Welcome to Sportico’s Transactions wire, a weekly rundown of personnel, partnerships and purchases across the sports business industry.
Broncos New Owners Name President
The Denver Broncos have named Damani Leech as team president. Leech joins the Broncos after serving as COO of NFL International for the last three seasons. He will lead the business operations of the Broncos and Stadium Management Company, which operates Empower Field at Mile High. Leech spent the previous eight years in leadership positions at the league office with a role in growing the game internationally as well as through business development and strategy initiatives. He joined the NFL after more than 17 years at the NCAA national office in Indianapolis. At Princeton, Leech was a three-time first-team All-Ivy League selection as a defensive back.
XFL Brings On Director of Player Performance
The XFL today has hired Sean Hayes has as director of player performance. Hayes, an All-Ivy League linebacker at Harvard, will oversee player strength and conditioning programs and athletic development, utilizing the XFL’s hub in Arlington, Texas as a centralized training facility. In this role, Hayes will be responsible for all aspects of the league’s Player Performance and Development Program, including working with head coaches and staff to build training programs that will support and optimize player advancement. Hayes will oversee the full-time, on-site support from coaches and athletic training staff available to players, centralized training facilities, and local practice facilities. Hayes was most recently the director of strength and conditioning for WWE, where he built the first-ever comprehensive training program for WWE & NXT athletes. He also spent four years with the Houston Texans.
Legends Appoints Marketing Executives
Legends has brought on two new hires to oversee marketing, creative, content, communications and events for the growing global data-intelligence fueled premium experiences company. Melvin Lenzy has joined as chief brand & innovation officer and Matt O’Neil as chief content & experience officer. Lenzy and O’Neil will focus on different business verticals with the collective goal of helping drive business growth and revenue across all areas and work closely with clients to provide marketing to heighten the customer experience and develop revenue generating strategies. Lenzy has driven business and marketing initiatives for EA Sports, Konami, NBA2K, The NFL and Nike, where he spent 15 years of his career. Prior to joining Legends, Lenzy was the global head of marketing for the NBA2K Franchise at 2K Sports. O’Neil has overseen all facets of marketing, media and content creation, along with game entertainment for the Dallas Cowboys and New York Red Bulls. For the past five years, he ran his own content and marketing agency, Ichi Go, where he worked with the New York Jets, Boston Celtics, New Jersey Devils, Ohio State and Genesis Motor America, among others.
Footballco Hires Former Disney Producer to Lead Video Content Team
Footballco has brought on Xavi Sanchez as executive head of video to lead the editorial video output across Footballco’s portfolio of football media brands, which between them generate more than 1 billion video views a month. Sanchez’s role will include the development, production and distribution of Footballco-owned entertainment video formats, led by Footballco’s newly announced player-led video strategy. Prior to Footballco, Sanchez was an account director for sports marketing agency Engage Digital Partners, leading on strategy, creative and production efforts for clients such as Real Madrid, Formula One and the NBA. Sanchez also spent more than two years with the Walt Disney Company as a creative producer where he developed digital IP for the company’s top franchises and talent, including Star Wars and Marvel.
Team Whistle Names CFO
Lisa Bashi is the new Chief Financial Officer and Team Whistle, a sports and entertainment media company. In her new role, she will manage all of the organization’s financial actions and performance. Bashi was most recently the head of finance for Overtime. Prior to that, she served Roc Nation for three years as SVP of finance. She has also worked as VP of operations at Artist Group International, and as Controller for Paradigm Talent Agency.
National Football League and Electronic Arts Renew Exclusive Esports Deal
The NFL and EA Sports unveiled a multi-year partnership renewal for the EA Sports Madden NFL Championship Series. The agreement will help align MCS with NFL events and key moments to maximize reach and fan engagement; the recently announced MCS 23 calendar will closely align with the NFL season, culminating with the Ultimate Madden NFL 23 Bowl during the week of Super Bowl LVII. Almost $2 million in total prize money will be up for grabs throughout the season. Additionally, Campbell’s Chunky Soup will return as an MCS partner and receive virtual naming rights to the Campbell’s Chunky Stadium.
Xfinity To Donate Simulators to HBCUs in College Esports Partnership
Xfinity will donate four iRacing simulators to selected HBCU schools—Bowie State University, Delaware State University, Texas Southern University and Spelman College—as one part of its upcoming HBCU college campus tour. The donation is in partnership with NASCAR and the eNASCAR College iRacing Series, which brings competitive sim racing to more than 500 colleges and universities nationwide. Xfinity is a presenting sponsor of the series, which kicks off on September 20. With Xfinity’s support, the eNASCAR Scholarship Fund will also award top finishers a combined $60,000 in scholarships. The HBCU tour will stop at various HBCU communities, delivering interactive experiences, including giveaways, photo opportunities and information about products and services.
Big East Signs Multi-Year Agreement With Flosports
The Big East Conference has signed a three-year extension to its agreement with sports streaming service FloSports, the home of the Big East Digital Network. FloSports streamed more than 600 conference events during the 2021-22 season, including Olympic sports and women’s basketball game coverage, while also showcasing original content such as Shootaround and Fast Break. The multi-year agreement also provides access to discounted subscriptions for Big East member institution students and faculty.
BOA Nutrition Partners with Two-Time U.S. Olympic Marathoner
BOA Nutrition has signed 2018 Boston Marathon champion and 50K world record holder Des Linden as a brand ambassador for Endure, a sodium replenishment oral aerosol. Linden is one of the most accomplished American distance runners of all time, with multiple top-five performances at four of the six world marathon majors. After representing Team USA at the 2012 London Olympics and the 2016 Rio Olympics, she became the first American woman in 33 years to win the Boston Marathon in 2018. In 2021, Linden set the 50K (31.06 miles) world record at 2:59:54, making history as the first woman to run the distance in under three hours. In addition to Linden, U.S. Ironman champion Sam Long, obstacle course champions Hunter McIntyre and Katie Knight, Minnesota Timberwolves’ forward Wendell Moore Jr., Detroit Lions’ defensive end Austin Bryant, and L.A. Football Club forward Christian Torres are among the growing list of elite professional athletes using and endorsing BOA Nutrition products.