IMG World Congress of Sports Recap

I attended the IMG World Congress of Sports for the first time this week held in Laguna Niguel.  This turned out to be a great networking opportunity and exceeded my expectations.  The impressive list of attendees included Presidents, CEO’s, CMO’s, senior executives and a number of sports industry legends.  IMG and the Sports Business Journal do an excellent job running this first class event. 

In regards to the content, one theme continued to surface throughout.  Digital and social media remain a major focus for brands, properties and content providers alike.  How these different entities are utilizing technology and new media to engage with fans, enhance the experience and provide value is the million dollar question.  For many it appears to be experimental in nature still, but it is now part of almost every discussion.  Head marketers from brands such as Citi, Capital One, Hilton, Hyundai, Sketchers and SunLife Financial all shared how digital and social are significant drivers of their property activation and overall marketing efforts.

Jed York from the 49ers and Brett Yormark of the Nets, both who are presidents overseeing the development of new facilities expressed a 360 degree approach when it comes to infrastructure and planning of their new buildings.  Both are working with strategic partners like Cisco to help solve the challenges regarding connectivity, customer service and overall fan experience.

The last panel of the conference discussed the NFL in Los Angeles.  A mix of industry veterans including the LA Times NFL columnist Sam Farmer shared their views of how football returning to LA might play out.  After hearing this group, it still seems to be totally up in the air.  No one really knows if AEG’s plan of a downtown stadium next to Staples Center or Ed Roski’s City of Industry proposal will win.  Of course whoever ends up with the Dodgers may also add another viable option into the mix.  When it comes to which team will move, the answer appears to be even more unclear.  The usual suspects including the Chargers, Jaguars, Rams and Raiders were all mentioned, but the frontrunner changes on a daily basis.  Alan Rothenberg, Chairman of Premier Partnerships summed it up by saying the NFL loves competition and likes to take their time.  The ball is in their court for now.