Kerry Bubolz was among the 10 executives whose work in 2018 we believe indicates the direction of the sports business in 2019 and beyond.
The Vegas Golden Knights became arguably the greatest expansion team in North American professional sports history by reaching the Stanley Cup finals last year.
But it was not just on the ice that the Knights were so incredibly successful. “There’s a lot of revenue certainly generated by the Las Vegas franchise,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said in May.
“Certainly on their jersey sales and licensed merchandise, it’s off the charts. It’s an amazing story in every category.”
The Knights lead the league in merchandise sales through Fanatics, the official e-commerce retailer of the NHL and, according to Forbes, the team ranked among the top teams in season-ticket holders (over 14,000), average single-game ticket price ($160) and season ticket waiting list (more than 6,000).
Forbes ranks the team as the NHL’s 12th most valuable out of 31, at $575m (€506m), which represents a value increase of 15 per cent, based on the $500m expansion fee.
The franchise, meanwhile, rated fourth in terms of attendance as a percentage of capacity (103.9 per cent) – thanks to additional standing room-only space – averaging 18,042 fans per game at T-Mobile Arena.
Based in Nevada, the Knights quickly took advantage of the new sports betting landscape in the US. Last September the team signed a multi-year partnership with William Hill US, making them the first team from any of the four major North American sports leagues to ink a deal with a sportsbook operator. The team is considering testing out installing betting kiosks at T-Mobile Arena, in partnership with MGM, which would be a first in the US.
Bubolz has refused to rest on his laurels to prove the Knights will be no one-season wonder. “We have to keep raising the bar, keep elevating that experience,” the former Cleveland Cavaliers executive said. Attendance is already up to 18,296 fans a game, 105 per cent of stadium capacity.
“Kerry is a proven executive who used his experience to authentically connect the team with the community of Las Vegas. Through smart strategy and excellent execution, they have accomplished in a single season, what often takes decades to achieve,” said Hugh Weber, president of Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, the New Jersey Devils and Prudential Center.
Our other nine trailblazing executives are: