Welcome to Sportico’s Transactions wire, a weekly rundown of personnel, partnerships and purchases across the sports business industry.
NFL Names General Manager of Germany in Continued International Push
Alexander Steinforth, currently managing director of Deutsche Sport Marketing, is joining the National Football League as general manager of Germany, a role that will see him drive and execute the league’s business in the second-most-populous country in Europe, including fan growth, commercial success, live regular-season games and development of community programs. His appointment builds on the NFL’s momentum in Germany, where the league has 19 million fans and has seen weekly television ratings on ProSieben and DAZN grow by more than 20% annually since 2017. Steinforth, who has also worked for Bundesliga club Fortuna Düsseldorf and the EPL’s Manchester United, will report to Brett Gosper, the NFL’s head of Europe and UK.
Chris McGowan Named President and CEO of Ilitch Sports + Entertainment
Christopher Ilitch, president and CEO of Ilitch Holdings Inc., announced sports and entertainment executive Chris McGowan has been named president and CEO of Ilitch Sports + Entertainment, the business division of the Detroit Red Wings, Detroit Tigers, The District Detroit, Olympia Parking and the Ilitch joint-venture interest in 313 Presents. In this newly appointed role, McGowan will work to enhance the fan, guest and partner experience across Ilitch-managed properties and venues. McGowan will report directly to Christopher Ilitch. He replaces Chris Granger, who served as Ilitch Holdings’ group president for Sports and Entertainment since 2017.
Suzanne Cohen Joins Ironman Group as Chief Marketing Officer
The Ironman Group announced the addition of Suzanne Cohen as the company’s new chief marketing officer. Cohen joins the Ironman executive team after leadership roles with JPMorgan Chase & Co., Marriott International and Starwood Hotels & Resorts. “Suzanne and her background fit perfectly with where we want to go and how we look to continue to find ways to improve the products and services about which our community is passionate,” said Andrew Messick, president and CEO for The Ironman Group. Cohen’s role will be focused on building capabilities around critical marketing systems and processes across all brands, including athlete development, event marketing, data analytics and pricing, digital and social media, and communications.
Eleanor DeVane Promoted to ESPN Chief Counsel
Eleanor “Nell” DeVane, an attorney with more than 20 years of experience in ESPN’s legal department over two stints, will assume the role of chief counsel, beginning in January. A deputy chief counsel since 2012, she will succeed Diane Morse, who is retiring after 25 years in the department and serving as its lead since 2015. DeVane, whose experience includes intellectual property law, rights acquisitions, multi-platform distribution, news gathering, advertising, marketing, digital and social media, regulatory and corporate governance, will be responsible for all legal functions and government relations, providing legal expertise and guidance across the organization.
Maria Sharapova Invests in Public.com, Serves as Adviser to One Team
Stock brokerage Public.com announced that tennis champion and entrepreneur Maria Sharapova is an investor in the company and will serve as an adviser to the company’s recently launched program for NCAA athletes, One Team, which brings financial literacy tools and training to college athletes following the NIL policy changes announced earlier this summer. Since 2017, Public.com’s parent company, Public Holdings Inc., has raised about $88 million in equity financing. JJ Watt and Tony Hawk are among other publicly disclosed investors in the firm.
All Blacks Captain Ardie Savea Joins Roc Nation Sports
Roc Nation Sports has announced the signing of All Blacks rugby star flanker Ardie Savea. The 28-year-old has played 59 Tests for New Zealand and became only the 70th player to lead the team when he was handed the captaincy in August this year during The Rugby Championship. Savea’s signing represents Roc Nation’s first entry into the New Zealand market and bolsters the growing rugby network to feature the three rugby powerhouse regions of Europe, South Africa and Australasia. He joins a growing staple of rugby stars already on the Roc Nation Sports roster.
