Deana Ivey Elevated To President Of The Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp

Deana Ivey. Photo: Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp

Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp has promoted Deana Ivey to President as the organization restructures its top leadership. Butch Spyridon remains the Chief Executive Officer of the organization.

Ivey has been with the organization since 1997, previously serving as Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer.

“I am honored and humbled to be named President of an organization dedicated to promoting a city recognized as a global destination,” says Ivey. “I appreciate the confidence the NCVC Board of Directors and CEO Butch Spyridon have placed in me, and I look forward to helping realize Nashville’s future possibilities while building on the past successes.  It’s a city to which I have devoted my career and love.”

Ivey has received the Nashville Business Journal Women in Music award and the Women in Business award by Nashville Lifestyles. She is a board member of the Tennessee Hospitality Association, Rhythms of the South Corporation and the Academy of Country Music, and is a member of the 2015 Leadership Music class.

“Deana’s advancement is well earned and much deserved,” offers Spyridon. “She has been a committed partner these past 25 years and has been integral in shaping the Music City brand, creating and attracting major events, and marketing Nashville around the world.”

Both Spyridon and Ivey oversaw and coordinated the organization’s marketing and sales efforts as Nashville has become a heralded global destination. The city’s tourism industry has seen dramatic growth to 16.1 million annual visitors and $7.5 billion in direct visitor spending in 2019. Together, they have created and produced successful large annual concert events to market the city, including Let Freedom Sing! Music City July 4th and New Year’s Eve in Nashville.

They co-produced and helped lead creation of two award-winning Nashville documentaries: For the Love of Music: The Story of Nashville and It All Begins With A Song. They also played key roles in hosting and promoting the 2019 NFL Draft, creating the Good To Go health and safety program, and bidding on the 2026 FIFA World Cup.

“As the organization has grown and Nashville’s profile as a global destination has risen, we saw a need to expand our top leadership,” says Kevin Lavender, Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp. “Butch continues to excel as a leader, putting Nashville in a position to reach record-breaking visitation and convention numbers and exceed expectations–from hosting the 2019 NFL Draft to being on the shortlist to host FIFA World Cup in 2026. The city is fortunate to have Butch and Deana leading the hospitality industry.”

Tennessee Sportsbooks Hits Revenue Record In November

Nissan Stadium. Photo Courtesy of Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp

Nissan Stadium. Photo: Courtesy of Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp

Sports betting continues to boom in Tennessee as Sportsbooks in the Volunteer state recorded revenue of over $40 million in November. This marks the highest recorded for the state, according to PlayTenn.

The average volume grew to $12.2 million per day in November from $12.1 million per day in October. The increase in volume broke records as the gross revenue grew 179% to $36.9 million in November from $13.2 million in November 2020, shattering September’s record of $25.6 million along the way.

“Even with one fewer football weekend than in October, wagering grew, a sign that the wave of action over the last three months is sustainable beyond football season,” says Eric Ramsey, an analyst for the PlayUSA.com Network in a press release. “Sportsbooks continue to expand their reach to new customers, and bettors are becoming increasingly comfortable with more diverse forms of betting. It is difficult to imagine a better season than the one that Tennessee Sportsbooks have enjoyed.”

Wagering fell to $365.7 million in bets in November, falling short of the record $375.3 million in bets reached in October, according to data from the Tennessee Education Lottery and Sports Wagering Advisory Council. However, November’s bets were up 178% from the $131.4 million in bets that Sportsbooks took in November 2020.

This was the third straight month the state hit revenue records. The state also created $6 million in taxes.

Chase McCabe Promoted To Program Director At 102.5 The Game

Chase McCabe

Chase McCabe has been promoted to the Program Director/Brand Manager of 102.5 The Game after 10 years working at the radio station. McCabe’s promotion comes after current program director, Ryan Porth, announced his departure to move to 670 The Score in Chicago.

“We are fortunate to be in a position to promote from within our ranks,” says Cromwell Media VP/Market Manager Dennis Gwiazdon. “I’m confident that Chase will use this opportunity to sustain ESPN 102.5 The Game’s momentum and his promotion allows us to maintain continuity as we build on our reputation as Nashville’s Best Sports Talk.”

