Sports ETA’s Chief Executive Summit Draws Record Crowd of Industry Leaders

 Posted on: February 22 2024
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SAN JOSE (February 22, 2024) — The 2024 Sports ETA Chief Executive Summit, the intersection of sports leadership and technology, wrapped up here yesterday and shattered records with an unprecedented turnout of the top leaders in the sports events and tourism industry. Hosted by the San Jose Sports Authority, it wasn't just an event – it was a pulsating celebration of the synergy between sports tourism, professional development, and the transformative impact on communities and economies.

Sports events and tourism leaders representing CVBs, sports commissions, rights holders, and industry partners gathered from February 20 and 21 to share trends and learn best practices on various topics, including technology, business, and management. Attendees enjoyed an evening at the SAP Center, where they were surprised with an appearance by NFL legend and Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott. Not only did he pass around his impressive collection of rings, but he also shared the important message of “One More Time”: One More Time to step up. One More Time to make a difference. One More Time to be there and help others.

The lineup of keynote speakers was nothing short of phenomenal:

  • Jim Caruso, CIO, Elevate, jetted in all the way from New York to ignite the Summit with a great presentation on “The Future of Fandom: AI’s Role in Enhancing Experience”
  • Andy Dolich, Executive, Fan Controlled Sports and Entertainment and President, Dolich Consulting, had attendees in stitches while imparting invaluable wisdom from his session “LOL: Loss of Logo” - we are so much more than the logo on our business cards
  • John Poch, Executive Director, San Jose Sports Authority and our CE Summit host, shared his innovative and intentional approach to fundraising through his “90 Days to Get to Know” session
  • John Lambeth, Founder & CEO, Civitas showcased the immense opportunities of Tourism Improvement Districts (TIDs) and the various approaches that can truly solve the funding problem, while Kim Summers, CEO, Placer Valley Tourism, displayed the ultimate case study of Civitas success with her new facility and illustrated the massive real data room night numbers that are transforming her organization through their session: “Setting Up the Perfect Play: A Plan to Tackle Your Sports Tourism Funding Challenges”
  • Darren Centi, Director of Events, San Jose Sports Authority, guided attendees through their path to success for their REACH Program and how they leverage their Hall of Fame efforts and success through his panel on “Community Initiatives That Truly Matter”
  • Becca Greenwell Wathen, Strategic Partner Manager, Sports Partnerships, Meta, and former DI college basketball player, demonstrated the crossover of how talent on the court can transfer to tenacity and success in the board room and how the NIL is changing our landscape forever through her session “Navigating the NIL ERA, A Playbook for Business”
  • Mark Gnatovic and John Brich with SearchWide Global knocked it out of the park, yet again, as they unveiled the secrets to navigating the modern workforce with their session “Navigating the Modern Workforce: Trends, Leadership, Skills and Industry Insights”

Our Chief Executive Summit is where the industry's top leaders converge to propel their organizations forward,” said John David, President & CEO of Sports ETA. “A heartfelt thanks to the San Jose Sports Authority for hosting this triumphant CE Summit.”

Special shout-out to our stellar sponsor lineup for making this Summit a reality: San Jose Sports Authority, Fort Worth Sports Commission, and Visit Myrtle Beach.

The downside? The fear of missing out. Brace yourselves for the 2025 Sports ETA Chief Executive Summit in Fort Worth, Texas from January 29-30. Mark your calendars – it's an event you can't afford to miss!


About Sports ETA:

As the only trade association for the sports events and tourism industry, Sports ETA is the most trusted resource for sports commissions, destination marketing organizations (DMOs), and sports event owners. Sports ETA is committed to the success of more than 700 member organizations and 2,400 sports event professionals. We promise to deliver quality education, ample networking opportunities, and exceptional event management and marketing know-how to our members to protect the integrity of the sports events and tourism industry.  For more information, visit

Contact: Jackie Reau, Game Day
(513) 708-5822 |


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