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Volume 20 No. 41

People and Pop Culture

The Arizona Diamondbacks promoted Jeff Barnes to director of accounting and hired Joe Walsh as vice president of human resources. Walsh was senior vice president of human resources for Palace Sports & Entertainment.

Alison Miller, Chicago Cubs vice president of marketing, left the club.

The Oakland Athletics hired Christian Aguinaldo and Zach Hornor-Hernandez as sales consultants.

The St. Louis Cardinals promoted Moises Rodriguez to assistant general manager.

The Denver Nuggets promoted Tommy Balcetis to director of basketball strategies and analytics.

The Indiana Pacers and Pacers Sports & Entertainment hired Robert Parrent as director of esports operations.

The Philadelphia 76ers hired C. Daniel Medina Leal as vice president of athlete care. Medina was deputy director of the sports science and medical department at FC Barcelona.

The Atlanta Hawks promoted Jennifer Evans to senior director of partnership development, Erin Anastasi to director of partnership development and Alice Chaosurawong to designer of partnership development.

The Charlotte Hornets promoted David Kaplan to manager of basketball analytics and Cam Twiss to general manager of the team’s G League affiliate, the Greensboro Swarm.

Conference USA hired Shonna Brown as associate commissioner for business affairs and chief financial officer. Brown was deputy commissioner for the America East Conference.

Brigham Young University promoted Brian Santiago to deputy athletic director, Liz Darger to senior associate athletic director and Trevor Wilson to associate dean of students.

Elon University hired Mike Ward as deputy athletic director. Ward was senior associate athletic director for sport programs and administration at the University of Tennessee.

Georgia Tech promoted Andy Blanton to assistant athletic director for video and broadcast services and Todd McCarthy to assistant athletic director for sports video services, and hired John Tweedy as assistant athletic director for facilities, operations and events. Tweedy was director of event management at the University of Minnesota.

Towson University hired Bria Bennett as community partner coordinator.

Boston College hired Mike Laprey as associate director of athletics communications. Laprey was associate athletic director for external affairs at the University of Rhode Island.

The University of California, San Diego, promoted Nick Feller to associate athletic director for marketing, branding and fan engagement, and hired Tod Bannister as associate athletic director for corporate partnerships and development and Rachel Wall as compliance coordinator.

Lafayette College Athletic Director Bruce McCutcheon will retire once his replacement is hired.

Louisiana State University promoted Mathew Shanklin to associate athletic director of marketing and Kyle Huber to director of marketing, and hired Robert Munson as senior associate athletic director for external affairs and Tyler Muse as assistant marketing director.

Marshall University hired Todd Childers as assistant director of development for the Big Green Scholarship Foundation.

Mississippi State University named Rob Jenkins associate athletic director for development.

Morehead State University hired Dwight Rutledge as director of compliance. Rutledge was a compliance coordinator at the University of West Florida.

Rutgers University hired Ryan Gottlieb as associate athletic director for sales strategy and business intelligence. Gottlieb was director of sales and service at Georgia Tech.

Texas A&M University named Travis Dabney president and chief executive officer for the 12th Man Foundation.

Weber State University hired Derek Dawes as director of the Weber State Wildcat Club. Dawes was associate athletic director for external relations at Dixie State University.

Americrown and International Speedway Corp. hired Arjun Suresh as senior director of concessions. Suresh was general manager of food and beverage for the Class A Carolina League’s Lynchburg (Va.) Hillcats.

SMG hired Tony Cima as senior vice president of stadiums and arenas. Cima was vice president of projects for Flash Entertainment.

Texas Motor Speedway hired Brian Sandler as broadcast media relations manager.

Daytona International Speedway promoted Jerry Mugerditchian to director of tram and cart operations, Matt Vinson to director of digital marketing, Tera Lyons to digital marketing manager, Stephanie Rivera-Casiano to manager of advertising and promotions, Stephen Schindler to strategic communications manager, Richie Wilson to manager of creative content production, and Brett MacIver to manager of client services.

The Indianapolis Colts hired Roger VanDerSnick as chief sales and marketing officer. VanDerSnick was chief sales and marketing officer for IMG College.


Billy Casper Golf promoted Tom Reilly to vice president of talent management and Sandra Colareta to vice president of contracts and risk management.

The Century Club of San Diego/Farmers Insurance Open promoted Jonathan Berlin to vice president of partnerships and business affairs and Jennifer Cota to vice president of marketing and community affairs.


