Welcome to Sportico’s Transactions wire, a weekly rundown of personnel, partnerships and products across the sports business industry.
Kiswe Announces Slew of Hires and Promotions
Interactive streaming company Kiswe has hired Leigh Andrzejewski as head of business development, creators and T.K. Gore as head of business development, sports. The company has also added Jay Paquette as paid media manager and Salim Virani as full stack developer, studio and promoted Jake Nishimura to marketing director and Desiree Pappenscheller to senior business development manager, entertainment. Andrzejewsk, previously an agent at United Talent, will be responsible for expanding Kiswe’s creator solutions and partnerships and helping creators build their direct-to-consumer content monetization strategies. Gore, who founded Court 5 Consulting in late 2017, will now oversee Kiswe’s strategic sports partnerships and strengthen existing relationships with organizations such as the NBA, ESPN, PPV.com, the LA Clippers and many others.
Next Gen Basketball Players Union Tabs Executive Director
The union for NBA G League players has brought on Jeff Aubry as its first official executive director. In this role, Aubry will direct affairs of the NGBPU on a day-to-day basis, manage the NGBPU’s collective bargaining relationship with the NBA G League, develop new commercial and business opportunities, and lead in the creation and implementation of an agent regulation program, among other responsibilities. Aubry played basketball professionally for 18 years, including a stint in the G League. Aubry most recently served as the senior director of player development at the NBA.
World Cup’s Bay Area Host Committee Names CEO And President
The Bay Area Host Committee has named Zaileen Janmohamed to the role of CEO and president. Janmohamed most recently served as SVP, head of commercial development & innovation for LA28 and will be responsible for driving the committee’s mission to pursue and secure global sports and live entertainment events for the cultural betterment and economic benefit of the Bay Area. She will lead all preparations for the Bay Area and Levi’s Stadium to host 2026 FIFA World Cup matches and also oversee bids for other high-profile sporting events.
Fanatics Betting and Gaming Names Former DoorDash Executive COO
Fanatics Betting and Gaming has appointed Hank Couture to chief operating officer. Reporting to Fanatics Betting & Gaming CEO Matt King, Couture will be a member of the FBG executive team and play an integral role in developing strategies across operations as the Fanatics Sportsbook is poised to launch nationwide in mid-2023. Couture previously worked at DoorDash, where he oversaw the company’s U.S. Marketplace, including pricing, loyalty/subscription, promotions, merchandising and growth. Prior to DoorDash, Couture honed his skills at Goldman Sachs, where he worked on the equity trading floor in derivatives structuring.
Monumental Sports & Entertainment, Washington Spirit Sign Regional Broadcast Deal
Monumental Sports & Entertainment (MSE) and the Washington Spirit announced a broadcast partnership that will provide regional television coverage on the MSE-owned NBC Sports Washington for nine Spirit away matches during the 2023 National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) regular season. The partnership includes live game coverage and integrated social media of the professional women’s soccer team on NBC Sports Washington’s linear channels.
Hisense Announces Partnership With NBA
Hisense, a leading global home appliance and consumer electronics brand, has become the NBA’s official TV and home appliance partner for North America. The multiyear sponsorship deal comes off the back of a global sales hike for the start of 2023, with year-on-year sales up 24% and sales volume up 38%. As of February 2023, the brand’s TV sales were up 71% year-on-year, making it one of America’s most popular TV brands. The NBA deal is the latest partnership Hisense has made with sports commodities, including Paris Saint Germain, National Rugby League (NRL) and Fnatic. It has also previously been a sponsor of two FIFA World Cups.
K-Swiss Named the Official Footwear Sponsor of the Inaugural Pickleball Slam
Tennis brand K-Swiss is the official footwear sponsor of the inaugural Pickleball Slam, providing all footwear and apparel for the event. The Slam will feature tennis greats John McEnroe, Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick and Michael Chang competing for a $1 million purse. The Slam will take place at 12 p.m. ET on April 2 at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Fla.; it will also air live on ESPN. The Pickleball Slam will be preceded by the Amateur Pickleball Slam Challenge, featuring top amateur teams of two competing for a $10,000 team prize and a chance to compete against the tennis pros in the main event.
Monument Realty Becomes Title Sponsor of the PGA District at PGA Frisco
The PGA of America and Omni PGA Frisco Resort have named Monument Realty as the title sponsor of the Monument Realty PGA District at PGA Frisco. In addition, the PGA of America has named Monument Realty as the association’s official real estate and luxury real estate” partner. When it opens on May 2, the Monument Realty PGA District will offer The Dance Floor, a lighted two-acre putting course; The Swing, a 10-hole, lighted par-3 short course; the PGA Coaching Center, offering coaching, club fitting and fitness elements to golfers from PGA Professionals; along with restaurants, children’s play areas and shopping. Legends, working alongside the PGA of America to drive partnerships, helped with the deal.
