WASHINGTON, D.C.—What happens when you get some of the best minds in sports event experiences together in one room? This is what BizBash sought to uncover during the inaugural BizBash Sports Summit. The event, held in Washington, D.C., Nov. 27-29, hosted 77 sports event professionals and suppliers from across the country for two and a half days of networking opportunities, education, intimate dinners, and interactive workshops.
Attendees represented some of the biggest teams, leagues, and brands in sports today, including the NBA, Barstool Sports, ESPN, the NFL, the NCAA, the Los Angeles Dodgers, and the Boston Celtics.
"The basis of the event was to provide unconventional ways of networking," said Michela Giovannotto, BizBash's director of brand experiences. "Instead of having attendees sit in long education sessions, we tried to make everything really interactive and collaborative."
The summit kicked off with an "opening day," where attendees were brought to Nationals Park, home of the Washington Nationals, for education and a networking reception in one of the ballpark's clubhouses. During the first sessions, speaker Taylor Buonocore-Guthrie posed a question for attendees to answer in small groups: What was your biggest fumble of the year?
"That really broke down barriers from the beginning and made people comfortable with each other," Giovannotto said.
At Nationals Park, attendees also wrote down a piece of advice on tickets to be saved for the end of the conference, hit balls at the batting cages, visited with a Nationals mascot, and ended the night with a tour of Enchant Christmas, an immersive winter wonderland currently open on the field.
The following day, the group headed to Baltimore for a special tour of Under Armour's headquarters, where they also participated in team building and heard from Kelly Jones, Under Armour's senior counsel. Because it was GivingTuesday, the group also enjoyed a CSR plant-making workshop—finished plants were donated to the local Ronald McDonald House.
A final interactive dinner was held back in D.C. at the host hotel, and the summit closed the next morning with a keynote from Frank Supovitz, who has been behind the scenes at major sports events like the Super Bowl, Stanley Cup, and Indy 500. He was even at the helm of Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans in 2013 when the stadium lights went out. He recounts this ordeal, as well as others, in his book What to Do When Things Go Wrong.
Giovannotto said attendees left sharing contact info and stayed back to continue connecting long after the keynote ended.
“I couldn’t be more excited about the direction of the BizBash Sports Summit after its launch in Washington, D.C.," said Patrick Higgins, senior vice president of BizBash Sports. "We set out to introduce a one-of-a-kind experience for executive-level experience creators from the professional sports and brand marketing spaces. This year, we curated a unique blend of off-site experiences, networking opportunities, best-practice sharing, and professional development, and the numbers speak for themselves—100% of our attendees intend to come back next year.”
Another fun stat? Higgins said that while in D.C., attendees were asked to estimate how many fans, athletes, and consumers they personally impact with their events each year. "The average 2023 BizBash Sports Summit attendee impacts over 126 million people annually; and together, our summit attendees touch over 9.7 billion people!" Higgins said.
Megan Miller, event manager for Fenway Sports Management, said it was "hands-down the best industry conference I have attended."
She added, "As event professionals, we are tough critics, and no details were missed. The programming was thought out and engaging. The opportunities to make deep connections were unmatched and will continue well beyond this week. This is a conference that you will want to add to your yearly calendar. Looking forward to 2024!”
Interested in our 2024 BizBash Sports Summit program? Learn more here. And keep scrolling for more from inside the inaugural BizBash Sports Summit...
A special thank-you to our sponsors: AE&ES, The Decor Group, Wolfgang Puck Catering, EIS Group, Interactive Entertainment Group, Kapture Vision, Pitch 5 Productions, BIG HQ Inc., Custom Sevens, Nationals Ballpark Enterprises, Lime Media, ShowPro, Spokane Sports, TentCraft, Brand Activation Services, Pinpoint Promotions, Pixis Drones, Czarnowski, Go West Creative, and SpotMyPhotos.