Bucs Executive Atul Khosla Joins Norman-Led LIV Golf as COO
Atul Khosla is leaving the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he served as chief corporate development and brand officer, to become chief operating officer of LIV Golf Investments, the new Saudi Arabia-backed entity focused on making strategic investments in the sport. Khosla, who oversaw the Bucs’ corporate partnerships, marketing and event production, as well as digital and media rights, “[represents] another example of our dedication to bringing best-in-class talent to help us deliver our mission of growing the game of golf,” said LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman.
Spyre Sports Group Partners With Opendorse on Tennessee Athlete NIL
Spyre Sports Group has launched an initiative to support University of Tennessee athletes by securing donor commitments and delivering name, image and likeness (NIL) deals. The company has partnered with NIL marketplace Opendorse to provide a streamlined experience for athletes to manage opportunities from start to finish. Led by athlete marketing veterans and Tennessee graduates James Clawson, Hunter Baddour and Sheridan Gannon, Spyre has completed NIL deals for athletes in football, men’s and women’s basketball, baseball, softball, golf, soccer and volleyball. The initiative has secured commitments from donors throughout Tennessee and nationwide.
Prudential Financial Expands NHL Devils Brand Placement to Black-Owned Business
The New Jersey Devils and Prudential Financial have announced the expansion of their industry-first donation of NHL club helmet brand exposure from 13 to 30 games. The additional games more than double Prudential’s initial support for Razu, the black-owned New Jersey business selected as the recipient of the 2021-22 Devils Buy Black Program presented by Prudential Financial. The Razu logo will appear on the team’s helmets for 30 road games this season.
Ripken Baseball Signs Stewbowie Sports & Entertainment as Sponsorship Sales Agency
Ripken Baseball has signed Stewbowie Sports & Entertainment, a New York-based sponsorships sales representation firm, to exclusively represent its premier youth sports brand across all sponsorship sales. Stewbowie will provide strategic partnerships and advertising sales across all Ripken Baseball-owned properties and assets. Ripken Baseball operates sports complexes in Aberdeen, Md., Myrtle Beach, S.C., and Pigeon Forge, Tenn., as well as nationwide programming through its Ripken Select Tournaments.
PGA Tour, ESPN+ Announce Details of Expanded Golf Coverage
ESPN+ and the PGA Tour announced details for the inaugural season of PGA Tour Live on ESPN+, with extended and expanded coverage that more than triples the total coverage—adding more than 3,200 new hours of live streaming available for a total of more than 4,300 exclusive hours. The expanded coverage begins in January.
Evian Adds U.S. Open Winner Emma Raducanu to Global Ambassador Roster
British tennis star Emma Raducanu, who won the U.S. Open as an 18-year-old qualifier in September, was named a global ambassador to Evian, the official water of the U.S. Open and Wimbledon which also counts tennis stars Maria Sharapova and Stan Wawrinka among its endorsers.
Athletes Unlimited, Aspiration Enter Multi-Year Partnership
Athletes Unlimited and Aspiration have entered a multi-year partnership, the largest in Athletes Unlimited’s history, which involves the organization’s first-ever jersey sponsorship, in basketball and volleyball, and sets the stage for AU to run the first U.S.-based carbon neutral pro sports leagues. Aspiration will receive physical and digital signage and activations that promote sustainability across all four AU leagues, and will be the presenting partner of five national broadcasts for each league per season. The partnership will involve Aspiration programming, including “Trees for Threes” in basketball, with 50 trees planted for every successful three-pointer, and a continuation of 2020’s “Round the Bases” in softball, whereby 100 trees are planted for every run scored.
FanDuel, Pat McAfee Announce Multi-Year Content Partnership
The sports betting operator extended and expanded its exclusive partnership with former NFL punter-turned-sports talk show personality Pat McAfee. Per the multi-year agreement, FanDuel will remain the official sportsbook of the Pat McAfee Show, while helping the show develop new segments and sponsoring annual special edition shows that support tentpole events.