• Live from ATL: Franchises and Facilities

    Print | 

    TOMAHAWK HIT!: It was a memorable outing for our 2017 AXS Sports Facilities & Franchises attendees. After a 25-minute bus ride from the hotel, we walked through the impressive The Battery Atlanta, were greeted by bands and specialty cocktails, then welcomed by Braves Vice Chair John Schuerholz before a surprise guest appearance by HOF’er Chipper Jones. After a tour of the impressive SunTrust Park, guests took batting practice on the field, feasted on a dazzling array of food, and even zoomed down the zip line. All in all, it was a special night on a picture-perfect evening, presented by the Braves and Delaware North. Guests raved about ballpark, the access, the food and the cocktails, and a couple of other surprises. We extend our thanks to both organizations.

    THE THEME OF DAY TWO: After a Wednesday Ticketing Symposium in which uncertainty about the future was a major theme, the focus yesterday at the AXS Sports Facilities & Franchises conference turned more to the here and now. It wasn’t all sunshine and roses. Security and politics were still a big part of the conversation. But we also delved more into the fan experience, management, design and data.

    FUTURE OF THE FRONT OFFICE: We mentioned security earlier, right? Well, in the day’s opening panel, Orlando Magic CEO Alex Martins said security is the biggest issue facing anyone in a front office. “We recently hired the former head of the U.S. Secret Service to help us,” he said. “Our new director of security is the former deputy chief of the U.S. Capitol Police. That is the level at which we have to address security these days. If our fans don’t feel safe coming to our facilities, they’re not going to come.” Next on the list of big issues? Fan experience. That’s the subject that fills up Vikings COO Kevin Warren’s in-box. “Fans spend a lot of their resources (at our games),” Warren said. “They expect an incredible experience, and it’s for us in this business to provide the atmosphere for them to walk away – win or lose – saying, ‘This was really a special day to spend with my family.’”

    FUTURE OF THE BUILDING: And it wouldn’t be a facilities conference if we didn’t spend time thinking about how we’ll build the sports cathedrals of the future. For one thing, notwithstanding the coming new Los Angeles NFL stadium and the Mercedes-Benz Stadium just up the street from the conference, building billion-dollar venues isn’t sustainable, argued Dan Meis of MEIS Architects. Meis is among those exploring concepts such as temporary pop-up facilities, smaller structures, and building alongside hills and other topographies to reduce the need for steel infrastructure. “I’m a big believer that smaller is better,” said Meis, who has worked with the Chargers now playing in StubHub Center. Other ideas to keep an eye on: selling entries but not fixed seats, designing more for non-game days, and planning for the day when the team moves out.

    CULTURE BUILDING 101: Be successful. Have a great fan experience. And be in the heart of the community. Those are among the values that are at the heart of AMB Sports and Entertainment, the diversified sports company owned by Arthur Blank Group that was built using the blueprint from the Falcons’ owner’s success running The Home Depot. The secrets to that success were discussed by three principals – United President Darren Eales, Mercedes-Benz Stadium GM Scott Jenkins and Falcons President Rich McKay, in a session moderated by longtime Atlanta executive Scott McCune. “The best or nothing,” McKay said. “That’s the way Arthur measures us. We want to be the best we can be at everything we do.” He cited the soccer club as an example. “When we were starting the United, Arthur told us all, ‘We are not in this for fun. We want to win games and we want the fans to have a level of experience unlike anyone at MLS.’ That was his direction from day one.” The team has been one of the biggest success stories in the sports business this year, recently drawing an MLS record of more than 70,000 fans, with hopes of setting another attendance record later this month.

    CONCESSIONS A HIT: The Falcons’ McKay talked about the early results of the value concession pricing at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which has been the talk of the facility and concession business for the low-cost of general concessions. “The numbers far exceed what we thought, but let us have a full year. We are very happy with the way it has gone,” he said. “Our scores from our fans have been ridicuously high, but that’s to be expected, but we just want to give it a full year and then we can tell our story.” Overall, McKay noted the pressure of keeping Mercedes-Benz Stadium active with events. “We have arena envy,” he said. “We want to be open for business. We don’t want to be open only for soccer and the Falcons. We want to be 365, we want to be the heartbeat of downtown Atlanta, so we have to be in business and operate at a fast pace.”

    SEEN AND HEARD: Vikings COO Kevin Warren got in to Atlanta late on Wednesday evening, but that didn’t stop him from hitting the gym early Thursday morning. It’s a crucial ritual. “I have to do it daily. If I don’t work out, I’ll pull my hair out.” ….Speaking of working out, Speedway Motorsports’ Mike Burch forgot his running shoes, so Wednesday afternoon, went out and bought some new ones for his run after the reception that evening. He also got in a solid five miles on Thursday morning. If you get a chance, ask him about his current streak of working out every day…TD Garden President Amy Latimer is hitting the road, going to Edmonton and then to Detroit in the next week to experience both Rogers Place and Little Caesars Arena for the first time….The Braves’ Derek Schiller and Mike Plant shared vacation stories – both taking their first ones in years at the completion of the season. Schiller was in Italy and Plant in the Mediterranean…The action was jamming around the Omni Hotel last night for Garth Brooks at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the facility’s first concert. Eventellect hosted several executives from the Texans, MLS and Paciolan in a field-level suite for the concert.

    VALIANT EFFORT: Jake Shaw, director of ticketing for the USL’s Nashville Soccer Club, lost a hotly contested foot race to The Freeze during the SunTrust Park outing. The Freeze, otherwise known as Nigel Dalton, a member of the Braves’ grounds crew and a former college sprinter, took the country by storm this past baseball season by racing fans around the outfield warning track. The Freeze gave Shaw the typical head start before closing quickly and breaking the tape about 20 feet ahead of his competitor. Shaw, a Utah native, has been employed since May by the team, which begins play in 2018.

    FOOD, WONDERFUL FOOD: One thing you can count on at our facilities conference each year is that the food will be memorable. When we visit a ballpark or stadium, the teams, stadiums and vendors will often try to outdo themselves. This year was no exception. Upon arrival at The Battery Atlanta, guests were treated to specialty drinks including Makers 46 Peach Tea (featuring Makers and Peach Schnapps), Cucumber Pear Cooler (featuring Absolut Pear and Cucumber Lime Svedka), Jalapeno-Mango Margarita (featuring El Jimador Silver Tequila and Grand Marnier), a New Fashioned (featuring Old Forrester Bourbon and Aperol) and a Brave Gentleman (featuring Beefeater Gin and St. Germaine Elderflower).

    And that was just to whet the appetite before an astounding array of food that included: Grilled Salmon with Saffron Nage,
    Foie Gras Torchon with Apricot Chutney, Snow Crab Claws,
    Lobster, Oysters on the Half Shell, Fried Shrimp Po’ Boys, House-Smoked Salmon “BLT”, Cayenne Spiked Crab Cake Slider, a Whole Hog Pig Pickin’, Stadium-Smoked Brisket, Grilled Dry Aged Tomahawk Chop Ribeye and Moonshine Marinated Swordfish. That was all before a dessert station of, among other things: Pecan Pie Shooters with Chocolate Cream, Traditional Coca-Cola Floats and Red Hare Draught Root Beer Floats.

    The drink scene during dinner was no slouch, either. There were beers on tap from Athens-based Terrapin Brewing, which has a branded restaurant at the ballpark. A wine tasting featured some great choices, including a 2014 Beaulieu Vineyard Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley. Meanwhile, a special Maker’s Mark station was set up, where guests got custom glasses dipped in the brand’s signature red wax.

    NOW, ON TO TODAY: Sponsors increasingly have the ability to build their brands as, and even before, venues are constructed. We’ll have an in-depth discussion on ways to do that, featuring executives from Coca-Cola, SunTrust and Georgia Power talking about the decisions they made about marketing inside Atlanta’s new sports facilities, the eternal debate over ROI and future trends in sponsorship.

    Then, after a short preview to lay the groundwork, we’ll walk down the street to the shiny new Mercedes-Benz Stadium for tours and a featured interview with Falcons CEO Steve Cannon. After all that, we’ll have earned our reward of a lunch hosted by Levy in the Mercedes-Benz Club.

    SOCIAL ANIMALS: Thanks to everyone who kept the discussion going on social media yesterday.
    A few tweets that caught our eye:
    @cdunc81: Multi-purpose sports & ent. venues + safety/security, two of the hottest topics today
    @masanorikawana: The most entertaining and inspiring session ever about artificial intelligence by @BigData_paulz of IBM
    @JeffYocum: Abe Madkour from @sbjsbd really in his element interviewing sports industry leaders. Makes it look easy. Maestro. #SBJTix
    @Jim_Kadlicek: @Braves HOFer Chipper Jones makes a surprise appearance.
    @BrentHaag_DI: @WeAreDI in Atlanta for #sbjsff. Great speakers and awesome content...and we haven’t even hit #SunTrustPark or #MercedesBenzStadium yet!
    @erikj10: Today’s biggest takeaway as it relates to @Sportsdigita & the Digideck: making it easier to “market to a universe of one.”
    @johnpinnes: Thanks to our hosts the @Braves and @delawarenorth for the great tour and reception during the AXS Sports Facility conference.

    LAST CHANCE TO BE A WINNER: Drop your card at the IBM booth a chance to win a Garmin Approach S20 Black GPS Golf Watch. The drawing will be held on today.

    LAY OF THE LAND: Registration and breakfast start at 7:15 in the International Foyer on level M2 of the Omni Atlanta North Tower. Today’s first panel begins at 8:15 in the International Ballroom. We’ll head over to the stadium at 9:30.

    AN APP FOR THAT: View our event app on any device to see the attendee list, agenda, speakers, sponsors and exhibitors. You can also read and download our digital program guide: http://sbjsbd.biz/sffprogram.

    JOIN THE CONVERSATION: If you’re in the room today (and, if not, where are you?), speak up! Send questions to our panels in three ways:
                — Text SBJSBD to 22-333
                — Use the 2017 Facilities and Franchises app
                — On your web browser, visit pollev.com/sbjsbd

    SOCIAL ANIMALS: Today’s hashtag is #SBJsff. We’ll be tweeting and retweeting throughout the day, and we’re interested to see your thoughts and photos on social media.

  • Live from ATL: Franchises and Facilities

    Print | 

    These are unprecedented times, and no one knows where we are going from here. That was the main theme on Wednesday from the heavy hitters at the AXS Ticketing Symposium presented by SBJ/SBD. As one top executive said behind closed doors, “We love our jobs because we’re in the fun business. Well, these days, the job isn’t much fun.” From the intersection of politics with sports and the divisiveness it leads to among players, owners and fans, the top leaders in the business all seemed a bit on edge as they tried to figure out what’s next.

    POLITICAL ANIMALS: Houston Texans president Jamey Rootes immediately set the tone of the day when asked whether the controversy over President Trump/player protests was affecting the business of the NFL. “I think it’s starting to,” he said. “No-shows have not been an issue for us. We’ve had capacity crowds. We haven’t lost any sponsors. … It’s just in feedback we’ve gotten. Like, ‘Hey, this is not good for the game.’ Or ‘This is not good for my connection to the Houston Texans.’” On Location Experiences CEO John Collins said the issue has become “cartoonish due to the President’s desire to keep it front and center.” Rootes: “We’ll get through this like we have with other challenges before. The question is how quickly we’ll get back to normalcy.”

    TEAM BUSINESS IS A TOUGH BUSINESS: Hawks and Philips Arena CEO Steve Koonin, who had previous stints at Coca-Cola and Turner Broadcasting, had one of the most entertaining interviews that we can remember in a long time, touching on subjects ranging from Trump to the team business to marketing and branding and the Atlanta sports scene in a fun 30 minutes with SBJ/SBD’s Abe Madkour. He called the team business the toughest he’s been in. Koonin: “We’re in the food service business. We’re in the media business. We’re in the ticketing business. We’re in the sponsorship business. We’re in the music business. We’re big time in the security business. I think we counted 14 business that we’re in. … We feed more people under one roof than any restaurant in Atlanta. I think there is a little naivete when you work on the periphery of sports. When you’re an operator, there is a complexity that requires great expertise and great people.” See more of his remarks in today’s Morning Buzz and THE DAILY.

