Venues in the 21st century

Stadiums and arenas are far more than buildings. Modern day sports venues are a unique blend of architecture and technology that bring together thousands of fans and connect them – with their team, each other, and the outside world - on an unprecedented level. This panel will explore the new technologies that are enhancing the in-arena experience for fans, as well as the challenges and costs of designing a stadium to incorporate all of these innovations.

 

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Amy brooks (moderator)

Executive Vice President, NBA's Team Marketing & Business Operations (TMBO)

Amy Brooks is Executive Vice President of the NBA’s Team Marketing & Business Operations (TMBO) department and is responsible for growing NBA, WNBA, and NBA Development League team profitability through strategic consulting on all aspects of business operations, including marketing and digital, ticket sales, sponsorship development, suite sales and customer retention. Under her leadership, TMBO develops best practice content and industry-leading analytics on behalf of teams, and advises teams via in-market visits and more than 20 annual workshops and training sessions.

Prior to joining the NBA, Brooks worked in management consulting at Bain & Company, and was previously a product manager at Sun Microsystems. She received her MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business. She also holds a bachelor’s degree from Stanford, where she was a member of the women’s basketball team that won three conference championships and went to the NCAA Final Four.

 

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Ryan Montoya

Chief Technology Officer, Sacramento Kings

Ryan Montoya is Chief Technology Officer for the Sacramento Kings. His responsibilities include providing direction and managing the Sacramento Kings new technology and innovation strategies to enhance the fan experience and improve the team’s performance. Under his leadership the Kings became the first NBA team on Twitter, to use Bitcoin, experiment with Google Glass and utilize drones. He also led the team’s strategic investment in Voke VR. Additionally, he oversees all technology for Sacramento’s downtown entertainment and sports complex, Golden 1 Center -- the world’s most technologically advanced and sustainable professional sports venue.

Throughout his career, Montoya has advised, invested and served at all levels of early stage technology companies. Montoya began his career as an aide to President Clinton, Vice President Gore and two Cabinet Secretaries.

A native of Colorado, Montoya received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Notre Dame, a master’s in International Studies/Security from the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver and an MBA from California State University, Sacramento.

 

John Paul

CEO and Founder, VenueNext

As CEO and Founder, John is responsible for the company’s growth and operations, while leading the VenueNext team on its mission to set a new and much higher standard for live event experiences. Prior to VenueNext, Paul spent over 35 years as a founder, CEO or executive leader of product and engineering teams at startups and major American technology companies.  

Most recently, Paul was Senior Vice President at Dish Digital where he created an Internet based next generation video distribution service, a continuation of his award winning work at Sling Media, with the Slingbox product line, which was acquired by Dish in 2007.  In 2002, Paul founded and created one of the first photo sharing services named Our Pictures Inc., which was acquired by Simple Star Inc. in 2005.

From 1996 through 1999, Paul was Senior VP and General Manager of the Server Division of Netscape, which was sold to Sun Microsystems for $1bn. After AOL’s acquisition of Netscape, Paul remained at the company as Executive Vice President, leading acquisitions of smaller companies in the calendar, email, music, application server, and wallet categories, and successfully maintaining a high rate of talent retention post acquisition through his innovative organizational leadership style.

Before Netscape, Paul held leadership positions in companies including Banyan Systems, Compaq Computer, Siemens and Digital Equipment Corp. Paul was recently named one of the 60 Most Powerful People in Sports by Worth Magazine for his innovative contributions to the industry. Paul graduated magna cum laude from the University of Illinois with a B.S.E.E in 1976.

 

Thad Sheely

COO, Atlanta Hawks

Thad Sheely is the Chief Operating Officer of the Atlanta Hawks Basketball Club and Philips Arena and oversees all aspects of team and arena business operations and real estate development.

Sheely manages the operations and planning for the re-imagining of Philips Arena. Philips Arena is consistently ranked among North America's Top 10 arenas and will be upgraded with almost $200m of improvements in the coming years.

Sheely is the point person for the design and construction of team's the 90,000 SF new practice facility, part of the Emory Sports Medicine Complex. The complex combines sports, medicine and science with three industry-leading tenants; the Atlanta Hawks, Emory Orthopedics and the Peak Performance Project, P3 the leader in athlete training and analysis. This partnership is designed to provide world-class medical and training to the Hawks and the Atlanta community.

Sheely also oversees business operations for the team including Accounting and Finance, Analytics, IT and Human Resources. 

Joining the Atlanta Hawks and Philips Arena in 2015 with over 20 years of sports and real estate experience, Sheely's previous projects included the development of Hudson Yards for the Related Companies, a 28-acre mixed-use property on Manhattan's West Side, designing and planning their public experience, and managing the operations of the $20 billion development. Prior to Hudson Yards, Sheely led the stadium development and financing for major sports facilities including MetLife Stadium for the New York Jets and Giants, and American Airlines Arena for the Miami Heat. 

