DIRECTV Makes Long-Term Commitment To Support ChampionLA

ChampionLA helps Los Angeles host the world’s top sports and entertainment events

The Los Angeles Sports & Entertainment Commission (LASEC) announced today that DIRECTV has made a long-term commitment to support ChampionLA, LASEC’s initiative created to host the world’s highest profile sports and entertainment events in Los Angeles.  As a part of the multi-year engagement, DIRECTV will make a charitable donation to ChampionLA, to support its mission to create community impact surrounding major events in Los Angeles. DIRECTV joins the ChampionLA Legacy Circle.

The Los Angeles Sports & Entertainment Commission and ChampionLA are committed to creating lasting and positive economic, cultural and social impact for the region by attracting and securing high-profile sports and entertainment events to Los Angeles,” said Kathryn Schloessman, President & CEO, Los Angeles Sports & Entertainment Commission. “With that goal in mind, we are excited to work alongside DIRECTV, long considered a leader in sports and entertainment, to support this effort and make a difference in our city while telling a powerful story along the way.”

“DIRECTV is working with the Los Angeles Sports & Entertainment Commission to continue to position our hometown as a go-to destination for the best events in sports and entertainment. Their community impact aligns perfectly with our cultural values to Care, Challenge and Deliver where it matters most,” said Bill Morrow, CEO, DIRECTV.

The support from DIRECTV will kick off with Super Bowl LVI next month at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles. DIRECTV will launch the DIRECTVxChampionLA Award that will recognize select organizations with a unique focus on empowering today’s youth for tomorrow’s career opportunities based on the 56 Champion organizations chosen for the Super Bowl LVI Legacy Program. After Super Bowl LVI, DIRECTV will continue to collaborate with LASEC and ChampionLA to create and highlight philanthropic and legacy efforts surrounding these major high-profile events, throughout the greater Los Angeles community.

Additional upcoming events supported by LASEC and ChampionLA include the 2022 MLB All-Star Game, 2023 College Football Playoff National Championship, 123rd U.S. Open Championship, 2024 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball West Region Championship, 2026 U.S. Women’s Open, and the 2028 Summer Olympic & Paralympic Games. Los Angeles is also a Candidate Host City for the 2026 FIFA World Cup™.

Legends Global Partnerships division represented LASEC in establishing this strategic relationship with DIRECTV.

National Football League and Legends to Open ‘NFL Las Vegas Presented by Visa’ Store at The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace

Las Vegas Store to become a top retail destination for fans across all 32 clubs and tentpole events

NFL and Visa to deliver unique commerce experiences through innovative payment technology.

The National Football League (NFL) and Legends, announced today the opening of NFL Las Vegas presented by Visa, an innovative NFL-themed store located in the renowned Forum Shops at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada. A first for the League, NFL Las Vegas presented by Visawill offer a unique assortment of exclusive fan gear across all 32 clubs, the League, NFL events and special collaborations with celebrities and local designers. NFL Las Vegas presented by Visawill also become a leading destination for unique fan experiences including special product launch events and NFL player and talent appearances.

“Home to the Raiders and the state-of-the-art Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas continues to be a premier location for the League to expand our presence and grow our fanbase,” said Ryan Samuelson, VP of Consumer Products at the NFL. “NFL Las Vegas presented by Visa will add to the vibrancy of the city while providing fans with a modern retail experience in collaboration with Legends and Visa against the backdrop of the upcoming Pro Bowl, the 2022 NFL Draft, and the recently announced Super Bowl LVIII in Vegas.”

NFL Las Vegas presented by Visa is an extension to the ongoing partnership between NFL and Legends, building on Legends strong on-site retail executions at NFL tentpole events including new per cap records at Super Bowl LV.

“Legends is proud to continue our partnership with the NFL to create a unique, immersive retail experience in Las Vegas that is sure to become a destination for football fans,” said Dan Smith, President, Legends Hospitality. “We have designed a store with the fan in mind, offering exclusive products and customization options as well as special in-store events that will provide something for fans of all ages.”

Visa, the Official Payment Services Technology Partner of the NFL, will provide seamless, safe, and secure digital payments at the store, making way for an enhanced shopping experience. When using a Visa contactless card, fans will also be able to utilize a first-of-its-kind RFID-enabled check-out solution.

“From day one, this retail experience will offer a seamless and secure payment environment while providing future real estate to trial or launch even newer payment experiences,” said Mary Ann Reilly, Senior Vice President and Head of North America Marketing, Visa. “As more retailers recognize the value that payment technology can bring to their businesses, we are proud to have such a strong partnership with the NFL that enables us to provide fans with the latest in payments, whether in a stadium or a new retail environment like this one.”

