Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 25 No. 236
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.

SBJ All-Access: Industry Shines At Sports Business Awards

The hardware and accolades were spread around at the 12th annual Sports Business Awards last night, as the industry came together for a big night. The evening was rocking early as the biggest names in the business gathered. Amy Campbell was an amazing host for the red carpet, interviewing many of sports business' top players -- which also went out on our live feed! When the night turned to trophies, guests saw new industry faces, stalwarts and pioneers take to the stage. Soccer took home a few wins -- including MLS' Don Garber for top executive and Atlanta United for best team. The MLS club also saw its home venue -- Mercedes-Benz Stadium -- win the award for top facility. The NBA also kept up its run of success at the event, taking home league of the year for the fourth time. It was also a night for new tech -- with ESPN+ and the Clippers/Second Spectrum's CourtVision winning awards. While MGM Resorts Int'l took home the award in the breakthrough category, it was a breakthrough night for Wasserman, which won its first SBA in corporate consulting. All in all, it was a great night for the industry. Even those without a trophy seemed happy at the end of the night. Octagon's David Schwab called the event "first class."

WINNERS AT 2019 SPORTS BUSINESS AWARDS
AWARD
WINNER
Digital Media
ESPN+
Event Marketing
CSM LeadDog
Mobile Fan Experience
Twitter
Technology
Second Spectrum/Clippers
Event
U.S. Open tennis
Talent Representation
Endeavor
Athletic Director
Mitch Barnhart (Kentucky)
Social Media
Gritty (Flyers)
Breakthrough
MGM Resorts Int'l
Property Consulting
CAA Sports
Sponsor
A-B InBev
Facility
Mercedes-Benz Stadium
Team
Atlanta United
Corporate Consulting
Wasserman
Media
Fox
League
NBA
Executive
Don Garber (MLS)
Download the
2019 SBA Winners


STRONG WORDS

  • In accepting the award for executive of the year, Garber took time to praise his former boss while at the NFL, Paul Tagliabue. “He was my model,” said Garber, who spent 16 years at the NFL before taking over MLS in 1999. “Over the past 20 years, many times I have asked myself, ‘What would Paul do?’” Even Tagliabue would have to be impressed by what Garber has done. MLS highlights over the past year included the successful launch of LAFC, expansion plans for Austin, helping save soccer in Columbus and record crowds in Atlanta. Garber: "'When will soccer in America make it?' We hear that all the the time. When I see what’s going on tonight, ... that question has been answered; soccer has made it in our country.” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver delivered another strong message as well when accepting for top league. During his acceptance speech a year ago, he urged those in attendance, “Don’t stick to sports,” and he sounded a similar call to action from the podium this year. “Through sports we have the ability to bring people together, increasingly people on a global basis together to frankly do what governments in many cases are no longer willing or able to do,” he said. Zach Leonsis of the Wizards and Monumental Sports Network was in the crowd and also gave a Twitter shoutout to the NBA for its win.


GREEN GIANT

  • Is there such a thing as being too kind? During his speech accepting the Lifetime Achievement Award, longtime PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem went to great lengths to heap praise on his predecessor, Deane Beman, as well his successor, Jay Monahan. While many may have wanted Finchem to have more time in the spotlight on stage, it's just not his style. As was noted this week in SBJ, it took a while to convince Finchem to even accept the honor. When SBJ's Abe Madkour and John Lombardo visited with him at PGA Tour HQ, Finchem spent much of the speech focused on others like Beman, Monahan, Tiger Woods, Hale Irwin and Davis Love III. When Finchem did focus on his tenure, he talked about the importance of the First Tee program, and called on all leagues to go to where the youth are in an effort to grow their game -- which drew wide applause.

    Tim Finchem was as deferential as ever when accepting the Lifetime Achievement Award

 

LOUD & PROUD

  • Perhaps the loudest table celebration of the night went to the USTA, which picked up the win for event of the year (U.S. Open). The group went nuts when the award was announced. Once on stage, Gordon Smith, who is set to retire this year, called the win "shocking" and admitted he did not have an acceptance speech prepared for the category. More than a dozen people from the USTA crowded into a small room to celebrate just moments after the win. It was one of the biggest groups of the night, with a photographer struggling to fit them all in a picture. The USTA's Kirsten Corio also tweeted, "Yes!!!!!!! The @usopen IS the BEST!!" But the USTA wasn't alone in having a big contingent on stage, as the NBA and ESPN also had a healthy presence for their respective wins.