His professional contributions have distinguished Sheely in the industry as Sports Business Journal selected him for their Forty under 40 award in 2010, and Billboard Magazine recognized MetLife Stadium, while under his direction, as the #1 top-grossing stadium in the world in 2010 and 2011.

Sheely holds an MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business and an undergraduate degree in Urban Studies from Columbia College. Sheely lives in Atlanta's Morningside area with his wife and two sons. 

 

rick welts

President and COO, Golden State Warriors

One of the most respected business executives in the NBA, with over 40 years of experience in the league, Rick Welts is currently in his fifth season as president and chief operating officer of the Golden State Warriors. In this role, he oversees all business-related operations for the Warriors, including the team’s proposed development of a privately financed sports and entertainment center in San Francisco’s Mission Bay neighborhood, reporting to the organization’s Co-Managing Partners, Joe Lacob and Peter Guber.

Under Welts’ direction, the organization has established several franchise benchmarks from a business standpoint in recent years, as the Warriors brand continues to grow in stature following Golden State’s 2014-15 NBA championship season. The organization has won numerous awards across all facets of the business in recent years, including in May 2014 when the Warriors were named “Sports Team of the Year” by the Sports Business Journal/Daily, with Welts accepting the award on behalf of the organization at the Seventh Annual Sports Business Awards in New York City.

Welts, 62, owns an impressive and all-encompassing résumé that includes a myriad of different capacities spanning virtually every level of an NBA operation. Prior to joining the Warriors in October 2011, he spent nine years with the Phoenix Suns, serving the organization as president and chief executive officer for the last two seasons. Welts’ responsibilities in Phoenix included the supervision of all business operations for the Suns, while also overseeing the team’s interest in the management of the US Airways Center and the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury. The Mercury won the WNBA Championship in 2007 and 2009.

Prior to joining the Suns, Welts enjoyed a successful 17-year (1982-1999) stint at the NBA league office in New York, where he ascended through the ranks to eventually become the league’s third-in-command as the executive vice president, chief marketing officer and president of NBA Properties. In addition to his overall contributions to the revitalization of the league’s image and popularity, his notable accomplishments at the NBA include the creation of NBA All-Star Weekend in 1984 – a model that subsequently became a fixture in both MLB and the NHL – along with the creation of the marketing program for USA Basketball for the 1992 Olympic “Dream Team.” Along with Val Ackerman, Welts was named “Marketer of the Year” by Brandweek in 1998 for his role in launching the WNBA. During his time at the NBA office, he supervised a wide-range of departments, including corporate sponsorship and media sales, consumer products, international business activities, media relations, community relations, team services, special events and creative services. Welts also played a prominent role in the organization of preseason games in international cities and the eventual opening of international NBA offices in Australia, Asia, Europe, Mexico and Canada.

A native of Seattle, Washington, Welts began his NBA career in 1969, at the age of 16, as a ball boy with the Seattle SuperSonics. He spent 10 years with his hometown team serving a number of roles, including as the team’s director of public relations during back-to-back appearances in the NBA Finals (1978 and 1979) and the SuperSonics’ lone NBA Championship in 1979. In 2006, he was the recipient of the annual Splaver/McHugh “Tribute to Excellence Award,” which is given annually by the NBA Public Relations Directors’ Association to a current or former member of the NBA PR family who has demonstrated an outstanding level of performance and service during their NBA career.

After leaving the SuperSonics, the University of Washington product spent the following three years (1980-1982) at Bob Walsh & Associates, a sports marketing firm in the Seattle area. His non-NBA résumé also includes serving as president of Fox Sports Enterprises (1999-2000).

In May of 2011, in a front page story in the New York Times, Welts became the highest ranking executive in men’s professional team sports to publicly acknowledge he is gay. He was presented with a United States Tennis Association 2011 ICON Award at the US Open in New York City, an award that recognizes and celebrates those who have had a positive impact on diversity and inclusion in the sports industry and society. In October 2011, he was honored with GLSEN’s (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network) Respect Award, which honors those who have made a difference in the areas of diversity and inclusion. In September 2014, he was honored by GLAAD, the nation’s LGBT media advocacy organization, with the Davidson/Valentini Award, which is presented to an LGBT media professional who has made a significant difference in promoting equality for the LGBT community. He also served as the celebrity Grand Marshall of San Francisco’s Pride Parade in 2015.

Welts currently serves as a board member of San Francisco Travel, the Bay Area Council and the Warriors Community Foundation. He is a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame’s Direct Elect Committee and the NBA’s Team Advisory Committee.