• Live from the Twin Cities: Facilities of the Future

    Almost 400 people packed into The Commons Hotel, just off the University of Minnesota campus, on a beautiful fall day in Minneapolis for the 2016 AXS Sports Facilities and Franchises conference. Tuesday’s discussion ran the gamut when it comes to running buildings, from on-the-ground concerns like food prices and security to broader issues, such as building a successful business culture.

    SETTING THE TABLE: The tone for the day was set by an opening panel of team presidents. Asked by moderator Abe Madkour to name what fans want most, the Twins’ Dave St. Peter laughed and said, “Better pitching.” But then he talked about what really has him up at night: Keeping games affordable in the face of rising ticket and concession prices. “I have a fear as to whether that model is sustainable in the long term,” he said. “We’re pricing out that family and that core audience.” Among other concerns from the panel: connectivity, security and fan behavior. “There are a lot of visiting teams’ fans traveling,” said the Packers’ Mark Murphy “which is great. But you combine that with tailgating and drinking and you end up with some issues.” It’s worth noting, though, that during a presentation on Mercedes-Benz Stadium later in the day, Falcons President and CEO Rich McKay addressed the claim that the team planned to make up for lower concession revenue with higher prices in other areas. “People kept suggesting there was an angle to this,” McKay said. “There is no angle to this. This was done for the right reasons and because the fans said it was the biggest thorn in their side.”

    NO BRAG, JUST FACT: “This project is going to be something that people are going to be writing a thesis on in college because it’s such a renaissance,” said Olympia Entertainment’s Tom Wilson at the end of a 30-minute preview of the impressive project to develop Little Caesars Arena and the surrounding 50 blocks in downtown Detroit. Wilson was joined by HOK’s George Heinlein as the two showed the early plans as well as the latest visuals attached to the new Red Wings arena and related development. “When you are walking down Woodward Avenue, you won’t be able to see the arena,” Wilson said. “You will see the outer buildings, and it will be like a great reveal when you go into that building into the arena.” One other benefit: The venue, a year away from opening, could change the fortunes for the Red Wings. Wilson: “It puts us back in the hunt for the major free agents in our sport.”

    HIGH PRAISE FOR DETROIT PROJECT: Turnkey Sports & Entertainment’s Len Perna, who worked for Olympia Entertainment from 1987-1994, was blown away by the “Motor City Makeover” presentation given by Wilson and Heinlein. Perna greeted both speakers after their session to offer congratulations and said later, "I worked there for seven years. That area they are redeveloping was really blighted, a really rough area. What they are doing is amazing. It's the most impressive project I've seen.” Another former Ilitch employee, Mike Veeck, said, “Wow! I worked for the Ilitch family. I’ve never been so proud! 50 blocks? That’s wonderful.”

    COMPETITIVE FIRE: The Los Angeles sports market is in historic transition with the return of the Rams, a new stadium being built in Inglewood, and the arrival of the LAFC club in Major League Soccer in ’18. The Galaxy’s Chris Klein said the team is already looking at further enhancements to StubHub Center. “We know there is a shiny new toy opening soon up the road,” Klein said of LAFC’s forthcoming Banc of California Stadium. “That’s why we’re going through the process now to upgrade where we can and provide a Disneyland-level experience.”

    ALWAYS KEEP ’EM LAUGHING: With the crowd full and relaxed after a buffet lunch, the always entertaining Veeck opened the afternoon with a session full of tall tales and one-liners. Veeck also signed copies of his book, “Fun is Good,” given away by conference sponsor Bleachr, which works with Veeck’s independent baseball team, the St. Paul Saints.
    A few of the best Veeck quotes:
    — “Innovation is what we pride ourselves on. Not to become focused about being politically correct, but when did it become so terrible to fail?
    — “It’s about laughter. That’s the business we are in. We are in the business of joy.”
    — “I am not really very talented. But I am very passionate about it.”

    THEY SAID IT:
    — “I try not to read a lot of media. And I don’t read social media. I tend to stay away from opinions. I will read the factual stuff.” — Twins owner Jim Pohlad, on monitoring fan sentiment.
    — “I think the Forbes valuations are incredibly low.” — Sporting KC owner Robb Heineman, on the publication’s recent MLS valuations.
    — “If you do voodoo night, do it on Friday the 13th. That’s cool. Don’t do it on Good Friday. That’s not cool. I don’t know how I missed that.”— Veeck
    — “Detroit has not been blessed with rapid transit. Maybe because the car companies wanted everyone to drive cars.” — Wilson
    — “It won't be small.” — Atlanta Falcons President and CEO Rich McKay, on planning the event to christen the team’s new stadium.
    — “When you’re on track to lose a hundred games….That was a relatively short discussion, I assure you.” — St. Peter, on deciding to hold the line on ticket prices next year.

    AS LONG AS BONO ISN’T THERE: McKay expressed relief in the Falcons getting a big win on the road last week in Oakland, an exciting 35-28 affair over the Raiders. “We needed that,” he said. “You never want to start 2-0.” Now the Falcons play Monday night at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in a game marking the tenth year anniversary of the Saints’ return from Hurricane Katrina. McKay remembered that night, a 23-3 blowout loss, and recalls the energy in the building. “I was walking on to the field, and Bono walks right past me,” he said, recalling U2’s dynamic performance that night (“The Saints Are Coming!”). “I knew right then it was going to be a long night for us.” If you don't remember it, ESPN’s promo spots for Monday will remind you.

    A TRIBUTE TO LAMAR: Asked how and why he bet on MLS 10 years ago when he purchased Sporting KC from the Hunt family, Heineman paid tribute to the sports business pioneer. “Our group had so much respect for Lamar Hunt,” Heineman said. “He truly believed soccer was going to make it in the United States, and he built the first soccer specific stadium for the Columbus Crew. He would continually tell us that the NFL wasn’t able to move forward until they got football specific stadiums, when you could control the sight lines and revenue and experience. And he said that would be the case with soccer.”

    NUMBER OF THE DAY: 29.4: The average age of Sporting KC season ticket holders.

    EVERYBODY WANTS SOME: Word has it that the Braves’ Mike Plant and Derek Schiller flew up to catch the Vikings opener at U.S. Bank Stadium and see the latest new building as they prepare to open SunTrust Park in about seven months. Conference attendees will see the building today.

    FOOD, GLORIOUS FOOD!: One attendee walked up to us last night at the Target Field reception, mouth half full, and said, “You guys really, really ramped up your food game.” It was a frequent theme among those that attended the Tigers-Twins pregame reception at new Twins-themed pub Minnie & Paul’s hosted by Delaware North Sportservice at Target Field. With more food on the way today, we figured we’d wait until tomorrow to give you a complete roundup of our SFF culinary adventures.

    GLAD TO BE THERE: In addition to watching the game, an 8-1 Tigers win, our attendees appreciated their public welcome, as the Target Field PA announcer offered a “Welcome To SportsBusiness Journal and their guests” during an inning break.

    GREAT PLACE TO MEET: Last night’s reception at Target Field represented a reunion of sorts for MLB Advanced Media’s Mark Plutzer and Clear’s Ed O’Brien. O’Brien worked with Plutzer at MLBAM from ’04-08. The two estimated it had been at least several years since they had last been in contact. O’Brien appeared earlier in the day on a panel regarding security issues for sports teams, leagues and venue operators.

    DRIVING REVENUE: Not only did the opening Sunday of the Vikings’ U.S. Bank Stadium generate rave reviews and plenty of discussion at yesterday’s conference, but it was also gold for local Uber drivers. One driver used last night following the Twins’ game at Target Field said Sunday night’s Vikings home opener represented his biggest day ever, with several post-game surge fares within the city and inner suburbs soaring past $100.

    SOCIAL ANIMALS: Thanks to everyone who helped us drive the discussion on social media yesterday, and especially for our frequent tweeters: @rscibetti, @JeffYocom, @handsonsports, @Jim_Kadlecek and @zim_az.
    A few tweets that caught our eye:
    @KTsportsmarket: Looks like there is some great content coming from #sbjsff I look forward to heading that way this evening, & joining in tomorrow.
    @zim_az: Great reminder from @mikeveeck to sports business crowd at @sbjsbd #sbjsff "we're in the business of joy.”
    @BrentHaag_DI: Thanks to @sbjsbd for interviewing @mikeveeck - so entertaining! #OutsideTheBox #LovePromos
    @JeffYocom: Amazing tenure on stage for Minnesota teams - 27 years for Dave St Peter w/@Twins and 25 years for Chris Wright w/@Timberwolves.

    WHAT TO LOOK FOR WEDNESDAY: Teams creating and distributing their own media, the real opportunities of VR for the fan experience and a look at the recently opened U.S. Bank Stadium — those topics will be in focus on Wednesday morning before attendees hit the streets — literally.
    Three tours fill the afternoon: first a look at the Vikings highly-acclaimed Preview Center, followed by a tour of U.S. Bank Stadium and a lunch hosted by Aramark (we will have worked up an appetite after all that!); then a trip to the Mall of America for a tour of the new Hall of Fame exhibits and IMAX movie, and, finally, a tour of the Xcel Energy Center where attendees will be welcomed by Wild COO Matt Majka followed by a reception hosted by Levy Restaurants. We’ll definitely have to follow all of that with a trip to the cool University of Minnesota fitness center next door to the Commons Hotel, where we’re staying!

    WE GIVE, YOU TAKE: We’ve got an amazing 31 sponsors and exhibitors for this event (thank you all!). Be sure to stop by and visit with them for a few minutes and gather some free goodies. Among the giveaways is a signed Nolan Ryan jersey from Bypass (which is also giving away branded water bottles). And because you are all so hard-working, a few exhibitors will be giving away stress balls. Thanks to Bleachr for providing Veeck’s book to attendees.

    VOLUNTEERS: When you checked in to the conference, you probably received 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. Our volunteers for this event are from the University of Minnesota, El Camino College (Torrance, Calif.) and the Minnesota Wild.

    Tags: Citi, Facilities, Sports Facilities and Franchises, Franchises, ING, CES, SEC, Ally, Ping, Ford, USTA, Audi, Ugg, GE
  • Live from New York: Closing the curtain on Game Changers 2016

    MISSION STATEMENT: Progress. Long way to go. Be yourself. Speak up and be noticed. Deliver. Those were just some of the terms lobbed around during the fourth annual Game Changers conference in New York yesterday. More about the professional advancement of women than the viability of women's sports, the day had a feel that was part celebration, part reunion. What can't be questioned was the energy of the attendees and panelists -- a record 490 people -- to continue to move the ball forward. Put this event on your calendar and help us break the 500-attendee mark next year!

