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Volume 22 No. 7

People and Pop Culture



Fanatics signed a merchandising deal with Overwatch League, a smart play to get in early with a fast-growing organization full of exactly the kind of dedicated young consumers every business covets.


Photo: Getty Images


Bad Look

For the second straight week, the NFL had to deal with a domestic violence controversy after video surfaced of Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt assaulting a woman in February. The Chiefs immediately released Hunt, but the NFL drew criticism for not doing more to learn the full extent of what had happened.


Photo: Getty Images


First Bite

Apple ordered a drama series called “Swagger” on the early life of NBA superstar Kevin Durant and the culture of AAU basketball in the Washington, D.C., area. It represents one of the tech giant’s first forays into original content.

From The Dealmakers in Sports Conference

Senior executives in sports and finance gathered at the JW Marriott Essex House New York on Nov. 28 to discuss the sports economy and the opportunities and challenges of investing in sports at The Dealmakers in Sports conference.

Larry Lucchino, president and CEO emeritus of the Boston Red Sox, tosses team swag to audience members who asked the best questions during his one-on-one interview.
Photo: Marc Bryan-Brown and Roxxe Ireland
Zach Leonsis of Monumental Sports and Entertainment discusses how the Washington Capitals’ Stanley Cup celebration could have an impact on the next generation of fans.
Photo: Marc Bryan-Brown and Roxxe Ireland
Kevin Gilmore of 4Sport Consulting and lacrosse player and Professional Lacrosse League co-founder Paul Rabil.
Photo: Marc Bryan-Brown and Roxxe Ireland
Ari Ackerman of the Miami Marlins and Minnesota Vikings owner and President Mark Wilf and owner and Chairman Zygi Wilf.
Photo: Marc Bryan-Brown and Roxxe Ireland
Wes Edens, founder and co-CEO of Fortress Investment Group and co-owner of the Milwaukee Bucks, discusses his recent investment in English soccer club Aston Villa.
Photo: Marc Bryan-Brown and Roxxe Ireland


Bringing Mexico to North Texas

The Dallas Cowboys, Federación Mexicana de Fútbol, FC Dallas and Dallas Sports Commission announced a landmark multiyear partnership to bring the Mexican national team to AT&T Stadium annually for the next four years. The first match will be June 9, 2019. From left: Soccer United Marketing SVP Camilo Durana, Cowboys EVP and CMO Jerry Jones Jr., FMF General Secretary Gilberto Hernández, FC Dallas COO Jimmy Smith and Dallas Sports Commission Executive Director Monica Paul.
Photo: Major League Soccer


Table of Friends

Delaware North Sportservice Regional Executive Chef Kevin Doherty and Charlie Jacobs, CEO of Delaware North’s Boston Holdings, serve up a custom-made 500-pound pumpkin pie at Garden Neighborhood Charities’ annual community event, Nov. 20, at TD Garden in Boston. The dinner for nearly 1,000 guests included more than 700 pounds of turkey, 500 pounds of stuffing, 350 pounds of vegetables and 10 gallons of cranberry sauce, making it Boston’s largest Thanksgiving dinner.
Photo: Brian Babineau/TD Garden


A 'Match' to Remember

Executives from Excel Sports Management and Lagardère Sports — the co-organizers of Capital One’s The Match: Tiger vs. Phil — pose with Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, who are also represented by Excel and Lagardère Sports respectively, during the event’s media day on Nov. 20 at Shadow Creek Golf Course in Las Vegas. From left: Excel’s Rachel Walsh, Kevin Hopkins, Tracy Ogrean and Mark Steinberg; Woods; Mickelson; Lagardère’s Peter Davis, Emily Sisson, Carmine Tiso and Steve Loy.
Photo: Matt Winkelmeyer / Getty Images


Please submit photos for review of industry conferences, parties, product launches and openings showcasing the people and personalities at the event. Include the event date, location, names/titles of those featured along with credit information. The photo specifications are as follows: 300dpi, tiff, jpeg or eps color images. Submit digital photos for review at: or send color prints to: Faces & Places, c/o Street & Smith’s SportsBusiness Journal, 120 W. Morehead St., Suite 310, Charlotte, NC 28202.


The New York Mets hired ALLARD BAIRD as vice president and assistant general manager of scouting and player development and adam guttridge as assistant general manager of systematic development.


The St. Louis Cardinals promoted RANDY FLORES to assistant general manager and director of scouting, ERNIE MOORE to director of team travel and MARK WALSH to head clubhouse manager.


Florida State League President KEN CARSON will retire following the 2019 season.



National Basketball Association Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer PAM EL will retire at the end of 2018.



Cleveland State University Athletic Director MICHAEL THOMAS will step down from his position, effective Dec. 31.


Florida Atlantic University hired MARY GIARDINA as senior associate athletic director for compliance. Giardina was executive director of compliance at Duke University.


Florida Gulf Coast University hired CEDRIQUE FLEMMING as assistant athletic director for communications. Flemming was assistant sports information director at Texas State University.


Syracuse University transitioned JEREMIAH MAHER to associate athletic director for premium seating and major gifts and MARK POTTER to interim director of ticket operations.


