• Best in Sports Technology: Zebra Technologies

    Zebra Technologies' Jill Stelfox
    Photo by: MARC BRYAN-BROWN
    Zebra Technologies is not used to being thrust into the spotlight. “We’re a huge company,” said Jill Stelfox, vice president and general manager of location solutions, “but we’re always behind the scenes. So something this big, this public, we’re normally not this cool, so it’s really awesome.”

    This year’s Best in Sports Technology award winner had never crossed over into sports until just last year when it partnered with the NFL to implement its tracking capabilities. Besting a group that includes the likes of ESPN, SAP, Daktronics, MLB Replay Operations Center and OneTwoSee is no small feat, but it’s also just the beginning.

    “Player tracking has been around for three years in totality,” Stelfox said. “It’s such a new thing and there’s so much to learn. Every league worldwide is going to have to make a statement on player tracking, and everyone’s going to want more and more and more. I think it’s this firehose that’s going to open up over the next 24 months. And it’s going to be a wave, because it takes time to put the infrastructure in, but once it’s in place, the data just keeps coming.”

    Tags: On The Ground
  • Best in Talent Representation and Management: Excel Sports Management

    Excel's Alan Zucker
    Photo by: MARC BRYAN-BROWN
    If he’s not already, Alan Zucker is going to start getting really comfortable on stage.

    Excel Sports Management took home the honors in the Best in Talent Representation and Management category of the Sports Business Awards for the second straight year, and Zucker accepted the award for the second time in his short 13-month tenure as a partner.

    “The double barrel!” he exclaimed to his celebratory team backstage.

    In a year when the talent agency expertly managed Yankees superstar Derek Jeter’s retirement tour and helped launch his post-retirement website The Players’ Tribune, Zucker swears the team at Excel didn’t realize what a good year they had going until much later.

    “You don’t reflect upon it until you have to put the presentation together, and that’s when I think you look back and say, ‘OK, that was a good year,’” Zucker said.

    So what’s next? “The Trifecta,” he says, predicting big things for the boutique agency in an era of consolidation. He and partners Jeff Schwartz, Casey Close and Mark Steinberg will continue focusing on making sure they have “the right clients,” he said.

    Tags: On The Ground
  • Watching the clock — SBAs are cruising

    Tags: On the Ground, Sports Business Awards
  • Sports Event of the Year: 2015 College Football Playoff

    CFP Executive Director Bill Hancock
    Photo by: MARC BRYAN-BROWN
    In its first year, the College Football Playoff was selected as the 2015 Sports Business Award winner for the Sports Event of the Year. But even as the national championship game had a record cable television audience with more than 33 million average viewers, CFP Executive Director Bill Hancock was still shocked to hear that they were taking home the award.

    “We were really in tall cotton with these other events in the category, these are all bucket-listers, so to just be nominated was tremendous,” he said. “We knew we had a great event, and it’s a tribute to the hundreds of people who made these games happen, and to the passion of the game. In less than three years to go to no event to this, it’s remarkable.”

    Tags: On The Ground
  • Best in Property Consulting, Marketing and Client Services: Learfield Sports

    Learfield’s Andy Rawlings
    Photo by: MARC BRYAN-BROWN
    No portion of the sports business has been changing faster and more dramatically than college sports. With a series of moves to keep pace, including acquisitions, advancements  in multimedia offerings and innovative social media programs, Learfield Sports more than kept pace.

    “It was incredibly hard to put all those things together,” said Andy Rawlings, executive vice president and chief revenue officer at Learfield, which won the 2015 Sports Business Award for Best in Property Consulting, Sales and Client Services. “Deals that look great on paper only are great if the people that come with them are great and work together. Our expectations were high, but they were all exerted.”

    Tags: On The Ground
  • Best in Sports Event and Experiential Marketing: Momentum Worldwide

    Momentum’s Chris Weil
    Photo by: MARC BRYAN-BROWN
    For the second time in three years, Momentum Worldwide takes home the hardware for Best in Sports Event and Experiential Marketing, and Chair and CEO Chris Weil already is going on the record to say they’ll be back for win No. 3 next May.

    “Because the agency’s never been better, the work has never been better, the clients have never been better, the economy’s doing well, sports have never been better, and I’ve seen what we have in the hopper for this year,” he explained. “I really believe that it’s some of the best work that we’ve done in my 11 years with the agency.”

    Weil said they were “thrilled to win” given the stiff competition; last year’s winner GMR Marketing, LeadDog Marketing Group, IMG Live and Wasserman Media Group were all in the mix. But with the company’s outstanding work around brands such as American Express, Coca-Cola, Verizon, United Airlines, UPS, and the U.S. Army, he was not surprised by the honor.

    Weil: “If you’re a CEO and you don’t believe you’re the best, then you won’t be the best, and I honestly believe we’re the best.”

    Tags: On The Ground
  • College Football Playoff scores at SBA — “This is so cool”

    Tags: Sports Business Awards, On the Ground
  • Best in Digital Sports Media: ESPN Digital Media

    ESPN’s John Kosner
    Photo by: MARC BRYAN-BROWN
    In a year where it set four all-time comScore records, ESPN Digital Media won the award for best in digital sports media. The fifth Sports Business Award in the digital category, this one was especially meaningful given it came in the 20th year of ESPN.com and the redesign and relaunch of the ESPN mobile app, said John Kosner, executive vice president of ESPN digital and print media.

    “It’s so meaningful for this award to happen this year, it’s crazy it’s already been 20 years,” he said. “It just shows the commitment of company to mobile and digital that we’ve been able to continue to raise the quality of the products across the board.”

    Tags: On The Ground
  • ESPN, Levi’s Stadium among early winners

    Tags: On the Ground, Sports Business Awards
  • SBA 2015: Old friends and new trophies

    Tags: On the Ground, Sports Business Awards
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