“We are excited for Ryan’s opportunity to be in the No. 3 radio market in the country. Throughout his tenure with ESPN 102.5 The Game Ryan has been instrumental in our success over the years,” adds Gwiazdon. “All of us at Cromwell Media are happy for Ryan and wish him continued success. I have no doubt that Chase will be his worthy successor.”

McCabe has been with the radio station since he interned with them in 2011 while attending Middle Tennessee State University. He has since served as the Assistant Program Director for the last four years and has been the co-host of The Game’s midday show, Darren, Daunic & Chas,e since July of 2019.

“I am absolutely thrilled to lead ESPN 102.5 The Game and ESPN 94.9, and grateful for the opportunity that owner Bud Walters and Dennis have given me. I can’t wait to see what new heights we can reach,” says McCabe. “I have also been blessed to work with Ryan Porth for the last 9 years and have not only learned a lot from a colleague, I’ve gained a friend for life and wish him nothing but the best.”

Along with his duties as assistant PD and co-hosting the midday show, McCabe has been one of the leading voices in Nashville’s NSACAR community hosting the Chasing Checkers podcast. On the show, he has interviewed stock car and IndyCar drivers, as well as lead up to Nashville’s hosting of the Ally 400 in June and the inaugural Big Machine Music City Grand Prix.

McCabe’s promotion will be effective starting Jan. 3.

College Corner: MTSU Bowl-Bound, Vandy Baseball Premium Seats, TSU Basketball

MTSU Headed To Bahamas Bowl To Face Toledo 

The MTSU Blue Raiders are heading into the postseason as they’re set to face Toledo in the Bahamas Bowl on Dec. 17. It will mark the ninth bowl game of the FBS (I-A) era for Middle Tennessee and the 13th bowl game in school history.

“We are honored to be representing Conference USA in the Bahamas Bowl,” says Middle Tennessee Head Coach Rick Stockstill. “I am thrilled for this team and especially our senior class. This is a tremendous award for a team who has overcome a ton of adversity this season. We can’t wait to get there.”

The Blue Raiders finished the season with a record of 6-6, having won four of their last six games. This will be the first meeting between MTSU and the Toledo Rockets.

Kick off is set for 11 a.m. CT from the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium. The game will air nationally on ESPN and be broadcast on Bowl Season Radio. Tickets can be purchased through the Middle Tennessee ticket office.

 

 

Vanderbilt Baseball To Offer Premium Seating

Vanderbilt will be adding premium seating options at Hawkins Field starting with the upcoming 2022 baseball season.

The premium seating includes new chair-back seating throughout portions of the infield seating bowl, as well as mesh chair-back seating in select areas of the outfield. Hawkins Field will also feature eight loge boxes in select locations and with all-new amenities including premium concessions.

“Upgrading our stadium and creating a better experience for our supporters is a priority for us and will continue to be,” says Vanderbilt head baseball coach Tim Corbin. “We have much to do moving forward, but this is a very good step for our fan base and our program.”

The bleacher seating used in the upgraded sections was developed by 4Topps Premium Seating. It dries quickly after rain, prevents pressure points caused by traditional stadium seating and stays 30-50 degrees cooler than vinyl, plastic or aluminum seating.

 

 

TSU Basketball Players Named To HBCU All-Star Watchlist

Four players of the TSU basketball team have been named to the HBCU All-Star Game Watchlist–Kenny Cooper, Kassim Nicholson, Jalen Dupree, and Shakem Johnson. 

“What a blessing for us to celebrate Black culture, Black excellence, and Black history through our weeklong HBCU All Star Game Experience during Final Four Weekend in New Orleans,” says HBCU All-Stars, LLC Founder/CEO Travis Williams. “We are truly excited to showcase the nation’s best HBCU student-athletes and brilliant coaches with our CBS Sports partners on a national stage, one day before the Men’s National Championship Game and honor the legendary coaching careers of John McLendon, Clarence ‘Big House’ Gaines, and illustrious playing careers of Dick Barnett, Earl “The Pearl” Monroe, Bobby Dandridge, Ben Wallace, and Rick Mahorn.”

The experience will include a college admissions fair, pro-day scouting combine, legacy court dedication and community outreach, which tips off the week on Tuesday, March 29 and concludes one day after the NCAA men’s Division I national championship on April 5.

