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Athlete Remix and the Future of Sport

Jan 18, 2018 / San Diego, CA

    26 speakers from all over the country descended on San Diego for a full day of insights, problem-solving, and future forecasting. Over 250 attendees joined us to see the future. Between panels and keynotes from industry gurus like Guy Kawasaki and Dr. Ara Suppiah, attendees toured the QI’s VR Cave or connected ideas in the sunny courtyard.

    Event Recap

    Featuring 26 speakers from all over the country the Athlete Remix and the Future of Sport Conference in San Diego was a day full of insights, problem-solving, and future forecasting. The event, held at the Qualcomm Institute on the UC San Diego campus was attended by over 250 people. Between panels and keynotes from industry gurus like Guy Kawasaki and Dr. Arah Suppiah, attendees toured the QI’s VR Cave or connected ideas in the sunny courtyard. If you missed it, here’s a recap to hold you over until our next Attention FWD Conference.

    The SportFWD conference put on by Attention Span and San Diego Sports Innovators was the kind of event so good and jam-packed with mind-boggling information and predictions that you almost had to be there. If you were there you wish you could experience it again in order to make sure you heard some things correctly.

    Kevin Acee

    Contributor, The San Diego Union-Tribune

    Sports Content and Marketing for Gen-Z

    Attention FWD editor and futurist Po Bronson kicked the conference off with a panel of counter intuitive insights into reaching and co-creating with members of Generation Z.

    MJG/Fashion founder Mitch Grossbach, the architect of Marshawn Lynch’s unprecedented Beast Mode apparel deal with the NFL, addressed the marketing industry’s favorite concept: the quest for “authenticity.” The key, he said, is not figuring out how to be authentic—it’s partnering with authentic personalities who already have an audience, and enabling them to bring their ideas to life.

    Attention FWD multimedia journalist and alt-athlete Claire Stremple gave us a glimpse into what the growing market segment of participatory female athletes wants from brands: “Athletes I care about, who do things I care about, using equipment that works.”

    Gen-Z doesn’t just want to see authenticity, they want to interact with it, says Alex Kruglov, founder of SmileTime. He noted that most people don’t necessarily want to be stars or have the most likes, but they do want to engage with the content that does.

    From “Not a Sport” to the Hottest Story in the Industry: The Unstoppable Rise of eSports

    The second panel, hosted by Attention FWD Editor-in-Chief Josh McHugh, opened our eyes to the explosive growth of eSports. They took a hard look at some the most successful efforts by traditional pro sports leagues to align themselves with eSports fanbases.

    Turner Studios’ Pete Scott, who helped spearhead the creation of Turner’s ELEAGUE, advised companies eager to enter the eSports fray to be humble and open-minded in their approach to the unique eSports community culture.

    Johannes Waldstein, founder of eSports analytics startup FanAI, predicted that eSports athletes and fans will increasingly use haptic “skins” that will allow them to actually feel and sense in-game action. He also emphasized the importance of interactivity between eSports athletes and their fans.

    “Having a passionate fan base used to be enough. That’s too passive for today’s fans,” Waldstein said. “They want their passion reciprocated. Now, fans want the streamer or their player to message them back. Fans want custom content, that is, they want their authentic passion reciprocated in a way that’s relevant to them.”

    SportFWD event space with a full house

    Cultural Earthquake: Sports as Global Superpower

    Sports exert an outsized degree of influence over global culture, international ​politics, personal ​identity, and consumer behavior​. As we can see in an Olympic year, sports and statecraft frequently end up intertwined. The Olympics also remind us of the massive business opportunities that await leagues and sponsors who can figure out the cultural calculus of international fanbase development.

    Former ESPN chief counsel and current senior counsel in DLA Piper’s Media, Sport and Entertainment practice, David Pahl discussed the lessons he learned at the tip of the spear during ESPN’s worldwide expansion.

