Ethan Casson is entering his fourth season as the Chief Executive Officer for the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Minnesota Lynx and the Iowa Wolves, the Timberwolves’ G-League team. Adding to his extensive scope of responsibilities, Casson also serves on the NBA Board of Governors as the Timberwolves and Lynx Alternate Governor. Prior to his current role, he served as the Chief Operating Officer for the San Francisco 49ers of the National Football League.
As the CEO, Casson oversees the business operations, working closely with the executive team on setting the organization’s strategic vision. In his tenure with the team, Casson has implemented several initiatives as part of an aggressive rebuild of the organization. In the Fall of 2016, Casson led a brand overhaul that included the rollout of a new logo and court, the unveiling of team uniforms, and the launch of a new marketing campaign. In an effort to re-establish Target Center’s resurgence in downtown Minneapolis, Casson oversaw the completion of the building’s $150 million renovation, the first major facelift in the venue’s 27-year history. The success of the project resulted in a nomination for the Sports Business Journal’s 2018 Facility of the Year and was chosen as Minnesota’s Finance & Commerce Top Project of 2017.
In the interest of growing the franchise’s popularity, Casson worked with the NBA to secure the Timberwolves as a participant in the 2017 NBA Global Games in China, playing against the defending NBA Champion Golden State Warriors. Additionally, the franchise purchased the NBA’s G-League team from Des Moines, now the Iowa Wolves, expanding the organization’s footprint throughout the Upper Midwest. On a local level, Casson partnered with the WNBA in bringing the 2018 WNBA All-Star Game to the Twin Cities, where the Minnesota Lynx played host.
Since Casson’s arrival, the Timberwolves have seen tremendous growth in all key business metrics including season tickets, attendance, television viewership, corporate partnerships, merchandise, and social engagement. The Lynx remain the model franchise in the WNBA, having been named WNBA Franchise of the Year for the second straight the season. Further, Casson led the efforts in securing an NBA 2K team, T-Wolves Gaming, joining 21 other NBA franchises with a 2K eSports team. In its inaugural season, T-Wolves Gaming won the NBA 2K Championship.
Casson spent six seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, initially as the team’s Vice President of Corporate Sales. He was promoted to Chief Revenue Officer in 2014 and Chief Operating Officer in 2016. Casson led a team focused on generating corporate revenue associated with the 49ers’ new stadium project. He spearheaded the organization’s effort in securing a 20-year, $220 million naming rights partnership with Levi Strauss & Co., one of the largest naming rights deals in NFL history. Additionally, the team sold more than a dozen founding partnership deals, resulting in over $600 million in committed corporate revenue prior to the opening of Levi’s Stadium.
Under Casson’s direction, Levi’s Stadium saw record-breaking growth in several areas of the 49ers business, inclusive of ticket and premium sales and corporate partnerships. In addition, Casson helped procure some of the most prominent events in sports and entertainment, including Super Bowl 50, WrestleMania 31, the NHL Outdoor Stadium Series, Pac-12 Championship Football, various music headliners and was awarded the host site for the 2019 College Football Playoff National Championship. The success of Levi’s Stadium resulted in several industry awards including the Sports Business Journal’s 2015 Facility of the Year and Venue of the Year at the 2015 Stadium Business Awards in Barcelona, Spain. Leveraging technology with sustainability, Levi’s Stadium generated international acclaim for its green efforts, becoming the first NFL stadium to be twice LEED Gold certified and was named the 2016 Green Sports Alliance Environmental Innovators of the Year.
Casson worked for 11 years with the Timberwolves and Lynx. As Senior Vice President of Corporate Partnerships and Game Presentation, Casson established many long-term partnerships with key Twin Cities brands while working to enhance the overall in-arena fan experience. Before his tenure with the organization, Casson served in sponsorship development at ESPN.
Casson has garnered industry-wide recognition for his accomplishments throughout his career, including being named to Minnesota Magazine’s 2018 Minnesota 500, profiling the top business professionals in the state, C-Level Magazine’s CEO of the Month in February 2017, featured in Profile Magazine’s 2017 Q1 Executive Leadership Edition and Twin Cities Business Journal’s list of “100 People to Know” in 2016. He was honored as a member of Sports Business Journal’s Forty Under 40 class of 2014 and Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal’s Forty Under 40 class of 2008.
Casson earned a Bachelor of Science in sports management from Colby-Sawyer College in New London, New Hampshire. A standout college basketball player, he was inducted into the New England Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013 and the Colby-Sawyer College Athletic Hall of Fame in 2015. Casson served on the Board of Directors for the Make-A-Wish Foundation Greater Bay Area and was previously a board member for the Make-A-Wish Foundation Minnesota during his first stint with the franchise. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Timberwolves and Lynx Fastbreak Foundation, the Board of Directors for YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities, and the Advisory Board for Positive Coaching Alliance. He is a member of the Twin Cities chapter of Young Presidents Organization (YPO) and a member of the Twin Cities Dunkers. He is also actively involved in Big Brothers Big Sisters Twin Cities and the Greater Twin Cities United Way.
Casson and his wife, Lisa, reside in Minneapolis.