    FROM THE STAGE:
    — WWE’s Michelle Wilson, on the role model of Big East Commissioner Val Ackerman: “I was looking for people to look up to, and [when I was starting my career in 1996] there was only one: Val. There weren’t a lot of role models in executive positions, so I thank Val for being a role model and being a trail blazer.”

    — RSE Venture's Dawn Aponte: “When Bill Parcells was at the Jets, he really didn’t speak to me directly. He spoke through someone to me. It was somewhat bizarre. I was like, ‘I’m sitting right here.’ But, interestingly enough, Bill has been one of the greatest mentors and supporters of me, and he’s the one who hired me and brought me down to the Dolphins, and we maintained a relationship after he left the Jets.”

    — WNBA President Lisa Borders, summing up the talents of NBA Commissioner Adam Silver: “He’s a bad, bad man.”

    — Legends’ Nicole Jeter West on taking on an entire new area at the USTA in the digital world as a key step in her career: "Anytime it feels uncomfortable, or feels like you're getting out of your comfort zone, it has been the right step for me. Sometimes it doesn't always feel like the safe step, but it turns out to be the right one.”

    — MLS’ Maribeth Towers, to a question of whether anyone on the opening panel had accepted less pay for a position they really wanted: “Never a pay cut. Just on principle.”

    — Kraft Analytics Group’s Jessica Gelman, with career advice: “Find where there’s actually change happening. That’s where there’s opportunities. That’s where they’re looking for smart people who are motivated and aggressive.”

    — NBA’s Kathy Behrens, on whether players being outspoken on social issues will affect efforts at diversity: “I think it reminds you that you need to have a diverse workplace. You need to have that diversity of thought and background so that you can address issues and move forward.”

    — NHL’s Jessica Berman, on what it takes to change organizations: “Without changing that mindset of the people who are in the organization who created the situation we are in today, hiring women, even if they have a title, isn’t going to make a meaningful impact. If they are not in the room when those decisions are being made, then the outcomes are not going to be there and we’ll create a situation where people are going to say, ‘See, it didn’t matter. It didn’t change the outcome.’”

    START LOOKING DOWN: USOC CMO Lisa Baird talked about having influence on an organization in various ways and expressed frustration at SBJ's annual Most Influential list. “There is a value of looking up,” she said. “I used to always look up.” Then she called out SBJ, and looked at Exec Editor Abe Madkour in the audience and said, “Abe, I get so depressed when I see your Top 50 list. I mean, come on. So I stopped looking up, and I started looking down. I can do a lot to develop the women below me, to get them the attention they deserve, so they can move up.” When Ackerman said, “I want to add a point to that,” Baird interjected, “On how depressing their Top 50 list is?”

    BY THE NUMBERS: When Rich Luker presents a batch of analytics at one of our conferences, you can be sure that (1) he’s got the numbers down pat, and (2) what he tells you can be alternately depressing and encouraging. His three biggest takeaways from yesterday:
    — No 1: “The first is that we’ve crossed the tipping point for how we think about girls and sports. It’s no longer applicable to think of them as a distinctive group. They are athletes and they are fans.”
    — No. 2: “We are at a point in sports when we can no longer assume growth. It may take 10 or 15 years before we see that financially.”
    — No. 3: “Softball. If you want a good story, the fact that 16.1% of females 12 to 17 said the first sport they followed as a fan was softball is really powerful.”
    For more insights from Luker, see today’s SportsBusiness Daily.

    THE MYSTERY OF EDITH CUMMINGS: In the opening session, the USGA’s Sarah Hirshland talked about the historic role of women in sports and noted, "a woman golfer was on the cover of Time magazine in 1924." When asked who it was, she responded quickly and honestly, "I don't know,” and continued on with her point. Attendees immediately used their smart phones to help Hirshland out and answered the question for her: It was golfer Edith Cummings, who in 1924 was the first female athlete to appear on the cover of Time magazine.

    SEEN IN THE CROWD: Proskauer's Joe Leccese and Brad Ruskin, chatting up James and Co.’s Michele James and Roysi Erbes before taking in a session on diversity hiring that featured their colleague, Peter Wilson … NBA Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum in the front row with other NBA execs for the sit-down with WNBA President Lisa Borders, and then running out after greeting well-wishers…. Univ. of Central Florida's Richard Lapchick, who took in the last few sessions with his students, who were in New York City meeting with leagues and media. They had sessions with NBA Commissioner Silver, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and ESPN President John Skipper over the last couple of days. Lapchick was greeted warmly by many in the room for his years of work toward racial and gender equality

    GAME CHANGERS FIRE DRILL: So it turns out that it wasn’t quite as easy as we thought to move the official Game Changers photo shoot from the end of the day to the beginning. Here’s a thank you to all of our Game Changers for their patience as we moved tables, chairs and people around to get the official photo. When our exacting photographer, Marc Bryan-Brown, finally got everyone arranged to his liking and began to shoot the photo, your applause didn’t sound in the least bit sarcastic! We especially liked it when Marc grabbed a microphone and said to the crowd milling about, “Are you all going to lunch? Or are you just going to stand around here and chat?” Good times! But it was all kind of a testimony to the spirit of the event: People enjoying each other’s company, happy to be there, and looking forward to doing it again.

    MENTORING CHALLENGE: Speaking of official photos, at the end of the day we shot the participants of the LeadDog Marketing Group’s Mentoring Challenge. We told you about this new program in yesterday’s morning email, and we’re looking forward to seeing how it bears fruit this year. Thanks to everyone who is participating! Click here to see the photo.

    MOVING AHEAD: With so many young people in the room, it’s natural that many of the panels included career advice for those who are looking to move up in the industry. In addition to Hirshland’s quote above, here are a few other pieces of advice that we noticed:

    — Hirshland: “I think in our minds it’s very easy for us to think, I need to look like, I need to act like, I need to think like everybody else in the room. Intuitively I think it’s just human nature, but it’s completely counter to the value that you actually can bring. And so you have to be conscious of that and resist that temptation.”

    — Aponte: “If you have a passion and desire to do something, don’t let anyone or anything prevent you from pursuing your goals and dreams. Map out your own path and hopefully you’ll get others around you to help you along the way.”

    — Gelman: “Be authentic to yourself. I started to be more open at work. In my case, it was about my sexuality. And it was hugely popular. People were like, ‘Oh, this makes sense.’ And they wanted to talk, and it changed the dynamic.”

    SOCIAL ANIMALS:
    As usual, the attendees at Game Changers were among our most prolific promoters on social media, helping us boost the event and get it trending on Twitter. Here are some of the tweets that caught our eye, but for a full list, check out the activity around the hashtag #sbjgc:
    @Maggie_nwww: Full room of inspirational women for the 2016 SBJ Game Changers conference.
    @stephrudnick: Love this @sbjsbd Gamechangers event every year, not just for the great discussion, but reuiniting w/ my tribe!
    @michbberg: Lisa Borders of @WNBA is an incredible role model for anyone in mktg, sports, or just biz. Wow.
    @MarkGressJr: Long, exhausting day but proud of @ProdigySportsLL and @arinsegal for having a presence and engaging in important dialogue.
    @ASit6: "I don't play favorites, I have favorites." - @WMEIMG_Speakers Jennifer Rudolph Walsh Loving her energy.
    @EMcVe: Listening to @WNBA Pres.Lisa Borders is truly inspiring. "Failure isn't fatal, it's feedback.”
    @GregJBusch: Kudos to @sbjsbd for the Game Changers platform and recognizing these incredible and talented #sportsbiz friends and colleagues

    NEXT CONFERENCE UP: We’ll be in Minneapolis next week for a look at the Vikings’ new stadium as part of the 2016 Sports Facilities & Franchises conference and Ticketing Symposium. For more on the event, click here.

    Tags: ING, GE, Game Changers, ATT
  • Live from Game Changers in New York City!

    THE PLACE TO BE: About 500 people will descend on the Marriott Marquis at Times Square this morning for our fourth annual conference celebrating “Game Changers: The Intersection of Women and Sports.” The weather looks to be great, but we’re making no promises when it comes to traffic. With the United Nations General Assembly session coming up next week, there seems to be even more construction than usual and getting cross town can be brutal. Plan accordingly.

    WHAT TO EXPECT: Today offers a mix of professional development -- kicking off this morning with our Career Building Breakfast Roundtable -- an examination of women's sports, a celebration, as 32 of the 35 Game Changers honorees are expected to be feted at lunch, as well as significant networking. It brings together the most passionate audience we see at any of our events throughout the year.

    A TIPPING POINT?: With the great success of women athletes at the Rio Games, are we (again) at a tipping point for the future of women's sports? But if you read Richard Lapchick's piece in SBJ this week, you’ll see that there is still a looonnngg way to go when it comes to women in executive positions at some of the top global sports organizations and NGBs. The numbers in his study were stark and eye-opening. 

    Here's what else to keep an eye on today:

              -- There are a number of talented women rising to the top of some progressive organizations, and a few of them will start the day by talking about their background, their mentors and influencers and the keys to their success. But they will also be pressed about the key issues facing women's sports today, as well as the trends and challenges they are watching in sports business.

             --  Three years ago, noted researcher Richard Luker gave us a glimpse into the good, bad and ugly of social trends and women's sports. He's back today to show us how the numbers have changed — for better or for worse.
       
              -- WNBA President Lisa Borders, who has been in her position since February, has one of the most interesting back stories we've come across (see this "Corner Office" interview from the NEW YORK TIMES recently). She'll chat with Exec Editor Abe Madkour about her path, what she's learned on the job and her plans for growing the WNBA.  In case you forget, last year, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver made quite a bit of news in his interview with Madkour about the state of the WNBA. Look back at what he said.

              -- Ashley Merriman, co-author of "Top Dog: The Science of Winning and Losing,” will share some of the secrets she's picked up on leadership from the White House to the playing field; and WME's Jennifer Rudolph Walsh will talk about how culture is the key to any successful organization. 

               -- In a session not to be missed to close the day, six of the most successful women in sports business will talk about leadership and growing the number of women in the executive ranks. Moderated by NBPA Exec Dir Michele Roberts, this will surely be one of the most talked about sessions of "Game Changers.”

    MENTORING CHALLENGE: LeadDog Marketing Group and SportsBusiness Journal brought their first group of mentors and mentees together last night at a reception and dinner at LeadDog’s 9th Avenue office. The LeadDog Mentoring Challenge pairs 10 women who are early in their careers with 10 women executives from the ranks of our Game Changers honorees. Last night was just the first step in a year-long process that will include both a one-on-one relationship and sharing of group content and discussions. Speakers included LeadDog’s Dan Mannix, SBJ/SBD’s Richard Weiss and Big East Conference Commissioner Val Ackerman, who shared stories about her career, her time at the NBA with Mannix, and her experience as a woman in the sports industry. With a menu of hors d’oeuvres and a table spread, plus a signature seasonal cocktail, attendees enjoyed live music from a three-piece jazz ensemble throughout the evening. Here’s a great photo of the group at the reception.

