Welcome to Sportico’s Transactions wire, a weekly rundown of personnel, partnerships and purchases across the sports business industry.
Legends International Tabs David Garth as VP, Commercial Revenue
Premium experiences company Legends International has hired David Garth as vice president of commercial revenue. Garth has more than 20 years of experience building successful commercial businesses within sport, specializing in stadium, sponsorship and retail revenues along with marketing, CRM and fan strategies. He has held senior roles at Manchester United, Inter Milan and Glasgow Rangers. In his new role, Garth will focus on driving revenue across Legends International’s growing portfolio of clients. He will be based in the U.K. but working across all European opportunities.
Kelah Raymond Joins Buzzer as Head of People & Talent
Kelah Raymond has joined Buzzer, the new mobile platform delivering short-form access to sports clips, as head of people & talent. In her role, Raymond will drive people strategy, talent and performance management, organizational design, leadership and talent development, employee experience and benefits analysis for Buzzer’s fully distributed team. Raymond is also responsible for incorporating programming and structure dedicated to advancing diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging as part of the company’s commitment as well as its larger Strive Initiative. She directly reports to Bo Han, founder and CEO of Buzzer. Prior to joining Buzzer, Raymond drove people and culture strategy for a hyper-growth fintech startup, where she was instrumental in growing the workforce 3x and implementing people programs, practices and policies.
Mobile TV Group Brings on Dale Canino as VP of Tech
For the first time in the company’s 29-year history, Mobile TV Group (MTVG) has hired a vice president of technology. The company, which provides technology services and solutions to create the high-quality live productions in sports and major events, has named Dale Canino to the spot. Canino, who designed and implemented Mobile TV Group’sc Cloud Control solution, now oversees all technology functions at Mobile TV Group and is responsible for the development, direction and expansion of the company’s technology roadmap.
NASCAR Names O’Donnell COO, Kennedy Returns to Competition Team
NASCAR has promoted Steve O’Donnell from chief racing development officer to chief operating officer and assigned Ben Kennedy to the competition team, where he will serve as senior vice president, racing development & strategy. As COO, O’Donnell will continue to provide oversight of all NASCAR competition and racing operations, while adding track operations and strategic development to his purview. With these added duties, all NASCAR-owned track properties, track presidents and respective events fall under O’Donnell’s responsibilities. In returning to NASCAR’s competition team, Kennedy will maintain oversight of the national series schedule development, while assuming immediate oversight of racing operations, track services/transportation/officiating, industry relations and the touring and weekly series. He will work with O’Donnell in managing the areas of at-track competition and racing innovation.
U.S. Soccer Adds Ann Seeney as Chief People & Diversity Officer
U.S. Soccer has named Ann Seeney its chief people & diversity officer. In her role, Seeney will lead all HR programs and functions at U.S. Soccer, including all organizational employment practices as well as spearheading the advancement of its efforts in diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB). Seeney joins U.S. Soccer with over 20 years of experience in the field, most recently serving as VP of human resources for the St. Louis Cardinals, who she originally joined in 2013 as director of human resources before being elevated in 2019. She is largely credited for the cultural transformation at the Cardinals in recent years as well as substantially building out their HR capabilities throughout her tenure.
Mike Nealy Steps Down as Fiesta Bowl Executive Director
After helping the Fiesta Bowl Organization and grow community involvement and establish a grant process that contributed more than $20 million of charitable funds to nonprofit organizations across Arizona, Mike Nealy will step down as executive director of the Fiesta Bowl. As part of the board’s focus on the future, Fiesta Bowl board chair Patrick Barkley announced that the board will engage a national search firm to identify Nealy’s replacement over the coming months. Barkley also announced that the board has asked current member Jim Hatfield to step in as the interim executive director to help ensure a smooth transition of the bowl’s management and day-to-day operations until a new executive director is retained. Hatfield, who has served on the board for seven years, recently retired as executive vice president and chief financial officer for Pinnacle West Capital Corporation (PNW) and its primary subsidiary, Arizona Public Service Company (APS), Arizona’s largest electric company.