U.S. Ski & Snowboard Lands United Airlines, Stifel Partnerships
U.S. Ski & Snowboard has named United Airlines as its official airline partner through 2027. United will transport the team around the globe to train and compete, while also supporting U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s women empowerment and climate initiatives. The organization also expanded its partnership with Stifel Financial Corp. (NYSE:SF) to become the official team naming partner of all of the ski teams under the U.S. Ski & Snowboard brand. In addition, the wealth-management and investment-banking firm will now be the title sponsor of the Stifel U.S. Cross Country Ski Team, Stifel U.S. Freestyle Ski Team and Stifel U.S. Freeski Team.
Gotham FC Reveals Partners for Start of NWSL Season
In advance of its home opener on Sunday at Red Bull Arena, Gotham FC announced six of the club’s major partners for the 2023 season. CarMax, Hackensack Meridian Health, Johnnie Walker, Soccer Post, Algorand and US Fertility are among the brands partnering with Gotham FC for fan activations, sponsored events, special theme nights and health and wellness benefits throughout the 2023 National Women’s Soccer League season.
Gerford AI Partners With Guild Esports on R&D
Gerford AI, an artificial intelligence and data analytics company across numerous Olympic and emerging sports, has partnered with Guild Esports PLC, an organization and lifestyle brand co-owned by David Beckham that fields professional players in gaming competitions. Gerford and Guild Esports plan to utilize artificial intelligence for discovering and developing professional esports players. Gerford AI uses machine learning and computer vision technologies to improve athletic performance, and specializes in emerging sports, such as table tennis, swimming and freestyle skiing. By working together with Guild’s advanced technologies and expertise in gaming, Gerford will be able to apply and advance its AI capabilities in the esports space more quickly.
Washington Spirit and CVS Health Renew Sponsorship
The Washington Spirit and CVS Health have renewed their sponsorship agreement for the 2023 NWSL season—the fourth year of the sponsorship. As the official health and wellness partner of the club, CVS Health will appear on the front of home and away kits and support community programs that foster opportunities for women and girls in sports. The CVS Health logo will also appear on all replica jerseys available in the Washington Spirit Shop and on player avatars in EA Sports FIFA23‘s inaugural NWSL integration.
American to Buy Huddersfield Town A.F.C.
Kevin M. Nagle, owner and CEO of the USL’s Sacramento franchise Republic FC, has agreed to buy the English club Huddersfield Town A.F.C. pending legislative and governance procedures. Currently an Association club, Huddersfield Town was formed in 1908 and won the English League title three times in a row during the 1920s. It last reached the Premier League in 2017. In announcing the deal, Nagle said he’d have no further details until the process was complete.
Mike Trout to Open Golf Club Featuring a Course Designed by Tiger Woods
Three-time American League MVP and 10-time MLB All-Star Mike Trout and business partner John Ruga are building a golf club in southern New Jersey. The centerpiece of Trout National-The Reserve will be an 18-hole golf course designed by Tiger Woods and his golf course architecture firm, TGR Design. Tiger and his team will also design a cutting-edge practice range and short-game area. Other club highlights include a clubhouse, lodging, amenities, a wedding chapel and more. Construction will begin in 2023, and it is anticipated that the private club, located 45 minutes south of Philadelphia, will open for member play in 2025.
ASM Global Unveils Sustainability Program
ASM Global—through its corporate social responsibility platform, ASM Global Act—is launching a sustainability plan for its portfolio of more than 350 arenas, stadiums, convention and exhibition centers, and performing arts venues. In partnership with Honeycomb Strategies, ASM Global has committed to several initiatives for all its venues, including reducing energy consumption by 25% by 2030 from this year, generating 20% of all energy through renewables by 2025 and decreasing food waste by 75% by 2026 within Savor venues. ASM Global has partnered with WeTrack, a SaaS company that provides planning, sustainability goals and operations solutions, to track progress on these initiatives. ASM, working with its client partners, already boasts the largest collection of certified green venues with over 40.
Pro League Network Expands With Xtreme Long Drive
Pro League Network has expanded its growing footprint in golf by adding the Xtreme Long Drive series. Pro League Network will work with the Long Drive Federation to optimize the sport for wagering by ensuring integrity and data before gaining approvals from gaming associations and bringing wagering opportunities to sportsbooks. PLN and Ultimate Long Drive will also develop bettable extensions of the sport that attract new fans and increase awareness of the sport to bettors. The Xtreme Long Drive series will debut on April 21 in Myrtle Beach, S.C., under a new team format that will feature 8 professional hitters competing in a 4-on-4 team double elimination event. The hitters will compete on Trackman-powered golf simulators for season-long points and cash prizes. Pro League Network also announced its second World Putting League Championship tournament will take place on April 20 in Myrtle Beach, S.C.