    After Ackerman spoke, the mentors and mentees introduced themselves to the group. They are:
    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 and speakers using the 2016 Game Changers app or at pollev.com/sbjsbd, and contribute comments and photos on social media using the hashtag #sbjgc. Follow us on Twitter @sbjsbd.

    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:
    @Chuck_Cain: Looking fwd to some great content and reconnecting with many great leaders tomorrow! Congrats to all of the Game Changers. 
    @arinsegal: Looking forward to attending with @MarkGressJr! I'm packing external batteries to fuel the #SBJGC live tweeting.
    @imanimarie: I'm so inspired reading the profiles of the @sbjsbd Game Changers, including #CLT's own @terablack.

    PRESENTING THE HONOREES: During previous conferences, we’ve honored our class of Game Changers at the end of the day. This year, we’re moving it up. We’ll honor the 2016 group at 11:45 a.m., followed by a group photo (and, yes, you’re welcome to take photos, too!). Look for 32 of this year’s 35-member class to be in the room this morning. But don’t worry, we’ll still have a reception to end the day. Drinks (and hors d’oeuvres) on us at 5:15.

    CHARGED UP: Be sure to check your seat for a few gifts from our sponsors. Use that Amex cell phone charger to keep tweeting, and those LeadDog mints to freshen up before talking to your neighbor. There are offerings from Turnkey and WWE Network, too.

    Tags: GE, Game Changers, Marriott, ING, SEC, ACC, Audi, Ping, CES
  • Olympians Set To See Twitter Followers Skyrocket During Games

    Olympians not only are poised for medals in Rio but also an explosion of social media followers during the Games.

    Based on SportsBusiness Journal research, five medal winners — and subsequently news makers — saw an increase of 500,000 or more Twitter followers during the 17 days of the 2012 London Olympics: swimmers Michael Phelps (935,636 new followers) and Ryan Lochte (754,109), all-around gymnast gold-medalist Gabby Douglas (565,213), diver Tom Daley of Great Britain (826,234) and sprint superstar Usain Bolt of Jamaica (540,319).

    Those five remain among the most-followed Olympians on Twitter, based on a study of select athletes by SBJ (see chart). Like on the track, Bolt remains top dog, with just over 4 million followers. Daley comes in at second with just over 2 million followers, while Phelps, Lochte and British track stars Jessica Ennis and Mo Farah all top 1 million, based on a study of 100 select Olympians, weighted heavily toward Team USA.

    Not counting Olympic athletes who are more known for the teams and leagues in which they usually compete, such as NBA, PGA Tour and pro tennis players, the study revealed that 10 U.S. athletes have 100,000 or more Twitter followers heading into tonight’s opening ceremony. How those figures grow during Rio once again will be an interesting game within the Games.

    Listed below are the number of Twitter followers from the official pages of notable U.S. and international Olympians as of Aug. 5, the day of Rio’s opening ceremony.

    Team USA/social media

    Twitter Followers Friday, Aug. 5
    Men's Swimming & Diving
    Michael Phelps 1,645,215
    Ryan Lochte 1,058,934
    Nathan Adrian 129,133
    Conor Dwyer 57,858
    David Boudia 33,585
    Anthony Ervin 21,606
    Steele Johnson 10,330
    Connor Jaeger 6,859
    Kevin Cordes 5,211
    Caeleb Dressel 2,953
    Chase Kalisz 4,320
    Ryan Murphy 3,966
    Tom Shields 3,234
    David Plummer 2,843
    Josh Prenot 1,768
    Cody Miller 1,597
    Ryan Held 1,565
    Townley Haas 1,202
     
    Women's Swimming & Diving
    Missy Franklin 371,186
    Dana Vollmer 68,646
    Allison Schmitt 52,737
    Katie Ledecky 40,661
    Elizabeth Beisel 28,106
    Kassidy Cook 17,954
    Lia Neal 9,238
    Cammile Adams 9,017
    Haley Anderson 7,152
    Abby Johnston 6,860
    Amanda Weir 4,968
    Simone Manuel 3,963
    Maya DiRado 3,942
    Kelsi Worrell 2,906
    Leah Smith 2,270
    Kathleen Baker 2,265
    Katie Meili 2,015
    Olivia Smoliga 1,889
    Lilly King 1,839
    Abbey Weitzeil 1,535
     
    Women's Gymnastics
    Gabby Douglas 832,413
    Aly Raisman 432,449
    Simone Biles 101,761
    Laurie Hernandez 45,988
    Madison Kocian 31,523
     
    Men's Gymnastics
    Danell Leyva 52,673
    Sam Mikulak 74,072
    Jake Dalton 67,474
    Chris Brooks 19,810
    Alex Naddour 13,632
     
    Men's Track & Field
    Meb Keflezighi 92,011
    Ashton Eaton 61,631
    Tyson Gay 60,374
    Bernard Lagat 46,129
    Justin Gatlin 35,574
    Matthew Centrowitz 29,761
    Galen Rupp 29,685
    LaShawn Merritt 19,262
    Will Claye 17,951
    Christian Taylor 16,865
    Trayvon Bromell 13,165
    Erik Kynard 11,731
    Mike Rodgers 9,743
    Tony McQuay 8,816
    Michael Tinsley 7,395
    Joe Kovacs 6,561
    Marvin Bracy  5,988
    Moris Berian 4,094
    David Verburg 3,142
    Marquis Dendy 2,804
    Arman Hall 1,962
    Sam Kendricks 1,455
     
    Women's Track & Field
    Allyson Felix 421,316
    Shalane Flanagan 88,405
    Natasha Hastings 31,638
    Jenny Simpson 25,548
    Brenda Martinez 19,038
    Shannon Rowbury 16,645
    Jenn Suhr 13,017
    Nia Ali 11,707
    Brianna Rollins 11,399
    Brittney Reese 11,248
    Francena McCorory 11,001
    Emily Infeld 9,376
    English Gardner 8,255
    Michelle Carter 7,861
    Jenna Prandini 5,635
    Sandi Morris 4,605
    Ajee' Wilson 4,523
    Janay DeLoach 4,402
    Vashti Cunnigham 4,237
    Tori Bowie 2,288
    Chaunté Lowe 2,111
    Courtney Okolo 1,642
     
    Wrestling
    Jordan Burroughs 146,272
     
    Beach Volleyball
    Kerri Walsh Jennings 146,890
    April Ross 34,556
     
    Boxing
    Claressa Shields 11,197
     
    Noteworthy International Athletes
    Usain Bolt (Jamaica/track) 4,033,622
    Tom Daley (Great Britain/diving) 2,524,011
    Jessica Ennis (Great Britain/track) 1,520,637
    Mo Farah (Great Britain/distance running) 1,247,728

    Note: Charts do not include Olympic athletes who are more known for the teams and leagues in which they usually compete, such as NBA players, PGA Tour players and professional tennis players. Sources: SportsBusiness Journal research


  • Getting Set for Day Two: 2016 Brand Engagement Summit

    CHICAGO STORIES: Sights and sounds from the Intersport Brand Engagement Summit....Cool rains drift off for nice night at Wrigley Field on Tuesday....Ricketts outlines bold, big plans....Buzzwords from day one on Wednesday: content marketing, data and insights, and, yes, be authentic!

    YOUR MISSION, SHOULD YOU CHOOSE TO ACCEPT IT: Intersport CEO Charlie Besser opened the summit by welcoming a standing-room-only audience of about 450 people “to the greatest city in the world.” He added: “I really believe that.” Besser outlined his three goals for everyone at the conference: Have fun, learn and meet people. To help with those, he (1) noted that the hotel is on Michigan Avenue and just a block from the many bars and restaurants on Rush Street, (2) talked about the lineup and session topics, and (3) had everyone stand and introduce themselves to the people next to them. It was a good way to get everyone up, moving and engaged.

    SO MANY CHOICES: One topic that came up during several panels was the challenge of navigating all of the content platforms available to marketers. TD Ameritrade’s Denise Karkos, in the opening session, said, “It’s the sexiest time to be a marketer. The media fragmentation we witness and navigate makes it a cooler place to be, because there are so many places brands can go.” Intersport’s Brian Graybill in a later session said that fragmentation “has genuinely leveled the playing field. Everybody has a right to play.” Look for more in today’s DAILY.

    A DAY WITH THE CUP IS A HIT: During the discussion on content marketing, NHL CMO Brian Jennings showed a video that drew applause from the audience. As part of a promotion for “Day with the Cup,” a joint initiative from the NHL and Discover, the Stanley Cup was taken to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, where it became a part of a special bond between a blind father and his son. Watch the video here.

    THIS IS ONLY A TEST: Jennings sparked a lot of interest on social media when he said the NHL has sold sponsorships on jerseys for the World Cup of Hockey and would watch to see what fans think. But that doesn’t mean you’ll see jersey ads during league play anytime soon. "We start with a premise that we believe our 30 franchises and the uniform that they play in are as good as any in sports, and there’s a sentiment that we didn’t want to have any advertising on our uniforms,” Jennings said. "That’s not a position necessarily that I take. It’s our commissioner’s position as it is today. World Cup is an opportunity to test those waters.” Read more on jersey sponsorships.

    ON TAP FOR TODAY: After a closed-session Brand Marketers Breakfast where leaders will discuss buy vs. build strategies, Intel Head of Sports and Entertainment Properties Matt Kauffman will give a brand showcase, ready to introduce the “Intel story in sports” to attendees. Today’s sessions end promptly at noon.

    HOST WITH THE MOST: More than 60 speakers and special friends were guests of Besser and his wife, Rebecca, at their lovely home a short way from the hotel on North Dearborn. After cocktails on their back terrace, a sit-down dinner in round tables of 10 featured filet and seafood.

    A little later in the evening, there was a full house at the cocktail reception hosted by the Blackhawks in The Grill on the Alley at the Westin. The Blackhawks held two prize drawings for attendees at the reception. KORE Software’s Scott Aller won a signed jersey, while Repucom’s Chris Todd won a signed hockey stick (be careful if you’re sitting next to him on the plane ride home). Of course, all of the TVs were tuned to Game 2 of the NHL Stanley Cup Finals.