Dan Barrett Joins Leadership Team of The Brandr Group
Sports brand management, marketing and licensing firm The Brandr Group has hired industry veteran Dan Barrett as EVP. As part of its leadership group, Barrett will be responsible for all regional sales and business development. Prior to joining TBG, Barrett served as the chief revenue officer of 4Topps Premium Seating, a company specializing in the development of premium seating options for sports and entertainment venues. He also spent eight years in various leadership positions at IMG College, including stints as vice president overseeing business ventures, revenue solutions and business development.
First-ever Cash Purse for U.S. Open Women’s Polo Championship
For the first time, female polo players will vie for a purse at the U.S. Open, thanks to a partnership among Icon Source, a digital marketplace for athletes, Eastern Hay and the U.S. Polo Association. When competitors take to the grounds on March 19 at the International Polo Club Palm Beach in Wellington, Fla., there will $40,000 on the line. The event, the most prestigious prize in the sport, dates back to the 1930s.
Caesars Sportsbook, NYRA Bets to Launch App
Caesars Sportsbook and NYRA Bets, the official online wagering platform of the New York Racing Association, will launch a horse-race wagering app, Caesars Racebook. Available for download this spring, Caesars Racebook will utilize the NYRA Bets platform to provide bettors with pari-mutuel wagering services on premier horse racing content from more than 250 tracks around the world. The app will also offer players all the benefits of NYRA Bets, including race replays, handicapping insights and more.
U.S. Bank Becomes WNBA Changemaker and League’s Official Bank
The Women’s National Basketball Association has signed up U.S. Bank as a WNBA Changemaker in a new multiyear relationship. WNBA Changemakers is a collective of purpose-driven companies that elevate women in sports and support the league’s mission around advancing diversity, equity and inclusion. As a supporter of the league, U.S. Bank will serve as the official bank of the WNBA. U.S. Bank will also become the official bank of future marquee events such as the WNBA Commissioner’s Cup presented by Coinbase, AT&T WNBA All-Star, and the WNBA Draft 2022 presented by State Farm. U.S. Bank will provide players and alumni access to financial resources and will create programs to increase financial education across the country.
GMTM Raises $3.5 Million in Seed Funding
A social network for athletes, coaches, trainers, and industry staff, GMTM has raised $3.5 million in seed funding to further its mission of putting athletes in the spotlight, regardless of income, geography, or background. GMTM (short for “game time”) gives athletes across all sports the opportunity to create a free profile on the site, and receive exposure from the platform’s network of camps, coaches, and brands. Athletes benefit from exclusive access to virtual combines, online tryouts, virtual visits, and opportunities to work with elite trainers. GMTM also promotes top athlete highlights through articles and social media accounts. GMTM has partnered with the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, Volleyball Canada, various professional teams, major universities and colleges and registered NCAA scouting services and counts numerous professional athletes, executives and media members among its investors.
Lacy Maxwell Experiential to Steer Cognizant’s F1 Sponsorship Activations
Lacy Maxwell Experiential has made a deal to actualize and manage the Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula One Team sponsorship agreement. LME plans to increase the stature of the Cognizant brand through multiple activations. Aston Martin returned to Grand Prix racing in 2021 having last competed in the sport more than 60 years ago. With one of the most iconic emblems in the world emblazoned above the garages, the Silverstone-based team is bringing new energy to the sport.
Badminton Federation Names M88 Mansion Official Betting Partner
In a three-year deal, the Badminton World Federation (BWF) has signed up M88 Mansion as an official betting partner. The agreement provides M88 with enhanced brand awareness across the Asian sports betting market through the use of exclusive digital assets and marketing collateral across digital platforms, as well as access to player content. The partnership encompasses six events including the 2022 and ’23 World Championships.
Opendorse To Create School-Specific NIL Marketplaces for University Partners
Opendorse is building a school-specific name, image and likeness (NIL) marketplace for every premium university customer free, which will enhance NIL support for student-athletes. With a streamlined point of access to discover and manage NIL activities, school marketplaces promise to mobilize fan bases and local organizations to offer compliant opportunities to student-athletes. Fans, brands, sponsors and donors will now have a single place to find their favorite athletes, offer deals and complete payments. The Opendorse platform allows athletes to manage all communication within their Opendorse app, rather than wading through unsecure messaging in email, texts and social media DMs. Any college or university can receive its own a licensed school-specific marketplace by becoming an Opendorse premium partner.
(This article has been updated to correct the first name of Dale Canino.)