    Lisa Olson, an international sports reporter who has covered sports from Australia to Afghanistan and Brisbane to Boston, shared anecdotes about finding common ground with athletes.

    Keynote: The Art of Disruption

    Featuring Guy Kawasaki

    Guy Kawasaki giving the keynote at AttentionFWD 's Athlete Remix and the Future of Sports conference

    A Day in the Life of the Athlete of the Future

    Dr. Ara Suppiah, Chief Medical Analyst for NBC Sports Golf Channel and official physician to the PGA Tour, led us through a day in the life of the athlete of the future, circa 2047: Michael Woods, grandson of Tiger Woods. Michael is on a quest to shoot a 50 at Augusta National. To get there, he’ll use a state-of-the-art blend of sensors, genomically-optimized nutrition, advanced materials, nanotechnology and artificial intelligence. Dr. Suppiah concluded the presentation by handing out an artifact from the future: an anti-inflammatory skin patch that actually works today using the electrical signatures of 180 chemical compounds.

    AR, VR and Mixed: The New Reality in Sports

    Qualcomm’s Patrick Costello proposed that we clear up the confusion caused by all the terminology around immersive experiences by uniting virtual, augmented, and mixed reality under the single banner of Extended Reality, or, even more concisely: “XR.” We like it! Henceforth we’ll be using XR generally, resorting to “AR” and “VR” only when needing to differentiate between specific applications of XR.

    In response to the moderator’s question about when XR hardware would be affordable enough for mass adoption, Neil Gupta, a partner at Indicator Ventures, reminded us that every person in the auditorium already owns XR hardware – in the form of smartphones, which will contain more XR functionality with every generation. Gupta sees massive potential for sports training and any application that takes sports fans to places they can’t otherwise go. In other words, XR’s greatest potential is to make once-impossible fan experiences possible.

    David Cramer, COO of XR sports platform NextVR, briefed us on the explosion of XR sports content and predicted that the breakthrough known as “six degrees of freedom” will create a new generation of XR sports fans. That’s right, six degrees of movement withing a virtual reality. While ring sports like boxing and mixed martial arts are currently the most intense experiences in XR, Cramer sees a new level of experience coming as XR capture devices get small and cheap enough to be worn by athletes on the field.

    VR Cave

    The Remixed Athlete: CRISPR & Sports (When, Not If)

    Digital biologist Raymond McCauley guided a spellbound audience through the state of the art of genetic engineering. While many think of as a black-and-white matter of ethics, McCauley demonstrated through scientific data and personal experience (spoiler alert: his own kids are genetically engineered!) that the human race’s genetically-engineered future is not only already here, but coming soon to a self-service biology hackerspace near you.

    The Future of SAN DIEGO Sports

    The final panel of the day looked at the road ahead for professional sports in San Diego. Representatives from the San Diego Padres, 1904 FC soccer team, and the San Diego Seals indoor lacrosse team weighed in with San Diego State University’s athletic director about their projections and plans for the future. While the departure of the Chargers has created a temporary void in the city sportscape, the panelists described a combination of tech-fueled and grassroots approaches that they’ll use to create a professional sports renaissance in the years to come.

    Event Press:


    • Jace Hall
      CEOEcho Fox
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      Jace Hall

      Jace Hall, former Warner Bros. executive & founder of game development studio Monolith Productions, has been named CEO of eSports organization Echo Fox. Jace has decades of experience in the gaming space, having founded Monolith Productions. In 2014, Hall purchased video game high-score archiving organization Twin Galaxies and is the president of HDFILMS, Inc.

    • Claire Stemple
      ProducerOakland Voices
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      Claire Stemple

      Claire Stremple is a reporter with an extensive background in sports, and for public radio. She is a producer for Oakland Voices, a community journalism project and an avid rock climber. Her stories can be heard on KALW and KPFA.

