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People on the Move: Cleveland Cavs, FIFA and more

We round up the latest movements from the stadium sector and wider ecosystem…

Nic Barlage has been named chief executive officer of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse and Rock Entertainment Group.

Barlage (pictured left) formerly served as the president of business operations for the organisation and chief operating officer of Rocket Entertainment Group.

Barlage replaces former CEO, Len Komoroski, who announced earlier this month that he would step away from his role at the conclusion of the current Cavaliers season following 19 seasons of leadership with the organisation.

Barlage said: “It is an absolute honour and privilege to have the opportunity to lead the business operations for a dynamic organisation that shares such a special bond with our community and partners. We look forward to an exciting future and building on the strong foundation that Len Komoroski and all of our hard-working team members, past and present, helped establish. We will continue to strive for outcomes that make our team, fans, and partners proud.”

FIFA has announced that Amy Hopfinger (pictured centre) and Dan Flynn have been appointed to key leadership roles within the local FIFA subsidiary in the US for the FIFA World Cup 2026, which will be staged in the US, Mexico and Canada.

Hopfinger joins as chief strategy and planning officer after serving US Soccer in a variety of roles over 18 years – most recently as vice-president of events. Flynn, who recently concluded 19 years of service at US Soccer as general secretary and CEO, joins as senior executive advisor.

“As we approach the selection of the venues for what will be the largest sporting event in the world, it is great to be able to welcome Amy and Dan to the FIFA team,” said Colin Smith, FIFA’s chief tournaments & events officer. “Their vast experience will provide leadership and continuity for the delivery of a transformative football event – the FIFA World Cup 2026.”

FIFA has previously stated that the decision on the 16 successful host cities for 2026 will be made before the end of June 2022.

FIFA has also appointed Romy Gai as chief business officer, with chief commercial officer Kay Madati departing in the coming months.

Romy joins FIFA from AWE International Group, where he had been chairman since 2015, and prior to that his career includes 14 years as chief revenue officer & marketing director and CEO assistant at Juventus FC.

“As chief business officer, Romy’s appointment will further strengthen FIFA’s commitment to our commercial and marketing partners,” said FIFA secretary general Fatma Samoura. “He has had a lifetime involvement in football, and we are delighted to have his expertise to help shape our future business ventures across the world.”

Gillon McLachlan will be standing down as AFL chief executive at the end of the year after eight seasons in charge.

It is believed McLachlan has committed to completing the processes attached to new collective bargaining agreements, as well as finalising new club-funding models and a fresh broadcast deal, which expires at the end of 2024.

An AFL statement said that AFL executive Travis Auld, Western Bulldogs president Kylie Watson-Wheeler and Richmond CEO Brendon Gale are expected to be under consideration as McLachlan’s replacement.

Aaron Hamilton has become the new chief executive at the Trusts Arena in Auckland, New Zealand.

Hamilton takes over at the multi-purpose indoor arena, which hosts sport and has welcomed artists such as Take That, One Direction and Alice Cooper.

Hamilton previously worked on the Expo 2020 project in Dubai and the Qiddiya sport and entertainment development in Saudi Arabia.

ASM Global has appointed industry veteran Charles Beirne (pictured right) as general manager of the Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center as it undergoes a major expansion project.

Beirne has worked at the company since 2006, most recently as general manager of the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center in California.

The Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center project includes an extension of the main exhibit hall and a new 65,000-square-foot ballroom.

“After overseeing a $60m capital improvement project at the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center, Charlie is the perfect candidate to manage the exciting new expansion at the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center,” said ASM global executive vice-president, Convention Centers, Bob McClintock.

“He also led the opening of the Irving Convention Center in Las Colinas, so he is uniquely qualified to bring his expertise to this vital development project in Broward County.”

Do you have news of an appointment that we should know about? Get in touch by emailing news.editor@thestadiumbusiness.com and we’ll include it in our next round-up.