Sportico Transactions: Moves and Mergers Roundup for November 18

Welcome to Sportico’s Transactions wire, a weekly rundown of personnel, partnerships and purchases across the sports business industry.

Personnel

Fiesta Bowl Names Exec Director and CEO

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The Fiesta Bowl Organization has signed Erik Moses as executive director and chief executive officer. An attorney, entrepreneur and chief executive, Moses comes from Nashville Superspeedway, where he served as president and general manager since 2020. The track had been dormant for 10 years, and under Moses’ direction, it was revitalized to host a sold-out NASCAR Cup Series event on Father’s Day in 2021. Moses has previously helped create and run the Military Bowl and the AT&T Nation’s Football Classic.

Will Wilson Joins Galway Holdings 

Galway Holdings, a financial services platform, has hired Will Wilson as its first chief corporate development officer—global sports and sustainability. The former CEO and general secretary of the U.S. Soccer Federation brings more than 30 years of experience to Galway. Wilson has worked at the league, team, agency, international, domestic and non-profit levels. As CEO of U.S. Soccer he led historic collective bargaining negotiations that resulted in equal pay for the men’s and women’s national teams. He also guided the federation through the COVID-19 pandemic, made the strategic decision to bring federation commercial rights in-house in 2023, secured a 10-year renewal with Nike, and locked in an eight-year English-language media rights deal with Warner Media.

3Step Sports Names New CEO

3STEP Sports, the youth sports club and event operator, has named Tania King as its new chief executive officer. Founder David Geaslen becomes chairman of 3STEP, where he will continue to help lead the company’s athlete-centric growth strategy. Most recently, King served as an operating advisor at Juggernaut Capital Partners, where she helped lead the firm’s sale of Mitchell & Ness to Fanatics. As CEO of 3STEP, King will be responsible for partnering with Geaslen on strategy and leading the company’s day-to-day operations. Over the past three years, 3STEP has acquired 76 new brands in nine sports across 43 states. More than 53% of the participants in 3STEP’s clubs and events are women.

NBRPA Appoints New Chief Medical Director

The National Basketball Retired Players Association (NBRPA) named Joe Rogowski as the chief medical director. Rogowski’s duties will include overseeing all aspects of sports medicine and innovation including the NBRPA’s new health screening initiative, creating strategic medical partnerships and serving as the primary liaison for all medical inquiries from and for NBRPA membership. Under Rogowski’s supervision, the NBRPA intends to deliver thorough, cost-effective healthcare to its membership. The health screening programs will address many of the medical issues that have plagued the NBRPA population while also educating them on proactive measures that promote a healthy lifestyle.

Spotlight Sports Group Pegs Next CEO

Spotlight Sports Group (SSG)—a technology, content and media company specializing in sports betting and fantasy sports—has elevated Mark Renshaw from COO to CEO. In line with SSG’s long-term succession plan, Renshaw, who has been with the business for 14 years, steps into the role with immediate effect. Former CEO Alan Byrne remains as a director of the business, and will also assume a new advisory role.

Partnerships

Big 12 Forms Business Advisory Board

Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark has formed a business advisory board to collaborate on and help co-author the conference’s business strategy. The board is composed of 36 members, including Garth Brooks and Jason Kidd, from a variety of fields including entertainment, finance, consumer brands, technology and media. As the Big 12 continues to modernize and grow, the advisory board will provide insight and counsel. Board members will also have mentoring opportunities with Big 12 student-athletes, as well as additional opportunities for integration into the conference’s landscape.

LPGA and WSC Sports Link for AI-Powered Stories on Google 

The LPGA has expanded its partnership with WSC Sports to deliver a new fan viewing experience in WSC Stories, which offer a way for fans to consume golf content online. Powered by WSC’s AI machine-learning platform, WSC Stories automatically creates vertical video highlights of LPGA tournaments and publishes them in the OneBox at the top of the Google Search results page, making LPGA content more discoverable and accessible. Fans searching for LPGA news and updates will now have instant access to tournament highlights in real time, without needing to navigate away from Google.

U.S. Soccer and Legends Finalize Retail Partnership Extension 

The U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) and Legends have inked a multi-year agreement to keep Legends as the provider for all U.S. Soccer Store experiences both online and at events. Legends recently redesigned the online U.S. Soccer Store with a customer-first approach, including a broad product assortment and features that will help U.S. Soccer further understand fan need and enhance communication with them. In addition, Legends will continue to operate retail experiences at all official USSF events including Visa Fan Studio, a mobile unit that can be deployed at U.S. Men’s and Women’s National Team matches. Future plans include implementing an interactive version of the Visa Fan Studio that will feature exclusive fan engagement, first-look product drops and a large product selection. U.S. Soccer and Legends first partnered in 2018.

Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie Partner With Chipotle for World Cup Promotions

Chipotle, an official partner of U.S. Soccer, will run a series of programs supporting the U.S. men’s national team during the World Cup. Christian Pulisic and Weston McKennie will be featured in Chipotle’s “Constant Ingredient” series, which will air as Chipotle’s first national television ads during the World Cup. Also, Chipotle will drop 5,000 free entrée codes on Twitter every time the U.S. men’s national team scores a goal during the World Cup. Chipotle will also offer free delivery on World Cup match days during group play. Fans can get a $0 delivery fee with code USMNT22 on Nov. 21, Nov. 25 and Nov. 29.

Manhattan West the Lead Investor in Formula One Exhibition

Manhattan West, a strategic investment firm, has announced that Manhattan West Private Equity is the lead investor in the Formula One Exhibition through the firm’s partnership with production company, Round Room Studios. Formula One reached an agreement with Round Room Studios to produce an international traveling exhibition covering the past, present and future of the FIA Formula One World Championship; Manhattan West’s investment will power the development of this immersive experience for Formula One fans across the world. The exhibition, a 90-minute experience, lifts the lid on F1’s past, present and future. It combines audio-visual design, rare film and imagery, engineering and educational displays, sculptural pieces, and iconic grand prix cars to deliver an immersive experience for everyone—from avid followers to younger fans and families.

Fox Sports, TuneIn to Bring Audio Streaming Access for Every World Cup Match

TuneIn, a live-streaming audio service, will distribute to premium subscribers live audio simulcasts of Fox Sports’ commentary for all 64 matches in the FIFA World Cup, beginning with the opening match on Sunday, Nov. 20 through the final on Sunday, Dec. 18. TuneIn Premium subscribers in the U.S. will be able to listen to simulcasts of every match, as well as additional signature Fox Sports programming such as FIFA World Cup Live and FIFA World Cup Today. Premium listeners will also have access to on-demand audio replays of all 64 matches throughout the tournament. TuneIn is accessible on over 200 platforms and devices.

NFLPA Acquires Equity Stake in BreakAway to Deliver Player Data

BreakAway Data and the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) are partnering to put athlete data in the hands of all NFL players via the BreakAway mobile app. The NFLPA is also acquiring an equity stake in BreakAway Data, with the goal of advancing innovation in football. The BreakAway app can ingest any form of athlete data and give players the ability to visualize trends and patterns in performance, recovery, and return-to-play scenarios following injuries. The partnership between BreakAway and the NFLPA is an evolution of the current collective bargaining agreement, ratified in March 2020 and running through the 2030 season. The CBA stipulates players own their data and the process by which teams may collect and access it. Teams, however, store the data and don’t have an efficient, modern way to deliver it to players in near real time. BreakAway solves that infrastructure problem.

Products

Cubs Pitcher Marcus Stroman Launches Luxury Footwear, Apparel Company

Chicago Cubs pitcher Marcus Stroman launched SHUGO, a luxury footwear and apparel company offering an athlete-first, holistic line of elevated shoes—specifically, cleats and trainers—and streetwear. Stroman created SHUGO following his ACL tear in 2015, with a goal to fill a void in the market and fuse the gap between design, structural integrity, performance-boosting support and longevity both on and off the field. Designed in collaboration with Studio Noyes, SHUGO’s first public drop will include The Origins Collection, featuring the Zero cleat, available in three colorways, and the Zero trainer, available in five colorways.

Pro Volleyball Federation Launches, Announces Feb. 2024 Season Start Date

Pro Volleyball Federation, a new indoor volleyball league, will take the court in February 2024, providing a new professional horizon for volleyball players throughout North America. The league was founded by Dave Whinham, president & CEO of The Team Management, LLC, and Stephen Evans, president of The Remedy. Super Bowl Champion Trent Dilfer highlights an impressive roster of Pro Volleyball Federation founding partners in support of the new venture. The league will debut 8-10 teams across the nation (markets will be announced in December), with additional teams to be added in subsequent years. Teams will play 16 regular-season matches during the inaugural season, and rosters will include 14 players with base salaries comparable to those of current first-year WNBA players.

Major League Rugby Adds Chicago Franchise

Major League Rugby (MLR) unveiled the team name, logo and color scheme for its newest franchise, the Chicago Hounds. The Hounds will compete in MLR’s western conference, wearing green and sky blue. Chicago will play its inaugural match on the road at Old Glory DC on Saturday, February 18. The team’s home opener at SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview, Ill. will be on Sunday, March 4, versus the Utah Warriors.

Ashworth Golf Apparel Makes a Comeback in the U.S.

Newtimes Group, a retail supply chain management firm, has launched Ashworth Golf Apparel in the U.S., with plans for new and lines of golf polos, pants, outwear and accessories. Industry veteran Eddie Fadel will serve as president with Kate Cunningham, who worked for Ashworth in the 1990’s and early 2000’s, taking over as SVP of sales and business development. Ashworth’s golf clothes mixed traditional and performance fabrics in classic styles to become a fixture on the pro tours and in golf shops around the country in the early part of the century. The company will officially unveil its 2023 line of products in January at the PGA Show in Orlando, Florida.

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