Valparaiso University promoted ERIK WEILER to associate athletic director for internal operations, and hired SARAH PRUESS as associate athletic director for compliance and senior woman administrator. Pruess was associate athletic director for compliance at St. Bonaventure University.



The Mascot Hall of Fame named ORESTES HERNANDEZ executive director and AL SPAJER director of community engagement.


Speedway Motorsports promoted BRANDON HUTCHISON to executive vice president and general manager of Atlanta Motor Speedway.



The San Francisco 49ers hired GENEVA AZEVEDO as partnership activation manager and ROBERT LOEB as partnerships coordinator.



The Aspire Group promoted CHRISTIAN WAYNE to manager of CRM and analytics and JONATHAN WEBSTER to senior sales consultant; DON BROWN to manager of sales and service at Colorado State University; PETER LOUGHEAD to senior new ticket sales and development consultant at the University of Kansas; ERIKA GAERTNER to senior sales consultant at the University of Toledo; and MEGHAN KING to senior service and retention consultant at Army West Point. The company hired ZACH JACOBS as a sales consultant and MICHAEL CUNADA as a business analyst; MAX BRANSTEIN as a sales consultant at Cleveland State University; and JONATHAN HENDERSON as a sales consultant at Louisiana Tech.



DAZN hired GREG DOMINO as public relations director. Domino was senior publicist for sports media relations for HBO.


NBC Sports Regional Networks named MATT MURPHY senior vice president and general manager for NBC Sports Bay Area and California, effective Jan. 2.


Multiteam Companies

Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment promoted LEO CARDENAS to director of ticket sales for the New Jersey Devils.



The Los Angeles Football Club hired TERRY TSOURATAKIS as director of corporate partnerships. Tsouratakis was senior director of corporate partnerships for Premier Partnerships.


The Major League Soccer expansion club Nashville MLS hired WILL ALEXANDER as chief revenue officer


USL Nashville SC Chief Executive Officer COURT JESKE stepped down


Sporting Goods and Apparel

Asics America hired SEAN MANNION as vice president of sales. Mannion was general manager and senior director of sales for Under Armour. 


Columbia Sportswear hired JOHN SOH as vice president and general manager for China, effective February 2019. Soh was a senior commercial director in the Asia Pacific region for Lego. 



Elevate On Campus hired KIM PARSONS as chief operating officer and JOE RICKERT as vice president and general manager at the University of Kentucky.


Awards and Boards

USA Gymnastics named KATHRYN CARSON chair of the board of directors.


U.S. Ski & Snowboard named KIPP NELSON chair of the board of directors and ERIC RESNICK vice chair.



Whistle Sports added the title of president to Chief Operating Officer MICHAEL COHEN.

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.
Team USA’s Becca Hamilton competes during NBC Sports’ “Curling Night in America.”
Photo: USA Curling

As recently as 2013, neither the Denver Curling Club nor the Evergreen Curling Club in Beaverton, Ore., even had their own facilities.


But today, both clubs’ new private ice sheets are bursting at the seams, with wait lists for individuals and corporate groups that want to try their hand. Clubs across the country have seen similar surges, USA Curling reports.


Niche Olympic sports often enjoy a moment in the spotlight after the U.S. wins a gold medal, as the men’s curling team did in Pyeongchang last year. But curling appears to have some staying power, and one reason is NBC Sports’ “Curling Night in America,” a property that will wrap up its fifth season on Friday night.

If you had to pick one Olympic sport to try out with your buddies, curling would understandably be at the top of most people’s lists.
Jim Bell
President of NBC productions and programming,

“I think those events have a big impact, or certainly a future impact, on the game,” said Scott Stevinson, a member of the Denver Curling Club, where there’s a 1,000-person wait list for their “Learn to Curl” program and 200 corporate groups wanting ice time. “It’s really interesting to see the increased interest when people see it on TV. It used to just be in the Olympics.”


“Curling Night” is hardly a ratings heavy hitter, but it’s one of two entirely new properties created in recent years, including the World Curling Federation’s World Cup circuit launched this year, that gives the sport a consistent regular-season cultural presence.


Viewership for the first-run “Curling Night” shows are up 36 percent this year from 2017 through four weeks, NBC reports, with viewers peaking at 150,000 during a Nov. 30 airing.


Photo: USA Curling

Jim Bell, president of NBC Olympics production and programming, said the network can serve both the small core fan base while maybe picking up new casual viewers. “If you had to pick one Olympic sport to try out with your buddies, curling would understandably be at the top of most people’s lists,” Bell said. “It’s fun, it’s intense and it’s approachable.”


The Denver Curling Club plans watch parties around “Curling Night,” Stevinson said. The Evergreen Curling Club has had less success with “Curling Night” as a draw by itself, said past president Bruce Irvin. But the TV exposure has knock-on effects on membership growth and education.


“Everybody’s seen it,” Irvin said. “And it’s on enough in the background that they think it’s a legitimate thing. It’s like Coke, or volleyball. Even if you’re not a huge fan, if you’re flipping through the channels, you see it once in a while. It’s not that surprising. There’s a lot of value in that.”