NFL Las Vegas presented by Visa is set to open on January 15, 2022 at The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace. Caesars Entertainment is the League’s “Official Casino Sponsor” and is an “Official Sports Betting Partner” of the NFL through its newly launched sports betting offering, Caesars Sportsbook.

SPORTBUSINESS: Legends Names Pair of Managing Directors in Europe

Via SportBusiness

Legends, the United States-based premium experiences company, has bulked up its international presence further with the selection of two executives to lead key European markets.

The company named Martin Jennings as managing director of Legends’ operations in the United Kingdom, as well as head of global planning for Legends’ international business. Jennings joined Legends International in 2018 and had been senior vice president of project development.

Legends also has named former Sportfive executive Jens König as managing director of central Europe. König – who will manage Legends’ operations in the area from Hamburg, Germany – had been Sportfive’s senior vice president and head of global business development.

The moves come after global investment firm Sixth Street earlier this year acquired majority control of Legends, with the deal containing a clear mission to grow the company’s international profile.

To that end, further managing director hires are also being planned for France, Italy, and Spain, and those managing directors will collectively comprise an international operating committee.

Andrew Hampel, previously president of Legends International, is now transitioning to a new role as senior advisor beginning in October.

“We have established a world-class foundation in the international market, and are poised for extraordinary growth,” said Mike Tomon, Legends co-president and chief operating officer. “To accelerate this growth, and to continue to deliver at the highest level for our clients, we are excited to launch an enhanced operations model led by two native-born, world-class experts in Martin and Jens.

“This strategic approach not only represents the recognition of the uniqueness of each regional business environment, but also highlights our commitment to continue to invest in significant infrastructure across our unique 360-degree platform,” Tomon said.

Tomon, a longtime Legends executive, was recently named the company’s first co-president along with Curt McClellan, who comes to the operations from a prior role as executive in residence for KSL Capital Partners.

“As we ramp back up at a rapid pace, we are positioning our company to more effectively execute our long-term growth strategy and must match that with the right leadership and structure to support our teams and clients, ensuring that we can sustain and elevate the world-class service we deliver to partners,” said Shervin Mirhashemi, Legends chief executive.

Legends continues to have a sizable presence in numerous key sectors of the sports industry, including concessions, hospitality, naming rights and sponsorship sales and valuation, ticketing, merchandising, fundraising, and venue technology.

EATERLA: Jon & VIinny Promise Cheeseburger Subs And Fried Hot Dogs at SoFi Stadium This Year

Via EaterLA

More details are emerging about the upcoming Jon & Vinny collaborations at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, home of both the Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers. Stadium officials recently announced the star duo as a kind of chefs in residence, working collaboratively with concessions company Legends on menus that will be available across the stadium.

The overall program, known as LA Eats, will be loosely constructed around four different menus, each named for a street or area within greater Los Angeles. First up is the Fairfax, harkening to Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo’s spiritual LA home, where their award-winning restaurants Animal, Jon & Vinny’s, and (nearby) Son of a Gun reside. The new Fairfax stadium menu “is a sub, deli, cheeseburger concept,” mixing everything from chicken salad subs to fried ‘ripper’ hot dogs and a burger-sub hybrid featuring elongated patties of beef on griddled rolls (seriously, it looks wild). A promo video for the Fairfax menu can be found below.

The Fairfax menu, which also includes vegan chili and a jalapeño cheddar sausage, among other options, represents one quarter of the full LA Eats menu. SoFi Stadium reps say the plan is to drop new announcements about the upcoming menus each week. Shook and Dotolo collaborated on menus throughout the stadium at each concession area, and will feature different themes based on local streets and areas. Next up is the San Vicente Boulevard menu.

As for the stadium overall, there’s still much to uncover about the food — including a different vendor setup at the box seat and VIP levels — both inside and out. Beyond the walls of the NFL stadium, built by billionaire Stan Kroenke, there are further plans to build an entire nightlife and hospitality community, with sit-down restaurants for pre-game meals, hotels, retail, and more. And while the Hollywood Park site project has been delayed by a full year as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Gavin Newsom recently said that all counties would likely ‘fully reopen’ for business (including full-scale in person live events) by June 15, paving the way for a big year at SoFi Stadium, at least. As for the smaller longtime businesses around the stadium in Inglewood, that remains to be seen.

LOS ANGELES TIMES: SoFi Stadium Partners With Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo to Make Food at Venue

Via Los Angeles Times

Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo, owners of Animal, Son of a Gun and the Jon and Vinny’s restaurants, are working on the food lineup for SoFi Stadium, the 3.1-million-square-foot, indoor-outdoor sports and entertainment complex in Inglewood that is home to the Los Angeles Rams and Chargers.

