Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 21 No. 1
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.

John Walker, president and CEO,


What I Like …

John Walker,
An insight: Treat people with respect and you’ll earn their trust.

An influential person in my career: Rick Welts, Golden State Warriors president and chief operating officer.

An out-of-the-box idea: Professional athletes in team sports being paid based on actual performance (like on the pro golf or tennis tours).

President and CEO,

Where I'm from: Hometown: Morgantown, W.V. Current residence: Newport Coast, Calif.

Where I Went to School: West Virginia University, B.S.; University of Oklahoma, M.S.

My First Job: As a 10-year-old fourth-grader, I sold Cokes at WVU home football games during the fall. I made 5 cents per Coke, or $1.00 for every tray sold. On hot days, I could make 20 bucks.

A timeless idea: Holding the door open for another, and saying “yes, sir” and “yes, ma’am.”

A business deal: Jerry Jones buying the Dallas Cowboys in 1989 for $150 million.

A sports event: Stamford Bridge (home of Chelsea FC), Heinz Field on a Monday night, the 16th green at the WM Phoenix Open on a Saturday, and AT&T Park on a sunny day.

A sports facility: The Masters, the Super Bowl.

A strategy: Working smarter, not just working harder.

Stamford Bridge, home of Chelsea FC.
A hire: Mike Krzyzewski at Duke in 1980.

A brand: Budweiser.

A trend: Sports teams and venues wanting more control of all things ticketing — customized user experiences, brand extension and controlling fees. One size no longer fits all.

An innovation: Handheld devices that do EVERYTHING.

A pro league or team business initiative:

The NBA’s TMBO. I spent 10 years with the Phoenix Suns during the first 10 years TMBO was in existence. The concept, the quality of the individuals on that team over those 10 years, and the “rubber meets the road” initiatives around sales, retention, CRM, analytics, etc., have helped to turn bad businesses into good, and good businesses into great. A rising tide lifts all ships. It’s now the gold standard.

A story that bears watching: MLB’s digital ticketing initiative.

An idea or invention I wish I had thought of: Bottled water.

A fantasy job: To play on the PGA Tour.

What I Like About …

My job: I’m fortunate to have the opportunity to work with some of the brightest minds in sports and live entertainment. I learn something new every day.

Sports: Every event has the potential to become a “classic.”

Sports business: Unlike in other industries, wins and losses can change the sales proposition from day to day and from season to season.

Sports technology: The myriad of opportunities that are introduced with truly integrated technologies — ticketing, dynamic pricing, loyalty, access control, stored value, mobile, etc.

Competing: It’s the ultimate measuring stick.

The future of sports business: More focus on enhancing the in-venue experience (starting when you purchase tickets), and jersey sponsorships in pro and college sports.

Sports fans: They’ll tell you what they think with conviction.

What I’d Like To …

Change: The outcome of the Suns-Spurs playoff series in 2007.

See less of in sports: Off-the-field issues that dominate the media.

See different: A college football playoff involving eight schools — seven bowl sites over three weekends (quarterfinals, semifinals and finals) — leading to one national champion in college football and unprecedented demand for all seven games..

What I Don’t Like …

In general: Weight gain, flight cancellations and $12 beers.
Pet peeve: Emails and phone calls that don’t get returned.

About sports fans: Foul language when you take your kids to a game.


What I Like …
That would surprise those who know me: Sushi.

Above all else: My wife and daughters.

Heroes: Anyone who has served to protect our country — like my father.

Fred Couples
Players: Larry Bird, Jack Lambert and Fred Couples.

Teams: West Virginia Mountaineers, Pittsburgh Steelers.

City: New York City and San Francisco.

Memento: I have damn near every ticket stub for every event I’ve attended (or worked) since the late ’70s.

Music: Right now I’m listening to the Black Crowes, U2, Coldplay, Dave Matthews and the new Van Halen album.

Magazines: Golf Magazine, SportsBusiness Journal.


Gadgets: BlackBerry.

Chores: I have 9-month-old twin daughters — so diapers.

Hobbies: Golf, travel and home improvement projects.

Movies: “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”

TV: “SportsCenter,” “Shark Tank” and “Swamp People.”

Concerts: Stevie Ray Vaughan at Station Square Amphitheater in Pittsburgh, Eric Clapton with Derek Trucks in Phoenix, U2 anywhere (5 times), AC/DC at the Stanley Theater in Pittsburgh (1980).

Food: A great steak, baked potato and an expensive cabernet.

Dessert: Brownies with ice cream.

Drink: Cold beer in a frosty glass.

Vacation spots: Bora Bora, Maui — and anywhere I can play golf for two consecutive days.

Quote: Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right. — Henry Ford.