Learfield chief Dan Dolby is with Savannah Sallworth, a Learfield employee. Dolby's son, Brendan, works at the Golden Knights, while Stallworth's father manages the arena at South Point hotel-casino.

Las Vegas’ Next Generation of SportsBiz Leaders is Legacy of Current Sports Marketers

By ALAN SNEL

 

How big is the sports marketing industry in Las Vegas?

 

Well, it’s reached the point where the children of Las Vegas sports-business leaders have now entered the sports market.

 

Consider the next generation of sports-business workers in Las Vegas.

 

  •  South Point’s arena chief, Steve Stallworth, has a daughter, Savannah, working at Learfield, recently awarded a contract at UNLV to handle the media rights deals and sponsorships for UNLV sports such as basketball and football on radio broadcasts.

 

  • Savannah Stallworth’s boss at Learfield is Dan Dolby, who has a son, Brendan, charged with handling corporate sponsorships at the Vegas Golden Knights.

 

  • Meanwhile, Clark County Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak, who is a big Raiders and Golden Knights fan, has a daughter, Carley, who also works at the Golden Knights in marketing.

 

Even Pat Christenson, president of Las Vegas Events, which is the LVCVA’s events arm, has a daughter, Nicole, who works for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon in several cities, including Las Vegas.

 

And consider Las Vegas’ Mr. Motorsports and Rodeo, Michael Gaughan, who owns South Point, who has a daughter, Sally Gaughan, who is South Point’s director of internet marketing and who attended last week’s announcement that the hotel-casino would be the title sponsor of the South Point 400 car race to be the second NASCAR event at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in September.

 

“It’s cool to see the next generation come up. The most important word in the English language is ‘legacy’ and they’re going to take what Steve and I are doing to the next level,” said Learfield’s Dan Dolby, who first met Steve Stallworth when Dolby was the local Pepsi sales and marketing manager and Stallworth worked at Thomas & Mack Center. Now, Stallworth’s daughter, Savannah, works on Dolby’s Learfield staff at UNLV.

 

The new marketing kids on the block — or Strip since this is Las Vegas — grew up in a sports marketing culture. Both Savannah Stallworth and Brendan Dolby said they learned early that managing sports properties meant long hours and work that was not necessarily glamorous behind the scenes.

 

Savannah Stallworth remembered that when she was a young kid, she cleaned up cups and trash at Thomas & Mack Center in between National Finals Rodeo and Disney on Ice performances when her dad worked at the arena on the UNLV campus.

 

And Brendan Dolby recalled that when his dad was the general manager of the former Las Vegas Gladiators Arena Football League team, he would have to pack the seats with T-shirts and thunder sticks at Thomas & Mack.

 

Brendan Dolby is the Vegas Golden Knights director of corporate partnerships. His dad, Dan Dolby, is the Learfield chief at UNLV overlooking the multi-media rights deals and sponsorships.

 

These days, the younger Stallworth and Dolby don’t hesitate to call their respective dads for sports marketing advice.

 

“My dad is my sounding board,” Brendan Dolby said.

 

Stallworth, a former quarterback at UNLV, recalled that his daughter was always a sports junkie and wanted at a very early age to have a career in sports marketing. These days, Savannah Stallworth works on activating the sponsorship deals struck by her Learfield colleagues at UNLV basketball and football games.

 

The younger Stallworth, Learfield manager of marketing and branding, earned her stripes with internships at UNLV, the Las Vegas Bowl, the NBA Summer League, Las Vegas Speedway and the Golden Knights, papa Stallworth said.

 

Stallworth said that UNLV’s current and immediate-past female athletic directors — Desiree Reed-Francois and Tina Kunzer-Murphy — offered his daughter great female sports-business role models in a male-dominated work sector.

 

Stallworth said he’s happy to field calls from his daughter on sports-business issues and understands his daughter’s work position because “I was in her job 25 years ago.”

 

Savannah Stallworth recalled that when she was in first grade she told people she wanted to be an arena director when she grew up.

 

South Point arena chief Steve Stallworth said it warms his heart to take calls from daughter Savannah, who works for Learfield at UNLV, when she has a sports marketing question on how to handle a client or promotion.

 

“The only thing I can remember about my dad was that he was surrounded by sports all the time,”  Savannah Stallworth said.  “I knew all about the long nights.”

 

Interestingly enough, Savannah Stallworth and Brendan Dolby crossed paths for a week at the Golden Knights when she was ending an internship there and Dolby was starting his corporate partnerships job with the VGK. The younger Stallworth and Dolby were swapping employers: Stallworth went from her VGK internship to Learfield, while Dolby had left IMG College (UNLV’s media rights company before Learfield) to take the job with the Golden Knights.

 

Stallworth said her Learfield boss, Dan Dolby — Brendan’s dad — knew that she was accustomed to the Las Vegas sports culture by following in her father’s sports-business footsteps.

Dan Dolby, the local Learfield chief at UNLV for sports radio deals, has a son, Brendan, who works for the Golden Knights on corporate partnerships.

 

“Dan gets it. He knew I grew up in the industry. And he know the culture. He’s a boss, coach and a father figure to us,” Savannah Stallworth said.

 

Learfield’s staff under Dolby had to hit the ground running after UNLV picked Learfield over previous contract-holder IMG College because this year’s UNLV football season was about to start. Sometimes, Savannah Stallworth will go on sales calls with her Learfield sales colleagues and she fills her pick-up truck with promotional items, giveaways and signs for UNLV football and basketball games.

 

The Golden Knights have also hired Carley Sisolak, daughter of Clark County Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor in 2018.

 

Sisolak, who backed the Raiders stadium subsidy deal and is a Golden Knights season ticket holder, said his daughter previously worked at Hakkasan nightclub in PR before joining the Golden Knights in their marketing department.

 

“She loves it. She said it’s a good group and it’s a great place to work,” Sisolak said. “The teams are more than just the athletes on the ice or on the field. There’s a whole staff behind them.”

 

Clark County Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak, a big Raiders and Golden Knights fan, said his daughter, Carley, loves working for the Golden Knights.

 

Contact LVSportsBiz.com founder/writer Alan Snel at asnel@LVSportsBiz.com

Alan Snel

Alan Snel brings decades of sports-business reporting experience to LVSportsBiz.com.

Snel covered the business side of sports for the South Florida (Fort Lauderdale) Sun-Sentinel, the Tampa Tribune and Las Vegas Review-Journal. As a city hall beat reporter, Snel also covered stadium deals in Denver and Seattle.

In 2000, Snel launched a sport-business website for FoxSports.com called FoxSportsBiz.com.

After reporting sports-business for the RJ, Snel wrote hard-hitting stories on the Raiders stadium for the Desert Companion magazine in Las Vegas and The Nevada Independent.

Snel is also one of the top bicycle advocates in the country.

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