“Most stadiums, the approach is, ‘Hey, let’s go get Domino’s to pay us to put a concession stand in our stadium,‘” Shook said. “The approach here is ‘Hey, we are going to build one of the nicest kitchens we’ve been in, underground in the basement, and we’re going to produce all the food that goes to the concession stands.‘”

Shook and Dotolo are acting as culinary consultants to help with menu development and product sourcing at the stadium, which can seat 70,000 to 100,000 people, depending on the setup. They’re working with executive chef Robert Biebrich and vice president of culinary innovation Gretchen Beaumarchais of Legends, the hospitality company that will operate the stadium’s culinary program. Legends also handles the concessions at Angel Stadium and a number of other venues around the country.

The James Beard award-winning chefs are used to cooking for a crowd. Dotolo and Shook operate a successful catering and events company called Caramelized Productions, and they also partnered with Delta Air Lines in 2019 to create dishes for select Delta One flights.

While they wouldn’t discuss specific stadium menu items just yet, they did share that they worked with the Legends team to create four concepts for the 42 concession stands. The idea is to offer re-imagined versions of stadium classics. Hot dogs, cheeseburgers and chicken tenders were all mentioned during our conversation.

“There’s going to be hot dogs, because it’s a stadium,” Shook said. “We tasted probably 50 different hot dogs.”

Shook said they narrowed down the choices to the top 10 and then made some calls to ensure that producers could handle the volume needed for a stadium of this size. He and Dotolo then tested buns, toppings and all the other components of the menu items.

Scaling items made it almost impossible to use select producers. But some were able to make it work.

“We were able to bring in DiNapoli tomatoes, the ones we use at Jon and Vinny’s,” Dotolo said.

The concession stands will feature glass windows that offer a view into their kitchens. They are also strategically placed to offer views of the field and the videoboard, a screen with 70,000 square feet of digital LED that will show whatever event is happening at the time.

“For a chef, it’s easy to get weird and funky,” Shook said. “One of the things we really try to keep in mind is out of the fans that come there, not everyone is going to be a chef. What are the items they are going to be looking for?”

Dotolo and Shook said they spent months working on R&D for menu items.

“One of the items that we were super stickler on was the chicken finger,” Shook said.

COLUMBUS BUSINESS JOURNAL: Crew SC Lands Sponsorship Deal With Columbus Tech Company

Via Columbus Business Journal

The scoreboard and other digital signage inside Columbus Crew SC’s new stadium will be powered by a public IT infrastructure company.

Vertiv is equipping the data center that will support the Crew’s administrative and game-related IT needs, as well as providing point-of-sale systems in the stadium, the entities announced Tuesday.

“We see a lot of ourselves in the Crew story, as a Columbus-headquartered, global organization leveraging our skills, passion and international reach to succeed at the highest levels,” said Gary Niederpruem, chief strategy and development officer at Vertiv, in a release.

Financial terms of the deal are not being released.

Vertiv will be known as a “founding partner” for the stadium, as well as its “official data center equipment provider.” Legends Global Partnerships represented the Crew in forming the partnership.

Steve Lyons, executive vice president and chief business officer, said in a release that Vertiv’s equipment is “critical to the operation of our sideboards, digital signage and point-of-sale systems and will elevate the entire match-day experience at our new stadium.”

“The Crew is committed to providing a best-in-class experience for our supporters,” Lyons said in a release.

Vertiv is projecting growth in 2021, after managing to keep sales roughly flat in 2020, Columbus Business First previously reported. The Columbus company went public last year with a $5.3 billion valuation. Vertiv, which has about 1,500 employees in Central Ohio out of 20,000 worldwide, projects 7% sales growth to $4.8 billion in 2021.

SPORTS BUSINESS JOURNAL: Legends Takes Another Step Into College, Signs Miami To 10-Year Deal

Via Sports Business Journal

The University of Miami has signed Legends to manage its corporate sponsorship program and the school’s marketing rights.

The 10-year deal represents Legends’ second major property acquisition in the last four months and completes another major step into the marketing of college athletics. The firm landed Georgia Tech in December and also counts Notre Dame as a multimedia rights client.

The Hurricanes previously had been with Learfield IMG College in a long-term relationship that went back to at least 2003. Miami’s deal started as a joint venture between Learfield and ISP Sports two decades ago and continued through ownership changes at both Learfield and ISP until the two companies eventually became Learfield IMG College two years ago.

