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2021: Year-End Awards

For the third consecutive year, Sports Business Journal is devoting part of our final issue of the year to some of the best people, places and moments of the past 12 months. Our Year-End Awards for 2021 honor just a sampling of what made this one of the most remarkable years ever for the industry: a baseball game under a heavenly sky in an Iowa cornfield. A superstar brother act that is re-imagining the possibilities of sports on television. A new arena with the mission of a superhero. And that is to say nothing of a hire that shattered a glass ceiling, merchandise sales that set records and a deal that transformed college athletics for the entire nation. Not bad for a year during a pandemic.

SBJ’s staff spent the final months of 2021 putting together a lengthy list of nominees, then debating, discussing and voting internally to arrive at the results on the following six pages. We hope you enjoy, and we hope you have a terrific end to your year too. — Ted Keith

Best Sports Business Athlete
Best Sports City
Best New Event
Best Hire
Best Facility Debut
Best Fashion Statement
Best Deal
Best Creative
Best Innovation
Best Content

See also: 2021 — The Year In Sports Business

Taryn Graham

“That message is as simply stated as it is significant: Save the planet.”
— Climate Pledge Arena, Best Facility Debut

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SBJ I Factor: Jed York

SBJ I Factor: Jed York, presented by Allied Sports SBJ I Factor presented by Allied Sports features an interview with San Francisco 49ers CEO Jed York. York is in his 17th year with the organization and his 12th as CEO. He is a two-time SBJ Forty Under 40 honoree as a member of the classes of 2012 and 2013. York talks with SBJ’s Abe Madkour about what he learned from growing up in the sports business, working in multiple departments at the team, the challenges of building Levi’s Stadium, and how his leadership style has evolved through the years. SBJ I Factor is a monthly podcast offering interviews with sports executives who have been recipients of one of the magazine’s awards, such as Forty Under 40, Game Changers and others.

SBJ Spotlight: Warner Bros. Discovery

CNBC media reporter Alex Sherman joins SBJ’s John Ourand to discuss Warner Bros. Discovery’s streaming strategy. The two talk about the company’s interest in sports rights, with Sherman noting that the company is in a cost-cutting mode, which is one reason why it has not been active in media rights negotiations over the past several months.

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