Welcome to Sportico’s Transactions wire, a weekly rundown of personnel, partnerships and purchases across the sports business industry
Reebok Hires New CEO From Within, Promotes Two Others
Sparc Group has appointed Todd Krinsky as the new CEO of Reebok. In his new role, Krinsky will lead the team in implementing Reebok’s growth strategy. A 30-year veteran at Reebok, Krinsky has been a member of the brand’s senior leadership team for more than a decade. Most recently, he served as the senior vice president, Reebok Design Group (RDG), where he led all aspects of product management, design and go-to-market, creating the global range of footwear and apparel for Reebok’s operating partners around the world. During his long tenure at Reebok, Krinsky has held numerous positions across product development, merchandising and management, sports and entertainment marketing, and business unit and category leadership. Sparc Group also promoted two senior executives, Erika Swan rises to senior vice president of Global Operations and Sourcing at RDG, and John Moore becomes senior vice president, U.S. Commercial Market.
WWE Names Talent Head and Chief Legal Officer
Dan Ventrelle is WWE’s new EVP, Talent, and Maurice F. Edelson will join as EVP, Chief Legal Officer. Ventrelle was most recently president of the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders. He oversaw all business operations for the team while also serving as lead negotiator for player and coach contracts and as the primary liaison with the NFL. Edelson brings nearly 25 years of legal and business experience within the media, arts and entertainment industries. He joins the company from The Juilliard School, where he served as General Counsel since 2015. Previously, Edelson was EVP & General Counsel of Time Inc., where he also directed Corporate Strategy and M&A during his 16-year tenure.
Rangers Legend Joins MSG in Newly Created Biz Ops Role
Madison Square Garden Sports Corp. and Madison Square Garden Entertainment Corp. have hired New York Rangers legend Henrik Lundqvist for a role that helps support business operations for each company. In this position, Lundqvist will represent MSG Sports and MSG Entertainment in a variety of partner and sponsorship endeavors, assisting with content development for digital platforms across both companies, growing and strengthening the connection with Rangers alumni, and supporting the Garden of Dreams Foundation. In addition, Lundqvist will once again be a lead studio analyst on MSG Network throughout the Rangers season.
Pickleball Pros Pick SVP of Pro Player Relations and Competition
The Association of Pickleball Professionals has named former Major League Pickleball (MLP) Commissioner Jenny Klitch as senior vice president, pro player relations and competition. Klitch will help foster a collaborative environment among the APP and the professionals to ensure the continued growth of the tour, players and the sport of pickleball. A former WTA professional who recently served as captain for Team USA at the 2022 World Tennis Championships, Klitch was MLP’s first commissioner when the professional team-based pickleball league launched in 2021.
PointsBet Tabs Ryan Leaf for Studio Assignment
PointsBet has named former NFL quarterback Ryan Leaf as the newest addition to its talent roster. Leaf will host The Straight Line with Ryan Leaf, which will air four times a week with NFL editions on Monday, Thursday and Friday and a college football edition on Wednesday. It will kick off on Sept. 8 and feature the biggest NFL and college football storylines with wagering analysis targeting spreads, totals, player props, futures and more. In addition to naming Leaf as its latest brand ambassador, the sportsbook is set to launch a state-of-the-art multimedia studio, PointsBet Studio, in early October, which will serve as the central hub for premium content production. The PointsBet Studio will be the home to multiple shows per week with the capabilities to live-stream, record video podcasts, create social-first content and much more.
XFL Partners With Youth Flag Football League
The XFL has formed a partnership with Under the Lights Flag Football, an international youth flag football league for boys and girls from kindergarten through 12th grade. As part of the deal, the XFL and Under the Lights are co-hosting the first-ever Youth Flag Football World Championships on Dec. 27-30, 2022, in San Antonio, Texas. Under the Lights has had an average annual growth rate over 60% since its founding in 2015, Under the Lights currently has over 80,000 athletes (boys and girls) grades K- 12, with a strong footprint across the U.S. and Canada, with further international expansion plans.
La Liga Makes Media Deal in India and the Middle East
LaLiga, Spain’s top-flight football competition, and Galaxy Racer (GXR), the Dubai-based transmedia multinational, have signed a letter of intent paving the way for the formation of a 15-year joint venture that will transform the league’s brand presence in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and the Indian subcontinent. Founded in 2019, GXR is an esports, gaming and lifestyle organization with a presence in the MENA region, North America, Southeast Asia, South Asia and Europe. The deal provides LaLiga with a pathway to share its intellectual property through a local partner already offering considerable market reach—GXR has over 500 million followers worldwide—and a platform for growth that leverages expertise in six key verticals: licensing, content creation, esports, influencer/talent management, merchandising and music.
BetMGM and Arizona Cardinals Debut First Sportsbook at NFL Stadium
BetMGM and the Arizona Cardinals debuted the first sportsbook at a National Football League stadium. The BetMGM Sportsbook at State Farm Stadium is a two-story, 17,000-square-foot facility featuring sports wagering amenities, concert-hosting facilities, a gourmet grille and bar and a variety of screens to watch games. The sportsbook will operate on both event and non-event days, offering guests a 265-square-foot video wall, 38 televisions and indoor-and-outdoor dining options. Throughout the year, the BetMGM Sportsbook will serve as an outdoor amphitheater, for concerts and other events.
Daughter of Former Notre Dame Basketball Coach Digger Phelps Launches NIL Website
Karen Phelps has launched Golden Touch, an NIL collective to secure name, image and likeness income opportunities for Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s athletes—with a particular focus on women’s and Olympic sports. GoldenTouch.world brings Fighting Irish and Belles players to an online NIL marketplace where they can partner with companies, charities, fans, grow their life experiences, and strengthen their mental wellness. Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s fans, alums, followers, nonprofits and businesses can book players or entire teams via the Golden Touch web platform or mobile app (iOS and Android compatible) for services like one-on-one live video-chats, personalized video shout-outs and autographed memorabilia purchases to more elaborate branded content endorsement campaigns and unique on-campus experiences.
Betegy and Yolo Investments Close Investment Round
Automated content solutions provider, Betegy has partnered with global venture capital firm Yolo Investments Ltd to drive the next stage of its global expansion. Yolo’s investment in BETEGY runs to several million Euros and amounts to a non-controlling stake. Yolo Investments operates across the gaming, fintech and blockchain spaces. The Tallinn, Estonia-based firm holds investments in more than 80 companies with total assets under management of €375 million. BETEGY enables broadcasters and operators to create personalized marketing campaigns in a matter of seconds, reducing costs up to ten-fold. BETEGY’s specialized AI-powered service has earned the company a position as marketing technology provider to the likes of ESPN, Ringier Axel Springer, Bwin, Yahoo Sports and others. The latest investment round builds upon BETEGY’s partnership with JKR Investment Group, which supported the company’s expansion into the U.S.
Norqain Becomes Timekeeper of the New York Road Runners
The family-owned Swiss watch brand, Norqain, is now the Official Timekeeping Partner of the TCS New York City Marathon, United Airlines NYC Half, RBC Brooklyn Half and Abbott Dash to the Finish Line 5K. The strategic partnership will build on shared core values, in particular a commitment to sustainability and charitable activities focused on children, including Rising New York Road Runners, NYRR’s free youth running program that helps build students’ motivation, confidence and desire to be physically active for life.