Terms of the new contract with Legends were not available. Miami, as a private institution, is not required to disclose financials.

“We evaluated a number of different companies and Legends rose to the top,” Miami Athletic Director Blake James said. “With the energy created around this partnership, I think we’ll see a tremendous amount of growth, not just in our local market, but also nationally and globally.”

The Hurricanes, who are preparing to have 100% of capacity available at Hard Rock Stadium once football starts, said Legends will have access to an array of revenue opportunities for the off-campus venue. There will be sponsorship and field signage assets, as well as myriad hospitality sales, an area that Legends knows well.

Mike Behan, Legends’ vice president of collegiate partnerships, said the firm already has plans to launch a sales and engagement center that will be based in south Miami. He described it as a preview center where Legends can tell the story of the university to prospective sponsors, similar to what the company has created in some pro team markets.

“We’re looking to bring that approach to our multimedia rights,” Behan said. “We want to be able to describe Miami to partners in a way that hasn’t been done in the past.”

Behan took the lead for Legends on winning this deal. James had Deputy AD and CFO Jason Layton running point for the Hurricanes.

Legends’ work in Florida extends to Orlando as well, where it is selling naming rights for the Magic’s NBA arena.

SPORTS BUSINESS JOURNAL: The 2021 Class of Forty Under 40 – Scott Aronsky

Via Sports Business Journal

The individuals selected for Sports Business Journal’s 22nd class of Forty Under 40 are not afraid to go big, whether it’s a blockbuster media rights deal, the launch of a bold new product, the opening of a dynamic stadium or a career move that opens new doors to success. They are not afraid to take risks, and the organizations across the sports business that they represent have benefited from their accomplishments.

SBJ, along with presenting partners Anheuser-Busch, MGM Resorts and TurnkeyZRG, are pleased to announce our annual list of 40 executives who will be recognized for excellence and innovation in their careers, all before the age of 40.

Over the past four months, an editorial committee has reviewed, studied and discussed more than 400 nominees, resulting in the 40 named for the class of 2021. The committee considered career achievements; entrepreneurial zeal; best-in-class approach and technique; innovative practices that others follow; and leadership and impact within their organization and in their community.

One of the honorees, Charlotte FC President Nick Kelly, joins SBJ’s Forty Under 40 Hall of Fame as a three-time selection to the list. Kelly, who was vice president of partnerships, beer culture and community at Anheuser-Busch InBev before joining the MLS expansion club in February, was a member of the 2017 and 2020 Forty Under 40 classes.

All 40 executives will be featured in the June 28 issue of Sports Business Journal, where we will tell the stories of their career paths and successes. They also will be honored in-person at the Forty Under 40 gala tentatively scheduled for November in New York City. The 2020 Forty Under 40 class, whose awards ceremony in March 2020 was postponed by the coronavirus pandemic, also will be recognized that night.

FORTY UNDER 40 CLASS OF 2021

Scott Aronsky, Legends

Chara-Lynn Aguiar, ESPN

Will Ahmed, Whoop

Naz Aletaha, Riot Games

Jonathan Amoona, Winston & Strawn 

Chris Armstrong, Wasserman

Nana-Yaw Asamoah, National Football League

J Batt, University of Alabama 

Tim Bezbatchenko, Columbus Crew SC

Shelly Cayette, Cleveland Cavaliers and Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse 

Kyle Charters, Inner Circle Sports

Seth Cole, Turner Sports

Will Deng, National Football League

Brandon Doll, Las Vegas Raiders

Jayar Donlan, WWE

Stuart Duguid, IMG

Logan Gerken, Mortenson

Jason Glushon, Glushon Sports Management

Hannah Gordon, San Francisco 49ers

David Haber, National Basketball Association 

Nick Kelly, Charlotte FC

Matt Kramer, Creative Artists Agency

Jason Krochak, Proskauer 

Aaron LeValley, LA Kings and AEG Sports

TJ Lynch, Allied Sports

Jason Miller, Excel Sports Management

Evan Parker, The Athletic 

Ryan Petkoff, Hunt Sports Group

Paul Rabil, Premier Lacrosse League

Gabriel Rose, CBS Sports Digital

Casey Schwab, Altius Sports Partners

Michael Shane, Philadelphia Flyers and Wells Fargo Center

Carrie Skillman, Scout Sports and Entertainment 

Jason Sondag, Chicago Cubs

Ania Sponaski, GMR Marketing

Malaika Underwood, OneTeam Partners

Scott Warfield, PGA Tour 

Zack Weiner, Overtime

Jarod Were, National Hockey League

Meka White Morris, Tappit

SPORTICO: Bucs Fans Gobble Up Gear, Setting Record for Super Bowl Stadium Spend

Via Sportico

Super Bowl attendees spent a record amount on concessions and merchandise during Sunday’s big blowout, according to stadium operations company Legends, which worked with the NFL to manage the unprecedented experience this year.

