC Sports in 2003 to start the Dew Tour. “I really like starting at zero and being close to the action, and I’ve got a unique opportunity to try and do that again.”

Martin, 42, has been one of the most influential figures in action sports events and entertainment over the last decade. He joined NBC Sports in 2003 as its general manager. Just 32 years old and a former college tennis player from Michigan State, he wasn’t an obvious candidate to build a new emerging sports property, but he previously worked on Octagon’s Gravity Games and had a reputation as a bright operator adept at earning trust and bridging differences that divided the opinionated and fractious action sports community.

The network tasked him with creating a series of action sports events where competitors collected points over four or five events and the athlete with the most points was crowned champion. The idea became the foundation of the Dew Tour, which debuted with five summer stops in 2005.

The tour expanded to include three winter stops in 2008. That same year, Martin created the Alliance of Action Sports — or Alli, as the organization became known — to serve as an umbrella company that not only could run the Dew Tour but also manage other properties.

Alli Sports last year signed a four-year renewal with Mountain Dew that will keep the brand as the title sponsor of the Dew Tour through 2015. The deal, which was valued at more than $8 million a year, resulted in the series contracting from seven stops around the country to three stops last year. Alli also struck its partnerships with Red Bull and Ford last year.

Martin said it was the company’s most financially successful year and added that he expects it to do even better in 2013.

Fuse partner Issa Sawabini, who negotiated the Mountain Dew extension, called Martin a visionary in the action sports event and entertainment business.

“It was his vision and hard work and perseverance to create the Dew Tour, and his ability to recognize and reinvent it deserves extra credit,” Sawabini said. “It’s hard to know if the property would look the way it does or even exist without him.”

At Powdr Enterprises, Martin will be designing events and selling sponsorships that allow brands to reach the 3.1 million visitors to Powdr’s mountain resorts, the thousands of campers that Woodward hosts, and the 61 million viewers who watch Outside Television. Powdr and NBC Sports also agreed to a three-year strategic partnership that could see events Martin creates air on NBC networks.

“The ski resort business is our passion, but there needs to be one eye toward the future, and our marketing and communications divisions’ evolution has led me to believe that events and licensing and media is an area we should be focused on,” said Powdr Corp. CEO John Cumming. “It’s clear to me that there’s a way for each division to benefit from the other, and Wade’s the obvious person to come and help us do that. He’s a good entrepreneur.”

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