    INSIDER’S GUIDE TO AIRLINE TICKETS: We broke some new ground in the program by going outside sports and bringing in Delta Air Lines’ Eric Phillips for a highly enlightening presentation on the company’s pricing and yield management strategies. No sector of American business has dived deeper into the data science than the airlines, and Phillips offered a breezy, engaging sytle that turned into one of the most talked about sessions of the day. Phillips also provided some travel tips for all the frequent fliers in our audience: The best times to buy tickets are Tuesdays at noon Eastern and on weekends. Tuesdays because they are right after the airlines typically upload their weekly sale fares on Monday nights and then respond to competitors, and weekends because purchasing demand typically tails off then, particularly among business travelers.

    DIVING INTO DATA: Phillips’ talk was a great lead-in to a focus on gathering, analyzing and using data that permeated the day. During a discussion on how teams and facilities are gathering information on their fans, AEG’s Aaron LeValley said, “You’re not going to get there tomorrow. You have to make sure you have a plan and know how you’re going to use data.” Part of the issue is that other industries that have used Big Data for years are moving so quickly that “as soon as we feel we catch up, Google does something new,” said Jeremy Short of Kroenke Sports & Entertainment. “A couple of years ago, we weren’t talking about machine learning and artificial intelligence. All of a sudden, there’s a new technology that we haven’t embraced yet.”

    STILL WAITING FOR A STATUE: Georgia Tech’s high-energy men’s basketball coach, Josh Pastner, joined Madkour in a post-lunch interview that got the afternoon off to a lively start. Of following John Calipari at Memphis (Pastner’s first head coaching gig at age 31): “You’re following someone who won 95% of their games. We won over 70%. Usually when you’re winning over 70%, you get a statue.” Pastner also said that he doesn’t curse, smoke, drink alcohol or caffeine and refrains from yelling at refs. One interesting note: “I spend 90% of my time on compliance issues.” Pastner easily won some new fans, as attendees complimented his open, engaging style and refreshing candor.

    RELIVING THAT SHINING MOMENT: During a one-on-one with the NCAA’s Josh Logan, attendees got to watch the “One Shining Moment” video that closed the ’17 Men’s Basketball Championship on CBS, as well as another sizzle video highlighting all of the NCAA’s Championships, from skiing, to tennis to women’s track and field. Good stuff to break up a morning.

    SHOUT OUT OF THE DAY: On Locations Experiences CEO John Collins, talking about data analysis, looked out in the crowd and recognized KAGR CEO Jessica Gelman, and, citing her influence in the space, said, “She’s the god of data analytics.” Gelman was later introduced by Madkour for a panel simply as “god.”

    MAN ON THE RUN: Rick Abramson, Delaware North chief customer officer, will compete Sunday in the Detroit Free Press Half-Marathon. This is great to hear after Abramson had Stage 4 tongue cancer, first detected in 2013, but obviously is back with great energy. The road race takes runners through the streets of Detroit and into Windsor, Canada, before re-entering U.S. soil. During a lunchtime conversation yesterday, Abramson told us that he’ll be wearing a Tigers hat, Red Wings shirt and Pistons shorts, representing the three local clients served by Delaware North Sportservice, the concessionaire at Comerica Park and Little Caesars Arena. The Tigers are Sportservice’s oldest sports account, dating to 1930 at old Navin Field. Rick’s oldest daughter, Mary Abramson, will join him in the half-marathon. Keep running, Rick!

    WHAT TO LOOK FOR TODAY: Lots of people talk about how similar sports and entertainment are. Some companies even put them in the same silo. We’ll find out how complementary they are in a session on the content mix for sports venues. The Jacksoville Jaguars this year added an amphitheater to the EverBank Field stadium complex, and team president Mark Lamping will update us on those efforts. Robin Phillips, who buys and books entertainment for AEG, will talk about turning every venue into an all-purpose showcase.

    BUILDINGS OF THE FUTURE: We’ll also take a look at how the shift in demographics toward younger fans and the escalating costs to build sports facilities has teams and sports architects re-creating the typical seating bowl model, as well as the traditional season ticket restricting fans to one product in the building. How can teams develop less expensive venues with greater flexibility for fans?

    WHAT YOU’LL SEE AT SUNTRUST PARK: In the afternoon, Van Wagner Sports & Entertainment’s Chris Allphin will give us a preview of SunTrust Park before we board buses and head to the ballpark. SunTrust is inviting all attendess to take a few minutes to visit The onUp Experience in The Battery (next to the Coca-Cola Roxy), where you will see a manifestation of the bank’s efforts at “lighting the way to financial well-being.”

    AND DON’T FORGET BASEBALL AND FOOTBALL: Nats-Cubs Game 5 first pitch at 8:00pm on TBS; Eagles-Panthers at 8:30pm on CBS/NFL Network.

    THEY SAID IT:
    “If you can’t keep people safe, you can’t exist.” Rootes, on the security ramifications of recent events.

    “I don’t think any of us truly understands how it’s going to impact us or how long it’s going to linger.” Ticketmaster’s Jared Smith, on security issues facing live events.

    “ADD used to be a disease. Now it’s a life skill.” Koonin

    SOCIAL ANIMALS: Thanks to everyone who kept the discussion going on social media yesterday.
    A few tweets that caught our eye:
    @JeffYocum: Most interesting stat of day so far. 6 years ago, 13% of Delta’s front cabin paid for seat. Now, 60% pay for seat. “Load factor”
    @erikj10: Today’s biggest takeaway as it relates to @Sportsdigita & the Digideck: making it easier to “market to a universe of one.”
    @SavCav9: Here in ATL attending the #sbjtix symposium! Excited to hear from key speakers in sports industries. Thanks @eventellect for the opportunity

    BE A WINNER: Be sure to visit the IBM booth to drop off your card for a chance to win a Garmin Approach S20 Black GPS Golf Watch. The drawing will be held on Friday. You don’t have to be present to win.

    LAY OF THE LAND: Registration and breakfast start at 7:30 in the International Foyer on level M2 of the Omni Atlanta North Tower. When you check in, you’ll be asked to provide a business card and confirm the networking events you plan to attend. The AXS Sports Facilities and Franchises conference begins at 8:30 in the International Ballroom.

    AN APP FOR THAT: View our event app on any device to see the attendee list, agenda, speakers, sponsors and exhibitors. You can also read and download our digital program guide: http://sbjsbd.biz/sffprogram.

    JOIN THE CONVERSATION: If you’re in the room today (and, if not, where are you?), speak up! Send questions to our panels in three ways:
                — Text SBJSBD to 22-333
                — Use the 2017 Facilities and Franchises app
                — On your web browser, visit pollev.com/sbjsbd

    SOCIAL ANIMALS: Today’s hashtag is #SBJsff. We’ll be tweeting and retweeting throughout the day, and we’re interested to see your thoughts and photos on social media. We’ll highlight some of the best posts in tomorrow’s email.

    VOLUNTEERS: When you check in to the conference, you’ll probably receive your name badge from one of our volunteers. If you get a chance, try to take the time to chat with them — they could be the future of our industry. Volunteers are from University of Alabama.

  • Live from ATL: The 2017 Ticketing Symposium

    Print | 

    HUB OF THE “NEW” SPORTS INFRASTRUCTURE: Two ground-breaking facilities, one heavily hyped renovation, and all within 12 miles of each other. It was an easy decision to hold this year’s AXS Sports Facilities and Franchise conference and Ticketing Symposium in Atlanta, which is at the heart of new construction in sports. From the revolutionary SunTrust Park and The Battery to the jaw-dropping Mercedes-Benz Stadium, this city is at the forefront of technology and the fan experience. More than 400 attendees will experience these two new developments, while also getting a sneak peek at the $200M planned renovation at Philips Arena. Wednesday night, both Thad Sheely and Steve Koonin will reveal the vision behind the renovation at Philips, while on Thursday evening guests will walk through The Battery Atlanta before being greeted by John Schuerholz and taking in the much-talked-about SunTrust Park, which recently completed its first season and drew more than 2.5 million fans. On Friday, after a set-up by Steve Cannon, guests will conclude the three-day event with a tour of the $1.5B Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which has set a new standard for big event facilities. There is so much happening in this city, including one of the hottest stories in sports – the over-the-top success of Atlanta United.

    For your reading pleasure and ICYMI, here are a few of our recent stories on SunTrust Park and The Battery, Mercedes-Benz Stadium and Philips Arena. In addition, we took a recent look at the state of the Atlanta sports market.

    CHALLENGING TIMES FOR SPORTS: We don’t think it’s hyperbole to say that this event comes in the midst of an emotionally charged time for sports and society, and that will surely drive some of the discussion. From a recent spate of natural disasters, to an unprecedented attack on sports by a sitting president, to widespread player advocacy, to one of the most horrific and violent tragedies in America during an entertainment event, it’s been a numbing six weeks. We’ll have a lot of smart people on stage and in the audience this week, and the perspectives they provide are sure to be thought-provoking.

    COMING UP TODAY: The kickoff panel for the 2017 Ticketing Symposium, “The Future Fan Experience,” will touch on all elements of the live event experience. Expect John Collins to talk about growing live events around sports, Jamey Rootes on how the game experience could change in the next decade, and Jared Smith and Bryan Perez on access, packaging, and the future of ticketing. Rootes, who surely must feel for the Texans’ JJ Watt after the defensive star’s injury on Sunday, will also talk about how a sports team can inspire a community in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.

    LEADERSHIP LESSONS FROM THE COACH: One of the goals of this year’s program was to examine leadership, and we’ll do that during a sit-down with 40-year-old Georgia Tech men’s basketball coach Josh Pastner. Pastner, who played basketball at Arizona under Lute Olson, enters his second season at Tech after spending seven seasons in Memphis, where he replaced John Calipari. Last year, the Yellow Jackets made the NIT final after most people predicted a last-place finish for the team in the ACC. Pastner doesn’t drink alcohol, coffee or soda, is active on Twitter and is known for his motivational talks. It should be a fun 30 minutes.

    CHILLIN’ WITH KOONIN: One of the most entertaining executives in sports is Hawks CEO Steve Koonin, who brings a diverse background from his 14 years at Turner Broadcasting and time at Coca-Cola. He’s been aggressive in bringing life back to the Hawks’ brand and the event experience at Philips Arena, which is in the midst of a major renovation. In a 30-minute Q&A, look for the always opinionated Koonin to riff on everything from the team’s Tinder Night to how to stand out in the crowded Atlanta sports market.

    SAFE AND SECURE: One of the more important sessions of the day will examine the use of technology to improve safety. We’ve got ticketing executives, crowd management professionals and vendors discussing innovations such as mobile ticketing systems, turnstile design, body cameras, facial recognition and the newest generation of bomb-sniffing dogs.

    HOT TICKETS: Among the hottest areas of ticketing are subscription and mobile pass-based offerings now rippling through the industry, and an afternoon panel will drill into this area, which is a hit with young adult and millennial buyers. MLB teams have been at the forefront of this development, and the sport will be represented by MLBAM’s Mark Plutzer, the Cardinals’ Martin Coco, and Greg Foster, CEO of Experience, which serves as a back-end technical support for many of the Ballpark Passes. The New York Jets’ Fred Mangione will detail his team’s new “Boarding Pass” product, which quickly sold out over the summer.