    GAME-TIME ADJUSTMENT: Cubs owner Tom Ricketts’ adaptability and lack of pretense were evident Tuesday evening when his scheduled talk to conference attendees on the Budweiser Patio at Wrigley Field was rained out. He seemed totally comfortable moving to a concourse under the bleachers and standing on what looked like an oversized milk crate. Ricketts talked about everything from sponsorships and charitable endeavors to his Number One goal: winning a World Series. He ended with a description of what he hopes will be the final result of the ballpark’s $500M renovation: "I want walking up to Wrigley to be like when you’re walking up to a famous castle or palace or fountain in Europe. It’s beautiful, and it’s lit just right, and you see people just being around it because being around it is an end in and of itself. .... You’ll be able to feel like you’re a part of history and just be in a beautiful place.”

    GETTING THE GAME IN: With rain falling steadily before the game, most of the 250 attendees who made their way to Wrigley crowded into the Fannie May Bleacher Sweet for beer and brats. By game time, though, they had moved out to the patio areas for what turned out to a beautiful night and, for the first seven innings, a pitchers’ duel. The only downside: the Dodgers denied Cubs ace Jake Arrieta his 10th win of the season and beat the home team 5-0. Still, a substantial number stayed until the bitter end. Check out our photo on the field.

    HOOP HEADS: There was a college hoops connection at the conference yesterday: Gatorade’s Head of Consumer Engagement Kenny Mitchell (Class of ’97/Dartmouth) and Dodgers CFO Tucker Kain (Class of ’05/Williams), and Chicagoland Speedway President Scott Paddock (Class of ’90/Notre Dame). Mitchell talked humorously that he could “dish the dime” as he ended his Dartmouth career with two records in tow. His 70 steals in 1996-97 and his 203 assists in the same season both top the charts for the Big Green. Kain, a shooting forward, won a Division III national championship in basketball. See video of Kain’s heroics in a key game against Amherst. Paddock spent five years playing pro ball in Europe after graduating in 1990.

    ON-SITE LEARNING: Sports management students volunteered to handle many of the logistics during the conference, including students from Andy Clark's DePaul University sports management programs, Scott Minto's San Diego State MBA program and Dr. Richard Lapchick's Univ. of Central Florida DeVos School. Those from out of town talked about coming to Chicago early for a week-long experience. Be sure to take a moment to say hello – these students are the future of our business. Also in attendance and behind the registration desk: Madison Lefton, son of SBJ/SBD's Terry Lefton, who was on break from college and shadowed his dad over the two days.

    BEST QUOTES: 
    “The bathrooms.” — Ricketts, asked what will be the most iconic feature of the Wrigley Field renovations.

    “I’d like to play an outdoor game in the Antarctic to raise awareness of global warming, without having to do a team buyout, so you don’t have to worry about the gate.” – NHL’s Jennings, when asked what he would do if he was given a $50M marketing budget just to play with.

    “What the culture should be is that you do the right thing when nobody else is looking.” – CME Group’s Terry Duffy

    “There’s no other industry, there’s no other consumer base, where the passion generates as much willingness to tell you everything you want to know about that person.” – KORE Software’s Russell Scibetti.

    SOCIAL ANIMALS: Thanks to everyone following — and contributing to — the chatter from the conference. By late in the day, we had more than 500 tweets using the hashtag #SBJEvents, and about 2.37 million impressions. Many thanks to frequent tweeters such as @theycallmecas, @2babies1bar, @PetersonDerek, @mbasta4 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 yesterday:
    @BrentHaag_DI: Repping @WeAreDI in Chicago at the @sbjsbd show. Bogus weather outside, awesome content inside!

    @cwcook22: Great time at Wrigley last night with some of the best marketing & brand staff in #SportsBiz! Thx @Cubs

    @AmandaShank: Love @dckarkos_TDA's quote that @TDAmeritrade uses sports to "lend a halo of personality" to a financial services brand

    @arinsegal: Can someone make a tally of how many times millennial is used at #sbjengage because I'm actually curious

    @2babies1bar: This audience is completely engaged

    @theycallmecas: It's clear from this panel that brands need to set aside dollars to test future looking platforms. Need to find ways to measure.

    @IntersportBuzz: #DanaRosenberg of @spg just gave out 4 trips to #NYC at #sbjengage summit. There are perks to staying until the end!

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

    Tags: Intersport, GE, Brand Engagement Summit, ING, ACC, Audi, Ally, CES, Media
  • Another big night: Wrapping up the 2016 Sports Business Awards

    THE MORNING AFTER!
    Warriors big winners…A few surprises…For many winners, it was clearly a “team” award, as more than ever entire staffs came on stage to revel in the win…The sights and sounds of longtime friends Bud Selig and Hank Aaron…Who said it and other notables.

    THE WARRIORS DID IT! The “it” team was the hot story of last night’s Sports Business Awards, as the Warriors took home Sports Team of the Year and co-owner & CEO Joe Lacob won Executive of the Year. In addition, Octagon won its first award in Best Talent Representation of the Year largely behind its work around Stephen Curry, and CAA Sports won Property Consulting, Sales, and Client Services for its work around the Warriors’ new Chase Center in San Francisco.

    We couldn’t help but notice that when Warriors President & COO Rick Welts accepted the team award at roughly 9:40pm ET, he noted, “The best part is the Warriors are up by ten.” When Lacob won Executive of the Year about 40 minutes later, he said, “Well, we were up by 11 last time I checked.” During his remarks, the Warriors went on a third-quarter run that would give them Game 2 and tie their Western Conference Finals with the Thunder at 1-1.

    IT’S ALL ABOUT TEAM: A few minutes after Welts accepted the Team award, Lacob was back stage after his Executive win and said, “I’m happier about the team award, really.” Welts, whose career dates to the 1960s, said the deep strength of the franchise demands results. “We have everything possible going for us, from the ownership to the team on the court,” he said. “So shame on us if we don’t take full advantage of it.” Lacob said his job isn’t difficult: His secret to success is simply to hire great people, pay them well, and demand focused, hard work at all times: “24-7, 365, as we say in Silicon Valley.”

    SURPRISE, SURPRISE: There were a number of surprises throughout the night – and a number of winners drawing gasps from the audience when they were announced. Here are the most talked about: Octagon, winning an upset in Best Talent Representation; LeadDog Marketing, beating bigger shops in Event and Experiential Marketing; The Belmont Stakes topping favorite Super Bowl 50 for Event of the Year; The Players’ Tribune winning Sports Breakthrough of the Year; and MLS taking home Sports League of the Year.

    BUD AND HANK: MLB Commissioner Emeritus Bud Selig, recipient of this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award, was in the spotlight the entire evening, giving interview after interview on the red carpet and being surrounded by friends and family throughout the ceremony. In addition, the sight of Henry Aaron, walking with the help of a cane, thrilled the audience, and as he stood on the red carpet surrounded by media, the buzz spread among attendees that he was there and they lined up, holding their phones high in the air, to shoot hundreds of photos. Both men received standing ovations. Aaron was welcomed to the stage by Abe Madkour to the soundtrack of “The Natural,” while Selig, a huge Neil Diamond fan, took the stage to “Coming To America.” Aaron noted the unlikely bond formed in the late 1950s between an African-American from Mobile, Ala., and a Jew from Milwaukee. “We all know that Bud can be as tough as nails, so I’ve called our friendship the Hammer and the Nail,” Aaron said. The sight of the two in a long embrace on stage was clearly a moment to remember.

    SELIG LOOKS BACK: Selig called his 45-year journey in baseball the realization of a “little boy’s dream that came true.” During roughly 15 minutes of remarks, Selig covered several key themes from his 22 years as commissioner, including baseball’s role as a social institution and the need to preserve hope and faith each year for as many markets as possible. “It’s important to dream and dream big dreams,” he said. 

    Running the game during the most turbulent period in its history, Selig said that maintaining steadfast determination on his goals was crucial to his career. “There was a lot of angst,” he said. “We needed to change the system, and there were a lot of people who didn’t want change and didn’t like change. But it had to happen” He joked about the initial harsh criticism that followed the introduction of realignment and the wild card: “You would have thought I defiled motherhood and apple pie.” 

    SHOW OF SUPPORT: Even though MLB is in the midst of a quarterly owners’ meeting being held across town in N.Y., many leaders from across the sport came to banquet to hear Selig’s acceptance speech, including MLB President of Business and Media Bob Bowman, Astros owner Jim Crane, Royals owner David Glass, Braves chairman emeritus Bill Bartholomay, Padres President and CEO Mike Dee, Nationals CRO and CMO Valerie Camillo, and Brewers COO Rick Schlesinger.

    THE TIES THAT BIND: There were connections to the NBA and Warriors throughout from some winners. While accepting the Best in Sports Media award for Turner Sports, Turner President David Levy referenced the broadcast crew that was working the Thunder-Warriors playoff game last night. “This is what they work for,” he said. “This is what they care about. I’m humbled to accept this for them.”

    A BIG WIN FOR OCTAGON: As the rep for two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry, Octagon helped orchestrate the year's biggest individual athlete story. "We will never be able to think of this recognition without recalling the year Steph Curry had and how big an impact he had on sports, and especially the NBA, on and off the court," said Octagon Founder and President Phil de Picciotto.

    ANOTHER CONNECTION: In selling naming rights for the Warriors arena to JP Morgan Chase more than three years before the building will open, Property Consulting winner CAA Sports fashioned the most celebrated facility deal of the year — part of a $1.5 billion mixed-use development where the Warriors should be playing basketball by the 2019-2020 NBA season. "That was our fastest naming-rights deal ever," said CAA Head of Global Sales Paul Danforth. “It took eight months. When you look at all the team has accomplished at the same time, this is a very special moment for both of us."

    ALONG THE RED CARPET: The pre-ceremony red carpet was the hot spot in the Broadway Lounge as group after group lined up for photos. (Check our Twitter and Facebook feeds, links below, for lots of images.) CNBC conducted interviews with ISC’s Joie Chitwood, Welts, Madkour and NextVR’s Brad Allen, among others … Best line to reporters and photographers along the red carpet came from Fox Sports President Eric Shanks, who said, “Write down our names because nobody knows who we are.”

