Storytellers, entrepreneurs, risk-takers and colorful personalities make up the 2012 class of The Champions: Pioneers & Innovators in Sports Business, an award from SportsBusiness Journal/Daily recognizing the architects and builders of sports. Each of these individuals will be honored during a special ceremony at the IMG World Congress of Sports, March 20-21, in Laguna Nigel, Calif.
Each was selected for their achievements and body of work throughout their careers.
Ohlmeyer has been one of the most influential forces in sports television over the last 40 years. He started his career at ABC Sports, where Roone Arledge served as his mentor in working on ABC’s “Wide World of Sports” and later as the first producer of “Monday Night Football.” He went on to create “The Superstars” series and produced and directed three Olympic Games for ABC, including the tragedy-marred Munich Olympics in 1972. He later ran NBC Sports for five years and then set out with his own production company, Ohlmeyer Communications. He returned to produce “Monday Night Football” for one more season and served as ombudsman of ESPN for nearly two years. A charismatic personality with a great eye for talent and stories, Ohlmeyer has been honored with 16 Emmys, including the Lifetime Achievement Award and two Peabody Awards. He has been inducted into the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame.
Snider brought an entrepreneurial mind-set to the sports business in Philadelphia. He emerged as a leader in the market in 1967, when he founded the Flyers and brought the team to the city, where it began playing that fall. He was the driving force behind the construction of the Spectrum and assumed control of the building in 1971. He saw the opportunity for a larger sports management company and, in 1974, he created Spectacor to oversee the Flyers and Spectrum. Over the next 20 years, he turned Spectacor into a national company serving the sports and entertainment marketplace. In 1996, Snider merged Spectacor with the Comcast Corp. to form Comcast-Spectacor. The new venture initially consisted of the Flyers, Philadelphia 76ers, Wells Fargo Center, The Spectrum and the Philadelphia Phantoms. Comcast-Spectacor then joined with the Philadelphia Phillies to form Comcast SportsNet. Most recently, Comcast-Spectacor developed Global Spectrum, an international facilities management company; Ovations Food Services, an international concessions company; New Era Tickets.
Wheeler has been one of the most colorful personalities in all of sports business. After graduating from the University of South Carolina, he worked at Darlington Raceway before being hired in 1975 to run Charlotte Motor Speedway, where he became known as one of the most successful promoters in racing. He became president of Speedway Motorsports Inc. in 1994, and over the years he and Bruton Smith worked to build and acquire tracks and grow the footprint of NASCAR. Wheeler left SMI and formed motorsports management firm The Wheeler Co. in 2008 with his son and daughter. Wheeler was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame and the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America.
SportsBusiness Journal/Daily will profile each of these honorees and tell their impressive stories in our March 26 issue. In addition, the six Champions will be honored at the World Congress of Sports during a luncheon and subsequent panel discussion, where they will discuss their careers and their views on the business of sports, including how it has changed over the years.
|The 2010 class of Champions: Tony Ponturo, Jim Host, Donna Lopiano, Jerry Colangelo, Neal Pilson and Ron Labinski.
|The 2011 class of Champions: Deane Beman, Alan Rothenberg, Val Ackerman, Bill Rasmussen, Barry Frank and Marvin Miller (below).