Welcome to Sportico’s Transactions wire, a weekly rundown of personnel, partnerships and purchases across the sports business industry.
IMG Purchases Tennis and Golf Events in Spain
Endeavor subsidiary IMG has completed its purchase of the Mutua Madrid Open tennis tournament and the Acciona Open de España golf tournament from Super Slam Ltd and its affiliates. One of nine ATP Masters 1000 and four WTA 1000 Mandatory events, the Mutua Madrid Open joins IMG’s roster of leading tennis tournaments, including the Miami Open and several other ATP and WTA events. CEO and tournament director Gerard Tsobanian and his team will continue to oversee the day-to-day running of the Mutua Madrid Open as part of IMG’s global tennis events division. IMG’s golf events division will now support the European Tour’s Acciona Open de España. Founded in 1912, the tournament typically takes place in October at the Club de Campo Villa de Madrid where it is broadcast to more than 120 countries.
Big Ten Conference Appoints Legal Head and Promotes Two Others
The Big Ten Conference announced three executive leadership appointments. Anil Gollahalli was named chief legal officer and general counsel. Laura Anderson was elevated to chief financial officer, and unanimously appointed the Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors treasurer, and Chad Hawley was promoted to senior vice president of policy and compliance. In his role with the conference, Gollahalli will oversee all legal, corporate governance, enterprise risk management, litigation, regulatory, corporate and legal NCAA matters, as well as outside counsel management. Anderson will oversee the financial management of the conference including budgeting and forecasting, financial reporting and compliance, analysis of capital projects, and future strategic planning for the financial health of the conference and its member institutions. Hawley is in his 20th year at the Big Ten Conference. In his role, he assists member institutions on all issues related to conference and NCAA governance in addition to policy matters.
Major League Pickleball Touts New Owners, 2022 Draft and First Event
Major League Pickleball (MLP) has a new ownership slate that includes entrepreneur and media exec Gary Vaynerchuk. The MLP league is also expanding from eight teams to 12 and holding its 2022 draft at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York City on May 28. MLP’s first 2022 competition will be held at Dreamland in Texas, from June 3-5. In all, 48 pros, 24 women and 24 men, will compete to win the second-ever MLP competition, with the finals set to be televised on CBS Sports Network. The preceding rounds will be livestreamed on MLP digital channels.
Romola Ratnam Named to Impact and Inclusion Role at Endeavor
Endeavor, which owns UFC and the Professional Bull Riders, has appointed Romola Ratnam as senior vice president and head of impact and inclusion. Ratnam will oversee corporate social responsibility efforts. Prior to working for Endeavor, which she joined in 2017, Ratnam served as the director of corporate and sports partnership at UNICEF, and as co-executive director of the SEED Project, a sports and education nonprofit based in Senegal. She started her career at the NBA in global business development.
Women’s Sports Foundation Welcomes New Board of Trustees Members
The Women’s Sports Foundation welcomed Scout Bassett, U.S. Paralympian and world record holder in track and field, and Jill Nash, a seasoned public relations and corporate communications executive, to its board of trustees. Bassett, a WSF Athlete Ambassador and past Travel & Training Fund recipient, and Nash join a board known for its range of backgrounds. Members hail from professional sports teams and leagues, collegiate conferences, media entities and sports broadcasting, powerhouse brands and corporate industry, and academia. This group joins WSF in shared determination to advance girls and women in sports to reap the lifelong benefits that come with sport participation.
Verb Signs Video Tech Deal With the Phoenix Suns
Verb has entered into a multiyear partnership with the Phoenix Suns to provide interactive video-based sales enablement applications. The Suns will leverage Verb’s suite of sales products to drive ticket and merchandise sales and engage with Suns’ fans through interactive, shoppable digital content. The partnership with Phoenix is Verb’s first with an NBA team. The company’s software-as-a-service, or SaaS, platform is based on its proprietary interactive video technology, and is comprised of a suite of sales software products offered on a subscription basis. Its software applications are used by hundreds of thousands of people in over 60 countries and in more than 48 languages.
NIL Meets NFT in INFLCR, Campus Legends Partnership
NIL management company INFLCR and NFT marketplace Campus Legends have agreed on a multiyear deal to bring NFT education and monetization opportunities to thousands of INFLCR college athletes. The partnership gives Campus Legends insider access to INFLCR’s Global Exchange, a database of companies looking to connect with athletes. Through INFLCR’s technology, Campus Legends will leverage INFLCR’s partnerships with more than 4,000 collegiate teams, including teams Campus Legends are already working with directly. Campus Legends, co-founded by Tim Tebow, provides a simple way for current and former college athletes to monetize their NIL, creating custom artwork and team- and athlete-centric storefronts for NFTs that allow athletes to build and profit from their brands and fans to invest in and also profit from their favorite athletes’ success.
Evolve IP Named an Official Partner of the New York Rangers
Madison Square Garden Sports Corp. has entered a multiyear marketing partnership with Evolve IP, naming the international service provider of Work Anywhere solutions an official partner of the New York Rangers. Evolve IP will receive prominent exposure inside Madison Square Garden throughout all Rangers games, including virtual blue line signage during TV broadcasts, in-arena LED messaging and GardenVision features. Evolve IP will have the ability to create marketing assets around their workplace technologies with Rangers alumni and MSG Entertainment Executives. Additionally, through the partnership, MSG Sports & MSG Entertainment will utilize Evolve IP’s services for inter-office communication including their unified communications solution, Evolve Anywhere with Microsoft Teams.
St. John’s Links Up With Kevin Durant’s Media Biz
The St. John’s Department of Athletics announced a partnership with Boardroom to provide NIL resources to Red Storm athletes. Boardroom, a sports business media network founded by Kevin Durant and Rich Kleiman, offers sports, entertainment and culture news and insights, including reporting on NIL deals and development. As the newest partner of St. John’s Unlimited program—an all-encompassing educational, networking and leadership platform—Boardroom will serve as an exclusive editorial partner around select NIL announcements, help amplify storytelling and content development, and provide access and experiences with Boardroom executives.
Capital One Makes Deal With MLB and World Series
Capital One is Major League Baseball’s official bank and credit card partner, as well as the presenting sponsor of the World Series. This multiyear sponsorship agreement will bring Capital One cardholders access to one-of-a-kind opportunities and exclusive events and benefits. Additionally, through this sponsorship, Capital One is now an official partner of Minor League Baseball and Little League Baseball and Softball. Capital One rewards cardholders will be able to redeem their rewards for tickets to MLB games for all 30 teams through the recently announced Capital One Entertainment ticketing platform. Capital One is also excited to work in tandem with MLB to extend the Capital One Impact Initiative, a multiyear commitment to tackling the underlying issues that hamper progress for communities of color.
MLB and EL1 Partner to Provide Youth Baseball Instruction
Major League Baseball has partnered with EL1 to increase accessibility and engagement in youth baseball and softball, naming EL1 the youth baseball and softball training partner of MLB. As part of the deal, EL1 will expand access to high-quality instruction for players of all skill levels and socioeconomic backgrounds, which includes establishing/expanding training academies within MLB club markets, offering support for administrative and training regimens complementing existing coaching systems, and creating an ongoing source of funding for grassroots programs like RBI and Play Ball. EL1 currently runs nine training academies, including three Dodgers academies, and this partnership will allow the company to build on that model with other MLB teams, bringing them the resources and model to have a more consistent, branded presence in their respective regions.