SBJ/March 30-April 5, 2015/Forty Under 40

Forty Under 40: Chris Allphin

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Chris Allphin

Age: 36
Company: Van Wagner Sports and Entertainment
Title: Senior vice president
Where born: Castro Valley, Calif.
Education: University of Southern California (B.A., political science)
Family: Wife, Danielle; children, Casey (6), Ryan (4) and Aaron (18 months)

Favorite way to unwind: I play in a couple men’s ice hockey leagues.
Cause supported: Students Matter, in California; dedicated to making changes in public education.
Person in the industry I’d most like to meet: Billy Beane, GM of my hometown Oakland A’s.
If I could change jobs with anyone for a day, it would be: Lewis Hamilton, F1 world champion.
2015 will be a good year if: Construction projects in Cobb County and downtown Minneapolis (NFL Vikings) stay on time and under budget.
My fellow Forty Under 40 class members would be surprised to know that I: Can change your watch battery. My dad owns, and I used to work summers at, a family jewelry store.


ERIN BENNER

Chris Allphin has experienced firsthand the need for sports marketers to expand beyond their core business.

At Van Wagner Sports and Entertainment, Allphin oversees the firm’s team and venue services division. The group consults with teams for naming rights, premium-seat sales and technology at their facilities.

The industry landscape for such deals has changed dramatically in the 15 years since

SBJ Podcast:
Forty Under 40 editor Mark Mensheha and Executive Editor Abraham Madkour discuss this year's class, some of the more interesting stories in it and how the selection process works.

Allphin first worked for Van Wagner President and CEO Jeff Knapple at the former Envision firm. That period includes last decade’s recession, when both executives learned valuable lessons while with Wasserman Media Group, the agency selling naming rights to the new NFL stadium for the New York Jets and Giants. The building opened in 2010 and operated without naming-rights partner until MetLife put its name on the building in August 2011.

In 2012, Knapple moved to Van Wagner, a firm whose primary business to that point had been selling billboard space. Six months later, he hired Allphin again. Together, they helped the Braves last year sign SunTrust Bank, already a team sponsor, for naming rights to the team’s new ballpark opening in 2017. It took only three months to close the agreement, one of the quickest deals Allphin has worked on in the world of naming rights. “Those are the best ones, when the team knows the buyer very well,” he said.

Creating a good fit applies to Van Wagner, too. “Our industry can be resistant to change,” Allphin said. “We hire one agency for ticketing, tech advisers for scoreboards, naming-rights brokers — but you’re entertaining and talking to the exact same fans. It made a lot of sense for us to assemble what we think is an all-star team providing great game experiences, which directly correlates to revenue.”

— Don Muret



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