TAMPA, Fla. (Sept. 21, 2017) – Three heavy hitters in the business of sports are the guest speakers at the USF Muma College of Business Sport & Entertainment Management program’s annual fall lecture event. They will discuss the future of the industry – from managing professional sports and venues to developing ancillary products like simulated video game systems.
“What Tomorrow Might Look Like” is the theme of the event, which takes place at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 9 at the USF Sun Dome. The event, presented by FOX Sports Florida and the Tampa Bay Lightning, features Brendan Donohue, managing director of the NBA 2K League; Jeff Wilpon, COO of the New York Mets; and Tim Leiweke, founder and CEO of Oak View Group, a mega sports and entertainment management corporation. The event is free and open to the public.
This year, the panel will offer perspectives on future facility designs and renovations to meet the needs and interests of tomorrow’s sports fans, take a look at the rapidly developing world of e-sports and some insight into how entertainment is being developed and delivered to global audiences, according to Bill Sutton, director of the dual-degree Sport & Entertainment Management graduate program.
“I’m really excited about this year,” said Sutton. “The financial support of Fox Sports Florida and the Tampa Bay Lightning is essential. I am unaware of a similar program anywhere that offers something to the residents of the region.”
All three guest speakers will be on stage with moderator Abe Madkour, executive editor of Street & Smith’s SportsBusiness Journal. The setting is informal and conversational and questions will be fielded from the audience.
Those interested in attending can register here.
Additional background on the guests:
- Brendan Donohue is the managing director of the NBA 2K League, which offers a series of basketball simulation video games. Overseeing the newly formed e-sports system that is set to launch next year, Donohue is a sports industry front-office veteran with more than two decades of experience in team and league operations. The NBA K2 League will feature 17 of the NBA’s 29 teams in its inaugural season. Donohue has been managing director since April. Prior to that, he served as senior vice president of the NBA’s Team Marketing & Business Operations department, where he led the strategic planning and management for all teams across the NBA, WNBA and the NBA G League. Before joining the NBA league office in 2009, Donohue spent five years as vice president of ticket sales and service with the Atlanta Hawks, Atlanta Thrashers and Philips Arena. Prior to that, he held positions with the then-New Orleans Hornets (now Pelicans), Milwaukee Bucks, Detroit Pistons and Palace Sports and Entertainment.
- Jeff Wilpon is the chief operating officer of the New York Mets, overseeing the day-to-day baseball and business operations of the club and the Mets Foundation. He is active on a number of non-profit organizations and serves on the board of MLB Business and MLB Media. He also is the co-managing partner at Sterling Project Development, which specializes in both new construction and the renovation of existing residential, commercial and sports properties, and was responsible for the planning, design, development and construction of Citi Field, the Mets’ home stadium. He is also a founding partner at Sterling VC Funds, which is involved in the Overwatch League, an e-sports venture that features simulated games and matches between sports teams from different cities. He is a former catcher, drafted by the Montreal Expos in 1983.
- Tim Leiweke is the founder and CEO of the Oak View Group, a development company that recently invested in Miami Beckham United, a proposed MLS team led by global soccer icon David Beckham. With over 30 years of global sports and entertainment experience, Leiweke is a respected industry leader and has been deeply involved in the evolution of the NHL, the NBA and MLS. Prior to assuming his role with Oak View Group, Leiweke served as president and CEO of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, where he led a transformation of the Toronto Raptors into a team with a record number of wins and back-to-back division championships. It was during this time that Leiweke ranked fifth on the Sports Business Journal’s 50 Most Influential list. Before that, he was CEO of the Anschutz Entertainment group, leading the company’s rise into a global live entertainment organization capable of developing, producing, marketing and managing sports and entertainment programming in its venues worldwide. He also supervised the development of O2 Arenas and stadiums in London, China and Germany.
The University of South Florida, established in 1956 and located in Tampa, is a high-impact, global research university dedicated to student success. The USF System includes three, separately accredited institutions: USF; USF-St. Petersburg; and USF Sarasota-Manatee. Serving more than 49,000 students, the USF System has an annual budget of $1.6 billion and an annual economic impact of $4.4 billion. USF is ranked in the Top 30 nationally for research expenditures among public universities, according to the National Science Foundation. In 2016, the Florida Legislature designated USF as “Emerging Preeminent,” placing USF in an elite category among the state’s 12 public universities. USF is a member of the American Athletic Conference.