    • John David Wicker
      Athletic DirectorSan Diego State University
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      John David Wicker

      JD Wicker has been the UCSD Director of Intercollegiate Athletics since 2016. Before that he sharpened his teeth at Georgia Tech and Washington State. He graduated from Mississippi State in 1992 and went on to receive his masters in education with an emphasis in sports management from Georgia in 1997.

    • Michael Wandell
      Senior VPLA Dodgers
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      Michael Wandell

      Michael Wandell leads corporate sponsorship sales & partnerships for the Dodgers. He has been in basketball for the last 15 years at both the team & league level, most recently as VP/Int’l Business Development & Global Market Partnerships for the NBA. He has been involved in numerous major sponsorship deals to become the official timekeeper of the NBA, WNBA and NBA G League, and the Mercury’s jersey ad deal with LifeLock in ’09.

    • Peter C. White
      Partner, Global Co-Chair Media, Sports & Entertainment SectorDLA Piper
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      Peter C. White

      Peter White has over 20 years of experience in the professional sports business, representing various parties in commercial, development, financing, corporate and M&A transactions involving the world’s major sports leagues, including MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL, MLS, England’s Premier League and Italy’s Series A. As Global Co-Chair of the firm’s Media, Sport & Entertainment Sector, Peter helps coordinate the firm’s financing, M&A, sponsorship, development, major events and disputes practices in this sector around the world and manages significant client relationships.

    • Bob Watkins
      Owner1904 Soccer
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      Bob Watkins

      Bob Watkins, San Diego State University Alum, knows & loves this city like the true local that he is. His love for sports runs deep, too. He played rugby while attending SDSI and afterward, helped found the U.S.A. Rugby Football Union, serving six years as its president. Watkins now chairs the U.S. Rugby Foundation. Watkins enjoys sports and the culture of each across the board. He played a pivotal role in securing the league’s approval of the expansion club and is truly excited for what’s to come.

    • Scott Tilton
      Co-founder, CEOHookit
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      Scott Tilton

      Scott Tilton & RJ Kraus began Hookit in 2001 as SponsorHouse, a clever service to connect amateur athletes with sponsors through “the internet”. They ran the show and connected thousands of athletes with millions of deals, gathering mountains of data in the process. As the data grew, so did the story it was starting to tell. The sports market needed a tool powerful enough to value, track, and optimize sponsorship assets where the real spend was going down: Pro Sports. They built and put Hookit in pole position just as social media influence was hitting the nitrous button. Athletes could now build their brands online.

    • Wayne Partello
      Senior VP, CMOSan Diego Padres
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      Wayne Partello

      Wayne Partello joined the Padres in October 2013 and oversees all aspects of the Padres marketing and communications platforms encompassed by the following departments: marketing, creative services, communications, entertainment & production, broadcasting and content.

    • Dr. Ara Suppiah
      Sports Medicine PhysicianPGA, LPGA
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      Dr. Ara Suppiah

      Tour; Chief Medical Analyst | NBC Sports Golf Channel Dr. Suppiah is a personal physician on the PGA & LPGA Tour, a practicing ER Physician and Chief Wellness Officer for Florida Emergency Physician and an Assistant Professor in Clinical Medicine at the University of Central Florida Medical School. As the Chief Medical Analyst on the NBC Sports Golf Channel, he shares his knowledge on various player injuries & ailments and on how they can be avoided & remedied by the viewers at home. This varied practice ensures his knowledge remains at the forefront in his field.

    • Lisa Olson
      Contributing EditorFuture of Sports
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      Lisa Olson

      Lisa Olson is an award-winning sports journalist & columnist for the Sporting News, AOL Sports, the New York Daily News, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Telegraph. Her work has been featured in the anthology The Best American Sports Writing. She has reported from multiple countries, covering rugby & soccer World Cups, the Super Bowl, the Olympics and a vast array of sports feature stories.

    • Peter Scott
      VP Emerging Media & InnovationTurner Studios
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      Peter Scott

      Peter Scott is vice president of emerging media and innovation for Turner Studios. In this role, Scott advises internal brands on the effectiveness of emerging media, innovation & audience intelligence across the entire Turner portfolio. Additionally, he is helping to lead the charge on ELEAGUE, the professional eSports league established in partnership between Turner & WME | IMG.

    • Dr. Jurgen Schulze
      Associate Research ScientistUC San Diego
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      Dr. Jurgen Schulze

      Dr. Jurgen Schulze is an Associate Research Scientist at UCSD’s Qualcomm Institute, and an Associate Adjunct Professor in the computer science department, where he teaches computer graphics and virtual reality. His research interests include applications for virtual and augmented reality systems, 3D human-computer interaction, and medical data visualization. He holds an M.S. degree from the University of Massachusetts and a Ph.D. from the University of Stuttgart, Germany. Dr. Schulze is also the director of the Immersive Visualization Laboratory at UCSD’s Qualcomm Institute.

    • Josh McHugh
      CEOAttention Span Media
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      Josh McHugh

      Josh McHugh’s career began at Forbes, where he opened the magazine’s Silicon Valley bureau. Next stop: contributing editor at Wired, with assignments for Vanity Fair, Outside and others. He worked on EA’s Madden NFL and NCAA Football ad campaigns for Wieden + Kennedy. The film Dunkumentary chronicles his 6-month attempt to dunk a basketball. The CEO of Attention Span, Josh holds a BA in English from Yale.

    • Guy Kawasaki
      Innovator, Author, EvangelistCanva
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      Guy Kawasaki

      Guy Kawasaki is the chief evangelist of Canva, an online graphic design tool. He is a brand ambassador for Mercedes-Benz and an executive fellow of the Haas School of Business (UC Berkeley). He was the chief evangelist of Apple and a trustee of the Wikimedia Foundation. He is also the author of The Art of the Start 2.0, The Art of Social Media, Enchantment, and nine other books. Kawasaki has a BA from Stanford University and an MBA from UCLA as well as an honorary doctorate from Babson College.

    • Alex Kruglov
      CEO | Co-FounderSmileTime; Pop.in
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      Alex Kruglov

      Alex Kruglov is the co-founder and CEO of SmileTime Inc. which powers pop.in, a social networking app that reinvents the chat room for the modern day using multi-party video and audio.

    • Neil Gupta
      Venture PartnerIndicator Ventures; BostonAR
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      Neil Gupta

      Neil Gupta is an engineer, designer, & venture partner at Indicator Ventures, focused on enterprise & consumer solutions that implement augmented reality & other frontier technologies. Neil runs his own consulting firm, NMG Consulting, where he has worked with small/medium/ large companies across the enterprise, consumer, and defense sectors. He is founder of the Boston Augmented Reality community (bostonar.org), and advisor to multiple startups in the VR/AR space. Previously, he was the Venture Lead & active Senior Tech Staff at Draper Labs. Gupta has an M.S. in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University.

    • Josh Gross
      San Diego SealsVice President
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      Josh Gross

      Josh Gross is a veteran of the professional sports industry, having previously over- seen ticket sales, sponsorship, public relations, fan development and marketing efforts across multiple sports properties. He spent the past 13 seasons with the Colorado Mammoth, a division of Denver-based Kroenke Sports & Entertainment.

    • David Cramer
      View Bio
      David Cramer

      At NextVR, David Cramer oversees strategy & operations, setting the overall strategy for the company and overseeing development & execution of the business model that sets the course for the company. David has over 18 years of experience in leadership roles in technology companies.

    • Patrick Costello
      Senior Director of Business DevelopmentQualcomm Technologies Inc.
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      Patrick Costello

      Patrick Costello is responsible for building strategic partnerships in the sports & entertainment verticals. In support of Qualcomm’s XR business, Patrick leads North American engagements with film studios, sports leagues, OEM’s, and ISV’s to drive both content partnerships & adoption of Qualcomm’s broader technology portfolio.