Three Nashville Natives Win Big At The 21st St. Jude Rock ‘N’ Roll Marathon

Will Caldwell. Photo: Donn Jones

This weekend over 15,000 registered participants took to the Nashville streets for the 21st running of the St. Jude Rock ‘n’ Roll Running Series Nashville Marathon.

Will Cadwell and Nashville native Gisela Olalde were crowned champions of the marathon race, while Nashville natives Nick French and Meg Murphy finished at the top in the St. Jude Rock ‘n’ Roll Running Series Nashville Half Marathon.

Gisela Olalde. Photo: Donn Jones

Cadwell finished first overall and came home victorious for the men’s full, clocking a time of 2:26:45. Olalde was the women’s champion with a final time of 2:46:11. French was crowned the winner for the men’s half, clocking a time of 1:10:18, while Murphy was the women’s winner with a final time of 1:23:38.

Thousands of spectators showed up throughout Nashville to cheer on their friends, family and fellow Nashvillians. Several local bands, including Less Kerr and the Bayou Band, Belmont Church, Suitcase Souls, and 2nd Sunset, among others, performed live on stages along the route interspersed with cheerleaders and crowd support.

Nick French. Photo: Donn Jones

More than 1,300 of the participants ran as St. Jude Heroes for the mission of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Since the partnership began in 2012, tens of thousands of St. Jude Heroes have raised more than $12 million through the event.

“I am deeply grateful for the compassion of the Nashville community, the collaborative spirit of our IRONMAN Group partners and the commitment of our St. Jude Heroes, who are unwavering in their dedication to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital,” says Richard C. Shadyac Jr., President and CEO of ALSAC, the fundraising and awareness organization for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. “These amazing people came together today for a shared purpose that began nearly 60 years ago when St. Jude was founded. With every mile, we’re one step closer to realizing the goals of the six-year, $11.5 billion St. Jude strategic plan that’s focused on accelerating research and lifesaving treatment to raise the survival rates worldwide and improve quality of life for pediatric cancer survivors.”

Meg Murphy. Photo: Donn Jones

Rock ‘n’ Roll Running Series will return to Nashville on its traditional date of April 23, 2022. The 2022 St. Jude Rock ‘n’ Roll Running Series Nashville event is now available at www.runrocknroll.com/nashville-register.

Tennessee Breaks Monthly Wagering Record With $375 Million In October

Tennessee continues to break records in the sports betting world after recording $375 million in wagers in October, which is $120 million more than September, according to PlayTenn.com.

In October, Sportsbooks accepted $375.3 million in bets, up 45.9% from the record $257.3 million handle generated in September, according to data released Tuesday during a meeting of the Tennessee Education Lottery and Sports Wagering Advisory Council. Bettors placed $12.1 million in wagers per day over the 31 days of October, up from $8.6 million per day over the 30 days of September.

The increase in betting is likely attributed to the density of NFL, college football, MLB Playoffs and NBA games played during October, according to PlayTenn.com.

“With five full weekends of the NFL and college football, baseball’s postseason, and the start of the NBA season, betting inventory was off the charts,” says Alec Cunningham, an analyst for PlayTenn.com. “The calendar won’t always be so cooperative, but a maturing market will continue to push Tennessee’s industry.”

She continues, “Tennessee is one of the few states with at least one NFL, NBA, and NHL team and multiple Division I football and basketball programs, all of which will be playing full schedules in November. More records will almost certainly fall before the end of the year.”

Gross revenue fell 9.0% to $23.3 million from September’s record of $25.6 million, but that still represented the second-most profitable month for Sportsbooks. The win led to a record $17.2 million in taxable revenue, which yielded $3.4 million in tax revenue.

October’s results pushed the state’s lifetime handle to $2.3 billion since the first Sportsbooks launched in November 2020, making the Volunteer State the fifth-fastest to the $2 billion milestone.

Preview: Nashville’s Caleb Plant Takes On Canelo Alvarez For Undisputed Super Middleweight Belt

Pictured (L-R): Caleb Plant with his father Richie Plant at the Canelo v Plant Main Event Press Conference. Photo: Ryan Hafey

Nashville native and IBF Super Middleweight Champion Caleb Plant will finally take on unified Super Middleweight Champion Canelo Alvarez for the undisputed title on Saturday, Nov. 6 in Las Vegas.

