Ryan Gustafson to shepherd Ilitch Sports


New president and CEO at Ilitch Sports and Entertainment Image: Ilitch Companies

Chris Ilitch, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Ilitch Companies, announced that Ryan Gustafson has been promoted as the President and the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Ilitch Sports + Entertainment (US).

‘ILITCH COMPANIES’ stated that in this elevated role, Gustafson will continue to lead business operations for the National Hockey League (NHL) team Detroit Red Wings, the Major League Baseball (MLB) team Detroit Tigers, the home ground of the Detroit Red Wings – the 20,491-capacity Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Michigan (US) – the home ground of the Detroit Tigers – the 41,083-capacity Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan, and the Fox Theatre, as well as the joint venture interest in 313 Presents (Detroit’s premier live entertainment company). He also manages the business operations for the Minor League Baseball (MiLB) team Lakeland Flying Tigers, the Detroit Tigers’ Single-A affiliate.

The Ilitch Holdings, Inc. is a holding company that operates 12 businesses in the food, sports, entertainment, gaming, and other industries. The company’s brands include the Little Caesars Arena, the Detroit Red Wings, the Detroit Tigers, the Olympia Development (a real estate development firm in Michigan), Champion Foods (a food manufacturer that specializes in pizza and breadsticks for the private label and store brands and is based in New Boston, Michigan), and the MotorCity Casino Hotel (a luxury hotel and casino in Detroit, Michigan). The companies have over 400 million customer interactions annually and employ tens of thousands of people around the world.

Detroit (US)-based the Ilitch Sports + Entertainment are a privately held company that specializes in entertainment and operates the Little Caesars Arena, the Comerica Park and the 5,174-capacity Fox Theatre (performing arts center) in Detroit, Michigan.

‘ILITCH COMPANIES’ further stated that Gustafson had been the Executive Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer (COO) since March 2023, reporting to Chris Ilitch. There are no immediate plans to announce a successor for his current Executive Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer (COO) role, but Gustafson will have an opportunity to assess the needs of his leadership structure over the coming months.

Observed Ilitch, “Ryan’s collaborative and inclusive leadership style, business and analytical acumen and passion for enhancing the fan experience has resulted in incredible accomplishments in a short time. I’m looking forward to his continued success as he leads Ilitch Sports + Entertainment into the future.”

Gustafson has played a significant role in the multiyear renovation and expansion of the home clubhouse at the Comerica Park, as well as a new videoboard which now ranks as the largest in the American League and second largest in Major League Baseball. He also had a key role in delivering significant upgrades to field lighting, outfield wall reconfiguration and audio and video system enhancements throughout the ballpark.

He has remained steadfast in his commitment to leading from the front in leveraging the iconic power of professional sport to positively impact the communities. The teams and their charitable foundations – the Detroit Red Wings Foundation and the Detroit Tigers Foundation, both affiliates of Ilitch Charities – continue to raise and invest vital resources in inclusive education, wellness, sport, culture, and community initiatives.

The Ilitch Charities is a non-profit organization that supports community development, human services, education, and recreation through contributions from the Ilitch companies and their colleagues. The organization is headquartered in Detroit, Michigan.

New York (US)-based the National Hockey League (NHL) is a professional ice hockey league in North America comprising 32 teams – 25 in the United States and 7 in Canada.

New York (US)-based the Major League Baseball (MLB) is a professional baseball league and the highest level of organized baseball in the United States and Canada. One of the big four major leagues, the MLB comprises 30 teams, divided equally between the National League (NL) and the American League (AL), with 29 in the United States and 1 in Canada.

New York (US)-based the American League of Professional Baseball Clubs, known simply as the American League, is the younger of the two leagues constituting Major League Baseball in the United States and Canada.

Maintained Gustafson, “Sports and live entertainment have a tremendous power to unify communities in hometowns and around the globe, and at Ilitch Sports + Entertainment, we are proud to bring together some of the most iconic brands in sports and entertainment to fulfill our mission to amaze, inspire and unite. It has been an absolute honor to work alongside a phenomenal group of professionals who embody this mission every day, and I truly appreciate this opportunity and confidence placed in me to further lead this exceptional organization.”

Gustafson currently serves on the Detroit Sports Organization Corp (DSOC), an all-volunteer advisory committee that represents the top private-sector, civic, philanthropic, community, and sports leadership across Metro Detroit. The DSOC prioritizes, evaluates and executes significant future bid opportunities to enable the Detroit Sports Commission to attract major sporting events to Metro Detroit, accelerate the economic growth and enhance the quality of life for citizens across the region. He is also a Board member for Business Leaders for Michigan, the State’s business roundtable, which is dedicated to making Michigan a Top-10 State for jobs, education, widely shared prosperity, and a healthy economy.

Gustafson has a diverse background in sports, including 15 years of strategic planning and revenue generation experience. He earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Puget Sound (Liberal Arts College in Tacoma, Washington, US) and his Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the Harvard Business School (Business School in Boston, Massachusetts).

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