    SPOTTED: Award presenters David Abrutyn (Bruin Sports Capital), Stacey Allaster (USTA) and Doug Perlman taking a photo together … three AD of the Year nominees — Oklahoma’s Joe Castiglione, Ohio State’s Gene Smith and Stanford’s Bernard Muir — taking red carpet photos in a group with their wives; presenter Steve Lauletta (Ganassi Racing) chatting with LeadDog’s Dan MannixTim Leiweke and Don Garber warmly greeting each other outside the ballroom … Smith catching Aaron on his way to the elevators to tell the baseball legend how much he appreciated him (Smith: “It would have been worth it to come here just to listen to him.”) … the group from State Farm, waiting patiently in the portrait room backstage for Aaron to make his way out, and telling him on the way, “We love you, Hank.” … Digital Sports winner MLBAM’s Dinn Mann in the portrait room insisting on a photo with Paul Danforth of CAA Sports (winner in Property Consulting), a nod to the companies’ long-time relationship… Intersport’s Charlie Besser, sponsor of the upcoming Brand Engagement Summit, commenting that he hopes Chicago finally gets some good weather before the conference starts … Octagon client and Cosmos player Mike Lahoud, who was there to bring luck to the agency (Overhead in the photo room: “He should come with us to all of these!”) … Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross who was thanked from the podium by NextVR’s Allen after his company won the Technology award. Ross’ RSE Ventures is an investor in NextVR … Tom Spock, media consultant and former NFL executive, who just moved to Manhattan’s Columbus Circle neighborhood from Larchmont, and who said that, given this week’s transit troubles, he was thankful that he could now just walk the 13 blocks home from the Marquis … longtime NFL PR exec Joe Browne with Carolina Panthers president Danny Morrison at the Panthers’ table … former NBA player Bruce Bowen hamming it up for photographers on the red carpet.

    IPAD ETIQUETTE: The crowd was especially appreciative of the Warriors’ contingent being on hand given that the team was at home in Oakland hosting Oklahoma City. With the game starting at 9 p.m. ET, those seated at the Warriors’ table were unsure whether protocol allowed them to watch the game during other award presentations. But they soon stopped worrying about it. Welts said. “When Adam Silver had it on in front of him, we decided it was OK to have it on in front of us.” The table’s tablets and iPhones quickly lit up with live first-half coverage. Silver and the NBA's Mike Bass were closely following the score on a tablet via NBA.com (of course) before Silver presented Exec of the Year.

    TOOTING OUR HORN: We appreciate Selig’s remarks about us when he accepted his award: “I have long been a regular reader of both the SportsBusiness Journal and the SportsBusiness Daily. In fact, my day always begins with the Daily. They are both terrific publications. Abe, I want to thank you and all of you associated with the publications for the important contributions you have made, not only to baseball but to all sports. You have always been eminently fair and accurate.”

    MORE MEDIA: Be on the lookout today for SBA-related interviews on several media outlets, including CNBC. In addition, NASCAR CEO Brian France, who was nominated for Executive of the Year, appeared on Bloomberg TV yesterday, and Welts joined the Tiki and Tierney Show on CBS Sports Radio. The Warriors also had their own video crew on hand to record the evening. You can see their recap here.

    MORE MEDIA 2, LATE NIGHT VERSION: Fox’s Shanks, one of SBA’s presenters last night, was a topic of conversation on Jimmy Kimmel’s late night talkshow last night. Fox’s Katie Nolan was a guest and discussed a video she had tweeted where she chugged a beer out of her Emmy award. Nolan: “I brought [the Emmy] to the bar, and the president of Fox Sports Eric Shanks was like, 'Too bad you can’t chug out of it, huh?’ And I was like ‘Don’t challenge me with a good time.’ Kimmel: “This guy Eric Shanks sounds like some president of a network! I mean, really.” Nolan: “He just knows me very well and knows that if it were a Stanley Cup I would have drank out of it.”

    MORE MEDIA 3, FRIENDLY FIRE?: ESPN and Fox Sports executives have sniped at each other in recent weeks over their afternoon programming lineups, as FS1 prepares to launch a PTI-style studio show against ESPN’s 6pm “SportsCenter.” Our spies spotted Fox Sports National Networks President Jamie Horowitz and ESPN SVP of “SportsCenter” Rob King having lunch in Manhattan Wednesday. When asked what the two talked about, former ESPN executive Horowitz said they simply were two old friends catching up.

    QUOTABLE:
    Chitwood, after winning for Sports Facility: “Now this property, maybe instead of being the world center of racing, it’s the world center of entertainment.”

    Aaron: “I thank the good lord, and I thank the great game of baseball, for making me the friend of this great man.”

    MLS’s Garber: “We were beginning to think that we were the Susan Lucci of the sports industry.”

    De Picciotto: “It’s an especially great honor to win in this category in this year, when the presidential candidates have made sports agents seem to have the moral high ground.”

    THE PROCESS: Madkour touched on the selection process and introduced the 17 outside independent judges that helped pick the winners. The judges were: Lee Berke, LHB Sports, Entertainment & Media; Dockery Clark, BlueCap Marketing; Eric Fernandez, SportsDesk Media; Derrick Heggans, Team Turnaround; Steve Horowitz, Inner Circle Sports; Sue Hunt; Jeff Husvar, SportsPlus Properties; Steve Lauletta, Chip Ganassi Racing Teams; Ed O’Hara, SME; Vicky Picca, Fanatics; Geoff Reiss, Flattery; Shripal Shah, MOKO Social Media; Dan Shanoff, Monumental Sports Network/Monumental Sports & Entertainment; Dan Singer, McKinsey & Co.; Malcolm Turner, NBA D-League; Glenn Wong, Arizona State University; and Dana Zimmer, Tribune Media.
    SOCIAL ANIMALS: There was plenty of social media action during the awards ceremony. To get an idea of what was going on, take a look at our Twitter feed, @SBJSBD, or at what was posted using the hashtag #sbjsba. Also be sure to check our Facebook and Instagram feeds for more photos from the event. Among the posts we liked:
    @burkemagnus: It does not get much bigger and cooler that this. Hammerin' Hank.
    @JohnnyVolk: Game 2 isn't even at halftime but Dubs already won a [trophy] tonight.
    @arinsegal: Nothing short of inspired and motivated after the #sbjsba tonight heading into graduation next month
    @espn_chris: Congrats to pals at @NBA for win in best in sports social media. Pressure's on for creative celebration tweet.
    @LenSantiago: Massive achievement for @MLS!!! So proud of the league and everyone involved. Outstanding professionals!
    @RobbDunn: Thanks @sbjsbd for a great evening & congratulations to all the #sbjsba winners. First class event.
    @FitzWriter: Congrats to all the @sbjsbd #sbjsba winners! Keep setting the bar high.
    EVENT SPONSORS: Thanks again to the sponsors of this year’s show: MGM Resorts International, Coyne PR, and Turnkey Intelligence/Search.

    SEE YOU IN JUNE: Next up on the event calendar is the Intersport Brand Engagement Summit on May 31-June 2. To sign up or check out the agenda and speaker list, click here. Hope to see you there.

    Tags: ING, GE, Sports Business Awards, Octagon, CAA, CES, ACC
  • Live from New York: Ninth Annual Sports Business Awards

    IT’S TROPHY TIME: More than 850 people are expected tonight for what has become one of the biggest events in sports business. The ninth annual Sports Business Awards will fill the Broadway Ballroom at the New York Marriott Marquis at Times Square. It’s a must-attend party that brings the sports industry together to honor many of its most influential people and companies. You can get your refresher on the nominees for each of the 17 categories by clicking here.

    SEE AND BE SEEN: The best networking event of the year starts at 5:30 p.m. in the Broadway Lounge on the 8th floor overlooking Times Square. Check in at the Manhattan Ballroom (also on the 8th floor), then stroll the Red Carpet, where you’ll be greeted by SBJ/SBD Publisher Richard Weiss and Executive Editor Abraham Madkour. Feel free to pause in front of our banners for photos with friends, family and colleagues. Once you get by the paparazzi, head to the lounge, which boasts one of the best views of Times Square in the city.

    SHOW TIME!: The ceremony takes place on the 6th floor in the Broadway Ballroom. We promise to keep the program moving. Dinner is served at 7:15, the show starts at 8:15, and everything ends at 10:22. How’s that for precision?

    TICKET MARKET: Nothing’s on StubHub. Or Ticketmaster. If you need to get in, send us an email to check on availability. Remember to leave your tux at home. Business attire is fine tonight.

    SELIG IN THE SPOTLIGHT: From rabid fan to small-market owner to reform-minded commissioner, Bud Selig has touched every aspect of the game and business of baseball. That contribution will be recognized tonight when he receives the SBJ/SBD Lifetime Achievement Award. The award, coming at roughly 9:20 p.m., will be set up by Madkour, followed by a brief, dramatic video tribute to Selig, who will then be introduced by his longtime friend, baseball legend Hank Aaron. This should be something special, as were the ceremonies in previous years for Lifetime Achievement winners Peter Ueberroth, Billie Jean King, Jerry Reinsdorf, Dan Rooney, Paul Tagliabue and Dick Ebersol. Selig, who will be joined at tonight's event by his wife, Sue, has been hitting the talk-show circuit this week, appearing with Mike Francesa and Bill Simmons on Monday afternoon, and then on ESPN's "Mike & Mike In The Morning" on Tuesday. 

    THE SELIG STORY: In case you haven’t seen it, be sure to check out SBJ's profile of Selig in this week’s issue. Senior writer Bill King spent time talking with the former commissioner and many of his confidants for a package of stories that we call “Lessons from a life in baseball.” It includes links to Selig’s Executive Tree, a look at Baseball’s Role after 9/11, and more.

    ALWAYS REPPIN’: Selig will have plenty of supporters from the baseball ranks in the crowd, including many who represent organizations that are up for awards tonight. There will be contingents from MLB, MLBAM, and the Padres, Royals, Dodgers and Brewers. Among the team and league execs we’re expecting: the Padres' Ron Fowler, Peter Seidler and Mike Dee; the Royals' David and Dan Glass; and the L.A. Dodgers' Tucker Kain.

    PRESENTING THE PRESENTERS: Here’s who will take the stage and present tonight’s awards: MGM Resorts International’s Daniel Rush; Coyne PR Founder Tom Coyne; Turnkey Sports & Entertainment President & CEO Len Perna; ISC CEO Lesa France Kennedy; Bruin Sports Capital’s David Abrutyn; Portland Timbers CEO Merritt Paulson; Toyota’s Ed Laukes; Anheuser-Busch InBev’s Lucas Herscovici; Philadelphia 76ers, New Jersey Devils and Prudential Center CEO Scott O’Neil (who must be in a GREAT mood today!); AmEx Vice President of Entertainment Marketing and Sponsorships Deborah Curtis; Carolina Panthers President Danny Morrison; The Players’ Tribune’s Jaymee Messler; AAC Commissioner Mike Aresco; Chip Ganassi Racing Teams President Steve Lauletta; Fox Sports President Eric Shanks; NBC Olympics CMO John Miller; Sports Media Advisors CEO Doug Perlman; Oak View Group CEO Tim Leiweke; the USTA’s Stacey Allaster and last year’s Executive of the Year winner, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.