    It was no small effort getting the team from the USTA into the celebratory picture


POWER FORWARD

  • Our recipient of the Celebration of Service Award gave a poignant talk on empowering young women through sports. PowerPlay NYC advances the lives of inner-city girls through a year-round program and fills a need, especially for girls of color living in poverty. Founder Ellen Markowitz called receiving the honor "surreal." She added of the 20-year-old organization: "What we’re trying to do is develop leaders and it’s hard work. So, to receive this kind of recognition really means a lot." Markowitz also implored the crowd, many of them local like her organization, to donate to the cause. “You can text GirlPower, one word, to 243725. And, mental math, there are about a thousand of you, $25 each ... we can do this!”

CAT'S MEOW

  • Mitch Barnhart received the honor for AD of the Year, and the longtime Kentucky administrator has put in his dues. He's now the second-longest-tenured AD in the Power Five, behind only Oklahoma's Joe Castiglione and tied with UCLA's Dan Guerrero (just under 17 years for both men). Praise for Barnhart poured in on social media when the news broke. Florida AD Scott Stricklin tweeted, "Mitch is a dear friend and mentor. I wouldn’t have had the opportunities I’ve had in college athletics if not for @UKMitchBarnhart. Thanks for being the man and servant you are, Mitch. This is such a well-deserved honor." UK Deputy AD DeWayne Peevy said of his boss and mentor, "Well-deserved honor." UK President Eli Capilouto tweeted of Barnhart's tenure as AD, "We have reached unprecedented levels of academic and competitive accomplishment. This award recognizes his deep and compelling commitment to students and to the academic mission of the institution." The Athletic's Kyle Tucker tweeted, "Barnhart has become one of the most respected ADs in America. Big honor here." Barnhart even took to Twitter during the event to thank people: "Truly a testament to the incredible work our student-athletes, coaches and staff have done to build a program to make the #BBN and the Commonwealth proud."


EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED

  • We knew that having Gritty at the event last night was a wild card, and the Flyers' mascot didn't disappoint. The winner for Best in Social Media walked the red carpet and posed with attendees -- wearing a suit of course. During the ceremony, the mascot sprayed confetti when its nomination was announced. Prodigy Sports' Mark Gress Jr. also proved to be prescient, asking on Twitter before the night started whether a host, presenter or award recipient would reference "Game of Thrones" at the event. Gritty easily checked that box when accepting the award.

    Gritty got a "Game of Thrones" reference in when accepting the award for Social Media

AN INDUSTRY GATHERS

  • Anyone and everyone was gathered at the Marriott Marquis last night. Many attendees showed up early to pregame the event and mingle with colleagues and acquaintances from the business. Among those on the 8th floor early were Atlanta United's Darren Eales, Turnkey's Len Perna and Genesco's Bill Hudock. Scout Sports & Entertainment's Michael Neuman and GEICO's Melissa Halicy were also gathered early. Once the doors opened, attendees posed for photos and interviews on the red carpet, including the likes of Oliver Luck (XFL), Russell Silvers (AEG), Tim Pernetti (Endeavor), Peter Laatz (Engine Shop), Ray Anderson (Arizona State), Molly Mazzolini (Infinite Scale), Jimmy Pitaro (ESPN), Gary Stevenson (MLS), Greg Walter (Charlotte Motor Speedway), David Mingey (LA2028), Alan Gold (Evolution Media Capital), Hannah Storm, (ESPN), Rob DeAngelis (CAA Sports), Peter Feigin (Bucks), Ben Sutton (Teall Capital) and David Berson (CBS) -- who was honored earlier in the day by the UJA Federation of New York.

    The team from AEG walks the red carpet to start the night at the Sports Business Awards


NEWS & NOTES

  • CBS' Tracy Wolfson did a fantastic job as emcee steering the awards, which went for around two hours. She joked early about breaking the glass ceiling for women hosting the SBAs, which drew a big applause. She then quickly followed up with the punchline about being only the second host we've had (Mike Tirico emceed last year).

  • Not surprising, but some of the biggest responses on Twitter for a winner last night was for, well, Twitter, which won in mobile fan experience. Twitter Sports' TJ Adeshola, who accepted the award on stage and compared his platform to the world's largest sports bar, wrote on Twitter, "WE WON!!! To say I’m humbled would be an understatement. I have the luxury of working with the best team in all of sports: @TwitterSports. Not to mention, the absolute pleasure of working with THE best partners in all of sports. Thank YOU all." Former NBA player and current G League Capital City Go-Go GM Pops Mensah-Bonsu tweeted about Adeshola, "Congrats to my brother @TJay on his award ... Keep doing your thing bro." Twitter's Laura Froelich also wrote, "I’m so grateful for this award. Thank you SBJ, our incredible @TwitterSports team of whom I’m beyond proud, and our partners, without whom there’s no way we win this."

  • Minor League Baseball was in on the action last night, as the organization was up for breakthrough. Upon seeing their GM, Allan Benavides, walk the red carpet, the Single-A Eugene Emeralds tweeted, "Looking sharp, @AllanEmsGM."