    YIELD MANAGEMENT … OH, YEAH!: OK, so this topic may sound like a finance seminar, but it’s actually one of the more important developments in the last several years as teams have tried to reduce the number of brokers they deal with and consolidate their activities in the secondary space. The Royals’ Mike Bucek, a longtime friend of this event, will discuss how the ticket dynamics in his town have changed as the club has shifted from a World Series champion to the middle of the pack. He’ll be joined by one of our local hosts, Kyle Brunson of the Hawks, and Greg Nortman of leading distribution and inventory management platform Dynasty Sports & Entertainment.

    OPENING CEREMONIES: Conference title sponsor AXS hosted a pre-event reception last night in the Harrah’s Cherokee Club at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. After a welcome from AXS VP of Content Justin Jimenez, guests enjoyed a buffet that included triple cheddar mac ’n cheese, smoked wings, honey cheddar cornbread, Georgia barbecue port and smoked beef brisket, which got a thumbs up from SBJ’s resident native Texan. In addition to stadium tours, the event also included a set from recording artist Nya, who was backed by a three-piece band that included the drummer for country artist Garth Brooks, who will be playing Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Thursday night. (We watched the round stage for the show being set up on the stadium floor.)

    Eventellect co-founder Patrick Ryan dined last night at the Stats sports bar with the company’s 10 scholarship winners, who were chosen to attend today’s Ticketing Symposium. Ryan said he was excited to see SunTrust Park and Mercedes-Benz Stadium, adding to the more than 100 venues he has visited.

    With a sparse sports calendar, which wasn’t helped by the cancellation of the Cubs-Nationals game, the hotel bar was a bit slow last night. We’ll look for it to be a little more active tonight after our reception with execs from the Hawks.

    DO YOU HAVE A RESERVATION?: Atlanta’s cuisine scene is hot. Among the tips we got when asking where we should dine: Staplehouse, Bon Appetit's Best New Restaurant of 2016, is known for its top-notch service; Miller Union, which is touted to be great for lunch or dinner; Gunshow, a hard-to-get reservation but offers a neat concept where cooks bring a cooked dish to your table for you to decide whether you want it; Bacchanalia, one of the city's top spots but also known for an almost three-hour dining experience; and Umi, which offers fantastic sushi in Buckhead.

    LOCAL KNOWLEDGE: We asked Bernie Mullin, founder of The Aspire Group and a guest moderator this week, what ATL visitors should expect this week: “Bring your suntan cream and your umbrella, as we are expecting 80 degrees and some showers. And wear your red and black for the hottest experience in U.S. sports – MLS expansion franchise Atlanta United, with 70,000-plus rowdy fans and an explosive, high-scoring team. You WILL find yourselves doing the Viking Chant: Arms held up in a V pattern, clapping and chanting, ‘Aaaa… Tttt… Llll… Aaaa… Nnnn… Tttt… Aaaa… UNITED.’”

    LOCAL KNOWLEDGE II: From another guest moderator, Scott McCune, founder of McCune Sports and Entertainment Ventures: “Be ready to enjoy Atlanta’s beautiful fall weather, our award-winning restaurants and, of course, the passion around all of our ‘football:’ Atlanta United’s final push before their unprecedented run to the MLS playoffs, along with the Falcons, Bulldogs and Yellow Jackets, who are all off to great starts. And, of course, take in the College Football Hall of Fame.”

    BE A WINNER: Be sure to visit the IBM booth to drop off your card for a chance to win a Garmin Approach S20 Black GPS Golf Watch. The drawing will be held on Friday. You don’t have to be present to win.

    SPEAKING OF WINNERS: As mentioned above, Eventellect awarded ten scholarships to allow some deserving up-and-comers to attend the conference. If you get a chance, say hello to them today. They are: Abdullah Arshad, Edward Billington, Savannah Cavanaugh, Olivia Grocholski, Ali Harman, Pax Kaplan-Sherman, Jakub Mikulik, Robert Nanna, Adam Twining and Bradley Wolff.

    LAY OF THE LAND: Registration and breakfast start at 7:30 in the International Foyer on level M2 of the Omni Atlanta North Tower. When you check in, you’ll be asked to provide a business card and confirm the networking events you plan to attend. The AXS Ticketing Symposium begins at 8:30 in the International Ballroom.

    AN APP FOR THAT: View our event app on any device to see the attendee list, agenda, speakers, sponsors and exhibitors. You can also read and download our digital program guide: http://sbjsbd.biz/sffprogram.

    JOIN THE CONVERSATION: If you’re in the room today (and, if not, where are you?), speak up! Send questions to our panels in three ways:
                    — Text SBJSBD to 22-333
                    — Use the 2017 Ticketing Symposium app 
                    — On your web browser, visit pollev.com/sbjsbd

    SOCIAL ANIMALS: Today’s hashtag is #SBJtix. We’ll be tweeting and retweeting throughout the day, and we’re interested to see your thoughts and photos on social media. We’ll highlight some of the best posts in tomorrow’s email.

    VOLUNTEERS: When you check in to the conference, you’ll probably receive your name badge from one of our volunteers. If you get a chance, try to take the time to chat with them — they could be the future of our industry. Volunteers are from University of Alabama, Atlanta Hawks and Atlanta Braves.

  • Game Changers take New York City!

    Print | 

    “Don’t assume anyone is going to take care of you,” said the WWE’s Michelle Wilson at the 2017 Game Changers conference. “Be your own advocate.” 

    That message — of work ethic, self-awareness and independence — was among the themes of a day-long discussion that included talk about leadership, hiring, negotiating and diversity. About 450 attendees gathered at the Marriott Marquis at Times Square for the 5th edition of Game Changers, which included recognition of the 35 honorees in this year’s class.

    You’ve heard us say it before, but it bears repeating: Of all our conferences, this one continues to lead the way in terms of energy, enthusiasm and networking. Attendees start early, show up on time, and stay late — and they’re never afraid to let panel members know how they feel.

    LESSONS FROM AN ESPN VETERAN: ESPN CFO Christine Driessen, in a one-on-one interview with SBJ’s Abe Madkour, talked about the early days at the network (“It was the wild, wild west!”), and revealed some of what she has learned during a career in which she has not only been a part of billion-dollar deals, but was often the only woman in the room. Among her points:
    — “Speak concisely. Effective communication as you grow your career is critical. If you walk into a room and you start talking and you don’t have an audience listening to you, stop. It’s amazing what happens when you stop talking.”
    — “Don’t get caught in the trap of speaking just to be speaking. It’s important to speak up, but you need to have a point of view that makes sense and is worthy for an audience to listen to.”
    — “In the passion of negotiation, sometimes you get so personally involved that you need to step back and remember why you are there. Keep calm. If there’s a critical issue and strong disagreements, just take a break.”

    WAIT, WHO’S IN FIRST?: Buffalo Bills co-owner Kim Pegula, CEO of Pegula Sports and Entertainment, had a great time reminding the crowd of where her team stands after Week 1 of the NFL season. “I’m going to celebrate it until I can’t anymore,” Pegula said at the start of her interview with Madkour. “We are Number 1 in our division!” One attendee on Twitter claimed that Pegula mentioned the Bills’ record no fewer than seven times during the 30-minute session, but, really, who can blame her?

    SPOILER ALERT?: NBCUniversal’s Linda Yaccarino made several mentions on stage of NBC’s hit show, “This Is Us,” as one of the key pillars of the network’s sales efforts. Every time she referred to the show, there were murmurs of appreciation from the audience. She had some fun teasing about some spoilers, but finally admitted that she intentionally keeps herself in the dark when it comes to the plot. “I don’t want to know!” she said. Yaccarino also held firm when asked by moderator John Ourand for her favorite story about Ted Turner, with whom she worked for years. “I am so not allowed to tell any of those,” she said.

    THE ART OF THE DEAL: More from the WWE’s Wilson, a veteran of sports business with previous roles at the NBA and USTA, who sat with LeadDog’s Dan Mannix to offer tips on negotiating your career. Among her quick hits:

    On a skill she looks for when hiring: “Being able to articulate what you want in a concise manner is harder and harder to find. Practice what you are saying before the meeting. Be able to articulate clearly and convincingly what you want to get out of a negotiation.”

    On making yourself heard: “Bringing your own point of view and having the confidence to articulate that is critical. Have conviction in what you’re saying.”

    On getting what you want: “You don’t get what you don’t ask for.”

    PRODUCT TO THE PEOPLE: The Ivy League’s Robin Harris and WNBA COO Jay Parry talked about efforts to expose their products to more viewers. Harris: “We are spending a lot of time thinking about what we can do to promote all of our sports … through over-the-top productions. Those really give us an opportunity to showcase women’s sports. It’s clear that over-the-top is the future.” Parry agreed and cited the WNBA’s new deal with Twitter: “We complemented our ESPN game coverage with games on Twitter, and the viewership numbers blew us away. We didn’t know what to expect, but we are seeing an average of 630,000 viewers watching, and, for some games, we are seeing over a million viewers. We were thrilled.”

    THE SUCCESS BEHIND THE THORNS: Sports business veteran Mike Golub clearly enjoyed talking up the success of the NWSL Portland Thorns, sister club to the MLS Timbers. The Thorns have 11,000 season-ticket holders. “If you walk around our stands, it’s really a 50-50 demographic split between men and women,” he said. “But what always strikes me is the look in the eyes of young women at our games. It’s magical.” The organization’s goal is to be perceived as the 3rd major league team in Portland, after the Blazers and Timbers. “We are on the front page of The Oregonian and leading nightly sports news,” he said.

    WENDY CLARK UNPLUGGED: DDB North America Chair Wendy Clark is a smart, fun and engaging public speaker. Among her quick hits from a one-on-one with former colleague and longtime friend Eric Fernandez:
     — “If you don’t like change, you’re not going to like your job as a marketer. You will not be very successful at your job.”
     — “I am not intimidated at all by what I don’t know. If you are, you’re not going to lean in to change as you should.”
      —“You don’t have to be smart at the cost of being kind.”
     — “Even if you know all the answers, you don’t always have to give them.”
    — “Talent has no gender.”

    QUICK TALKS ON CAREER DECISIONS: One of the new things we tried this year was bringing in some inspirational speakers for quick-hit talks about building careers. Here are takeaways from the four speakers:

    Blue Man Group’s Pam Harris: Rather than thinking about your career as rungs on a ladder, gather a portfolio of building blocks. What is the next block you’d like to acquire? All of this accumulated knowledge makes you more valuable.

    Benita Mosley Fitzgerald, former Olympian now with Laureaus Sport for Good Foundation USA: Run your own race. Focus on your own performance, your own lane, your own pace. Don’t let your competitors distract you.

    Whistle Sports’ Deidre Lester: Concentrate on doing what you love. Have self-awareness and ask difficult questions. Remember to have fun: We work in sports.

    Ann Wells Crandall of the Big East Conference: When making a career decision, ask yourself: Do you believe in the company? Do you believe in who you will report to? What can you learn from the opportunity? Trust your instincts and develop phenomenal relationships.

    FORGING THEIR OWN PATHS: Justine Siegal and Lauren Holtkamp discussed their careers and challenges with Sports Illustrated and SI.com lead anchor Maggie Gray. Siegal, who was the first woman to coach for a major league organization when she was hired by the Oakland Athletics in 2015, said being the first woman to pitch batting practice to an MLB team was as much of a mental challenge as it was physical. She knew that if she didn’t do well, “it would be over.” By staying authentic and working hard, she won the respect of the players. “I did my best to always be working and do everything I could do to make a player better,” she said. 

    Holtkamp, who became the third woman to be a full-time referee in the NBA in 2014, recalled that while training to become an NCAA referee, her class was given the option of going to work in men’s or women’s basketball. Or, rather, the men were given a choice, not her. That moment has continued to motivate Holtkamp throughout her career. “I think at every level you work at as a referee, you ask yourself if you can do this and keep up with the physical component and speed of the game,” she said. “And it wasn’t just about if I was able to do it, but the perception around whether I was able to do it. I found that my colleagues didn’t have that same anxiety about those demands.”

