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Volume 26 No. 62
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Weekend Plans With 76ers President Chris Heck

Coming off a weekend that saw the opening of the 76ers Crossover Art Exhibition at the Fitler Club, where over 200 pieces of art from 70 different artists were auctioned off to raise money for the Sixers Youth Foundation, 76ers President CHRIS HECK is back in the saddle for another eventful weekend. Saturday's game against the Heat will mark the 76ers' 100th consecutive sellout at Wells Fargo Center, an important milestone for the franchise. Heck took some time out of his schedule to walk THE DAILY through his game-day responsibilities and how he'll unwind with his family after a whirlwind week.

CALM BEFORE THE STORM: About 3:30pm on a game day, our front office staff gets ready to move from our campus in Camden, N.J., to the Wells Fargo Center. We often take over the gym at the 76ers training complex because the players have already left to go to the arena for shootaround. We work out, play a few rounds of hoops, unwind and get ready for the evening work. It’s always fun and a good bonding opportunity for the organization. After that, we’ll make the 15-minute drive over to the arena and start preparing for the game. Our game presentation crew, led by CMO KATIE O’REILLY, will have been at the arena for seven or eight hours prior to a game. I make it a point each game day to check in with them. I’ll also usually spend time with our Senior VP/Communications DAVE SHOLLER and his team, as well as with our partners at WPEN-FM and NBC Sports Philadelphia. Before every game I will also check in with our GM ELTON BRAND.

Heck wants everyone at 76ers games to have a special moment and memory of their experience
Photo: NBAE/GETTY IMAGES

WHEN THE LIGHTS COME ON: We entertain roughly 200 VIPs every game. Being sold out for every single game is part of our routine now. The demand and the interest of hosting VIPs and celebrities at our games is very high. We want to show everyone -- from fans to A-Listers -- a good time and give them a special 76ers moment and memory. Whether you are buying a ticket off StubHub for the first time, a VIP guest or a corporate partner, we have adapted our day experience to build out pre-game, in-game, half-time and post-game unique hospitality opportunities. One tradition that I hold dear is that of the “Bell Ringer,” which we started five years ago. The ceremonial bell ringer -- often a celebrity, current sports star in the city, 76ers legend or significant influencer -- is something that is often scheduled well in advance, and other times on very short notice. When we established the promotion, we decided that we would never reveal the bell ringer’s identity until they stepped on the court, and we’ve held that line.

MIX & MATCH: My priorities are to family first. I’ll go to my son GAVIN’s games on Saturday -- he had been playing football in the fall and now it shifts to basketball. Following his schedule on the weekends now is a break for me, as we’ve been following my oldest son PEYTON’s schedule. He played basketball at Villanova for the last four years, which was very special, but it’s nice to have a break from the over 100 Villanova games we attended during those years. My daughter, MADELYN, is a sophomore at Villanova, so we like to grab brunch or dinner with her on the weekends as well. We have a 7:30pm tip-off on Saturday, so I’ll head over to the arena around 5:30. In addition to being our 100th consecutive sellout, the game against the Heat is special for me. I worked for them 20 years ago, and although the Heat are dear to my heart, I can’t wait to beat them. It will be fun, and it marks the return of JIMMY BUTLER to Philadelphia for the first time, so that will be interesting.

TAKING A BREATHER: When we are off as a team, I try to check out a little bit. I look forward to Sunday evenings because I’ll play tennis with my wife, MARY BETH. During the day, we’ll do things outdoors as a family depending on who’s home. We try not to watch football during the day even though we’re following our fantasy teams because we want to experience being outside. I’ll also prepare for the work week and review my schedule. It’s not uncommon to get a text message on a Sunday that we will have a late call, it’s just the way it is.

Know of someone who should be featured in Weekend Plans? Shoot a note over to lsmith@sportsbusinessdaily.com.