Future of sports in las vegas
Las Vegas is well known for hosting major boxing and UFC events, but 2017 will be the first year that a professional sports franchise will call Clark County home as the Vegas Golden Knights will play their first NHL game this fall in the new T-Mobile Arena. It is no secret that major leagues have been reticent to do business in the only state with legalized sports betting, but assuaging these concerns are not the only unique challenges the market poses. In this panel, major stakeholders in the Las Vegas sports landscape will discuss these issues, how the leagues’ viewpoints are evolving, and how they plan to maximize these new opportunities.
President, Vegas Golden Knights
Kerry Bubolz joined the Vegas Golden Knights as the franchise’s President on November 1, 2016. In this role, Bubolz will oversee all of the business ventures for Las Vegas’ first major league professional sports franchise.
Bubolz joined the Golden Knights after spending 13 years with the National Basketball Association's Cleveland Cavaliers and Quicken Loans Arena organization. Since 2013, Bubolz was the franchise’s president of business operations, where he was responsible for the oversight of ticket and suite sales; corporate sponsorship revenue; broadcasting, marketing and communications; fan and community engagement; digital and social engagement; and box office operations. Bubolz also served as president and alternate governor for all franchise property teams owned by the Cavaliers Operating Company, including the Cleveland Monsters of the American Hockey League (AHL), the Canton Charge of the NBA Development League and the Cleveland Gladiators of the Arena Football League.
Prior to his tenure in Cleveland, Bubolz enjoyed successful runs with multiple teams in various leagues around the country. He spent time as the Vice President of Sales for both the Carolina Hurricanes of the National Hockey League and Southwest Sports Group, which includes the Dallas Stars of the NHL and Texas Rangers of Major League Baseball. Before that, he held a variety of roles during a six-year run with the International Hockey League’s Cleveland Lumberjacks, including: team president, chief operating officer and senior vice president of business operations.
Bubolz is a 1989 graduate of Oklahoma State University. He resides in Las Vegas with his wife, Melissa, and daughters, Madison and Emma.
President, Las Vegas Events
For over 35 years, Pat Christenson has been instrumental in the development of special events in Las Vegas.
He graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1976 where he won an NCAA Wrestling title. He began his career in venue management in 1980 as event coordinator for the UNLV Athletic Department. In 1983, he was promoted to assistant director of the newly built 18,500-seat Thomas & Mack Center.
At the same time, UNLV took over management of the 30,000-seat Las Vegas Silver Bowl. Christenson was charged with developing programming to fill the venues and developing an operation for both venues. From 1983 - 1992, the Thomas & Mack Center and the Las Vegas Silver Bowl were arguably the two most successful collegiate venues in the country. Christenson booked every event that toured the country, averaging 175 events per year in both venues.
In 1995, while managing both venues, Christenson developed the UNLV Sports Marketing Department. This department brought together all aspects of both venue and athletic inventory under one roof, including season and scholarships sales, promotions, sponsorship and merchandising.
In 2001, Christenson accepted a position as president of Las Vegas Events. In this capacity, he is responsible for securing “Signature Events” and then ensuring their growth and success. During his tenure, Las Vegas Events has increased the number of events it has supported from 21 in 2001 to an average of 41 over the past five years. Most notably, the list includes the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, four conference basketball tournaments, Electric Daisy Carnival, Rock in Rio, Life Is Beautiful, USA Sevens, NBA Summer League and USBC. The non-gaming economic impact of these events has increased from $108.9 million in 2001 to an average of more than $467.6 million over the last five years.
As both the director of the Thomas & Mack Center and president of Las Vegas Events, Christenson has played a prominent role in the growth of the National Finals Rodeo since it first arrived in 1985. To date, the Wrangler NFR has sold out 290 consecutive performances.
Todd fuhrman (moderator)
Gaming Analyst at CBS Interactive
Todd Fuhrman is responsible for gambling coverage of all major sporting events including NFL, CFB, MLB, NASCAR, NBA, and the NHL. Fuhrman creates digital, radio, and television content consistent with the Sportsline.com brand and makes regular TV appearances on CBS Sports Network.
Born and bred with Chicago roots but an affinity for New York sports, Fuhrman's passion for the gambling industry brought him to Las Vegas in 2006. With educational stops along the way at the Groton School and Wesleyan University, Fuhrman built his foundation on hard work and dedication that he's used to be successful in this fast paced competitive industry.
He broke into the business as a financial consultant at Harrah’s and was named senior race and sports analyst at Caesars at the age of 29. From 2013 to 2015, Fuhrman served as Fox Sports 1's Vegas Insider, with regular appearances on Race Hub, Fox Sports Live, and America's Pregame.