The Columbus Blue Jackets hired Michelle Brueggeman as manager of education and community partnerships, Meredith Bush as community development coordinator, Carson Reider as social media coordinator and Matt Hogan as a season sales account executive.

The ECHL’s Reading (Pa.) Royals hired Sherry Metzinger as community engagement coordinator.

Tampa Bay Sports & Entertainment and the Tampa Bay Lightning hired Casey Rodgers as chief financial officer. Rodgers was vice president of financial and strategic planning for Feld Entertainment.

Impression Sports and Entertainment hired Craig Walsh as vice president of naming rights and sponsorship. Walsh was senior manager of corporate partnerships for the Denver Broncos.

Bullish hired Laura Hockstad as an associate and added German Rivera Hudders and JJ Kraft to its creative team.

Learfield hired Chuck Gray as general manager for its A-10 Sports Properties. Gray was general manager for ODU Sports Properties at Old Dominion University.

GMR Marketing promoted Rob Coolican to director of business development and agency integration for its operations in New York.

CAA Sports promoted Barry Clarke and Melissa Lee to executives in CAA Sports Consulting and Darren Gee to agent in its basketball group.

Imre promoted Megan Fox to account executive in its consumer and sports business unit, and hired Ashley Heltne as vice president of consumer packaged goods and general manager of its Los Angeles office.

Brian Walker, United Entertainment Group senior vice president, left the company.

Sports Media Advisors promoted Dan Shevchik to senior vice president and partner.

Taylor promoted Maeve Hagen to president of its Charlotte office and Mike Costabile to managing partner in New York.

Rebecca Schulte will step down from her post as CSN Mid-Atlantic president and general manager once a successor is in place.

Fox Sports hired Brian Strong as senior vice president of brand communications. Strong was global corporate communications director for Nike.

USA Table Tennis hired Mark Thompson chief operating officer. Thompson was media relations director, hockey operations coordinator and broadcaster for the ECHL’s Reading Royals.

USA Taekwondo named Steve McNally executive director.

Sporting Goods and Apparel
TaylorMade Golf Co. promoted Brian Bazzel to vice president of product creation and Tomo Bystedt to senior director of product creation for metalwoods.

The McGowan Insurance professional athletes and entertainers practice hired Catherine Buchanan as a client consultant.

People news
To have your personnel announcements included in the People section, please send information and photos to Brandon McClung at 120 W. Morehead St., Suite 310, Charlotte, NC 28202, or email them to Electronic photos must be a jpg or tiff file for Macintosh, 2.25 inches wide at 300 dpi. Color only, please. News items may also be sent via fax to (704) 973-1401. If you have questions, call (704) 973-1425.

Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment recently marked its five-year anniversary since opening Barclays Center, the centerpiece of the company’s entertainment portfolio led by CEO Brett Yormark. BSE now includes the NBA Nets, Barclays Center, the business operations of the New York Islanders, NYCB Live at Nassau Coliseum, the G League Long Island Nets and a partnership in the Paramount Theatre in Brooklyn and Webster Hall in New York City. Longtime industry veteran Yormark has been leading BSE since its inception and has played a key role in the company’s ambitious efforts to grow into a major entertainment player. After five years, more changes are ahead with a possible sale of the Nets and other new programming efforts.

What we need to consistently do is create a point of differentiation because of the competitive landscape.


On how the Barclays Center programming strategy has evolved over the past five years: When we first got to Brooklyn, it was about the volume of events and the variety. We wanted to test as much as we could to determine what the appetite of the fan was. What has changed is that we had to evolve into being a big event business and making sure we are bringing events to the building that matter the most. When you look at the past five years, we came to Brooklyn as operators of a team and of a building. In a short period of time, we have the Nets and the Islanders, we have the G League Long Island Nets and the other venues and our training center. We have offices now in Brooklyn and a sales office on Park Avenue and in Los Angeles and potentially one in London. It’s been a fast-paced and exciting five years.

On the challenges of operating Barclays Center: What we need to consistently do is create a point of differentiation because of the competitive landscape. We constantly emphasize Brooklyn as a market that has a cool and hip factor. It’s the combination that creates a reason for artists to come here for the first time and to keep coming back. We have to be mindful of maintaining the cost structure. At the end of the day, it’s great that your food is terrific, but artists want to make money and I have to keep an eye of managing our cost structure so artists and events can come here and make money.