    QUOTES FROM THE DAY:
    “If our student athletes want to kneel, that’s fine. We want it done in a respectful way, as long as it doesn’t interfere with the competition. But each campus has its own policy.” — The Ivy League’s Harris

    “It’s really tricky on the team and venue side. Where are the boundaries? We have a very politically active community. Our fans haven’t been shy. We’ve had very difficult conversations. Is something offensive? Or is it over the top? We err on the side of allowing it.” — Golub

    “Women tend to be more proactive in communication, and I’ve seen that in every major company I’ve worked in, bar none.” — Danielle Maged, Fox Networks Group

    “Data showed we were the second most recognizable brand in the world, second to the Crucifix. But we decided we weren’t going to challenge Jesus.” — Clark, on working at Coca-Cola

     “When you’re doing something that has never been done before, a lot of it has to do with opening people’s minds.” — Holtkamp

    BEHIND THE SCENES: Mylan World Team Tennis CEO Ilana Kloss talked with SBJ’s Dan Kaplan about the development of the film, “Battle of the Sexes,” which portrays the historic 1973 tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs. Among the tidbits from Kloss, who was an adviser on the film: If you recognize Howard Cosell’s voice in the production, it’s not an imitation. Producers went to the Cosell estate to get the approval for the rights to use the audio. Kloss also said that actress Emma Stone, who plays King, was warm and personal after their initial meeting but then pulled back from contact with King. “We were wondering, ‘What? Does she not like us?’ Kloss said to laughs from the audience. But Stone, who at 29 portrays King at the exact age she was when she played Riggs, later revealed that she didn’t want to be around the 72-year-old King and see her fully formed, so that she could more accurately portray the sports pioneer at a younger age.

    SOCIAL ANIMALS: Many thanks to everyone who contributed to the conversation on social channels. On Twitter alone there were almost 400 posts using the conference hashtag, accounting for 8.48 million impressions.

    Here are a few tweets that caught our eye:
    @lordylordy: Terrific panel on leadership featuring #NASCAR CMO @jillgregory6 to close out an inspiring day at @sbjsbd Game Changers!
    @BetsyWeigel: Happy to see some men in the crowd at #sbjgc - inclusion of women in #SportsBiz is a discussion for EVERYONE
    @laurofrofro: Learning a ton from @buffalobills owner @KimPegula despite her citing their division-leading 1-0 record seven times and counting... 
    @IvyExecDir: Thrilled to be part of @sbjsbd #GameChangers conference - both as a panelist & as an attendee. Many interesting issues and perspectives
    @drstroman: Loving the real talk from @lindayacc We need innovative measurement tools now!
    @arinsegal: soaking up the bits of knowledge on twitter from what seems like an incredible session with @wnd at #sbjgc

    And special thanks to our most frequent tweeters:
    Joe Favorito (@joefav); Bailey Weigel (@baileyweigel); CUSportsBiz (@CU_SPS_Sports); Casey Miller (@caseybmiller); Madelyn Robinson (@OhMissMadelyn) and Laura Froelich (@laurafrofro).

    Thanks for reading, let us know if we missed anything, and we’ll see you in Atlanta Oct. 11-13 for the AXS Facilities & Franchises and Ticketing Symposium.

  • Live from Game Changers in New York City!

    Print | 

    SEPTEMBER, WHEN IT COMES: Now in its 5th year, Game Changers has a familiar and exciting feel. The energy, camaraderie and networking that takes place during the day is unique to this event and something that we look forward to all year. For the 2017 edition, which starts today at the Marriott Marquis at Times Square, we’ll reward the enthusiasm of the more than 400 attendees with a jam-packed agenda.

    WHAT TO EXPECT: Ideas from previous attendees shaped the program. They wanted:
             To hear from leaders: We have one-on-one discussions with ESPN’s Christine Driessen, a pioneer in sports media; DDB’s Wendy Clark, a leader in the marketing, creative and agency world; NBCUniversal’s Linda Yaccarino, who is setting the market in ad sales; and Pegula Sports & Entertainment’s Kim Pegula, a pioneer in team ownership who is building an impressive sports and entertainment company.
             To develop careers and leadership: We start the day with the popular Career Breakfast, add storytelling from two pioneers who broke barriers in sports, and pepper the discussions with frank talk on negotiating your path, changes in the workforce, and lessons from top executives.
             To have some fun: You’ve seen the trailers. Now we’ll give you a behind-the-scenes peek at the “Battle of the Sexes” film, which chronicles a historic moment in sports and culture. The movie stars Emma Stone and Steve Carell and seems poised to be a critical and box office hit.
            More Game Changers: For the first time, we’ll bring our honorees on stage to be individually recognized. Subscribers can read all of their stories. We’ll have 24 members of this year’s class in the room today, and a good mix of previous honorees in the audience.

    DEEPER DIVE: Four more points on today’s content:
             — Driessen is one of the most well-respected executives in sports. She’s unassuming and often behind the scenes, but she has a drive to mentor and teach. She’ll talk about her career journey in an opening one-on-one with our own Abe Madkour, during which she’ll also discuss her strategic role at ESPN.
             — Yaccarino has, perhaps, the most important job at 30 Rock this year overseeing NBC’s ad sales for the Super Bowl and the Winter Olympics, which are not only the two biggest sports events on the calendar but occur within days of each other. She’ll talk with our John Ourand about how the ad sales market looks today and what needs to be done to keep it thriving.
             — Val Ackerman and Dawn Aponte, who will discuss Life Lessons, have both benefited from strong mentors. Ackerman had former NBA commissioner David Stern; Aponte learned alongside former NFL coach Bill Parcells. The value of mentoring relationships will be emphasized many times during the conference.
             — Pegula and her husband, Terry, are developing one of the most interesting companies in sports in upstate New York. She’ll talk with Madkour about their venture, and how they are working to inspire the Buffalo community. One of the better profiles of Kim came from Michael Silver on NFL.com: “The Queen of Buffalo.”

    PREGAME SHOW: LeadDog Marketing Group and SBJ last year launched the Mentoring Challenge, pairing 10 women who are early in their careers with 10 women executives from the ranks of our Game Changers honorees. The program was so successful that it has been expanded this year to include 15 pairings of mentors and mentees (see the complete lists below) Both last year’s group and this year’s were hosted last night at a reception at LeadDog’s rooftop office on 9th Avenue. Speakers included LeadDog’s Dan Mannix and Karen Ashnault, SBJ’s Abe Madkour and Benita Fitzgerald Mosley, CEO of Laureus Sport for Good Foundation USA, who is also a part of the program today. With a menu of hors d’oeuvres and a table spread, plus a selection of local beer and wine, attendees enjoyed live music from a guitar duo throughout the evening.

    THE WAKE OF THE STORMS: Our thoughts are with everyone who suffered through hurricanes Harvey and Irma. We appreciate those who planned to make it today despite the storms, including NBA referee Lauren Holtkamp, the Atlanta Hawks’ Nzinga Shaw and three volunteers from the University of Central Florida. And we send good thoughts to those who had to cancel in order to deal with the aftermath, including UCF’s Richard Lapchick and the LPGA’s Kathy Milthorpe. And many thanks to Delise O’Meally of the National Consortium for Academics and Sports for stepping in to helm Richard’s “Workforce 2025” panel.

    LET’S MAKE A DEAL. OR NOT: The research we published in this week’s SBJ should spark conversation today. Among the findings: When women choose not to negotiate their salary, they are far more likely than men to say that they were not confident in their negotiation skills or that it didn’t occur to them to negotiate. Len Perna, CEO of Turnkey Sports & Entertainment, joined us on our weekly First Look podcast to talk about the findings of the study. Listen to the podcast, and read about the study.
    Perna will host the Career Breakfast at 7:30 a.m. today with five execs who will talk about creating your career story and growing professionally and personally.

    THE PLACE TO BE: We’re on the 7th floor of the Marquis all day today. Most sessions will be in the Astor Ballroom. The Career Breakfast and lunch will be in the SoHo room. Looks like decent weather, but with the United Nations in town, plus plenty of construction, traffic could be dicey. Leave early and we’ll see you soon!

    SOCIAL ANIMALS: We’ll be watching out for and occasionally retweeting the people who help carry the conversation today. Here are a few pre-conference tweets that caught our eye:
    @bass_carole: Looking forward to attending #SBJGC tomorrow. Excited to learn from the amazing panelists and to meet the other attendees.
    @estranges: Incredibly proud to work under the  inimitable @laurafrofro... deservedly recognized as an #SBJGC  (and looks FIERCE while she's at it!)
    @b_a_kirsch: So proud @MsKenyattaB being selected @Sbjsbd's 2017 Class of Game Changers so well deserved for her tireless work, leadership & passion!
    @marywitt: Many congrats to a fave, @sbjsbd #gamechanger Sarah Cummins, a true leader & key contributor to @nyrr's mission & biz.
    @MsKenyattaB: Looking forward to engaging discussions and valuable insights at the @sbjsbd Game Changers Conference tomorrow! #SBJGC

    Plus, here’s a Twitter moment with some collected tweets, mostly related to the conference, but also containing a few birthday wishes to SportsBusiness Daily, which started its 24th year of publishing this week.
    Thanks to frequent tweeters @MsKenyattaB and @TurnkeySports.

    MENTORING CHALLENGE: As we mentioned higher up, LeadDog and SBJ launched the Mentoring Challenge last year with ten pairings of experienced executives with women who are early in their careers. The program worked so well that we’ve expanded it for 2017-18 to 15 pairings.
    Here are the mentors and mentees for 2017-18:
    Brielle Buckler (NBA) and Ronnie Tucker (NY Road Runners)
    Susan Cohig (NHL) and Ashley Daniel (NFL)
    Dawn Aponte (NFL) and Bailey Weigel (Manhattan Sports Business Academy)
    Beth Paretta (Grace Autosport) and Belicia Montgomery (MiLB)
    Jody Bennett (Andretti Autosport) and Gabrielle Gray (IMG College)
    Karen Ashnault (LeadDog Marketing Group) and Grace Kaminer (MSG)
    Diane Pelkey (Under Armour) and Jamie Grant (NFLPA)
    Pam Batalis (Learfield) and Katherine Brown (ESPN)
    Michelle Berg (Team Epic) and Rachel Steinberg (Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment)
    Mary Scott (United Entertainment Group) and Shira Averbuch (MLS)
    Sallie Sargent (Houston Super Bowl Host Committee) and Brittany Philip (GMR Marketing)
    Michele Carr (NFL) and Caroline Acosta (NY Mets)
    Xan Young (Populous) and Lauren Li (Scout Sports and Entertainment)
    Kathy Milthorpe (LPGA) and Melissa Lewis (PGA Tour)
    Shauna Griffiths (LeadDog Marketing Group) and Suzanne Grassel (MLS)

    And here are the pairings for last year. Many of them have built relationships that will continue:
    Michelle Berg (Team Epic) and Casey Inguagiato (Philadelphia 76ers)
    Sharon Byers (American Cancer Society) and Arin Segal (Prodigy Sports)
    Laura Chittick (JPMorgan Chase) and Kelly Higgins (New York Mets)
    Susan Cohig (NHL) and Claire Miller (L.A. Dodgers)
    Gail Hunter (Golden State Warriors) and Lana Ramirez (BBVA Compass Stadium)
    Ilana Kloss (World TeamTennis) and Ricki Dean (NBPA)
    Bernadette McGlade (Atlantic 10 Conference) and Armani Rice (College of the Holy Cross)
    Kimberly Meesters (Sprint) and Philicia Douglas (Miami Dolphins)
    Jaymee Messler (The Players’ Tribune) and Talia Retelny (Bleacher Report)
    Vicky Picca (Fanatics) and Sydney Schneider (NFL).

