CHARLOTTE, NC, December 16, 2002 – The Sports Business Daily, the leading daily publication on the business of sports, today awarded its 2002 Sports Industrialists of the Year Award to Patriots Owner & Chair Robert Kraft and his son, Patriots Vice Chair Jonathan Kraft. The Krafts, who operate the Kraft Group, which owns the Patriots, MLS Revolution and Gillette Stadium, were recognized for the on- and off-the-field successes of their sports properties, overseeing the opening of the NFL's first privately-financed facility, aggressively and creatively marketing and promoting their sports operations and their contribution to league and community affairs.
"The Krafts' storybook year is the result of nearly a decade of strategic planning, sound financial management and masterful marketing," said Marcus DiNitto, Managing Editor of The Sports Business Daily. "The Krafts have taken the Patriots, previously one of the most moribund professional franchises in sports, and made them into a thriving $1 billion sports and entertainment property producing record revenue. By running their sports operations with modern-day business principles, the Krafts have significantly increased the value of their investment, while delivering a quality product and experience for their consumers."
The Patriots' first Super Bowl championship in their 42-year history in February was just the start of the Krafts' successful year. The team achieved unprecedented popularity in the six-state New England region, which led to record merchandise sales and innovative new product offerings. Meanwhile, the Patriots' Super Bowl success and the timing of moving into a new facility set the table for the team's sales and marketing staff to develop creative packages for its sponsors at the new facility in Foxboro, MA.
Recognizing that their previous naming-rights agreement with struggling Internet company CMGI Inc. was in jeopardy, the Krafts wasted little time in aligning with MA-based Gillette as their new naming rights partner in August, guaranteeing a respectable rights fee in a soft market. The Patriots officially opened the $325 million privately-financed facility in August after years of working to build a new home for the team and its growing fan base. The opening was a tribute to the Krafts' role in underwriting the stadium, which allowed them to avoid imposing Personal Seat Licenses to pay for stadium construction.
The Krafts' success was not exclusively on the gridiron, as in October, they saw their MLS franchise reach the league's championship game, the MLS Cup, enhancing the soccer team's standing in the New England community.
DiNitto added, "Robert and Jonathan Kraft have built a sports operation that will remain an indelible part of the sports business landscape. They are influential in league affairs, are active within their community and offer a model for team ownership."
Since 1995, The Sports Business Daily has recognized a person or entity in the sports business that has demonstrated vision in developing new techniques and innovations to stimulate corporate growth, sought to maximize the undeniable connection between sports and entertainment and built their brand in the global marketplace. Robert and Jonathan Kraft are the eighth recipient of The Sports Business Daily's Sports Industrialist of the Year Award.
2001 -- George Bodenheimer, President, ESPN
2000 -- Paul Tagliabue, Commissioner, NFL
1999 -- Brian France, Senior Vice President, NASCAR
1998 -- Charles Fruit and Steve Koonin, Coca-Cola Marketing
1997 -- David Hill, President, Fox Sports
1996 -- Major League Soccer
1995 -- David Stern, Commissioner, NBA
The Sports Business Daily, a Street & Smith's Sports Group publication, is considered a "must-read" by sports executives for its real-time coverage of industry topics, including sponsorships, advertising, marketing, stadium development and financing, sports media and league and franchise issues. For more information, visit www.sportsbusinessdaily.com.