SBJ Executive Editor and Publisher Abe Madkour, Emmy-winning actor Jon Hamm and the Stanley Cup looked on as NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman accepted his Lifetime Achievement Award.marc bryan-brown
New York City’s Occasions Square is applied to hosting its share of stars, but the lineup that gathered at the Marriott Marquis for the Sports Enterprise Awards was specifically glittering: NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, MLS Commissioner Don Garber and NWSL Commissioner Jessica Berman. ESPN Chairman Jimmy Pitaro and Marie Donoghue, Amazon vice president of worldwide sports video. ESPN’s Elle Duncan and Jay Williams hosted the festivities, and Emmy-winning actor Jon Hamm presented the Lifetime Achievement Award to NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, who was joined on stage by the Stanley Cup.
These luminaries had been joined by a record crowd of almost 1,200 who filled the ballroom for the sports industry’s most significant evening and, arguably, most impressive collection of sports leaders to date.
By evening’s finish, 15 person awards had been handed out, plus the Celebration of Service award to the Sloane Stephens Foundation and the Lifetime recognition. The general winner, nonetheless, could have been women’s sports, which continued its momentum by taking property various honors. That tone was set from the incredibly very first category, when Michele Kang won the inaugural Deal of the Year award for her acquisition of the NWSL’s Washington Spirit, completed in March 2022. Judges gave points for not only the deal’s $35 million obtain cost — at the time a record for a women’s sports group — but also for the complexity of a transaction in which Kang allied with current restricted partners to outmaneuver a competing bid.
There was also no denying the influence that sale had all through the landscape of women’s sports, which Kang argued is deserving of substantial monetary commitments.
“I wanted to do this deal to prove a point, that women’s soccer is not a charity. It should really not be sold for a couple million as if it is a nonprofit,” Kang mentioned. “It has unbelievable industrial viability, and if we do not think in our personal item, who would think it?”
Kang expanded on her goal and vision backstage, detailing how the Spirit acquisition — at seven occasions the prior league record transaction worth — was intended to blaze a path that other investors are currently following. “As you have observed in the expansion approach, now our expansion charges are $53 million. Who would have believed, appropriate?” mentioned Kang. “So this is all sort of creating upon one particular one more, and I would say the tipping point has been reached. … There is no one particular small business model appropriate now a lot of teams are coming in from diverse angles, and they’re all equally prosperous. And that is what it requires, just additional dollars to come in.” Kang mentioned she also hoped that she would inspire additional ladies to enter the ranks of sports ownership all through each men’s and women’s leagues.
Washington Spirit owner Michele Kang won the very first Deal of the Year award.marc bryan-brown
The most raucous cheers for Kang’s win came from none other than Angel City FC’s table, led by fellow female owners Kara Nortman and Julie Uhrman. They had a opportunity to celebrate once more later in the evening when Angel City won for Group of the Year, earning a uncommon standing ovation from the crowd.
An energized Uhrman, flanked on stage by the team’s female leadership, laid out the mission statement for the women’s soccer club that shattered each records and expectations in its 2022 debut. “Angel City is constructed with goal and passion,” mentioned Uhrman. “With a objective to be lucrative and prove that women’s sports is not only some thing that individuals adhere to and care about, but is investable and can be a billion-dollar small business.”
The club was valued at more than $one hundred million by investors ahead of playing a single game, and in its very first season was accountable for almost 40% of all NWSL income. “Nobody believed we could sell out a stadium. No one believed we could create north of $50 million in sponsorship income,” continued Uhrman. “This is not going to be the [last] time we’re at this podium, I can guarantee you that, due to the fact there is no limit to what this group can do.”
The worth and energy of women’s sports was a theme highlighted by other SBA winners. The U.S. Open won the trophy for Sports Occasion of the Year, in huge component due to the influence of Serena Williams’ farewell overall performance, which helped drive record viewership and attendance figures. In getting the award, Stacey Allaster, the USTA’s chief executive of expert tennis and U.S. Open tournament director, noted the 2023 occasion will mark 50 years of equal prize cash.
Wasserman won for Most effective Talent Representation of the Year. Not only does the agency have a extended-operating history of women’s sports representation, but judges had been especially keen on Wasserman’s, and particularly agent Lindsay Kagawa Colas’, efforts to get client and WNBA star Brittney Griner property from Russia. “That heritage for us, and getting the history and becoming there very first and launching The Collective, which is our system about ladies for brands and for representation,” mentioned Jason Ranne, Wasserman COO and executive vice president of talent representation. “I just assume it is synonymous with our history, and so it is genuine, it is genuine to us.”
