January 16, 2015 - Major League Soccer (MLS) - Real Salt Lake
PHILADELPHIA (Friday, Jan. 16, 2015) - Real Salt Lake President Bill Manning yesterday received Major League Soccer's prestigious Doug Hamilton Award, signifying recognition as the 2014 MLS Executive of the Year, earning the honor for the second time in the last three seasons, previously winning the award in 2012. Presented by MLS Commissioner Don Garber in a private ceremony amongst staffs from all 20 clubs, the award honors RSL's continued competitive excellence and outstanding metrics in key business areas. Real Salt Lake also captured the "Ticket Sales Team of the Year" honor, recognizing the club's performance in season and group ticket sales.
Following a coaching change after the 10-round shootout loss in MLS Cup 2013 at Kansas City, Manning and RSL kicked off 2014 with a league-record unbeaten run of 12 games under rookie head coach Jeff Cassar. RSL eventually extended its active playoff streak to seven MLS seasons (longest in the League's modern era), accrued a league-record fifth consecutive year with 15 or more wins and 50+ points (matching LA Galaxy) and finished 3rd in a brutally competitive Western Conference, earning a spot in this Fall's 2015-16 CONCACAF Champions League.
Off the field, Manning spearheaded the relationship build and implementation of RSL's 2014 debut with jersey-front partner LifeVantage (NSDQ: LFVN), the Sandy, UT-based international company, dedicated to visionary science that looks to transform health, wellness and anti-aging. RSL continues to set MLS standards in several business areas, including new ticket sales and customer retention, corporate partnership revenue and growth, sponsor activation and customer service, as well as local television ratings and media coverage.
"Under Bill's direction since 2008, Real Salt Lake has shown consistent, steady growth and the club has excelled both on and off the field, across a number of different competitions," said MLS Commissioner Don Garber. "The club's metrics in key business areas can be directly attributed to Manning's leadership and vision, and of course to his hardworking and dedicated front office staff. The atmosphere at Rio Tinto Stadium - truly one of the great home-field advantages in our League - is among the best in the hemisphere."
Real Salt Lake sold out its final 16 consecutive games in 2014, with Rio Tinto Stadium at or above its 20,238 capacity in 18 of the club's 20 events at the City of Sandy venue. The club's "Team is the Star" philosophy galvanized RSL to a 27% increase in season ticket sales, representing its fourth consecutive season with double-digit growth in that critical area. The addition of nearly 3,500 new season tickets on top of a third consecutive season with a 90+% renewal rate enabled all of the club's group sales and several new season ticket representatives to reach the League's "Gold" tier status, signifying rarefied air amongst MLS sales efforts.
Manning credits the entire RSL locker room, staff and fan base - the #RSLfamily - and recognizes the collective efforts to cultivate, mobilize and maintain an ever-deepening culture for the sport on the Wasatch Front, which in 2015 will include the expansion USL PRO Monarchs.
"First and foremost, I want to pay tribute to Doug Hamilton, for whom this honor is named; Doug was a tremendous executive and I was proud to call him my friend," said Manning. "This award - as it was after the 2012 season - really is a reflection of the great staff and players we have here at Real Salt Lake - we support and drive each other to succeed every day. Also winning this award would not be possible were it not for the incredible passion & commitment of our incredible fan base."
Manning - who received his MBA from the University of Bridgeport (Conn.) - embarked on his 20-year sports career in 1993 with the Continental Indoor Soccer League and then went on to manage four different teams in the United Soccer Leagues and Major League Soccer between 1994-2002. Manning then joined the NBA Houston Rockets in 2003, playing a key role in the opening of the state-of-the-art Toyota Center, before joining the NFL Philadelphia Eagles as Vice President of Sales from 2004-2008. Manning took the reigns as President of Real Salt Lake & ESPN700 in April 2008, later adding duties as President of Rio Tinto Stadium, which opened in October of 2008.
RSL's Director of Group Ticketing Scott Reynolds was recognized as Major League Soccer's 2014 Salesperson of the Year, the third occasion in his illustrious eight seasons in Utah that he has earned the honor. Two of Scott's colleagues in group sales - Jen Petrosky and Matt Rader - are among the 10 honorees at the "Gold" level of group sales, signifying 20,000+ tickets sold by each representative in 2014. The RSL group sales department joined two other teams - Columbus and Chicago - in the MLS "President's Club" level, signifying a range of 80,000-99,999 group tickets across the MLS regular season.
On the season ticket side, RSL was one of five teams - including Seattle, Toronto, Portland and Kansas City - honored as part of the Commissioner's Club, with 12,000+ full season equivalents. These five teams, along with New England, achieved the Commissioner's Club level with a season ticket renewal rate greater than 90%, a testament to the RSL Fan Relations team, headed by Dave Nelson.
Individually, four of the 10 season ticket sales representatives to attain "Gold" status - 500 or more full season tickets sold in 2014 - call RSL home, as Brent Stevens, Andy Atwood, Chris Randall and Brian Flynn were recognized for their stellar efforts. Randall and Flynn - both graduates of the MLS' National Sales Center initiative - also made the league-wide, four-person "All-Rookie" class.
RSL enters the 2015 season - the club's 11th campaign - owners of the longest active playoff streak in MLS, currently at seven seasons, riding a league-record five consecutive years with 15 or more wins and 50+ points. Real Salt Lake has enjoyed a pronounced home-field advantage since building its permanent Rio Tinto Stadium home in Sandy, boasting an 82-16-23 mark in the building since its opening in October, 2008. Head Coach Jeff Cassar returns 17 players from last season's roster, including Major League Soccer's active leaders in games played/started and minutes, Captain Kyle Beckerman and GK Nick Rimando, the league's all-time leader in shut-outs (115); perennial starters Tony Beltran, Chris Schuler and Javier Morales; Olympic starlet Luis Gil; and forwards Alvaro Saborio, the club's all-time leading scorer, and Joao Plata, the club's 2014 Golden Boot winner, the 22-year old now a regular for the Ecuadoran National Team.
The club's 12-1-7 overall home mark a year ago was no doubt buoyed by the continued growth of season-ticket holders - expected to approach 16,000 in 2015 - as RSL finished 2014 with a streak of 16 consecutive sellouts at Rio Tinto Stadium (capacity: 20,238), 18 of 20 games sold out last season and 22 capacity crowds in its last 27 games dating back to Aug., 2013.
Real Salt Lake is now taking reservations for group outings in 2015. Group tickets are available on a first come first served basis. Due to tremendous support and the number of Pride Season Ticket holders, seats are extremely limited. Filling out a priority web form will guarantee you are at the top of the contact list for group seats in the 2015 season. Please fill out the form on the following link if you are interested in bringing out a group of 20 or more to a match this season. A group sales representative will be in touch shortly.