    • Steve Govett
      PresidentJTsai Sports
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      Steve Govett

      Steve Govett was the president, general manager and governor of the Colorado Mammoth, owned & operated by Denver-based Kroenke Sports & Entertainment. In Govett’s tenure, he built one of the League’s most successful organizations both on & off the field. In addition to his role with the Mammoth, he was also responsible for the business operations of NDP Championships, a profitable youth & amateur-based sports enterprise with a portfolio including national tournaments, competitions, events & festivals. NDP Championships launched several successful spin-off entities in custom merchandising, sponsorship sales, and television productions.

    • Sean “Jinx” Gailey
      Chief Creative OverlordJ!NX Inc.
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      Sean “Jinx” Gailey

      Sean “Jinx” Gailey has been entranced by technology & gaming since the age of 7. The years following consisted mainly of gaming, learning, coding and starting businesses. He attended Miami University where he obtained a Systems Analysis degree with a focus on games development. During the early stages of the J!NX brand, Sean handled T-shirt designs & programming. Now he commands other people to do those things from a podium in the office, but still maintains an insatiable urge to code & create games.

    • Kevin Acee
      ContributorSan Diego Union-Tribune
      View Bio
      Kevin Acee

      Kevin Acee has been at The San Diego Union-Tribune since 1999 and a sportswriter for more than two decades. Before assuming his role as Padres beat writer, Acee was the Union-Tribune’s lead Chargers beat writer for seven seasons and then a columnist for six years. A San Diego native and Chico State alumnus, Acee covered the Anaheim Angels for the Orange County Register and the Los Angeles Dodgers for the Daily News of Los Angeles.

    • Raymond McCauley
      Chair, Digital BiologySingularity University
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      Raymond McCauley

      Raymond McCauley is a scientist, engineer, and entrepreneur working at the forefront of biotechnology. Raymond explores how applying technology to life ‘ biology, genetics, medicine, agriculture ‘ is affecting every one of us. He is known for using storytelling and down-to-earth examples to show how quickly these changes are happening, right now. Raymond is: Chair of the Biotech Track at Singularity University, a Silicon Valley think tank devoted to training leaders about exponential technologies.

    • Po Bronson
      Futurist, AuthorAttention Span
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      Po Bronson

      Po Bronson is the author of seven books, most recently The New York Times bestseller Top Dog: The Science of Winning and Losing, which has become mandatory reading at many professional sports franchises and USA Olympics programs. His science journalism has won nine national awards, and he has been cited in over 100 academic journals and over 300 books. He is a Futurist with Attetion Span’s FWD TEAM, focusing on sport, medicine, and food.

    • Mitch Grossbach
      Founder and CEO MJG/Fashion
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      Mitch Grossbach

      Mitch is Founder and CEO of MJG/Fashion, an advisory firm that partners with talent across sports, music, and entertainment capitalize, launch, manage, and operate brands and business that leverage their “fashion” influence. Additionally, Mitch works with high fashion industry talent who look to extend their world-class creativity into new areas. Some talent members Mitch actively works with include NFL running back Marshawn Lynch, Global hip-hop recording Artist, A$AP Rocky, Global EDM legend DJ Tiesto, luxury fashion designers Marchesa, and several others.

      Prior to branching out on his own, Mitch most recently was President of M3/Relativity, Relativity Media’s New York-based fashion & brand building division. Mitch directly advised Kanye West around his Adidas deal, Drake’s team around his OVO brand, Fashion industry leaders Opening Ceremony, Riccardo Tisci, Rodarte, Courtney Love, and many others. Prior to joining Relativity, Grossbach was head of the Creative Artists Agency’s fashion division, which he started. While at CAA, Mitch represented most of the top fashion talent across North American, and generated deals across licensing, endorsements, content/media, television, and design collaborations.