    WHO YOU’LL SEE: Among the bold-faced names expected at tonight’s banquet: U.S. Soccer's Sunil Gulati and board member Donna Shalala; Excel Sports' Casey Close, Mark Steinberg and Alan Zucker; Populous' Earl Santee, HOK's Brad Schrock; NASCAR's Steve Phelps and ISC's Joie Chitwood; MLS' Don Garber and Mark Abbott; NBC Sports' Gary Zenkel; the Miami Dolphins' Stephen Ross; Learfield's Greg Brown; the Warriors’ Rick Welts; ESPN’s John Wildhack; and the PGA Tour's Ty Votaw.

    THE COLLEGE CONTINGENT: All of the nominees for athletic director of the year are scheduled to attend: Oklahoma’s Joe Castiglione, Stanford’s Bernard Muir, Navy’s Chet Gladchuk and Ohio State’s Gene Smith. John Currie, AD at Kansas State, is also expected to support Bill Snyder Family Stadium’s nomination in the Sports Facility of the Year category.

    WHAT’S THE BUZZ?: The story line at last year’s Sports Business Awards took an interesting turn, from a competition for hardware to a celebration of the business and the people fortunate enough to work in it. 2015 Executive of the Year Adam Silver and Lifetime Achievement Award winner Dick Ebersol reflected on the privilege of working in sports, and in the ‘Industry of Relationships.’ We’ll see what themes emerge tonight and who will be fortunate enough to take home some hardware. The best chances have to go to those with multiple nominations. CAA Sports and MLB each have three, while there are eight organizations with two: Golden State Warriors, ESPN, GMR Marketing, NASCAR, NBA, NFL, Turner Sports and WME | IMG.  

    ODDS AND ENDS: This year’s event includes the highest number of nominees ever: 87. Last year there were 78 nominees, and the previous high was 80, in 2014. We also have a record number of new nominees: 39. That’s up from 28 last year. The previous high was 36 in 2012. And the total number of companies represented is 75, up from 59 last year and from the previous high of 62 in 2014. Also, we added three new categories this year (Best in Sports Social Media, Best in Mobile Fan Experience and Sports Breakthrough of the Year) and took away one (Best in Sports Television).

    PLAUSIBLY LIVE: To keep up with all the winners tonight, follow @SBJSBD and the hashtag #sbjsba on Twitter. We’ll also post photos to our Instagram feed and Facebook page, and will send out breaking news emails to subscribers listing all of tonight’s winners. Check tomorrow’s SBD and next week’s SBJ for complete coverage of the awards.

    SOCIAL ANIMALS: We’ve already seen plenty of posts on social media leading up to tonight. Among the posts we liked:
    @FlashHanlon: If the @ClemsonTigers do not win this … I vow to quit Twitter for a month.
    @nickstamm: Congratulations to all my @SportradarUS friends and colleagues for being a #SBJSBA finalist
    @ReplyBuy: We are extremely proud to be one of five companies nominated for Best in Mobile Fan Experience!
    @XFINITYRacing: Honored to be up for #SBJSBA Sports Sponsor of the Year. #XFINITYSeries helped make it happen!

    THE SPORTS DOCKET: As much as we’d like to think so, the Sports Business Awards won’t be the only big event on tonight’s schedule. The Penguins and Lightning start Game 3 of the NHL’s Eastern Conference Finals at 8 p.m. And there will be plenty of interest in whether the Warriors can bounce back in Game 2 of their Western Conference Finals matchup with OKC. Both the Lightning and Warriors are nominees for Team of the Year, and Warriors Co-Executive Chairman Joe Lacob is up for Executive of the Year, but we’ll forgive them if they spend part of the evening checking scores on their phones. At least, with a 9 p.m. ET start for the Warriors game, if we stick to our schedule (and we usually do!), we’ll end the banquet in time to see the fourth quarter.

    ON THE MENU: For tonight’s dinner, attendees will start with a classic steak house iceberg wedge salad before moving to a pan-seared chicken breast with sauteed kale, sweet potato puree, turkey bacon and apple cranberry chutney. And, for dessert: raspberry and banana brulee eclair with butterscotch cream.

    EVENT SPONSORS: Special thanks to tonight’s sponsors: MGM Resorts International, Coyne PR, and Turnkey Intelligence/Search.

    SEE YOU TOMORROW: Look for a full recap tomorrow morning of the sights, sounds and skinny from tonight’s ceremony.

    Tags: GE, Sports Business Awards, Marriott, ATT, ING, NFL, Most Influential
  • Live from World Congress: The vibe from Forty Under 40

    Seen and heard at Forty Under 40…The ominous strains of “Imperial March”…the final threads from World Congress.

    GET THE PARTY STARTED: About 500 people packed into the Platinum Ballroom at the JW Marriott at L.A. Live last night to celebrate the 2016 class of the Forty Under 40. The event was hosted by Fox Sports personalities Colin Cowherd and Kristine Leahy. On the menu: a main dish of cabernet-braised beef short ribs with a dessert sampling plate featuring white, milk and dark chocolate creations. As has become tradition, Publisher Richard Weiss welcomed the crowd and asked all of the previous winners to stand. Then Executive Editor Abe Madkour gave his monologue to toast (and roast) members of this year’s class. Some of his biggest laugh lines:

    1) Russell Silvers from AEG is here. Russell is having a great year on many fronts. In December, there was the birth of his third child, Georgia Prius Silvers presented by StubHub. Yes, he sold naming rights to his own child.

    2) Dana Rosenberg from Starwood Hotels is here. Dana is our rainmaker. She made history this year by getting more congratulatory ads than any winner we’ve ever had. [On screen, we showed a graphic for a new program awarding Starwood Points for every ad sold to support Rosenberg.] Full transparency: We have decided to highlight Dana for an award in every issue from now through the end of our budget year.

    3) Chris Schlosser from Major League Soccer is here. His personalized Twitter hashtag is #workhardwinehard. I hear you, Chris, because seeing MLS’s TV ratings every week would cause me to drink heavy, too.

    4) Al Guido from the San Francisco 49ers is here. Al breaks every stereotype for a Forty Under 40 winner. Isn’t an Ivy. Doesn’t have an MBA. He defies every stereotype … except one. His favorite vacation spot is the Jersey Shore. There’s a shocker: A Guido who loves the Jersey Shore.

    Other laughs: References to Rams President Kevin Demoff’s physical “location” and two videos from winners’ past: Demoff’s appearance as a young boy in “Double Dare” and WME/IMG’s Kevin McSherry’s appearance as a young adult on “The Price Is Right.”

    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 few of our favorites.

    --Yu-Han Chang, Second Spectrum, with the “Imperial March” from Star Wars. Better known, of course, as Darth Vader’s theme, and yes, quite sinister.
    -- Colin Neville, The Raine Group, with “All Summer Long” by Kid Rock, which we believe means he was fired up for the after party.
    -- Kevin Demoff, LA Rams, with, appropriately, “Ram It,” the hype song from about 1986 for the previous version of the NFL team. (We had a glitch during the program, though, and the song didn’t play, but you can check it out here on YouTube.)
    -- The biggest head scratcher was the Boston Red Sox’ Troup Parkinson picking “Jessie’s Girl,” while later in the program US Bank’s Bill Mulvihill picked the Red Sox anthem “Sweet Caroline.”

    The most popular artist choices were AC/DC and Jay Z at three each. The Jay Z crowd: Guido; Anthony DiCosmo, Nickelodeon; and Richard Rubano, DLA Piper. The AC/DC contingent: Adam Davis, Prudential Center and New Jersey Devils; Christopher Halpin, NFL; and Russ D’Souza, SeatGeek.

    NAMES IN THE BALLROOM: Among the many recognizable people we saw: Phil Anschutz, Casey Wasserman, Jed York, Stan Kroenke, Don Garber, Jim Delany, Greg Sankey, Eric Shanks, Jalen Rose and Nick Khan.

    SPOTTED IN THE CROWD: Was that former ESPNer and current Foxie Jamie Horowitz posing for a photo with current ESPNers Connor Schell and Julie Sobieski? Uh, Connor? Julie? Chris LaPlaca is on line one... Temple U football coach Matt Ruhle ran a spring practice session today in N. Philadelphia, but still made it out to L.A. in time to cheer on Temple AD Pat Kraft, a 40 Under 40 recipient.

    We said this last 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.

    HALF A THOUSAND: Last night, we honored the 500th person to take home one of our Forty Under 40 trophies. We’ve had an impressive group of winners during the 18 years that we’ve given out the award, including some who are now among the top leaders in sports today. We welcome all of the 2016 winners to this prestigious club.

    WRAPPING UP WORLD CONGRESS: Like the Warriors’ Peter Guber and Joe Lacob on Day 1, SAP CEO Bill McDermott was one of the most popular speakers for the event’s second day – and he barely mentioned sports. McDermott focused on leadership, telling stories of how he developed the skills to be a corporate titan. He said the best way for companies to reach millennials is to stop trying to reach millennials. “I give them very big jobs,” McDermott said. “Put them in big jobs, put them in there too early and see what they’re made of. My experience has been that they’ve never let me down and when placed in command, they take charge.”

    Comments that caught our ear:
    -- Actress Gabrielle Union: “There is no way that you can legitimately explain [wage discrimination in men’s and women’s sports], although a couple members of the men’s team tried. There’s no two-ways about it…You pay them. You boycott Rio. It’s pay or play.”
    -- McDermott: Companies that SAP partners with “have to deeply care about using technology to improve the fan experience or to improve the performance of the athlete… If they don’t themselves respect the true value and power of the technology, there’s no point in partnering with them. Ultimately, (why) would we put our brand next to a brand that really doesn’t buy into what we’re trying to do?”

    SOCIAL ANIMALS: There were 334 posts yesterday using our #sbjwcs hashtag, leading to an impressive 4.1 million impressions and to the hashtag trending on Twitter. Thanks to our most frequent tweeters: @AGMSports, @LarryChiang, @ScottyKellman and @joefav.

    Among the tweets we liked:
    @chrisyates11: Some powerful speakers at #SBJWCS I am very impressed
    @AshAStewart: Interesting panel on investing on a global scale. China the one to watch, Aus not yet considered a hot spot.
    @JessicaAnguliano: An inspirational life story mixed with business, courtesy of @BillRMcDermott
    @SDSUsportsMBA: Thanks to our friends at @sbjsbd for the opportunity for #SDSU Sports MBAs to assist w ’16 #SBJWCS. On to 40<40!
    @brisatrinchero: Packed house this morning at #sbjwcs despite last night’s epic #Kobe festivities!
    Panelist @KLemkau posted a picture taken of her on stage and tweeted: Rocking my @Chase blue at #sbjwcs talking about the value of sports sponsorships.
    @chrisyates11 responded: Wearing team colors. Smart move

    Our final interview subject of the conference, Union, was popular with the Twitter crowd.
    @BamaBelle6969: Gotta love that @itsgabrielleu just walked out to WhiteSnake
    @Mc_Huge: Nailed it: @itsgabrielleu on “The Decision” (Wade/James/Bosh): “It was like the #panamapapers” – she is awesome!
    @nmoses23: Gabrielle Union bringing it on at the #sbjwcs
     
    NEARLY LIVE FROM WORLD CONGRESS: We partnered with NeuLion for a series of streaming live interviews from a studio set in the main exhibit hall. You can see them all on demand at WorldCongressLive.NeuLion.com.

