Arthur Blank had a big night at the Sports Business Awards in New York.
The owner of the Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United was named the Sports Executive of the Year at the ceremony Wednesday, May 23, and the food and beverage experience at Mercedes-Benz Stadium was named the Sports Breakthrough of the Year.
Blank was selected over four other finalists: Bill Foley, the owner of the Vegas Golden Knights; Casey Wasserman, the chairman of the 2028 Olympic organizing committee in Los Angeles; Mark Lazarus, the chairman of NBC Broadcasting & Sports; and Michael Rubin, the founder and executive chairman of sports merchandise company Fanatics.
“Last year was an incredible, memorable one for all of our businesses, and I’m very humbled and grateful to the SportsBusiness Journal and its staff by this recognition for our businesses, associates, and, most importantly, our fans,” Blank said. “The most important partnership we have is the partnership with our fans, supporters, guests and customers. They are the focus of everything we do, and I can’t thank them enough for their commitment and support of our teams, our stores and our causes — these awards are truly community achievements.”
The Falcons tweeted out the news of the Executive of the Year award with an image of Blank in the Benz.
— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) May 24, 2018
The food and beverage experience at the stadium — which is home to the Falcons and Atlanta United, played host to the national college football championship game in January, and will be the site of Super Bowl LIII next February — features a family-friendly pricing structure, such as $2 hot dogs, $5 beers and $2 refillable sodas. NFL and MLS fans voted the experience No. 1 in their leagues.
The other breakthrough nominees were sports and men’s lifestyle blog Barstool Sports, AA minor-league baseball team the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp, Kobe Inc.’s Granity Studios and the esports Overwatch League.
“Arthur’s vision, resolve and leadership in shaping and implementing a new F&B experience for fans is deserving of great celebration,” Steve Cannon, the CEO of AMB Group, said in a news release issued by the company. “We are proud of the experience we are delivering to our fans at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, as well as the waves that this revolutionary new F&B program is causing for the industry overall. Fans everywhere want to change the F&B experience at sports venues and they deserve it.”
Still, it was not a perfect night for Blank or Atlanta.
Atlanta United, which made the playoffs and smashed attendance records in its debut season, was nominated for Sports Team of the Year but lost to the Vegas Golden Knights, a team that has reached the Stanley Cup finals in its first year in the NHL.