    JOIN THE CONVERSATION: If you’re in the room today (and, if not, where are you?), speak up! Send questions to our panels in three ways:
    — Text SBJSBD to 22-333
    — Use the 2017 Game Changers app
    — On your web browser, visit pollev.com/sbjsbd
    Contribute comments and photos on social media using the hashtag #sbjgc. Follow us on Twitter @sbjsbd.

    PRESENTING THE HONOREES: We’ll honor the 2017 Game Changers on stage before breaking for lunch. This year’s class will be introduced by Madkour, and then we’ll take the official group photo.

    YOUR FUTURE BOSS: We’ll have student volunteers on hand today staffing the registration desk and helping with other duties. Be sure to say hello and give them a few words of encouragement as they prepare for careers in the industry. Among the schools represented: Central Florida, Villanova, Columbia, Michigan and DePaul.

    CONTRIBUTORS: Thanks to SBJ’s John Ourand, Lorianne Lamonica and Sandi Nelson for helping with this email. Let us know what you think and what we missed.

  • From Half Moon Bay: Seen and Heard at Thought Leaders Retreat

    Print | 

    LISTENING, LEARNING AND PLAYING IN HALF MOON BAY: Innovation. Disruption. Taking big swings. The promise and peril of artificial intelligence. The threat of security lapses. And how you may only be allowed to drive a car for another 25 years. The speakers and discussions at the Thought Leaders Retreat presented by CSM and LeadDog were provocative and frequently frightening, but also offered optimism and ideas for facing an uncertain future. Most attendees – who were drawn from our classes of Forty Under 40, Game Changers and Champions honorees – began arriving Wednesday night at the Ritz Carlton at Half Moon Bay in California. Those early arrivals were the first to enjoy the nightly ritual of a magnificent sunset (usually around 8:30 p.m.) complete with a roaming bagpiper, drinks around the fire pits and a cool wind blowing off the Pacific Ocean.

    WHAT WAS SAID: We’ll be a bit circumspect about this. Thought Leaders Retreat is an off-the-record conference so that everyone in the room can speak their mind without fear that ideas, problems and plans will be revealed publicly. But there were plenty of takeaways that were not proprietary and will give you a good idea of the quality of the discussions. The speakers who had everyone buzzing had one thing in common: a certainty that we’ll see more changes in sports in the next ten years than we’ve experienced in the last 50.

    MALCOLM FRANK, Cognizant, executive vice president, chief strategy officer and chief marketing officer. With a precise eye and full understanding of the digital economy, Frank offered a sometimes chilling look at how artificial intelligence and machine learning will bring dramatic changes to the way we live. One of our favorites points from his presentation: Things sucking is the mother of all invention.

    JEFF COLE, director of the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. The professor examined the potential collapse of broadcast networks, how it will happen, the future of ESPN and what all of this means for sports. He spoke boldly of Amazon’s growth plans and said if the company’s leader, Jeff Bezos, wants sports programming, he will get it.

    KEVIN COMPTON, Radar Partners: The former owner of the San Jose Sharks gave a frank look at the future of technology, the challenges he faced in team ownership and the benefits of being able to manage down better than up. Abe Madkour asked Compton to elaborate on his principles of leadership, which include: never guess; silence is golden, insights are silver; managing down is more important; master the rhythm of anticipation; over-communicate in as few words as possible; and lead with a servant’s heart.

    DAVID HILL, Hilly Inc.: In a fun closer to the event, SBJ/SBD Champion (from the inaugural class of 2010) and long-time sports business leader Tony Ponturo interviewed TV production legend Hill, who was funny and frank about his upbringing as the son of a miner in Australia, his lack of a formal education, his years of collaboration with Rupert Murdoch and how even he can be afflicted with what he called “the worm of self-doubt.” One other takeaway that we had not given enough thought to: Hill was one of the earliest sports execs to realize the potential growth and impact of video gaming.

    DAVE and NATE CHECKETTS: The father-son duo offered an insightful lesson on generational similarities and differences just before Father’s Day weekend. The senior Checketts stressed how the financial scope of sports has changed while the younger talked about how he leans on his father for direction and advice, while using his own instincts to build his hot active wear company, Rhone.

    OTHER THEMES: SportsCastr.Live’s Kevin April gave a thoughtful look at the life of a serial entrepreneur. The quiet Canadian talked of the challenges of chasing funding and setting up a culture and organization … Virgin Sports’ Mary Wittenberg outlined the vision for that company’s sports festivals bringing people together and the desire to “help people be their healthiest and fittest.” She also complimented NBA Commissioner Adam Silver for his efforts in organizational diversity: “Great organizations have strong women in positions of leadership.” … Rugby International Marketing’s David Sternberg talked about efforts to grow rugby in the U.S. and the plans for next year’s Rugby World Cup Sevens at AT&T Park in San Francisco.

    FOCUS ON INNOVATION: We kicked off Friday morning with an hour-long group discussion featuring three lead speakers, Fuse’s Bill Carter, Visa’s Andrew Cohen and the Sharks’ Flavil Hampsten. The conversation, facilitated by Madkour, focused on challenges and opportunities in sports and the potential for disruption. Many people joined in as we passed a microphone around the room (though one of the benefits of the Retreat is that it is small enough that everyone can be heard). Among the comments were that many of the issues affecting the live fan experience could be fixed with better planning and communication between teams, venues and city leaders, and that there is a big push going on to attract more diverse talent to sports (but, Compton noted, sports today can’t match the salaries being offered in Silicon Valley). Other themes: Teams and properties, in general, are too locked into historical thinking and processes that prevent them from trying new approaches. And the sports industry needs to take bigger swings at key issues and push innovation.

    THE JOYS OF PLAY: We all took full advantage of the surroundings, from informal walks, runs or bike rides along the beach to organized activities around golf, tennis, hiking among the coastal redwoods, and wine tasting at a local vineyard. As always, one of the highlights of the Thursday night dinner was the presentation of awards for golf and tennis. In the golf competition, winners were Nick Carey, Christine Brown, Michael Brown, Dave Checketts, Nate Checketts and Adam Davis. In tennis, special recognition went to Mike Rosenblum, Eric Guthoff, Sternberg, Irwin Raij and Jennifer Duberstein.

    Also spotted: Ponturo taking a daily afternoon walk along the beach; Wittenberg, practicing what she preaches, returning from runs before each morning’s sessions; Davis running 8 miles on Wednesday afternoon, then reading a book on the lawn before being interrupted by Madkour, Dan Mannix, Wally Hayward and Ross Nethery, who were returning from a fierce battle on the tennis court (Spoiler alert: We switched partners after each set, and everyone who played with Wally won.); David Katz taking a private tennis lesson in preparation for what he predicted would be dominance on the court at next year’s Retreat.

    FAMILIAR FACE: Tony Wells, who is well known in the sports business, was spotted at the Ritz on Wednesday afternoon as he was taking in a different conference in his current role at CMO of Schneider Electric.

    RECONNECTING: Madkour and Nethery met former colleague Tripp Mickle for lunch before the conference started. Mickle, who many of you know from his work at SBJ, now covers Apple for the Wall Street Journal.

    FOOD, WONDERFUL FOOD: We heard more than a few people say that the food was among the best they’ve had at a conference. Our Thursday dinner, set up on the lawn among the fire pits and looking out at a glorious sunset over the ocean, featured the Ritz Carlton’s “Farms of Half Moon Bay” selections. The menu was much too extensive to list in full, so here are five of our favorites: Pepper crusted Brandt Farms New York strip, Bellwether Farms agnolotti, Sonoma foie gras mousse, Princeton Harbor sea bass and Pescadero Farms blood orange cremeux.

    NEXT YEAR, A BIGGER NOTEBOOK: We took more notes at this conference than at any other we can remember, and were told that others did the same. Our goals were to expand minds, spark creative thinking and strengthen relationships, and we think we can put a checkmark by all three. If we didn’t see you at this year’s event, we hope you’ll join us next time.

  • Live from Chicago! Day 2 and farewell from the 2017 Brand Engagement Summit

    Print | 

    WHAT WAS SEEN AND HEARD: Hope from Gen Z – their likes, their thoughts and their recommendations; it’s all about the story; a lot of talk of being “authentic”; A-B delivers the goods (cold beer) during the day and hitting the streets of Chicago on a great night. Those were the themes from Day 1 of the Intersport Brand Engagement Summit. Today’s highlight: A rare public appearance by Formula One’s Chase Carey, who will be interviewed by Intersport CEO Charlie Besser, as the two have a relationship dating back nearly 20 years. The Summit ends with panel discussions on one of the most talked about themes of Day 1, the promise and opportunities around esports.

    IT’S ABOUT THE STORY: The conference opened Wednesday with a keynote from branding expert Adrienne Weiss on creating a relevant brand voice. It’s almost never about the product, she said. Instead, it’s about experiences, and the emotions that consumers feel in connection with your brand. “There are so many mistakes,” she said. “Too many focus on the commodity, and talk about the product directly and miss the emotional connection. The brands that don’t make it are just not going to the right side of the brain.” Read more from Weiss on bringing brands to life.

    GEN Z MIND MELD: Northwestern journalism prof Candy Lee led a fascinating discussion with a group of Gen Z students who set the tone for much of the discussion during the rest of the day. Giving great insight into everything from how they watch sports to which social networks they use, the six students on the panel drew many more questions from the audience than we had time to answer. A few of our favorite moments from the panel:
    NU student Garrett Jochnau, a youth camp counselor, on 10-year-olds: “They are obsessed with personal brands. These guys are bandwagon fans when it comes to teams and when it comes to players. I wouldn’t be surprised if next year they all come to camp with Big Baller Brand shirts and shoes.”
    DePaul student Kelsey Horvath on Snapchat: “I use Snapchat every morning. It’s the first thing I look at because in one place you can get CNN, the Economist, the Daily Mail and ESPN all in one place. It tells you the top stories that happened the day before.”
    On the one thing the sports industry needs to do a better job of, four identified engaging/personalizing, while two said in-stadium Wi-Fi. Look for more from the panel in today’s SBD.

    DIVING INTO SOCIAL: We took a slightly different approach to our social media discussion on Day 1, first presenting an overview from MVPIndex’s Kyle Nelson, then offering short, one-on-one interviews with Twitter’s Laura Froelich, Instagram’s Brandon Gayle and Facebook’s Kevin Cote. Nelson laid out some of the social success stories from big brands around the NFL’s past season (hint: Nike, USAA and Bud Light), and then the social execs weighed in on some of the hot topics facing the industry and their particular platforms. Among the comments: Froelich, on trying to constantly change: “[White Sox owner Jerry] Reinsdorf last night was saying that you need to really focus on competing against yourself. We’re always competing against ourselves and making our platform the best that it can be. We’re continuing to stake our claim that Twitter is where people come to find out what’s happening in the world." Gayle, on what makes the best content: “[Consumers] want it from the athletes first, whether it’s Neymar behind the scenes going live after practice with FC Barcelona, or Serena Williams doing karaoke on her patio in her tennis outfit, clearly wearing a Nike outfit and drinking a Gatorade, weaving in that brand integration.” Cote, on how the role of content has changed: “When I talk to teams, it’s about making sure you understand that the digital and marketing department … those can now be revenue-generating departments. Whereas maybe five or ten years ago they were mostly just cost centers.”

    Cote, by the way, made the most of his time in Chicago, grabbing meetings with both the Cubs’ digital teams and Dan Moriarty, the digital director at the Bulls, who was also in attendance. But Cote will escape back to the west coast on Thursday in time to see his former employer, the Warriors, host the Cavs in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. His prediction? Warriors in five.

    MIXING SPORTS AND POLITICS? Pro Football HOF President David Baker is always good to have in the house. Brimming with energy and a large presence, he’s an audience favorite. After his appearance on stage with Johnson Control’s Don Polite, Baker had to miss the rest of the conference to fly to Columbus, where he was scheduled to meet with a VIP outside of the sports world, Ohio Gov. John Kasich. On the agenda at the Statehouse is a proposed $27 million upgade to Interstate 77 that goes right by the HOF in Canton.

    THIS BUDS FOR WHO? Let’s just say MSG’s Ron Skotarczak and AB/InBev’s Eelco van der Noll caught a full ballroom by surprise when, at the start of their panel discussing the recent renewal between the two companies, Scotarczak interrupted moderated Abe Madkour and said, “It looks to me like everyone could use a beer. Who could use a beer?”  The crowd cheered, the doors were opened and buckets of Budweiser products on ice were rolled in and handed out, all to the music track, “Go New York, Go!” No word on whether there was a two-drink limit. And, yes, it was only a little after 4 Central time, but it was 5 o’clock somewhere.

    A TRADITION CONTINUES: Charlie and Rebecca Besser again graciously opened their lovely North Dearborn Street home in Chicago for the traditional BES Speaker Dinner, and more than 70 guests attended. The striking home has been a set of such TV show filmings as “Empire” and the film “Jupiter Ascending,” among others. Cocktails and appetizers were served on the outdoor patio, as guests munched on a tilapia ceviche, bbq sliders and shredded pork on crispy tortillas. Inside, guests split up over seven tables and dined over mixed salads, filet and fish and peaches a la mode.  Among those attending were SBJ/SBD’s Richard Weiss and Madkour, A-B/In Bev’s van der Noll, Seaters’ Chris Burggraeve, Umbel’s Dave Cedrone, AT&T’s Ryan Luckey, Weiss, Froelich, Dr Pepper’s Blaise D’Sylva, Gillette’s Greg Via, Polite, former NFL player Sedrick Ellis, IPG360’s Jeff Markes, Cuisine Concepts’ Wayne Kostroski, and from Intersport Bryan Graybill, Jason Langwell, Drew Russell, Steve Stroud, Shannon Dan, Tom Buerger, Stacy Warwick, Kurt Melcher and others.

    ON-SITE LEARNING: We’ve got students from DePaul University and the University of Central Florida helping us run the event. Be sure to say hello, if you get a chance. You may be working with (or for!) them one of these days. Our volunteers: From UCF, Christopher Chennault and Katie Decker; from DePaul, Zoe Schmerin, Kawan Marcellus Goncalves and Misheel Tserenbat.

    QUOTES WE LIKED
    “I like to think of it like the Wizard of Oz. The whole world is black and white until the minute they step into Oz, and then it’s full color. What are the things you can do that help that change when a fan, guest or consumer crosses a portal?” — Weiss

    SOCIAL ANIMALS: Thanks to everyone following — and contributing to — the chatter from the conference. By late in the day, we had almost 250 tweets using the hashtag #SBJEngage, and about 1.19 million impressions. Many thanks to frequent tweeters such as @OhMissMadelyn, @2babies1bar, @NicholasEber, @IntersportBuzz, @cristanmckinlay, @IMR and @ShannonDan. You can follow us on Twitter @SBJSBD, and also check out our Facebook and Instagram pages.

    A few tweets that caught our eye:

    @OhMissMadelyn: When @budlight passes out beer at #SBJEngage ... that's a brand that understands partnership activation and how to engage with consumers
    @zim_az: Fantastic session @sbjsbd #SBJEngage from @CandyLeeMedill. Follow up panel with Gen Z panel is incredibly insightful. Well done!
    @MktShareSports: What we heard: Sponsorships must drive sales! Creative w/o strategy is just art! No more cookie cutter deals!
    @njh287: So much good stuff from this Gen Z panel at #SBJEngage, it seems. Includes their desire for personalization, connectivity, active engagement
    @ShannonDan: Multiple mentions of the shift from team loyalty to player loyalty today at @IntersportBuzz #sbjengage
    @2babies1bar: Mobile can turn a piece of paper into a goldmine of information-up to a 1000 data fields people WANT to give you @ChrisBurggraeve
    @STATSEngage: Let's chat #fanengagement between sessions at #SBJEngage. Or, we can talk about the #NBAFinals, that's the beauty of working in sports!

    AND THE WINNERS ARE: Event sponsor Umbel collected business cards during the ticket pick-up before the White Sox game on Tuesday, then held a drawing yesterday. Umbel’s winners: $100 winner: Krista Olson; $50 winners: Ashley Oaks, Bill Renick, Caroline Acosta and Ron Skotarczak; $25 winners: Norris Scott, David Portney, Veronica Rivero and Chuck Johnsen.

    NETWORKING AND MORE: Thanks to STATS for hosting a cocktail reception after Day 1 during which everyone got their hands on one of Canada’s most successful hockey brand activations – Budweiser’s Goal-Synced Glasses. Then, later in the evening, the Chicago Blackhawks hosted a reception at the RAISED Rooftop Bar. It was a great night to be outdoors in downtown Chicago.

    FULL COVERAGE IN SBD: Be sure to check SBD today and tomorrow for more writeups from the panels and presentations.

  • 31 BES Day 1

    Print | 

    EVENING AT THE BALLPARK: “Don’t make a decision until you have to,” White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf told about 300 conference attendees after they loaded into three buses at the Renaissance Chicago Downtown on Tuesday afternoon for the ride over to Guaranteed Rate Field, where the White Sox were hosting the Red Sox. During an interview with Executive Editor Abe Madkour, Reinsdorf was open, honest and funny as he talked about his experience, gave advice and even weighed in on the Michael Jordan/LeBron James debate. When it comes to making a difficult decision, Reinsdorf said, “If you wait, very often more facts become available to you, and facts are what you need in order to make a decision. You can’t procrastinate to the point where it’s too late to make a decision, but too soon means you may not have enough facts.”

    ON AND OFF THE FIELD: Longtime former White Sox ace Chris Sale, now with the Red Sox, ran out to the mound and was greeted with a standing ovation in a classy act from the White Sox faithful. What many thought would be a pitchers duel was anything but, as Sale gave up more runs than he had all year… In addition to seeing the return of Sale, attendees gathered for an on-field photo and were treated to a meet-and-greet with former White Sox player Harold Baines, who is not only in the Baltimore Orioles Hall of Fame, but was immortalized with a bronze sculpture at Guaranteed Rate Field.

    THE GREAT DEBATE: We’ll admit that Reinsdorf may be a little biased, but he made some good points on the debate over which NBA player is the greatest of all time. His take: “I think it’s a fair discussion about LeBron – is he the second-best player in basketball history or was Oscar Robertson? There’s absolutely no question who the best player was. [Jordan] was the best offensive player of his time. He was the best defensive player of his time and he was a coach on the floor. There has never been another Michael.” Look for more of our conversation with Reinsdorf in today’s SBD.

    FOOD, BEER, BASEBALL … WHAT’S NOT TO LIKE? Conference attendees filled much of the spacious Terrace Suite at Guaranteed Rate Field, where they enjoyed plenty of food and beverage options before and after Reinsdorf spoke. Before the main meal, soft pretzels and a nacho bar were available, and a bar served beer and wine as the crowd dispersed between the tables set up inside and the rows of seats stretching across the outfield. The menu included roasted vegetables, Italian chopped salad, oven roasted potatoes, barbecue pulled chicken, grilled Caprese squares and slow roasted prime rib. Those who saved room for dessert enjoyed ice cream sundaes served in miniature plastic White Sox helmets. Food and beverage was handled by Levy Restaurants. Baines, whose No. 3 jersey was retired by the White Sox in 1989, spent part of the evening signing autographs, taking pictures and getting to know many in the room who remembered his playing days well. Once everyone finished eating, the four rows of outside seats quickly filled up, with temperatures in the mid-60s and strong offensive showings by both teams making for an entertaining contest. Both teams enjoyed big second innings, with Boston leading 4-3 after two. But the visitors added three more runs in both the third and fifth innings for a 10-6 lead en route to a 13-7 win. Sale got the win for the Red Sox in his return to Guaranteed Rate Field.

    FACES IN THE CROWD: Among the BES crowd that took in the pre-game reception or enjoyed the game were members of the White Sox, including Reinsdorf, CMO Brooks Boyer and Senior VP/Communications Scott Reifert. Others spotted were MillerCoors’ Adam Dettman, AT&T’s Ryan Luckey, LeadDog’s Jamey Sunshine, Ascendent Sports Group’s Gordon Kane, MSG’s Ron Skotarczek, Twitter’s Laura Froelich and Intersport’s Steve Stroud and Shannon Dan.

    PRE-GAME WARMUPS: Event sponsor Umbel hosted a ticket pick-up and welcome reception before the game in the hotel’s Grand Ballroom foyer. Umbel collected business cards for some giveaways that will be announced today at the conference.

    NOW ON TO THE CONFERENCE: The theme over the next two days is simple: connecting with sports fans in multiple environments and through multiple platforms. From mobile marketing to engagement in and outside of sports venues, to breathing life into the fan experience and connecting with millennials, it will all be about engagement and connections. Other highlights will include one of the first public speaking appearances at a U.S. conference from new Formula One Group CEO Chase Carey, who will sit for an interview with Charlie Besser, a longtime Chicago leader and CEO of event sponsor Intersport. Finally, the event caps off with a focus on connecting with consumers through esports and the brands and platforms successful in that space.

    ON TAP FOR TODAY: We’ll spend a lot of time today talking about how brands can reach fans, regardless of the age of the fans and where they are watching sports. Northwestern professor Candy Lee will talk with a group of Gen Z fans about how they consume sports and what they want to see from their favorite brands and teams. Then we’ll have a social media module that will start with MVPIndex’s Kyle Nelson outlining his findings on fan engagement, leading into discussions with executives from Twitter, Instagram and Facebook about the latest from their platforms. Later in the day, Madkour will lead panels on mobile-first marketing and the future of fan engagement. Adrienne Weiss will get us started with a look at creating an authentic brand voice, and we’ll feature several brand showcases that will take us behind some of the deals that were made in the last year.

    GATHERING SPOTS: After the final session of the day, Stats will host a reception that will showcase one of Canada’s most successful hockey brand activations: Budweiser’s goal-synced glasses. Then, after you get back from dinner, the Blackhawks will host an evening reception from 9 to 11 p.m. at the hotel’s Raised Rooftop Bar.

    YOGA AT DAYBREAK: Women at the conference are invited to a Rise & Grind yoga session on Thursday morning from 6:30 to 7:30 at the Under Armour Brand House at 600 N. Michigan Avenue. (We’re telling you this in today’s email because we will probably still be asleep when this happens tomorrow. For your humble email correspondents, rising and grinding generally means making the coffee while half awake.) Attendees will get a 20 percent discount on UA merch and a complimentary grab-and-go breakfast. For more info or to RSVP, contact Intersport’s Lauren Varnas or Jamie Litoff. Mats will be provided, but bring your own towel (or buy one with your 20% discount!). BTW, the UA house is about a half mile — a 12-minute walk — from the conference hotel.

    CONFERENCE COORDINATES: All networking activities and sessions will take place on the second floor and in the grand ballroom. Registration and exhibits open at 7:15 CT, and the conference starts at 8:15. You can find all the information you need on our conference app. And, yes, everyone talks about the weather, but it was a fantastic warm, sunny day on Tuesday in Chicago and the next two days look great. Few things are better than summer in Chicago.

    SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS: If you’re in the room today, we hope you’ll contribute to the conversation. You can send questions to our session moderators by using the Brand Engagement Summit app or by texting ‘SBJSBD’ to 22-333 to join our session. If you are posting tweets or photos, be sure to use the conference hashtag: #SBJEngage. We will recognize the most active and engaging users over the next two days.

    FOLLOW OUR FEEDS: Follow all of our social media posts throughout the conference using our Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram feeds.

    FROM OUR SPONSORS: In addition to items noted above, stop by the ProSuite booth for a chance to win a Series 2 Apple Watch or an Amazon Dot, and charging stations are available in the exhibit foyer, compliments of Brightbox.