    Time Location Details
    Thursday, January 18, 2018
    8:00 - 8:45

    Lobby / Courtyard

    Registration & Breakfast




    View Description

    Josh McHugh — Attention Span/AttentionFWD
    Bob Rief — San Diego Sport Innovators (SDSI)



    Sports Content & Marketing for Gen Z & the Unreachables

    View Description

    Po Bronson — Attention Span/AttentionFWD
    Mitch Grossbach — MJG/Fashion
    Alex Kruglov — SmileTime/Pop.in

    A new generation of “unreachables” brings with it a completely new way of consuming sports content. Traditional approaches to broadcasting and advertising are quickly losing their foothold. In an age of cord-cutting, remixing and co-creation, the future of sports marketing hangs in the balance. We’ll look at the cutting-edge strategies and technologies that will enable the sports industry to relate to and co-create with Generation Z.



    From “Not a Sport” to Hottest Story in the Industry: The Unstoppable Rise of eSports

    View Description

    Peter Scott — Turner Studios
    Jace Hall — Echo Fox
    Mike Walsh — FaceIT
    Sean “Jinx” Gailey — J!NX Inc.

    With eSports continuing to surge in popularity, audience size, and sponsorship dollars, the success of traditional sports leagues may depend on how effectively they embrace and integrate with the eSports juggernaut. Our panel, representing multiple perspectives within the eSports ecosystem, will discuss winning strategies for harnessing this unstoppable force.



    Sports as the Global Superpower

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    Peter C. White — DLA Piper
    Po Bronson — Attention Span/AttentionFWD
    Lisa Olson — Future of Sports
    Michael Wandell — LA Dodgers

    The arrival of worldwide high-speed mobile connectivity & 140 million new members of the global middle class are setting the scene for a new age of opportunity. The sports industry exerts a unique, outsized degree of influence over global culture, politics and identity. Our panel of global dealmakers discusses strategies for the coming gold rush – as well as opportunities for the industry to positively change culture and politics around the world.



    AR/VR Tours

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    Jurgen Schulze — UC San Diego



    Hookit Demo

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    Scott Tilton — Hookit


    Lobby / Courtyard




    Special Announcement: World Beach Games



    Keynote Presentation

    View Description

    Guy Kawasaki — Canva

    1:30-2:00 +Q&A


    A Day in the Life of the Athlete of the Future

    View Description

    Dr. Ara Suppiah — PGA | LPGA Tour | NBC Sports Golf Channel

    Emerging technologies will radically change the way elite athletes train, eat, dress, sleep, and prepare for competition. A look at how professional-level athletes will use genomics, AI, and neuroscience to redefine the limits of performance – and get an edge on the competition.

    2:00-2:45 +Q&A


    The Remixed Athlete: CRISPR & Sports (When, Not If)

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    Raymond McCauley — Singularity University

    Today: Biohackers are hacking muscle groups to optimize for fast-twitch response (and some are doing it irresponsibly), while WADA is racing to keep up with a new set of anti-gene-doping guidelines. Tomorrow: How athletes will use legal biohacking to win. Beyond Tomorrow: How parents will use embryo planning to produce champion athletes.



    AR, VR & Mixed: The New Reality in Sports

    View Description

    Patrick Costello — Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.
    David Cramer — NextVR
    Neil Gupta — Indicator Ventures
    Josh McHugh — Attention Span/AttentionFWD

    How Augmented & Virtual Reality are opening new lanes into the sports experience.



    The Future of San Diego Sports

    View Description

    Kevin Acee — San Diego Union-Tribune
    Steve Govett — San Diego Seals/JTsai Sports
    Bob Watkins — 1904 Soccer
    Wayne Partello — San Diego Padres
    John Wicker — San Diego State University
    Josh Gross — San Diego Seals

    The departure of the Chargers left a gap in San Diego’s professional sports landscape. Our panel of the city’s rising sports executives discuss how smart new money and technological savvy will lead San Diego to a brighter future.



    Networking Event

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    Cocktail hour!

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