Plant, also referred to as “Sweethands,” is undefeated in his 21 matches fought, 12 of which were knockouts. He is currently ranked at No. 3 in ESPN’s super middleweight rankings. The 168-pound fighter is coming off a few big fights over the past three years.

In January of 2019, Plant defeated Jose Uzcategui on Jan. 13, 2019 at the Microsoft Center in Los Angeles to become the IBF Super Middleweight Champion of the World. The fight was telecast live on Fox Sports 1 and attracted a record peak audience of 986,000 viewers and averaged 761,000 viewers.

“Being undisputed will cement my name in the history books of boxing forever,” Plant shared at the main event press conference. “That’s why I do this. That’s what I set out to accomplish when I first started boxing.”

In January of 2021, Plant successfully defended his title for a third time with a unanimous decision victory over former champion Caleb “Golden” Truax in the main event of FOX PBC Fight Night from the Shrine Auditorium and Expo Hall in Los Angeles.

However, Alvarez will be his best and most difficult opponent yet.

Canelo Alvarez. Photo: Ryan Hafey

Alvarez, 31 years of age, sports a record of 56-1-2. He has fought more than twice as many fights as Plant and is ranked No.1 in ESPN’s super middleweight and pound-for-pound rankings. Alvarez has become one of the most successful fighters in boxing history.

He is coming off a TKO win against Billy Joe Saunders in May of 2021. 73,126 fans attended, making it the most attended boxing match in the sport’s history. Throughout the fight, Alvarez landed over 50% of his power punches. After that fight, he expressed is wanting to be the undisputed champion, calling out Plant.

“I believe that there are a handful of things that I am better than Canelo at in the ring,” said Plant “But the only way to find out is to tune-in on Nov. 6. It’s not going to matter what I say right now, people aren’t going to believe me anyway. I’d rather show you than tell you.”

The heat was turned up after the two got into a scuffle at the weigh-in press conference in September. Choice words were said between both men when Plant slapped Alvarez, who responded with a light one-two punch that cut Plant’s face.

The odds are massively in Alvarez’s favor at -1250, meaning it will take a wager of $1250 to see a profit of $100. Plant is a significant underdog at +630 underdog, so a $100 wager would net $630, according to FanDuel.

Fans can watch the exclusively through Showtime PPV. The main card is set to start around 8 p.m. CT on Saturday night in Vegas.

Tennessee Sports Hall Of Fame Honored With Two ISHY Awards

The Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame, sponsored by the Tennessee Lottery, was honored with two International Sports Heritage Association Awards for excellence in publication and Hall of Fame Inductions.

The ISHY Awards recognize member sports museums, halls of fame and sport heritage organizations for their work in publications and exhibits based upon a competition evaluated by ISHA members and other professionals. The Hall was awarded Best Non-Book Publications for its Hall of Fame Class of 2020 Program and Best Hall of Fame Induction and/or Annual Event Materials for the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2020 Televised Special.

“The Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame is honored to receive these awards recognizing our work during 2020,” says Brad Willis, Executive Director of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. “The challenges of the last 18 months challenged our organization to look for different ways to honor outstanding accomplishments, and we are thrilled to have been recognized for this work.”

The Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2021 Special, presented by the Tennessee Titans, aired online and statewide the weekend of June 26 and 27. All three Grand Divisions of the state were represented in the 2021 Inductees and our 2021 Honorees.

Titans running back Derrick Henry was named the 2021 Tennessean of the Year, in addition to US Soccer President Cindy Parlow Cone, Nashville Predators GM David Poile, the Voice of the Tennessee Titans Mike Keith, former Tennessee Baseball and Colorado Rockies star Todd Helton, Vanderbilt women’s basketball trailblazer Cathy Bender, ETSU basketball legend Tommy Woods, wheelchair basketball champion Brandon Rowland, Tennessee Football legend Bill Bates, Tennessee Basketball legend Reggie Johnson, MTSU linebacker and Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebackers Coach Mike Caldwell, and Memphis women’s basketball coaching legend Mary Lou Johns.