A portion of the sports business landscape is experiencing a major convergence — thanks to Elevate Sports Ventures and its star-studded roster of executives.
The new world-class premium services company is focused on project transformation, execution, and sales and marketing dynamics for teams, venues and leagues. The bevy of services that it offers includes market research, corporate hospitality and CRM optimization — and the team at the helm boasts more than 100 years of combined industry experience between a handful of partners that include Al Guido (President of the San Francisco 49ers), Scott O’Neil (CEO of Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment), Tim Leiweke (CEO of Oak View Group) and Jared Smith (Executive Vice President of Live Nation and President of Ticketmaster).
“This is over 10 months in the making,” said Guido, CEO of Elevate Sports Ventures. “The discussions originated last April during the CAA World Congress of Sport. We launched Elevate in January as a strategic partnership between the 49ers, CAA and HBSE, and within 100 days welcomed industry leaders Oak View Group and Ticketmaster/Live Nation to our family; the partners at the table today are an incredibly dynamic group.”
Guido has been friends with O’Neil for quite some time while attending the same sports conferences over the years. With such an array of experiences, it is intriguing to analyze how the different working styles will come together.
“We are like-minded people. We challenge the status quo,” Guido said. “We all have experience and the ability to monetize at an all-time high. We all have different backgrounds that help make this company what it is. I have been a part of the two highest revenue projects in all of sports with the Dallas Cowboys and Legends. Scott has a wealth of experience from working within the NBA league office.”
O’Neil, the Co-Managing Partner of Elevate Sports Ventures, also emphasized the experience and talents that the company possesses.
“We understand the importance and diligence it takes to manage big brands, because we manage some of the biggest sports and entertainment brands in the world,” O’Neil said. “For sports properties, venues and teams seeking a true partner, who understands the needs and challenges of an operator and has a proven record of maximizing monetization, Elevate Sports Ventures offers innovative and individualized solutions. The size and scope of the deals that this group of executives has generated and projects they’ve undertaken is unmatched by any one organization in the space today.”
Guido holds familiarity with packaging effectively and leveraging a brand, as shown by his multitude of projects throughout his time with the 49ers. Some of the work he has been involved with includes leading Levi’s Stadium to more than $650 million in corporate partnership investment since its inception, and helping to incubate VenueNext — a company that helps to simplify and integrate the technological infrastructure within some of the country’s most prominent venues.
“The risk, competition and, most importantly, opportunity has never been greater in the history of the sports and entertainment industry than it is today,” O’Neil said. “In just over 100 days, Elevate Sports Ventures has garnered interest from potential clients across the sports and entertainment space, who appreciate the immense risks they are taking, and want the very best partners to help them see their plans through to maximum monetization.
“We’ve assembled a roster of industry leaders that has not only set the bar for revenue maximization, but has ambitions drive the industry forward through strategic and creative thinking.”
In addition to recently announcing the series of new partnerships with Live Nation/Ticketmaster and Oak View Group, Elevate Sports Ventures is also primed to begin making waves with one of the most highly publicized clients in sports today: the NHL Seattle expansion team.
“With this new partnership,” Guido said, “we are able to utilize a full deployment of services, yet custom-make all offerings with any potential client that we come across.”
As for forging the partnership with Oak View Group, and subsequently beginning work on helping to establish the possible new hockey franchise in the Emerald City, Guido highlighted the strength of both organizations in terms of their collective experience in premium seating services.
“Oak View Group CEO Tim Leiweke is one of the best in the business,” he said. “We’ve been having conversations for over six months discussing the potential of a partnership. By working together in establishing premium seating services, we can truly become one of the dominant leaders in that section of the sports industry.”
The partnership will bring both organizations to work hand in hand as they look towards solidifying the logistics in Seattle. KeyArena, which would serve as the venue for the would-be expansion team, would receive an extensive upgrade in the vicinity of $600 million.
The news of the renovations has excited potential season-ticket holders too; prospective season-ticket sales stood at 33,000 back in March, and there were 25,000 deposits within the first hour of the news of expansion breaking.
“Tod Leiweke, CEO and President of Seattle Hockey Partners, felt that we were well suited to support the premium strategy, sales and servicing given our experience and expansive background collectively throughout our organization,” Guido said. “We feel that Tod is building something special in Seattle; we are proud to be working on behalf of OVG properties there. The scope of this project is extraordinary, and, if a franchise is awarded, we look forward to the eyes of the industry as well as the vibrant fanbase in Seattle resting on the vision that Tod is spearheading and the work that OVG and Elevate will do to support it.”
Tim Leiweke, Tod’s brother, echoed this sentiment, citing Elevate Sports Ventures’ experience and business acumen as the keys to a successful partnership.
“We know our partners now, and our future partners, have a need for an entity that is not only experienced, knowledgeable and sophisticated, but also driven by maximizing those premium revenues,” he said. “The undertaking in Seattle needs someone who will provide the correct advice on structuring, building and selling our premium services; it is really critical in that market and at all our OVG properties. The first and most important need OVG has as a company is to protect the $3 billion in risk we have in current projects and those projects in which we expect to be involved in the future; we achieve that with partners who have experience, knowledge and wherewithal to hit it out of the park for us.”
The NHL Board of Governors met last week to discuss possible expansion in Seattle.
The work with Oak View Group is, of course, not limited to just the NHL Seattle expansion team. Elevate Sports Ventures will join forces with the Los Angeles-based powerhouse for additional major projects moving forward, as well as helping with the properties that OVG has already established.
“As for Elevate Sports Ventures, we will be the official sales agent of Oak View Group properties,” Guido said. “We will be putting a team on the ground in order to offer premium experiences throughout multiple layers, primarily in the premium ticket services and global partnerships scope of the industry.”
Guido has been thrilled with the progress that Elevate Sports Ventures has made in its first couple months of existence, and he is looking forward to all that lies ahead.
“If you would have told me we would have a client in every sport in a marquee property, within the first 100 days of launching the company, I wouldn’t have believed you,” he said. “But we have industry-leading partners and executives with unmatched experience as operators and thought leaders in the industry; we have a differentiated offering in the consultant space and the market is responding to it. We exist to break away from convention. Yet, landing clients is just one step. Most of the work is ahead of us.”