On the Islanders’ business struggles at Barclays Center: The economics just don’t work. It’s a Long Island team trying to create a fan base in Brooklyn, and to date it has been met with very modest success and not at the numbers we have hoped.

On his favorite event in the arena’s five-year history: There have been so many, but it has to be opening night with Jay Z. There will be nothing to compare to that given our journey and so many naysayers. It was the crowning validation of an almost nine-year journey into Brooklyn.

                                                                                                                            — John Lombardo

Members of O’Melveny’s Sports Industry Group — Chuck Baker, Jared Bartie and Irwin Raij — visited SBJ/SBD’s Charlotte headquarters recently and sat with Executive Editor Abe Madkour to discuss the trends they are seeing in sports business and what they look for in a hire.

Launching Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment is sort of a moment in time that has caused us to look back at the last five years.

Look at what Josh Harris and David Blitzer have done, first with the acquisition of the 76ers, the Prudential Center, the Devils, and as things have sped up, Crystal Palace and Dignitas and then the innovation lab in Philadelphia. It’s almost like the best-kept secret that they’ve been kind of accumulating these brands.

HBSE allows us to have a form to go out and talk to multiple partners, it allows us to think culturally and internally as if we’re one, as opposed to “I’ll talk to a colleague at another team.” We’re all one team now.


It may seem counterintuitive, but it’s not like we all get busy at the same time. There are times we can pull people off something and put them on another thing, and with this much alignment across the organization, we can be hyperfocused and prioritize.

Josh and David have been very consistent with their message that the one arbitrage in sports is patience. You’ve seen in Philadelphia, and now we’ve seen it relatively fast in New Jersey with [general manager] Ray [Shero] where he has in two years’ time recast the entire culture on and off the ice.

We think the team will not disappoint this year. Expectations are low, which helps in a sense, but I also think people will be pleasantly surprised.

Our commitment to New Jersey as a community was a philosophical shift from being seen as one of the New York teams, to the only team that represents the 5 million or so people in New Jersey. That’s who we are and that’s what we do in terms of our branding.

You will likely see us spend a lot more time with hockey natives, people who are already conditioned with the sport whether it’s people who played in the past, or kids playing in youth programs. … You’ve got to make sure you are the home team for that family.

There is something new we’re introducing called Gotta Love NJ Hockey. It’s a website where kids will be interviewed, content will be created around their games, and which will cover all age classes.

This is a place we feel like there’s a void in the greater hockey ecosystem in New Jersey. We’re partnering with USA Hockey on it to make sure it’s not just our deal, it’s New Jersey’s deal, and we’re just helping to sponsor it.

Something I noticed right off the bat jumping into NHL culture from the NBA is that the NBA, perhaps due to the leadership of David Stern and now Adam Silver, is that it’s about content, content, content.

You’re going to see us invest heavily in that area. I think it’s something the NHL is also investing heavily in. It’s the future.

The MLBAM relationship has done wonders for us in the last year or so, but we’re still in that phase where we’re gaining traction that maybe the NBA already has.

It’s not that the NHL wasn’t hyperfocused on the game experience, but it’s almost like the game is allowed to stand on its own legs. We really believe that there is an entertainment value that we have to provide.

One of things I always ask myself: What is that team’s relationship with the community?

Both Josh and David have full-time day jobs. But it’s interesting, in their full-time day jobs, they have to be really good at understanding the industry, finding management teams that they know what they’re doing, giving them the resources they need to succeed, and letting them do their thing.

The model of what they do, how they do it, taking best practices, pushing and understanding the best places to be or thinking long term, it’s incredible. One hundred percent it’s pushed me and helped me grow.

We always say if you’re not out there looking around corners, you’re probably looking at the corner behind you afraid of what’s coming. If it were an obvious intuitive answer for what’s next, everyone would do it.

If you look at all the investments Josh and David have made over these five years, a lot of them are around the value of content and the value of media, and where are the eyeballs and how are those eyeballs being engaged, and the business model around that. That’s why esports was so intriguing.

I think the esports business generally is in its infancy in terms of all of the ancillary things that go on around it. Think about an NBA or NHL team. It has all this infrastructure, and in esports, it’s not there yet.

Those organizations that already have teams in leagues and do business that way can quickly get esports to that level. I think we’re just scratching the surface on that.