HBSE, Devils Name Tad Brown as CEO

Following the departure of Scott O’Neil late last month, Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment have found their new CEO: Thaddeus “Tad” Brown.

Brown will take over as CEO of HBSE and, in doing so, “will oversee all business and growth functions for the HBSE brand and its properties, including the Philadelphia 76ers, New Jersey Devils and Prudential Center” according to the press release put out by the Devils’ PR team. They mentioned his starting date as August 3.

Brown previously worked for the Houston Rockets and Toyota Center (the Rockets’ home arena) and Clutch City Sports and Entertainment in Houston. Fifteen of his twenty years there were spent as CEO. While in Houston, he served on the NBA Board of Governors, was a representative to the Executive Committee and was on the NBA’s Media Committee.

The press release notes that while he was with the Rockets, “[t]he business thrived under his leadership, setting Toyota Center records for sellouts, attendance, total events, and customer satisfaction. Additionally, Houston hosted NBA All-Star Weekend in both 2006 and 2013, as Brown played a key role in making Toyota Center the first NBA building to have two All-Star Games over a seven-year period.”

In addition, “[h]is extensive knowledge of media rights helped fuel the Rockets growth, including the creation of the Houston Regional Sports Network in 2012, now established as AT&T SportsNet Southwest.”

The presser also notes that “[i]n 2017, Brown orchestrated the sale of the Rockets by Leslie Alexander to Tilman Fertitta for a then-NBA and global sports franchise record $2.2 billion.”

Brown was also successful in building “community outreach and charitable endeavors” with the Rockets. He served as President of Houston Children’s Charities, was on the Board of the Greater Houston Partnership’s Opportunity Houston Committee and the Board of Central Houston and was also on the Board of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

Prior to joining the Houston Rockets, he “was a Founder and President of Streetball Partners International. For more than a decade, he worked in partnership with NBC Sports and the NBA to build Streetball into the world’s largest global grassroots basketball property.”

Harris said about him: “[w]e are thrilled to welcome Tad to the HBSE family. Tad is an exceptional leader in our industry, and one with a deep passion for innovation and community engagement. With nearly twenty years’ experience leading the Houston Rockets and Toyota Center, we are confident that he will bring a fresh energy and new ideas to our teams, organization and local communities.”

David Blitzer added: “Tad has an extensive track record of success in the sports and entertainment industry, and we are excited to have him on board to lead our elite management team for HBSE’s next chapter. With his experience and passion for growing businesses and global brands, he is poised to continue our organization’s path forward and reach new levels of achievement.”

Brown commented as well, saying: “I want to thank Josh Harris and David Blitzer for this incredible opportunity to lead HBSE in its next chapter. This role not only allows me to work for innovators like Josh and David; it also allows me to work alongside some of the industry’s best talent that has been assembled across the HBSE organization. This is a world-class sports and entertainment organization that cares about the cities and fans it serves. My family and I are thrilled to begin our new journey and I’m eager to help guide HBSE to even greater heights.”

Brown graduated from Colgate University. While at Colgate, “he was a four-year starter and three-year captain of the varsity basketball team.”

HBSE Commits to Fight Systemic Racism and Champion Equality

The Devils put out a press release this morning that mentions that Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment (HBSE) will be helping to fight systemic racism and champion equality by committing $20 million towards the cause.

The company, which owns the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers in addition to the Devils, will be “pledging $10 million over the next five years to drive action and invest in the cities where [their] teams live, work, play and perform.”

Of the $20 million total committed dollars, $10 million will be a contribution from the Sixers “to the NBA’s newly-announced foundation to drive economic empowerment in Black communities.”

Josh Harris, HBSE Founder said: “As leaders and stewards of community pillars, the eyes of the world are on us to do better, and they should be. While we will never be able to correct the past harm and injustice faced by Black Americans, it’s our duty to provide resources that enable tangible action and greater opportunities for equality. We are committing to a fundamental change in our business strategy by embedding our organization with Black communities and businesses through significant and sustained investment and support. We are deeply committed to fighting for a better, more inclusive future and we pledge to be leaders in doing so.”

David Blitzer, HBSE Co-Founder added, “It is crucial for us to take action in fighting against systemic racism and social injustices, which have persisted for far too long. Moving forward, we are making a continued commitment to racial equality as a key focus of our business, advancing institutional and situational change where we live, work, and play. We cannot and will not tolerate racism, injustice or hate, and take responsibility to be a part of the solution for the future of our industry, the cities we serve, and our country as a whole.”

There are key ways that HBSE will be trying to enact this change. Firstly, they will be investing in Black communities, by trying to revitalize the neighborhoods where their teams, as well as fans of those teams, are located. They will be doing this “through partnerships with Black developers, local community groups and officials.”

Secondly, they will use their HBSE Real Estate Community Advancement Program to “advance equitable, community-driven revitalization through significant investments” which include, among other things, a minimum donation of $2.5 million “to organizations and efforts that improve resident quality of life and further equitable development in Black communities (e.g., employment programs, home-buying assistance for long-time residents, public space improvements, youth programming).”

There will also be “consistent capital commitments into real estate projects that advance community priorities in Black neighborhoods, such as affordable housing, health centers, commercial corridor improvements, among others.”

Thirdly, they will be “supporting Black-owned businesses and entrepreneurs.” HBSE will keep to their entrepreneurial spirit by implementing “new initiatives to support Black-owned businesses with competitive opportunities and marketing resources.”

Through NBSE’s new Buy Black Partnership Program, the Sixers and Devils “will contribute more than $5 million in marketing assets to Black-owned businesses.”

Next, through their new Diversity Procurement Program, HBSE will “increase expenditure with Black-owned businesses.” This includes a partnership with organizations like the African American Chamber of Commerce of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.

HBSE will also be promoting education, health and employment by committing $2.5 million through the Sixers Youth Foundation and Devils Care Foundation to continuing to use their Corporate Responsibility “to support positive education, health, and employment outcomes in Black communities. This commitment builds upon efforts made by HBSE to promote racial equality in Newark, Camden, and Philadelphia.” The Sixers have a practice facility in Camden, New Jersey.

The 76ers will “pledge to provide free internet access to more than 1,000 School District of Philadelphia families.”

As for the Devils, recent donations were made to the Newark Boys & Girls Club and the Urban League of Essex County. These were inspired by PK Subban’s donation of $50,000 to the GoFundMe campaign to help Gionna Floyd, six-year-old daughter of the murdered George Floyd. The NHL matched the donation made by Subban.

HBSE will also be amplifying a workplace of respect, inclusion and diversity. They will be supporting “Black and minority executives entering and ascending in the sports and entertainment industry and fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace through recruitment, dynamic partnerships, and programs that provide support and enrichment opportunities for all employees and athletes.”

This end, HBSE will be hiring “a Chief Diversity and Impact Officer to lead internal and external diversity and inclusion programs and initiatives across the organization.” They will also “strengthen HBSE’s Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Board and new Black Employee Resource Group with support groups, workshops and a speaker series to foster continued race-based education, empathy, and mindfulness within our organizational culture.”

They will also “focus on new recruitment, retention and career advancement programs to increase the representation of Black and minority employees across HBSE.”

Additionally, the organization will “partner with Historically Black Colleges and Universities to connect graduating college seniors with career pipelines and exposure at HBSE.”

In my opinion, this is great news and helps show that the Devils and Sixers’ ownership group is trying to be proactive in helping to make change throughout their cities and business through both monetary donations as well as education and hiring practices.