Leadoff: Blank wins Sports Executive of the Year award

Arthur Blank Celebrates with fans after an Atlanta United victory last season.
Caption
Arthur Blank Celebrates with fans after an Atlanta United victory last season.

Credit: MIguel Martinez

Credit: MIguel Martinez

Falcons and Atlanta United owner Arthur Blank flew to New York to attend Wednesday night's 11th annual Sports Business Awards show, and he'll bring home one of the night's big prizes.

Capping a prestigious event that drew about 900 people from the sports business industry to the Marriott Marquis in Times Square, Blank won the Sports Executive of the Year award over four other finalists.

SportsBusiness Journal and SportsBusiness Daily, which present the awards, cited a number of Blank's recent accomplishments -- the Falcons' Super Bowl berth in February 2017 and playoff berth last season; Atlanta United's attendance records in its inaugural season; the opening of Mercedes-Benz Stadium with its "revolutionary low-priced concessions that have challenged the historic practice of overpriced hot dogs"; and his leadership role as chairman of the NFL compensation committee.

Earlier in Wednesday night’s ceremony, Mercedes-Benz Stadium’s food and beverage experience won the award as Sports Breakthrough of the Year.

Atlanta teams also claimed finalists in two other categories – Atlanta United in the team-of-the-year competition and the Braves’ SunTrust Park/The Battery Atlanta in the facility-of-the-year competition. But those awards were won by the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights and Detroit’s Little Caesars Arena, respectively.

The event featured 89 nominees for 17 awards, with attendees including master of ceremonies Mike Tirico, lifetime achievement honoree Michael Eisner, NBA commissioner Adam Silver, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey and Walt Disney Co. chairman and CEO Bob Iger.

 

LEADOFF LINKS

NFL owners adopted a new policy Wednesday aimed at ending – or at least concealing from public view – player protests during the national anthem before games.  The policy, approved by the owners at the league's spring meetings in Atlanta, will require players who are on the field to "stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem." However, the policy will provide the option for players who choose not to stand to remain "in the locker room or a similar location off the field" until after the anthem is performed. See full story here.

> Liberty Media chairman John Malone cheered the Braves at the company's annual stockholders meeting Wednesday. "I think the Atlanta Braves are having an incredible turnaround," Malone told stockholders in Colorado. See story here.

> The Braves had no answer Wednesday night for Jake Arrieta and dropped a series to the Phillies. See story here.

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