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

    Tags: Forty Under 40, GE, Marriott, Fox, ING, AEG, StubHub, Budget, Soccer, Twitter, MLS, San Francisco 49ers, CES, Videos, IMG
  • Live from World Congress: The morning after Kobe

    GOOD MORNING! Kobe…Kobe…Kobe…What a way to finish out a career. The Lakers legend’s 60-point game – and the huge throngs of his fans that took over the hotel bar – are certain to dominate conversations today. At least in L.A. Elsewhere, of course, the Warriors had their own story to write, and everyone at Day 1 of the Congress who heard top Golden State execs Joe Lacob and Peter Guber on stage had to be happy for their accomplishment.

    AHEAD FOR TODAY: Don’t miss the opening panel on the sports industry’s new leaders, with CAA’s Paul Danforth, ESPN’s Laura Gentile, AEG’s Todd Goldstein, Gatorade’s Brett O’Brien and the Red Sox’ Sam Kennedy. Then stay for what’s sure to be an entertaining interview with SAP’s Bill McDermott, where you will find out what he learned from running a deli in his teens. We’ll end with Gabrielle Union, wife of Heat star Dwyane Wade, in a one-on-one interview with Hollywood VIP Mike Tollin.

    DINNER CIRCUIT: While many tried to find their way through the LA Live crowd into Staples Center, Proskauer hosted a dinner at Faith & Flower, a short walk from LA Live. Joe Leccese led a group that included partners Brad RuskinRob Freeman, Jon Oram, Wayne Katz and Frank Saviano, as well as guests such as GSP’s Russ Granik, Goldman Sachs’ Greg Carey, PJT's Don Cornwell, Sports Media Advisors’ Doug Perlman and SBJ's Richard Weiss and Abe Madkour. Patrons dined on Kanpachi Ceviche, Albacore Carpaccio, Shellfish Risotto, aged ribeye, handmade pappardele and mesquite grilled asparagus.  

    At Wasserman's sixth annual gathering of women sports marketers, we counted four members of the original crew among a crowd of more than 50 guests. Among those seen: the NBA's Rachel Jacobson, Tiffany's Suzanne Taddei, the NFL’s Renie Anderson and Wasserman's Elizabeth Lindsey. We also ran into IRG Sports + Entertainment (IRGSE) Vice Chairman/CEO Chris Lencheski, on his way to a DLA Piper dinner; and Premier Partnerships President Randy Bernstein at downtown hotspot Redbird, on East Second St.

    ON EVERY SCREEN: The scene on Figueroa and LA Live around Staples Center, with people twenty deep outside bars cheering every Kobe Bryant possession and making the sidewalks impassable, was unlike anything we've seen – especially around a game between two non-playoff teams. You needed magical powers to get a drink, and we were told that Lucky Strike, where AEG hosted a Kobe watch party, was over capacity. Spotted at the JW bar Wed. night, post-Kobe: Rick Fox taking pictures with happy Lakers fans, MLS' Gary Stevenson, Finsbury's Peter Land and Lead Dog Marketing’s Dan Mannix. At Dodger Stadium, where the home team beat the D-backs 3-1, Kobe highlights appeared on the jumbotron a few times throughout the evening – getting big applause every time. There were plenty of fans wearing Kobe jerseys, even with a Bank of America-sponsored sweatshirt giveaway at the ballpark.

    IN THE AEG SUITE…:  … during the Lakers game we spotted Phil Anschutz and his wife, Nancy, Galaxy star Robby Keane, MLS’ Mark Abbott, AEG’s Dan Beckerman, Bob Newman, Ted Tanner, Nick Baker and Russell Silvers, with Scott O’Neil stopping by briefly. Elsewhere in the arena, Eventellect's Patrick Ryan had Stevenson as a guest. The pair sat near the player entrance tunnel, so Ryan's primary concern was "not getting crushed" by the Lakers faithful.

    WHAT’S THE BUZZ?: The Kobe frenzy actually started much earlier in the day, with the bars in the JW Marriott lobby starting to fill up in the middle of the afternoon as people mingled and staked out their territory. We saw Stephen A. Smith chatting with Guber, and Kenny Smith talking with ESPN staffers. AEG’s Michael Roth said last night’s game was bigger than an NBA Finals game in terms of buzz and demand. Jim Gray, Lesley Visser and Ed Desser held court in the hours before the game, trying to come up with a current great player who is universally beloved. Gray’s pick: Steph Curry.

    OAKLAND’S FINEST: Lacob and Guber were a hit with the Congress crowd, entertaining with stories about life in the NBA hours before their team set an NBA record for wins in a season. We laughed at their story of an NBA conference call – complete with a spot-on imitation of Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov.  On their new arena, which opens in ’19, Lacob said: "There is no arena in S.F. It really changes the enterprise, in terms of what you are and the way you need to think about your future as a basketball team." Guber: "What do you do with the other 310 nights, just shut the lights out? ... You have to fill it with benefits for a wider range audience. It requires the organization to be very nimble, to begin thinking of itself in a wider aspect.”

    BTW, the Warriors game was playing on the second screen in Anschutz’s suite, and though most eyes were on Kobe, guests did pay attention to what was happening in Oakland.

    SOCIAL LOVE: Twitter loved the Warriors execs, too. A sample:
    @michaelaneuman: Peter Guber quickly becoming the “must hear” speaker @ #sportsbiz conferences, honest, quotable, insightful
    @Lopey: Easy to understand why the Warriors are successful listening to Peter Guber & Joe Lacob. Their vision/passion is inspirational
    @catherine_CSM: These two are as funny as they are smart. Peter Guber & Joe Lacob are highlights thus far.

    SEEN AND HEARD: With rock star-like status, we couldn’t help but notice the line of attendees waiting to talk to Riot Games cofounder Marc Merrill following his on-stage interview yesterday afternoon. We also noticed Anschutz working the room and engaging with some of our Champions class: Joe Cohen, Jeremy Jacobs and Roger Penske.

    DID HE SAY THAT?: Fox Sports’ Jamie Horowitz became a Twitter star yesterday morning when he bashed the flagship show at his former employer. Speaking of “SportsCenter,” he said, “If you look at recent trends, they’ve lost 30 percent of the audience in the last five years. And among younger viewers, it’s 40 percent. That’s a staggering fall. I would be a little worried if I were them…..There has been a seismic shift in how people consume content. If you want to see a highlight, you’re not going wait eight hours to see it.” Moderator Abe Madkour followed up by saying, “With all due respect, what hit show have you created at Fox?”

    YES, WE HAVE NO DEAL: Fox Networks’ head honcho Peter Rice talked about his company’s carriage battle with Comcast, and he accused the cable operator of having ulterior motives. “With Comcast, there are lots of other moving pieces going on,” he said. “I don’t think it’s specifically about the price of the Yankees in that market. It wasn’t last season.”

    WHAT’S YOUR QUESTION?: Yesterday’s World Congress crowd may have set a record for the most questions submitted to our moderators. Help us keep it going today and make sure we get to the topics that are important to you. Send a question to our moderators through the event app (link below), at pollev.com/sbjsbd, or by sending SBJSBD to 22-333 to join our text messaging system.

    SOCIAL ANIMALS: There were 561 posts yesterday using our #sbjwcs hashtag, leading to an impressive 7.4 million impressions. Among our most-influential tweeters: @sethdavishoops, @stubhub and @USATF. And thanks to our most frequent tweeters: @AGMSports, @LarryChiang, @ScottyKellman and @joefav.
    Among the tweets we liked:
    @StevePacheco: There are 800 people here. And 2000 smart phones.
    @JeffYocom: Abnormally excited about this session on creating corporate culture of transformation & innovation.
    And Visser had one of the most retweeted quotes of the day. An example:
    @Catherine_CSM: Sometimes you have to cross when it says don’t walk – Lesley Visser’s mom as told by Lesley

    GIVE IT AWAY, GIVE IT AWAY NOW: Be sure to drop your business card off at conference sponsor Ticket Galaxy's booth in the exhibit hall. Ticket Galaxy will give away two premium tickets to an event of your choice, valued up to $250. 

    LIVE FROM WORLD CONGRESS: We’re partnering with NeuLion for live interviews from a studio set in the main exhibit hall. You can see the interviews live or on-demand at WorldCongressLive.NeuLion.com. Among those scheduled to appear today: Todd Goldstein, Bill McDermott, Laura Gentile, Kristin Lemkau and James Pallotta

    FOLLOW THIS: Keep up with the conference through our social feeds. Find us on Facebook at facebook.com/sbjsbd, and on Twitter at @SBJSBD and using the hashtag #sbjwcs. Also check out our Instagram feed.

    AGENDA, SPEAKERS, ETC.: Be sure to download the app for easy access to the agenda and speaker bios, and to send questions to our panel moderators. You can also view the program guide online.  

    UP NEXT: HONORING THE FORTY: Tonight we’ll hold the annual banquet to honor our newest class of the Forty Under 40, with hosts Colin Cowherd and Kristine Leahy. Look for a report in tomorrow’s email.

    Tags: ING, GE, ACC, CAA, ESPN, AEG, Gatorade, Staples, CES, Media
  • Live from World Congress: Big day (and night!) in L.A.

    GOOD MORNING! 800-plus at World Congress...Warriors' Lacob & Guber talk (potential) history...Speaking of history, who's in for Kobe's finale? ... Seen and spotted at the JW Marriott ... Cranes dot the LA Skyline ...

    THE PLACE TO BE: More than 800 people descend on the JW Marriott at LA Live today for the 2016 CAA World Congress of Sports. Owners and marketers, media and league execs, Hollywood heavy hitters and many more will join us to talk about the hot topics of the day. It all kicks off this morning at 8:15 local time. The forecast calls for sun and 72 degrees, so leave the umbrella at home. That’s what we get for holding a conference in L.A. You can thank us later.

