Executives Spotlight stories appeared on this website starting in 2001. Some of the executive's professional experience may have changed since they were published.
Spotlight - November 24, 2009
President/Philadelphia Union, Major League Soccer
"To everything, turn, turn, turn
There is a season, turn, turn, turn
And a time for every purpose, under heaven."
It was a day unlike any other. I know I’m getting old when I can remember the room, who was sitting where, the scattering of black and red 3-ring notebooks, the staff photographs, league polos, drinks in the bar, and what we talked about better than I can remember yesterday’s staff meeting. Around a table in a hotel in Stamford, Connecticut in the fall of 2000 some of the finest sports team marketing minds gathered to prepare for the launch of the XFL. Rich Oriolo and Dallas Cowboy superstar Drew Pearson (NY), Joann Klonowski and USC's hero, "J.K." McKay (LA), the legendary NFL/CFL executive Bob Ackles (Las Vegas), Tim Berryman (Birmingham), former President of the Colorado Rockies, Steve Ehrhart (Memphis), Chicago PR man, Ken Valdisserri (Chicago), Oregon State's punter, Michael Preacher (San Jose turned SF), Tom Veit (Orlando) and Billy Hicks (CMO). Bobby Collins, Rich Rose and Basil DeVito from the WWF, or WWE as it is called now, presided over the meeting.
This group was incredible. I knew the minds and years of experience were like none other I had seen. They were discussing each and every detail about how to promote a professional football game from the way you sell tickets, local media partners, ticket distribution and spectacular game operations, sponsorship sales, public relations and marketing. Michelle Wilson, who headed marketing, talked about league marketing and showed off the red and black XFL Spalding football, jerseys and team logos. It has to be considered one of the best launched sports leagues. These executives hit their marketing and ticket sales targets with less than 3 months to prepare. Other metrics were unfortunately off target. Unbeknownst to those in the room, the league folded within a year. None have regretted being there.
I was so impressed with the precision and collaboration of a group of incredibly gifted sports and event marketing minds all in one room. Men and women, greatness behind them, greatness in front of them, leaders of 112 executives cobbled together in 4 months, some through our first-ever online hiring…in the days of dial-up… when 150 people applied for an XFL job every hour… some 56,000 applications in 4 months….these people were risking their reputations. They were launching an outdoor football league with national television that they knew could change lives forever. But how? The XFL changed the way we watch sports (skycam camera), and changed many people's careers (such as, MVP and winning quarterback for the XFL’s Xtreme Tommy Maddox relaunched his NFL career and led the Pittsburgh Steelers into the playoffs in 2002; a sitting Minnesota Governor and former wrestler, Jesse Ventura, was criticized for moonlighting as an XFL color commentator; Greg Campbell, the finance director for the Los Angeles Xtreme has risen to become President of the NBA's Memphis Grizzlies and others like Billy Hicks are out of sports entirely.)
The best marketer and the best manager bar none was Tom Veit. His Orlando Rage was the most successful franchise in all of the XFL.
One of the more popular radio shows in Orlando at the time was “Monsters of the Midday”, an all-talk show around the middle of the afternoon hosted by folks who loved World Wrestling. Tom went to talk about a trade and promotion. They brought him onto the show and for 20 minutes talked about the new football team coming to town. That day they sold 200 seats on-air. They continued to host Tom on the show and a section of the stadium – 1100 season tickets – were sold just for fans of this radio talk show.
But Tom didn't just come of age during the XFL. He has before and after turned in winning performances and has to be considered one of sports' best turn-around and start up executives.
Bet you had never heard of the University of South Florida until suddenly they were the “hot team”? In 2007, a determined university president and supportive athletic director were ready to get USF on the map. Tom was hired to help promote the entire athletic department and to focus on the football team. He convinced the school to fund a few ticket sales positions and plowed that money back into more sales and more sales. He used the revenue to create a new logo and “brand identity”. He worked with the University leadership and they successfully lobbied to get into the Big East, the place was poised for success. CLC marketed the logo and Target, Walmart and even the locals snapped up the colorful merchandise to support the school’s football run. And unlike usual football ticket sales programs at the time, Tom Veit and his staff instituted a tiered ticketing plan. Everything was like a professional sports team. Copycat? Look what these colleges are doing now hiring the Dallas Cowboys to help them sell PSLs!
And now Tom’s got his arms around MLS’ Philadelphia Union. His first program as a consultant to get ready for the announcement of the team, build a web site and get seat deposits on sale on 10 days notice. Then it was on to work with CEO Nick Sakiewicz to build a front office and get the new 18,500 seat stadium out of the ground. One of the most important milestones was the launch the team’s logo. It took 11 months but everything in the logo has meaning. Clinging to the need to be “authentic”, the team solicited the opinions of thousands of pure soccer fans in Philadelphia. Then whoops, a day before the launch, someone got wind of the new logo through a staging server for one of the merchandisers and sent to flying over the internet. No problem, still 1,000 fans showed up at the unveiling and the “Philadelphia Inquirer” covered the logo on its front page. Bars opened early that day! Philadelphia Union’s Merchandise went on to have one of the most successful launches in MLS history.
2010: It's the time; it’s the season; it’s once again Tom Veit's turn, turn, turn. Like Orlando’s Rage; Like USF, it’s Philadelphia’s Union! - Buffy Filippell
"Tom fully embraced the vision for the XFL and successfully brought it to life in a big way through innovative marketing and promotion in the Orlando market. Tom does everything with passion, commitment, and of course a great sense of humor!"
--Michelle D. Wilson │Executive Vice President, Marketing, World Wrestling Entertainment
PHILADELPHIA MLS 2010; Philadelphia, PA; 2009 - present
President, Keystone Sports & Entertainment/Philadelphia Union/Union Field at Chester
THE SOLUTIONS GROUP/; Tampa, FL; 2007 - 2009
UNIVERSITY of SOUTH FLORIDA ; 2002-2007
Associate AD External Affairs
General Manger Action Sports Media
ORLANDO RAGE (XFL); Orlando, FL; 2000-June 2001
TAMPA BAY MUTINY; Tampa, FL; 1999-2000
Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing
CLEAR CHANNEL COMM; Tampa, FL; 1996-1999
Director of Sports Networks
TAMPA BAY STORM; Tampa, FL; 1993-1996
Game day operations coordinator
Director of Marketing and Operations
PACE ENTERTAINMENT; Tampa, FL; 1992-1993