A record crowd of almost 1,200 filled the ballroom.marc bryan-brown
Fox Sports CEO and executive producer Eric Shanks echoed the significance of women’s sports to the network in backstage remarks following Fox’s win for Most effective in Sports Media. “Our very first Planet Cup was the 2015 Women’s Planet Cup. We created the commitment to place as significantly work into the women’s as the men’s, and that had by no means occurred ahead of,” Shanks mentioned. “We really feel like we had been there at the incredibly starting of this explosion of women’s sports. … We really feel seriously proud to have been component of it and sort of kept that going in attempting to be the regular bearer for women’s sports in this nation.”
This year’s Sports Enterprise Awards proved to be an specifically meaningful one particular for Shanks, who also earned Sports Executive of the Year honors. Fox’s banner year was led by a landmark rights deal with the Huge Ten and prosperous broadcasts of the Super Bowl, Planet Cup and Planet Series, amongst other big events.
Fox wasn’t the only legacy home to go property with hardware. The NFL won Sports League of the Year for the very first time given that 2010. The 111-year-old Fenway Park, which hosted the NHL’s Winter Classic in January, earned Sports Facility of the Year honors. And the NHL celebrated a win for Sports Breakthrough of the Year for its digitally enhanced dasherboards, a marketing and advertising initiative years in the generating.
The NHL had comprehensive representation in the ballroom from each the league and its teams, like New York Islanders owner Jon Ledecky, to celebrate Bettman’s Lifetime Achievement Award. For the duration of his remarks, Hamm, a hockey superfan who recalled watching Blues games by way of cigarette smoke at the old St. Louis Arena, outlined the trajectory of the NHL beneath the leadership of Bettman given that he took more than the function in 1993.
“The as soon as mom-and-pop regional league that brought in a total of much less than $500 million per year the season ahead of he was hired is now a $six billion worldwide sports and media powerhouse,” mentioned Hamm. “That is turning it about, in a league in which a Blues fan wonders about when we’ll be back in the finals, but does not be concerned about when his group is going to leave St. Louis.”
Some of the sports world’s best leaders also lent their voice to a video honoring Bettman, like commissioners Rob Manfred of MLB, Adam Silver of the NBA and Roger Goodell of the NFL, as properly as Monumental Sports & Entertainment Chairman and CEO Ted Leonsis and NHL legend Wayne Gretzky, amongst other people.
Bettman reflected on his 5 decades in pro sports, which incorporated mentoring beneath former NBA Commissioner David Stern, presiding more than almost 60% of all the NHL games ever played and marveling at how far he’d come given that paying 50 cents for a ticket to watch the New York Rangers as a kid in the 1960s: “When I sat in the balcony of the old Garden, I by no means believed that the very first time I would see the Rangers win the Stanley Cup, I would be the one particular presenting it!”
The 30-year commissioner — who created clear that he has no instant plans for retirement — closed on a theme that had been a foundational speaking point all through the evening: The energy of sports to transform lives.
“Let’s all continue each and every day to serve our constituents in the most inventive and entertaining strategies attainable,” Bettman mentioned. “Let’s strive to honor our short-term custody of the public trust named sports to inspire our communities, to teach life capabilities to our young individuals and to leave every single of our sports organizations in a far superior location than the one particular in which we discovered it. And that, for any of us, is a lifetime achievement.”
Sports Enterprise Awards: The Winners
Deal of the Year — Michele Kang’s acquisition of the Washington Spirit
Most effective in Sports Betting — FanDuel
Most effective in Sports Social Media — Bleacher Report
Most effective Talent Representation — Wasserman
Sports Occasion of the Year — U.S. Open
Athletic Director of the Year — J.D. Wicker, San Diego State
Most effective in Sports Media — Fox Sports
Most effective in Home Consulting, Sales and Client Solutions — Elevate
Sports Sponsor of the Year — T-Mobile U.S.
Sports Facility of the Year — Fenway Park
Sports Breakthrough of the Year — NHL: Digitally Enhanced Dasherboards
Most effective in Agency Creativity and Innovation — MKTG Sports + Entertainment
Sports Group of the Year — Angel City FC
Sports Executive of the Year — Eric Shanks, Fox Sports
Sports League of the Year — NFL