    OFF TO A GREAT START: About 125 speakers and special guests took over the 3rd floor for a reception at CAA headquarters last night at 2000 Avenue of the Stars in Century City. CAA Sports co-heads Howie Nuchow and Mike Levine welcomed the group, with Nuchow saying, "Growing up in the business, this was the event we all aspired to be a part of. Everyone we looked up to was speaking at this, so it's special to be a part of it." Attendees who mingled in a gathering that flowed to the outside balcony included SBJ Champions recipients Roger Penske (with Penske Racing's Jonathan Gibson), Joe Cohen, Lesley Visser and her husband, Bob Kanuth, and Jeremy Jacobs with his wife, Peg. Others spotted throughout the night: A slew of CAA execs, including President Richard Lovett, Rob Light, Nick Khan, Pat Brisson, Paul Danforth, Greg Luckman, Michael Mand and more; MLS Commissioner Don Garber and MLS’s Gary Stevenson; Proskauer's Joe Leccese and Brad Ruskin; Covington's Doug Gibson and Peter Zern; DLA Piper's Peter White, Chuck Baker and Mark Whitaker; ESPN's Hannah Storm, Rachel Nichols, Jalen Rose and Connor Schell; A-B/InBev's Lucas Herscovici; JPMorgan Chase CMO Kristin Lemkau, Sporting KC's Robb Heineman, Fox's Eric Shanks and Larry Jones; Modell's Sporting Goods' Mitch Modell (who has dropped more than 100 pounds!); SBJ/SBD'S Richard Weiss, Abe Madkour, Jim Sullivan and Julie Tuttle; actress and entrepreneur Alyssa Milano; AEG's Todd Goldstein and Michael Roth. Diners snacked on chicken parm strudels, filet mignon skewers, lamb chops, shrimp with melon and cucumber rolls.

    Picked-up pieces: Lovett sharing with Brisson how excited he is about the start of playoff hockey; Brisson talking about going old school at the Guns 'N Roses reunion show at the new T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas; Storm on her plans to host ESPN's tributes around Kobe Bryant's final game before taking her daughter to the Coachella Festival (just dropping her off, not attending) ... Guests were given gift bags as well as their own pairs of Toms eyewear/glasses.

    AHEAD FOR TODAY: Get ready to hear about the top issues and trends in sports, including: Where does sports fit into the entertainment vision of Fox Networks Group’s Peter Rice and Randy Freer? And which TV personalities does Fox Sports’ Jamie Horowitz have in mind to help reach his goal to “embrace debate” on the network? What does A-B/InBev’s Herscovici believe is the next big engagement opportunity in sports? How is the NBPA’s Michele Roberts’ relationship with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver developing as they get ready for CBA talks? And, of course, we’ll ask everybody about e-sports, one of the hottest segments of the industry.

    Proskauer’s Leccese will show off his knack for getting into the details when he talks to four owners about the challenges of running a team today. Chiefs and FC Dallas Chair Clark Hunt will chime in on the NFL’s return to L.A., and Orlando City SC Founder Phil Rawlins will offer a glimpse behind that team’s smashing success in its inaugural season (which earned a Sports Business Award nomination for Team of the Year).

    OUR TRAILER: ESPN’s Sage Steele will sit with CAA’ Lovett to discuss the agency’s current plans and future growth – and we’re sure he’ll have a thought or two on The Hollywood Reporter’s cover story on WME-IMG... Five of our 2016 class of six Champions of Sports Business will join us today: Joe Cohen, Jeremy Jacobs, Bob Lanier, Roger Penske and Lesley Visser. They’ll surely motivate and inspire. To set the table, read our profiles of this year’s class of The Champions: Pioneers & Innovators in Sports Business.

    FROM THE SILICON STARS: Little did we know when we confirmed the appearance of Warriors execs Joe Lacob and Peter Guber months ago that their team would be shooting for the NBA record book. Everyone’s talking about whether the team can get to the magic number 73 when they play the Grizzlies tonight at Oakland’s Oracle Arena. Kudos to them for sticking to their commitment when they obviously have so many demands on their time. The two will sit with Abe Madkour to discuss their POV on the sports-and-entertainment landscape during a featured interview at 10:25 a.m.

    By the way, if you missed the N.Y. Times Magazine feature on the Warriors, you can read it here.

    NO QUIET RIOT: In addition to fielding questions, Guber will bring his own adroit interviewing skills – seen so well in AMC’s classic “Sunday Morning Shootout” with Peter Bart – to the Congress and take the stage with Marc Merrill, co-founder and president of Riot Games. With everyone trying to get a sense of the e-sports landscape, our Guber & Merrill shootout will be one you won’t want to miss.

    WHAT’S YOUR QUESTION?: Help us make sure we get to the topics that are important to you. Send a question to our moderators through the event app (link below), at pollev.com/sbjsbd, or by sending SBJSBD to 22-333 to join our text messaging system.

    SPOTTED AND OVERHEARD: AEG’s Phil Anschutz sharing a meal with the Ritz Carlton's GM/VP Javier Cano in LA Live at the Japanese restaurant Katsuya...Delaware North's Boston Holdings CEO Charlie Jacobs with TD Garden President Amy Latimer and BofA's Jim Nash sharing a table and chatting in the lobby bar before before Jacobs' dad is honored today...Omnigon's Dave Nugent with Sports Media Advisors' Doug Perlman chatting after a group dinner at The Palm...New Legends CMO Nicole Jeter West getting a hug from former MSG colleague Ron Skotarczak ...Team Epic's Mike Reissman and WME-IMG's Ed Horne getting in a late afternoon workout on Tuesday...Former coach and ESPN analyst Hubie Brown checking in at the front desk ... Also at the lobby bar: Patrick Rishe, Forbes contributor and director of the sports biz program at Washington Univ.; media consultant Ben Grossman; Fox Sports’ Lou D’Ermilio talking with SBJ staff writer John Ourand, Meier Raivich, NBA great and SBJ Champion Bob Lanier, comScore Sports’ Tom Sommer, Ascendant Sports’ Gordon Kane and Doug Hall ... Per veteran sports marketer Joe Favorito, who was one of many enjoying the sidewalk coffee shop scene, on Twitter: “1st unique sighting for tomorrows @sbjsbd #sbjwcs in LA; #Clippers Chris Anderson hobnobbing with [SBJ staff writer] Terry Lefton @Starbucks, lol.”

    East Coast-based attendees were raving yesterday as they checked in about the ease of travel heading west. The typical strong headwinds were absent, and many reported landing at LAX a half hour or more ahead of schedule.

    ON TAP FOR TONIGHT: Proskauer hosting cocktails and dinner at Faith & Flower ... AEG with a Kobe watch party at Lucky Strikes at L.A. Live, complete with bowling, beer and bar food ... and our own World Congress networking reception, complete with a special cocktail ordered up by sponsor GSP.

    If you have a gathering, a menu or a happening that should be on our radar, let us know. We'd love to share it with the sports business community.

    THE VIEW TO SEE: If you get a chance in the next few days, grab a cocktail at WP24 in the Ritz Carlton. (Elevators to the restaurant are connected to a walkway from the JW Marriott lobby). It offers stunning views of L.A., the famed Hollywood sign, the lineup of planes into LAX and even Marina Del Ray and Santa Monica. It also offers a visual road map of the future of the city's downtown. In every direction, you see cranes, and the construction of one skyscraper after another (including the Korean Airlines-owned hotel nearby that will be the tallest in the city). In addition, it's a great perch from which to see the footprint of L.A. Live and AEG's plans for growth. We can testify to the food, too. Our rave faves included the Tempura Green Beans, Bao Buns, Lobster Spring Rolls and Da-Dan Dumplings.

    KOBE’S FINALE: We can save you some time and energy. No, we don’t have any tickets to Kobe Bryant’s final home game tonight. Maybe try your friends at the Lakers or AEG? The last time we checked secondary prices were going for anywhere from $612 on the low end (via Ticket Exchange) to $13,889 on the high end (via StubHub). ESPN’s @ArashMarkazi put the ticket frenzy into perspective on Twitter: “There's a ticket in section 310 selling for $989 for Kobe's last game. That's the same price of a season ticket in that same seat.”

    As for the other L.A. teams in town this week, the Clippers held their regular-season finale last night, beating Memphis by a score of 110-84, and the D-backs are in town for three games with the Dodgers. L.A. opened the home stand last night with a 4-2 loss. (The D-Backs are also staying at the JW Marriott, in case you see a few athletic types who look familiar.)

    WE HAVE SEEN THE FUTURE...: ... and it may look a lot like a group of 10 students who will be joining us today. Conference sponsor Eventellect awarded scholarships that give students a chance to mingle with leaders of the industry. Keep an eye out for them and maybe give them a few minutes of your time. The students and their schools are:
    Tatianna Carthorn, Mount Union; Lindsey Hutterer, Penn State; Kristen Rollerson, Louisville; Hannah McDonald, Ball State; Roberto Bagnato, Laurentian; Paaton Karel, Memphis; Jerron Wheeler, South Florida; Ryan Gordon, Drexel; Justin Waite, Pennsylvania; Ignatius Michael Ingles, Georgetown.

    WORLD CONGRESS NEWSMAKERS: The people on our speaker roster tend to make a lot of news. Here are recent stories that caught our eye:
    — The L.A. Times sayd Dodgers CEO Stan Kasten and other team execs need to “restore their credibility” by striking a new TV deal for Vin Scully’s final year. Under Kasten, the Dodgers have also bolstered the size of the front office, creating what he says is “an unusually collegial atmosphere.” Kasten is on our Day 1 opening panel.
    — Chiefs CEO Hunt says the team will take a wait-and-see approach when it comes to marketing to Rams fans who just lost their team.
    — Vanity Fair has an excerpt from James Andrew Miller’s oral history of CAA.
    — Lacob talks about team ownership: “People want to know that the owner cares.”
    — From VR to netting, Sam Kennedy and the Red Sox have plenty new at the ballpark.

    GIVE IT AWAY, GIVE IT AWAY, GIVE IT AWAY NOW: Be sure to drop your business card off at conference sponsor Ticket Galaxy's booth in the exhibit hall. Ticket Galaxy will give away two premium tickets to an event of your choice, valued up to $250.

    LIVE FROM WORLD CONGRESS: We’re partnering with NeuLion for live interviews from a studio set in the main exhibit hall. You can see the interviews live or on-demand at WorldCongressLive.NeuLion.com. Among those scheduled to appear today: Herscovici, Roberts, Guber, Lacob, Penske, Jacobs, Rawlins and Roth.

    FOLLOW THIS: Keep up with the conference through our social feeds. Find us on Facebook at facebook.com/sbjsbd, and on Twitter at @SBJSBD and using the hashtag #sbjwcs. Also check out our Instagram feed.

    AGENDA, SPEAKERS, ETC.: Be sure to download the app for easy access to the agenda and speaker bios, and to send questions to our panel moderators. You can also view the program guide online.

    Tags: ING, Marriott, CAA, World Congress of Sports Dont use ever, Media, GE, ATT, Champion, Champions, MLS, CES, ESPN, JPMorgan Chase, Fox, Dell, AEG
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