Welcome to Sportico’s Transactions wire, a weekly rundown of personnel, partnerships and products across the sports business industry.
USTA Names Managing Director, Strategy and Innovation
The USTA has hired Liz McSorley as managing director, strategy and innovation. This newly created position will align with the USTA’s mission to grow tennis at the community level by working to develop and execute strategic priorities for the Community Tennis organization. In addition, McSorley will be responsible for unifying the USTA’s efforts across digital products, programs, marketing, research and innovation. Prior to joining the USTA, McSorley served as principal, management consultant for Elixirr, LLC, a strategic advisor and client partner supporting companies’ business, digital, data and customer transformation.
PFL Appoints Executive Vice President
The Professional Fighters League (PFL) has named Gregg Bernard executive vice president, international strategy & business development, reporting to PFL’s CEO Peter Murray. Bernard will oversee PFL’s continued expansion in priority markets around the world. He will focus on developing new international strategic partnerships and creating additional revenue opportunities, leveraging PFL’s IP and platform capabilities and global events, including the PFL World Championship and PPV Super Fight events. Bernard was previously SVP of WWE International, where he most recently led operations of WWE’s international business division.
Greenfly Hires Chief Revenue Officer
Greenfly, a real-time digital media management software, has hired enterprise SaaS veteran Mark Keaney as chief revenue officer. In his new role, Keaney will be responsible for managing Greenfly’s sales and customer success teams to drive growth globally. Keaney brings over 26 years of experience spanning business-to-business sales and account management within social media and sports broadcasting. Before joining Greenfly, Keaney served as the head of North American sales at Khoros, where he helped brands utilize various social media and digital channels to drive revenue growth.
NFL Canada and Football Canada Announce Strategic Partnership
NFL Canada and Football Canada, the national governing body of Canadian amateur football, will partner to support and enable the growth of the sport across the country. The agreement will focus on youth participation programs (boys and girls aged 8–12), coaching clinics and the growth of female football over the next three years. As part of a shared goal to increase overall participation across the country, NFL Canada will support Football Canada’s delivery of youth flag football programs to underserved communities and strengthening of player pathways to international competition.
Underwear Brand Signs Pro Caddies
Men’s underwear and apparel brand Saxx has brokered a first-of-its-kind endorsement deal with professional caddies Geno Bonnalie (Joel Dahmen), Aaron Flener (J.T. Poston), John Limanti (Keith Mitchell) and Joel Stock (Will Zalatoris). The pact eclipses six figures in total value for the foursome, who will appear in a slate of new digital ads and wear Saxx underwear, shorts and polos on and off the course. Saxx will provide “Caddie House” in LA, which will serve as home base for the caddies during this year’s U.S. Open. Finally, Saxx will donate $100 to the Testicular Cancer Foundation for every birdie made by the caddies’ players over the remainder of the season.
MLS and AI.IO Partner to Improve Player Scouting Opportunities
MLS and London-based technology company ai.io have partnered to help soccer players catch the eye of MLS without having to travel. This program leverages the latest in computer vision and AI to enable any player to use ai.io’s product, aiScout, to participate in a virtual trial program. Available in December 2023, clubs across MLS, MLS NEXT Pro and MLS NEXT will have access to aiScout and aiLabs, and starting in January 2024 aiScout will provide the opportunity for players across the globe to be scouted by MLS for free. Players can download the app and complete a series of assessments and drills in any backyard, field, or open space using their mobile phone. The app will analyze players’ ability and through a fully connected platform, MLS will be able to evaluate players via data generated.
Stifel Inks 7-Year Deal as St. Louis Cardinals Jersey Patch Sponsor
Stifel Financial Corp. (NYSE: SF) announced that it will be the St. Louis Cardinals’ first-ever official jersey patch partner. As part of the new seven-year agreement, Stifel’s logo will appear on the jersey sleeve of each of the Cardinals’ four different on-field game uniforms. The Cardinals will begin wearing the Stifel jersey sleeve patch immediately. In addition to becoming the official jersey patch partner of the Cardinals, the new sponsorship agreement between the two organizations will include a number of additional promotional, hospitality and signage elements at Busch Stadium. The Cardinals are the ninth MLB team to announce a jersey patch partner.
Cleveland Browns, Vivid Seats Extend Gameday Experience Partnership
The Cleveland Browns announced a multi-year deal making Vivid Seats (NASDAQ: SEAT) an official fan experience partner. All Vivid gameday experience packages, which can be purchased by fans, include pre-game field passes, parking, complementary food and beverages, club access and other unique fan benefits. Additionally, Vivid Seats will unveil the Vivid Seats VIP Lounge Experience, a club with a private entrance into the stadium, valet parking, and field level seating behind the Browns bench.
Mitre Official Ball Supplier for The Soccer Tournament
British football brand Mitre will be the official match ball supplier of The Soccer Tournament, the new $1 million, winner-take-all world soccer championship taking place in June. The company will supply 400 Ultimax Pro footballs to be used across the four-day tournament, which will see 32 teams from across the globe, including representation from the UK, Europe, and Asia, competing in the 7-v-7 knockout competition. The official match ball will display the tournament logo.
National Lacrosse League Tops 1 Million Attendance Mark
The National Lacrosse League announced that this past weekend’s action, highlighted by Georgia and Vancouver both setting season attendance highs at more than 9,400 each, pushed overall league attendance to 1,039,418. This is the third time in the NLL’s 36-year history it has eclipsed the 1-million-fan mark in the regular season and the first time since 2008. Overall, attendance is up 25% versus last year, and the Calgary Roughnecks hold the NLL’s single-game attendance mark this season, drawing 17,444 for a mid-March 17 victory.
Sports Exec Launches Mental Health and Wellness Company
Veteran sports and entertainment executive Jared Schoenfeld has launched 4B, a firm focused on mental health and wellness for people and brands of influence. The firm supports clients with targeted brand strategy, business development and cause marketing, including the management of new and existing partnerships, and helping to incubate new ventures that maximize reach and engagement. 4B has already established partnerships for their clients with brands including JPMorgan Chase, Google, Aster Healthcare, American Express, 1-800-Flowers and ProVEDA. Prior to founding 4B, Schoenfeld built and led the partnerships team at The Players’ Tribune (TPT), and held roles with the Miami Dolphins and Madison Square Garden.