Fans spent an average of $212 in the stadium, dropping $132 on food and drinks and $80 on merchandise, both Super Bowl records, Legends announced. The average spend was up nearly 40% over fans’ average spend five years ago in Super Bowl 50. Among the crowd of 24,835 were more than 7,000 vaccinated health care workers.

Buccaneers fans likely gobbled up souvenirs as Tampa Bay cruised to a 31-9 victory. Raymond James Stadium’s concessions, meanwhile, were set up to be contactless, thanks in part to a partnership with Visa. Many fans also walked into the game with $255 gift cards as a replacement for the lack of pregame festivities offered this weekend. Inside, T-shirts went for $45 while beers could be had for $13 to $15, with some prices marked down, like the “fan-friendly” $5 hot dog, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

“We’ve invested heavily in innovating the guest experience so that fans feel safe, confident and comfortable engaging with food, merchandise and other stadium amenities, all of which helped contribute to the record-breaking sales,” Legends Hospitality president Dan Smith said in an email.

It probably helped the average sales numbers that 2,000 attendees came from the stadium’s luxury suites. Ticket prices for the game were roughly in line with recent averages. Last-minute tickets went for a median of $8,300, compared to $8,500 last year.

The bump in in-stadium spending was not expected to correlate with a typical boom for the local economy, as COVID-19 dampened expectations despite a team playing a Super Bowl at home for the first time.

In 2019, Legends won the chance to manage event merchandise at key NFL events, including the Super Bowl and NFL Draft. Previously, the NFL was reportedly impressed by Legends’s work with the Cowboys, Browns, Titans, Rams and Chargers. The company was co-founded in 2008 by the Yankees and the Cowboys affiliate, Jones Concessions LP.

CBS SPORTS: Culinary Creations for Super Bowl Sunday at Raymond James Stadium

In Tampa, FL ahead of Super Bowl LV, Legends General Manager Orazio LaManna and Senior Executive Chef Jason Choate detailed what local flavors would be available at Raymond James Stadium for Super Bowl Sunday.

SPORTSBUSINESS: Legends Targets Global Growth with Sixth Street Deal Done

Via SportBusiness

Premium experiences company Legends is actively targeting an aggressive international expansion plan now that its transaction for global investment firm Sixth Street to take majority control is now complete.

The deal, valuing Legends at a reported $1.35bn (€1.12bn) including debt, that was announced last month has officially closed. And with that completion, Legends after nearly 13 years of operation is broadening its ambitions.

The company already holds some key relationships outside of its United States base, notably a broad-based pact with Spanish giant Real Madrid that saw the subsequent hire of Victoria Hawksley to lead international retail operations.

But Legends is now thinking even bigger, particularly as it looks ahead to a period beyond the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and a point when full attendance at stadiums and arenas is again possible.

“When we do come back, we want to be really well positioned to continue growing our international business and have that be a bigger and bigger part of our overall pie,” said Shervin Mirhashemi, Legends president and chief executive. “The fact that Sixth Street has that experience, has that presence internationally, certainly in the pan-European market as well as other locations around the world, it fits exactly our vision of where the business is and is going toward in the future. There’s going to be immense focus on our behalf to make sure that international business becomes a bigger piece of what we do.

“Given that we are a global platform and are focused on these unique experiences for global brands, Sixth Street really fits our DNA, and their experience on that global stage is really going to serve us well,” he said.

That targeted geographic expansion thematically continues a functional growth for Legends. The company started mainly as a concessions and hospitality outfit but over the years has expanded into numerous areas of sports and entertainment operations including naming rights and sponsorship sales and valuation, ticketing, merchandising, fundraising, and venue technology.

In the latest deal, Sixth Street will have a 51 per cent equity stake in Legends, with founding partners the New York Yankees of Major League Baseball and the National Football League’s Dallas Cowboys holding minority positions. But even as those teams’ relative stakes have shifted, their involvement in the Legends business will not, Mirhashemi said.

“They’re going to be very much involved in the business going forward,” Mirhashemi said. “They’ve rolled their equity and they feel even more bullish about the business on a go-forward basis.”

The raising of as much as $500m in debt that was detailed shortly after the Sixth Street investment was announced has also closed, Mirhashemi said, and was part of the same overall recapitalization of the Legends.

The existing Legends management team that includes Mirhashemi and chief operating officer Mike Tomon will remain in place.