  • Live from Dana Point: Forty Under 40

    Print | 

    GET THE PARTY STARTED: About 400 people packed into the Pacific Ballroom at the Monarch Beach Resort at Dana Point, CA, last night to celebrate the 2017 class of Forty Under 40. The event was hosted by ESPN personalities Julie Foudy and Molly McGrath. For only the second time in the event’s 18-year history, all 40 of the honorees attended. As has become tradition, Publisher Richard Weiss welcomed the crowd and asked all of the previous winners to stand. There were 35 past winners in attendance, and five Hall of Famers (3-time winners).

    Then Executive Editor Abe Madkour gave his monologue to toast (and roast) members of this year’s class. Some of his biggest laugh lines:

    — The Big Ten has six honorees, including four (the most) from the Univ. of Michigan. Just one tonight from Ohio State: Martin Jarmond. Wow! Wait a minute. The Michigan Wolverines have beaten the Ohio State Buckeyes. That doesn’t happen very often.

    — It’s possible Tim Zue of the Boston Red Sox is the smartest guy here: high school valedictorian (his class size was about 10, but still …), mechanical engineering grad from MIT, worked at Bain Capital. You’d think this is one interesting guy and I guess he is. He lists among his hobbies “gift wrapping.” … Pretty exciting.

    — Comfort, Texas, population 2,300 -- that’s where Jimmy Bruns of GMR Marketing is from. Little different upbringing. His high school had two mascots – boys were the Bobcats, girls were the Deer -- true story. … Jimmy’s high school is so small, they used the same car for Driver’s Ed and Sex Ed.

    There were a lot of other fun lines. Production credits for this year’s monologue go to Madkour, Moss and Bounds.

    ON THE GUEST LIST: Here are some of the people we spotted last night: Seth Abraham; David Abrutyn, Bruin Sports Capital; Denis Braham, Winstead; Jerry Cifarelli, ANC; Daniel Cohen; Chad Estis, Dallas Cowboys; Bill Duffy, Aspire Group; Darren Eales, Atlanta United; Greg Economou, Ticketmaster; Ricardo Fort, Coca-Cola; George Foster, Stanford; Tom Garfinkel, Miami Dolphins; Kit Geis, Genesco Sports Enterprises; Peter Guber, Golden State Warriors; Marc Jenkins, Learfield; Chris Klein, LA Galaxy; Mark Lev, Fenway Sports Management; Burke Magnus, ESPN; Bernie Mullin, Aspire Group; Scott O’Neil, Prudential Center, Devils and 76ers; Len Perna, Turnkey Sports & Entertainment; Michael Rubin, Fanatics; Jared Smith, Ticketmaster; Gary Stevenson, MLS; Mike Tomon, Legends; and Kevin Warren, Minnesota Vikings.

    SOUNDTRACK TO THEIR PERSONAL MOVIE: Forty Under 40 winners get to select the music that plays when they take the stage to accept their award, and every year we highlight a couple of our favorites.

    Seth Bacon, MLS — Viva Las Vegas, by the King (that’s Elvis, for you younger folk). How can you not like that?

    Connor Schell, ESPN — He didn’t really get his song played because he got a special introduction for being this year’s lone inductee to the Forty Under 40 Hall of Fame. But his selection? “My Shot,” from the soundtrack to Hamilton.

    For those scoring at home, the most popular artists for last year’s class were AC/DC and JayZ, with three each. This year, it was Springsteen and Kanye, also with three each. 

    FAMILY AFFAIR: We say this every year, but it bears repeating: While we don’t have room to name all of the attendees, we’re proud of how much of a family event this has become, and of all the friends and supporters who join in and show up to support their loved ones. For almost an hour after the show, friends and family were posing with winners for photos on the stage. That kind of enthusiasm is great to see.

    ON THE MENU: For those who keep up with such things, the banquet menu included grilled Kobe flank steak and a dessert dark chocolate Charlotte, berry compote, white chocolate Chantilly and chocolate almond crunch.

    HERE AND THERE: United Entertainment Group President Sports/Experiential Mary Scott spent the Thursday afternoon break getting a blowout at the Drybar Dana Point. GMR Marketing’s Zaileen Janmohamed stopped by there later in the day. … GMR Head of Global Sports and Entertainment Consulting Adam Lippard was just glad to be on the ground, having arrived straight from Tokyo this afternoon, where he was advance scouting the 2020 Olympics. … University of California senior associate athletic director and chief revenue officer and Forty/40 awardee Ashwin Puri was enjoying the waves and sun at the Monarch Bay Beach Club Thursday afternoon, where Jeff Marks (not coincidentally a Cal alum) was hosting Puri and others at a reception for his new Innovative Partnerships Group. Also on hand were L.A. Clippers Director of Strategic Partnerships Erin Prober and MStyle Marketing Principal Rob Striar. … W Partners CEO Wally Hayward, upon leaving Dana Point yesterday following the conclusion of the ’17 CAA World Congress of Sports, was already looking ahead to the next big event on our event calendar: the ’17 Sports Business Awards on May 24 in New York. “Hopefully Tom Ricketts will be flying the ‘W’ that night on Executive of the Year,” Hayward said of the Cubs owner, while also referencing the team’s now seemingly ubiquitous symbol of victory. Ricketts is a nominee in that category, and the Cubs are also up for team of the year. … Much like Day 1 of World Congress, Day 2 showed some strong sock game among the panelists. In particular, NBA Kings President Chris Grangers striped socks were the team’s purple and gray. … We were a little sad to see Turnkey Sports & Entertainment CEO Len Perna retire the white tuxedo blazer he sported for several prior Forty Under 40 banquets, which brought some old-school flair to the annual event. … Ticketmaster North America President Jared Smith attended last night, in particular to support former colleague and ’17 honoree Cole Gahagan, now Fanatics CCO.

    WRAPPING UP WORLD CONGRESS: The final day of the ’17 CAA World Congress of Sports opened with a soccer panel of three industry veterans: MLS’ Don Garber, U.S. Soccer’s Sunil Gulati and FIFA/CONCACAF’s Victor Montagliani. The crowd in the full ballroom was as engaged as at any time during the event, peppering moderator Abe Madkour with questions for the panel. We followed that with a look at the LA 2024 Olympic bid, a deep dive into the fan experience and a revealing discussion about the making of the Oscar-winning documentary, “O.J.: Made in America.”

    Some highlights from the day:

    Garber, on how a World Cup in the U.S. would affect soccer: 
    “Major League Soccer came out of the popularity and legacy of the ’94 World Cup. Think of where we are 23 years later. We hope we’ll have a nine-year runway to take that and supersize it and work around that opportunity post-World Cup to build something bigger, better, stronger for all our stakeholders.”

    Montagliani, on the negotiations among the U.S., Canada and Mexico around the three-country bid for the 2026 World Cup: “For once everyone looked at it from a game or region perspective instead of playing your house card. We took a holistic view of the tourney and the region, and think collectively this is in the best interest of football for the region.”

    On Day 1, Steve Cannon of the Atlanta Falcons said that anyone selling an $8 hot dog to fans has lost their way. Our fan experience panel didn’t buy that, with Chris Granger, president of the Sacramento Kings, responding, “It depends on the hot dog. It depends on the quality. We have a different approach to food. It is not just about price sensitivity …”

    TRUMP CARD: Earlier this week, we predicted a lot of mentions of the Trump administration and its potential to influence sports. There wasn’t as much talk of politics as we expected, but it did come up during the first two panels of Day 2. Asked about dealing with the administration, Montagliani said, “It doesn’t matter if it’s a World Cup or the Olympic Games, you’ll always have to deal with an administration. With all due respect, it doesn’t matter if it’s this administration or another one. You have to deal with it. It’s part of our job.” LA Olympic bid chair Casey Wasserman followed up in the next session: “We started this process and there was one president. There may be another one when we finish this process. Those things come and go. We are one step removed from being a political entity. We think that’s a good thing. Sports and politics don't usually mix very well. Through a change in the president, we have stayed consistent with mostly the same people. We will continue that until we host the games.”

    DOUBLE DUTY: ESPN’s Connor Schell was on stage twice yesterday: First, he joined the network’s NBA Countdown host, Michelle Beadle, in the final session of the conference to talk about the making of the documentary “O.J.: Made in America.” Then last night he accepted his third Forty Under 40 award, joining an exclusive group of three-time winners in our Hall of Fame. And speaking of Forty Under 40 Hall of Famers, we had three others on the World Congress speaker faculty this year: Mark Tatum, NBA; David Preschlack, NBC Sports; and Casey Wasserman, Wasserman.

    LATE BOOKING: Forty under 40 winner Tobias Sherman spent some of the cocktail hour trying to book a last-second room at Mammoth Mountain for a ski weekend without the twins. But the prices we're going up by the minute.

    RUNNING ON EMPTY?: Strong effort by U.S. Soccer’s Gulati, who didn’t arrive to Monarch Beach until 3am Thursday morning due to runway issues at Kennedy Airport. He was still bright-eyed and lively for the first panel at 8:30am.

    ON TARGET: ESPN Exec VP/Programming & Scheduling Burke Magnus said during Day 1 of the CAA World Congress of Sports he had “high expectations” for a stronger “Monday Night Football” slate this year, and last night’s release of the ’17 NFL schedule proved him correct. This year’s “MNF” slate includes appearances by most of the NFL’s most popular teams, including Dallas, Pittsburgh, Green Bay, New England, the New York Giants, and Denver twice. ESPN is particularly enthused with the schedule including nine divisional matchups, more than twice the four on its ’16 schedule. Even with ESPN’s improved schedule, NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” remains a powerhouse, with the Cowboys, Steelers, Packers, Patriots, and Giants each scheduled for three slots there.

    WHO YOU KNOW: Since sports is the biggest "who-you-know" business in America, the relationships between Forty Under 40 honorees are complex and varied. Some are even academic. Pepsi's Justin Toman and Visa's Kate Johnson were in the same class at the University of Michigan (2001). The Atlanta United's Ann Rodriguez was a 1999 Princeton classmate of 2016 Forty/40 honoree Dana Rosenberg … Speaking of academics, UPenn Prof. Ken Shropshire, the longtime director of the Wharton School's Sports Business initiative, was soaking up knowledge and SoCal sunshine at WCOS, just days prior to teaching his last class Monday after 31 years at the Ivy League institution. When the semester ends June 30, Shropshire will officially gain professor emeritus status, but he insists retirement from the business altogether is NOT in his immediate future.

    SOCIAL ANIMALS: A big thank you to everyone who kept the conversation going yesterday. We had almost 600 tweets by the end of the half day, and 5.8 million impressions. Special thanks to our most frequent tweeters: Larry Chiang - @LarryChiang; Jeff Yocom - @JeffYocom; Jim Kadlecek - @Jim_Kadlecek; Laura Froelich - @Laurafrofro; Joe Favorito - @joefav; and CUSportsBiz - @CUSportsBiz.

    Among the tweets we liked:
    @caseywasserman: Thanks to @BenFischerSBJ for a great conversation about @LA2024 with @ScottBlackmun at #SBJWCS!
    @ThisIsBrooke: Great 2 days at #sbjwcs. Fun theme: Execs cite their kids as teachers for digital platform trends, infuse learnings into business strategy.
    @JimRenne: Thanks @sbjsbd for this year's CAA WCS! Great discussion, seeing old friends and making new friends, exchanging ideas: Be TRANSFORMATIONAL!

    SIGNING OFF FROM DANA POINT: We hope our morning emails have given you a sense of the feeling and vibe from our week in California. As always, we welcome your thoughts, questions and comments! Have a great weekend. We know we will!

  • Live from Dana Point: World Congress Day 2

    Print | 

    NOT THE END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT: The sky is not falling. Chicken Littles, go back to your corner. It’s just a different day and different ballgame. The best will adjust. The slow will not thrive. That was the takeaway from a high-energy Day 1 at the CAA World Congress of Sports at Dana Point, CA, where the sun was bright, the sky was blue and the views of the Pacific Ocean were brilliant.

