Sportico Transactions: Moves and Mergers Roundup for Jan. 14

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

Personnel

IMG’s SVP of Football Michael Mellor to Step Down in February

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Michael Mellor, an SVP in charge of soccer at IMG since 2011, has decided to leave the sports-industry giant after 23 years. IMG confirmed the news and told Sportico that Mellor will leave his position officially in February. Mellor has been with IMG since 1998, and was head of IMG’s media operations in the U.K. from 1998 until 2005. He became the senior vice president of IMG’s Asia-Pacific media in 2005, a position he held until his move to lead football operations. IMG is one of the four finalists who hope to win the auction for media and sponsorship rights to UEFA’s men’s club soccer competitions. The deal is expected to be one of the most expensive in sports history.

Colie Edison Appointed Chief Growth Officer of the WNBA

The WNBA announced that Colie Edison will join the WNBA as the league’s first-ever chief growth officer, effective Jan. 31, 2022. Edison, who will be based in the league’s New York office and report directly to WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert, will lead the development and execution of strategic growth initiatives as the league enters its 26th season. Edison comes to the WNBA from the Professional Bowlers Association (PBA), where she served as the first female chief executive officer in the organization’s 64-year history.

Stephen Rosebrook Named Executive Vice President, General Manager of Prudential Center

The Prudential Center and New Jersey Devils announced that Stephen Rosebrook has been named executive vice president, general manager of Newark’s Prudential Center, serving as the lead operations executive for the home of the NHL’s New Jersey Devils, Seton Hall University’s men’s basketball program, and more than 175 concerts, family shows and special events each year. Rosebrook joins Prudential Center after a decade in a leadership position with AEG Facilities as a regional vice president and regional GM/VP, Operations in New York City, where he helped develop and execute arena openings and facilitate operational plans for various stadiums, arenas and theaters in the AEG portfolio.

Sportradar Hires Jim Brown as Head of Integrity Services and Harm Prevention in North America

Sports data firm Sportradar announced the hiring of Jim Brown as head of integrity services and harm prevention in North America. Brown, who for the past eight years has served in various risk management roles at the NCAA, will report to Andreas Krannich, managing director of integrity services.

TendedBar Adds Mike Morris as Chief Technology and Analytics Officer

TendedBar, an automated bar service designed for high-volume venues, announced the addition of Mike Morris as chief technology and analytics officer. Previously, Morris was the chief information officer of Legends Hospitality and the founding CEO of Edge Experiential, a business-to-business creative technology and design firm. Prior to that, Morris served as senior vice president and chief technology officer (CTO) of Major League Baseball, where he spent more than 14 years within the league’s office of the commissioner.

New York Esports Organization Andbox Taps James Frey as First CEO

Esports organization Andbox, owners and operators of New York Excelsior (NYXL), New York’s first professional esports team, announced the appointment of James Frey as chief executive officer. Frey, whose bestselling memoirs A Million Little Pieces and My Friend Leonard came under fire over factual inaccuracies, arrives at Andbox immediately following his tenure as global chief content officer of 3BlackDot, a subsidiary of Webedia, the world’s largest influencer network, where he oversaw all of the company’s content groups.

HISA Names Lisa Lazarus as CEO

The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority (HISA) board of directors announced that Lisa Lazarus will serve as chief executive officer of the authority starting Feb. 15, 2022. Lazarus established and leads the equestrian practice at Morgan Sports Law, where she provides counsel on health and safety issues and rule compliance, in addition to representing athletes, owners and trainers in disputes before national and international governing bodies. Prior to joining Morgan Sports Law, she served as general counsel and later chief of business development & strategy at the Fédération Equestre Internationale, the international governing body for equestrian sports.

CSMG Names Connely Revenue Officer, Angela Bernhard Thomas as EVP for Esports

Sports and entertainment media company CSMG has appointed Jim Connelly as the company’s new Chief Revenue Officer. Connelly joins the company following tenures at IMG and WWE. CSMG also announced that Angela Bernhard Thomas, the founder of service provider A-Game Esports, has been appointed CSMG’s Executive Vice President for Esports.

Partnerships

Caesars Sportsbook Named Official Sports Betting and iGaming Partner of Michigan State Athletics

Michigan State University Athletics, MSU Sports Properties and Caesars Entertainment Inc. announced a multiyear partnership to make Caesars Sportsbook the official and exclusive sports betting partner and iGaming partner of MSU athletics. The partnership combines fan engagement opportunities, a new premium seating area at Spartan Stadium and an expansion of responsible sports gaming education.

Playfly Sports Acquires Sponsorship Consultancy Premier Partnerships

Playfly Sports, the sports marketing, media and technology firm, announced the acquisition of Premier Partnerships, a naming rights, sponsorship sales, valuation and consulting agency that specializes in commercial revenue optimization for sports and entertainment organizations, along with municipalities and other venues. As part of the acquisition, Playfly will broaden its current naming rights and sponsorship division, forming Playfly Premier Partnerships that will include the current Impression Sports & Entertainment staff, which Playfly acquired from Fox Sports in March 2021. Premier CEO Randy Bernstein will assume responsibility for Playfly Premier Partnerships, while Premier chairman Alan Rothenberg and Premier president John Kristick will remain in a leadership capacity. Bernstein will report directly to Playfly’s chief operating officer, Craig Sloan.

Topps Teams With Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren for Trading Card Deal

Sports and entertainment trading cards and collectibles company Topps, now a part of Fanatics Trading Cards, has announced a new partnership with Gonzaga Bulldogs’ center Chet Holmgren, marking the expansion of its product portfolio back into basketball. It represents the biggest name, image and likeness (NIL) investment that Topps has made with a college athlete. As a five-star recruit and the top player in the 2021 class, Holmgren will extend Topps’ product offerings as they continue to broaden their footprint and roster of notable athletes and superstars.

Real Salt Lake Partners With Playfly Sports to Secure Stadium Naming Rights

Real Salt Lake announced it has retained Playfly Sports to secure stadium naming rights, deliver a complete valuation of the team’s marketable assets and create custom-branded content to engage potential sponsors.

DePaul University Athletics Creates Group Licensing Program With The Brandr Group

DePaul Athletics and The Brandr Group (TBG) have established a group licensing program for the university’s athletes covering the Blue Demons’ 15 varsity sports. This partnership creates new opportunities for DePaul athletes to profit off their name, image and likeness (NIL) using the school’s official trademarks and logos.