    PLACE TO BE: About 800 people filled the Monarch Beach Resort’s Pacific Ballroom to open the Congress on Wednesday, and the room stayed full throughout the day for a lot of thought-provoking discussion. We’ll convene this morning for the final half day of the conference. Registration opens at 7:15am PT, with the opening panel at 8:30. The weather forecast today calls for sunny skies and a high of 71. It doesn’t get much more classic California than that.

    WHAT TO EXPECT TODAY: Our lineup includes an in-depth look at the state of soccer, with MLS’ Don Garber, US Soccer’s Sunil Gulati and CONCACAF’S Victor Montagliani; a discussion of the prospects of the L.A. 2024 Olympics effort with L.A. bid chair Casey Wasserman and the USOC’s Scott Blackmun; and discussions about the in-venue fan experience and the creation of the amazing documentary, “O.J.: Made in America.”

    YESTERDAY’S CRIB NOTES: From an opening session that included a lot of frank discussions to the end-of-the-day panel with the 2017 Class of Champions, the themes were diverse. We’re thinking of Adidas President Mark King saying that outside of the Power 5 conferences, “college sports is in trouble,” a fiery debate over player protests, the vision of David Levy for the networks of the future, and longtime Nike executive George Raveling saying that LaVar Ball is “the worst thing to happen to basketball in the last hundred years.” There was a lot to consider.

    SPEAKER HIGHLIGHTS: From the buzz on the Grand Lawn at the Monarch Beach Resort during a reception under a calming sunset, here’s what we heard. Among the most buzzed-about speakers: Adidas’ King: “He didn’t say much, but when he spoke, he crushed it.”  On 76ers/Devils Co-Owner David Blitzer: “He answered every question honestly and wasn’t afraid to say what he didn’t know.” On Raveling: “Every comment he made had me paying attention and he spoke with such authority.” On Barstool Sports’ Erika Nardini: “She captured the voice of Barstool and gave a vision of how to monetize it. I loved her.”

    THE ESPORTS OPPORTUNITY: In yesterday’s email, we predicted that we’d hear a lot of love for esports. That started with the first panel, when NBA Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum  talked about the effort to create a new esports league. “Right now, we have more than half to two-thirds of our NBA teams who have signed up and said they will have teams in the NBA 2K Esports league,” Tatum said. “Long term, we can see a situation where a Team Shanghai is playing the Esports Celtics, or the E-Sixers are playing a team in Paris, and this becomes a truly global esports league.”

    Later in the day, Blitzer called esports the Wild West. “It’s buying a place within this new ecosystem where you don’t know exactly how it will turn out over time,” he said. Asked how he will measure success in three years, Blitzer replied: “Absolutely no idea.”

    Among the conference attendees watching with a particular esport interest was Hunter Swensson, co-founder of Dallas-based social mapping company Paranoid Fan. Swensson is a former pro Halo player with Major League Gaming. Like Fanatics founder and Team Dignitas owner Michael Rubin during yesterday’s opening panel, Swensson predicts an eventual consolidation of the burgeoning space around a few dominant entities.

    SOCIAL ACTIVISM: The opening panel also featured a fascinating back-and-forth about whether social activism is harmful or beneficial for athletes. Read more in today’s SportsBusiness Daily, but here are a couple of quotes that stuck out to us: Adidas’ King: “To me, I think it will hurt the athletes. We try to not be in social issues, though we are moving toward that because we have to. But we certainly won’t associate with athletes that are going to cause our brand something we don’t represent and we don’t stand for.” And CAA Sports co-head  Michael Levine: “I can’t disagree more … When you talk about the attention and respect given a few days ago to Jackie Robinson and the path he trailblazed, what Billie Jean King did for women, what Muhammad Ali did by taking an unpopular stand — here we are 50 years later acknowledging he’s one of the most impactful athletes of all time — I just think that our guys get it and our guys want to have that kind of impact.”

    NOTICED IN THE CROWD: CAA Sports’ Paul Danforth and New Era’s Chris Koch wearing matching socks during their one-on-one interview on Wednesday afternoon. … More than one question about the “dress code” of resort casual.  While some were in business formal wear, many others took a more relaxed approach, offering an interesting mix of styles … Dolphins President Tom Garfinkel having a cocktail on the Grand Lawn and talking about the potential for one of the world’s biggest rivalries, La Liga superpowers Barcelona and Real Madrid, better known in the world of soccer as El Clásico, to be played at Hard Rock Stadium in July  …USOC’s Blackmun chatting up Grit Rock Sports’ Jac Sperling … GSP’s Russ Granik seconding Raveling’s on-stage declaration that the best basketball player ever seen was Wilt Chamberlain. GSP hosted the post-conference reception yesterday, which featured a drink called the “GSP Vision”: Hangar One Vodka, Lemon Juice, Cane Syrup, Strawberry, Fever Tree Ginger Beer. They went down easy (a little too easy). Also on the menu: stuffed mushroom of brie and pickled raspberry, seared tuna medallion, rock shrimp crispy spring roll and Peking duck wonton.

    SOCIETY PAGES: A number of dinner parties held last night…..Proskauer hosted about 60 executives at Club 19, with the firm’s Joe Leccese welcoming people to “one of the best nights of the year for sports business” while thanking SBJ/SBD. Among those spotted: Proskauer’s Rob Freeman, Brad Ruskin, Jon Oram and Frank Saviano; USGA’s Mike Davis and Sarah Hirshland; USOC’s Blackmun, new World Team Tennis owner Mark Ein, Sports Marketing Advisors’ Doug Perlman, 76ers/Devils CEO Scott O’Neil, PJT Partners Don Cornwell, SBJ/SBD’s Richard Weiss, Abe Madkour and Jim Sullivan, GSP’s Sal Galatioto and Granik…MLS’s Howard Handler, JP Morgan Chase’s Brian Kantarian, James and Co’s Michele James and Rosyi Erbes; Raine Group’s Colin Neville, among others… Ahead of Wasserman's appearance on stage today, a separate informal advance team from LA24 was in the room: John Harper, Tanja Olano and Hilary Ash were all in for the night, mingling in the bar and catching up with friends before heading back north.
    O’Melveny hosted 26 people at the Stonehill Tavern onsite at the Monarch Beach Resort. The firm, which has hired three sports lawyers recently—Charles Baker, Jared Bartie and Irwin Raij—had to turn down requests from several O’Melveny lawyers from LA because of space limitations. Next year, with the practice fully in place, Baker said he expects a much bigger event….Sports Innovation Lab co-founder and retired Seattle Seahawks LB Isaiah Kacyvenski gave rave reviews to his first World Congress through Day One, and he’s barely even seen the panels. His day started by nailing down a deal for his technology consulting startup, and it ended with an oceanside dinner at the Monarch Bay Club restaurant on the beach. He was dining with Loeb & Loeb partner Steve Olenick, Morgan Stanley’s Drew Hawkins and Herrick, Feinstein LLP Executive Chairman Irwin Kishner … … Wednesday night’s lively lobby bar scene included a long huddle between NBA Kings President Chris Granger and the 76ers’ O’Neil. Though now working on opposite coasts, the two worked together for years in the NBA’s Team Marketing and Business Operations (TMBO) group, remain close, and are widely considered two of the most forward-looking execs in the industry. Granger will be part of the fan experience panel this morning, and will detail the broadly praised debut season of the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento. 

    At least one man (Joe Favorito) tried to attend the annual Wasserman Women’s meeting as part of a big group, but he was denied entry. “The woman at the door said, ‘Now you know how it feels,’” Favorito said with laugh. The group met on the resort property and tweeted out a great picture to SBJ/SBD, along with the line: “@sbjsbd, want suggestions for qualified speakers at '18 WCOS? Here are 60+ @Wasserman's ladies-only cocktail.” The group did relax their policy at one time, though. Our own Terry Lefton wrote about the gathering when he attended. … Forget the 40-Under-40 Hall of Fame. ESPN’s Connor Schell is most looking forward to some Friday R&R with his wife at the Monarch Beach Resort. “I called for a late checkout, and the front desk said 11,” Schell said. “I said, ‘How about 4? They said 3, but we have to be completely out by then.” … The afternoon session with Ted and Zach Leonsis energized a lot of DC-area sports fans, including Univision’s Eric Conrad. Hailing from the Maryland suburbs, the lifelong Wizards fan was spotted in the hotel lobby rhapsodizing about the Wizards Game 2 win over the Hawks. Conrad was heading out to dinner with Univision’s Olek Loewenstein, who is being honored at tonight’s Forty Under 40 banquet.

    QUOTES OF THE DAY:
    “If you charge eight dollars for a hot dog, you have lost your way.” — Steve Cannon, chief executive officer of the AMB Group, which owns the Atlanta Falcons.

    “Relegation keeps me up at night.” — David Blitzer, co-owner of the 76ers, Devils and Crystal Palace.

    “There are so many positive things going on right now  that I worry some big disaster could happen, like a terrorist act. It could change the momentum of what’s happening in our industry right now.” — New Era CEO Chris Koch

    “There are not 56,000 people that want to sit through nine innings with a scorecard in their lap anymore.” — Janet Marie Smith

    “He’s the worst thing to happen to basketball in the last hundred years.” — George Raveling, on LaVar Ball.

    SOCIAL ANIMALS: We appreciate everyone who kept the conversation going yesterday. We were trending on Twitter, and had more than 500 tweets and 8.3 million impressions. Special thanks to our most frequent tweeters: Laura Froelich - @Laurafrofro; Chris Yates - @chrisyates11; Joe Favorito  - @joefav; CUSportsBiz - @CUSportsBiz; Steve Pacheco - @StevePacheco; and Jim Kadlecek - @Jim_Kadlecek.

    Among the tweets we liked:
    @SkiTeamCMO: Fascinating presentation about @barstoolsports w/Erika Nardini. "brand has to be part of conversation." Reminded of Freeze Mag days.
    @Chuck_Cain: Great to see my home city represented with class by @SteveCannonCEO talking about @MBStadium
    @jayriola: Impressed & inspired hearing @sbjsbd Champions recipient Janet Marie Smith's career story
    @grossman: Beautiful setting for a wonderful event. Congrats to everyone at @sbjsbd on a fantastic and packed World Congress of Sports event.

    TONIGHT: The always fun Forty Under 40 gala will be held tonight at the Monarch Beach Resort.  See tomorrow’s Live email for details of who got toasted and who got roasted.

    APP UPDATE: We’ve changed our mobile app for 2017 to make it more responsive and accessible without any downloads or logins. Check out the World Congress of Sports app on any device. You can view the agenda and speaker bios, look at the attendee list and the digital program guide, and even submit your questions for our moderators.

    CONFERENCE COORDINATES: All of the conference sessions will take place in the Pacific Ballroom on the third level of the Manarch Beach Resort, with today’s lunch in the Monarch Ballroom. To get to the conference, just follow the signs from the lobby. Registration, breakfast and exhibits open at 7:15 a.m.

    SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS: If you’re in the room today, we hope you’ll contribute to the conversation. You can send questions to our session moderators by using the World Congress app or by texting ‘SBJSBD’ to 22-333 to join our session. If you are posting tweets or photos, be sure to use the conference hashtag: #SBJWCS. We will recognize the most active and engaging users over the next two days.

    FOLLOW OUR FEEDS: Follow all of our social media posts throughout the conference using our Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram feeds.

    WEAR IT HOME: Everfi Sports & Entertainment is raffling a signed Chicago Blackhawks Jonathan Toews Home Premier Jersey. Be sure to drop off a business card at their booth in the Pacific Ballroom foyer by today at 11 a.m.

Return to top
Video Powered By - Castfire CMS Powered By - Sitecore

Report a Bug