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Challenger Brands and Change Makers To Come Together at Levi's® Stadium Next Week

Next week the San Francisco 49ers will open the doors of Levi's® Stadium to more than 150 of the sports and entertainment industry's most innovative leaders, representing over 60 team and league properties spanning the NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, and eSports. Welcoming accomplished individuals in disciplines inclusive of ticketing, artificial intelligence, fan feedback, customer centricity, and more, we can't wait to kick-off the second annual 49ers Innovation & Business Strategy Conference. Nearly sold-out for the second straight year, the success of the event and the conversation and ideation it generates, is a testament to our organization's relentless desire to listen, share, learn and—most importantly—challenge. 

I recently gave a keynote lecture at IEG's annual conference in Chicago, during which I shared the principles behind the "Challenger Brand" mentality that consumes and drives the collective mindshare within the 49ers. Teams and organizations with the innate and awesome power of brands like ours have the opportunity and obligation to lead the discussion on innovation and strategy. Challenger brands recognize their ability to unify; we are proud to host an annual event that shares and highlights the best practices and challenges in the industry today. Challenger brands see strategy as the foundation of their organization, not a silo or vertical within it; and we are proud to maintain the largest strategy team in the NFL. Challenger brands have the responsibility to provide resources to entrepreneurs with potential and are proud to have supported more than 45 start-ups through our organization's 49ers Enterprises investment arm. 

We are fortunate to share our drive to innovative with our neighbors in the Bay Area, and personally I am ecstatic to welcome five of my fellow team presidents—especially a recently elected NBA Hall of Famer, Rick Welts of the Golden State Warriors—to what is sure to be an enlightening and motivating Presidents Panel on Thursday morning. We are purposeful in our brand partnerships and activations, and look forward to insight from Charles R. Carroll from IDEMIA on the future of security and their trusted fan program at Levi's® Stadium as well as Jamie Faulkner of e15 Group—Levy's data and analytics engine—on leveraging artificial intelligence to enhance the food and beverage experience for stadium consumers. I am also particularly appreciative of internationally renowned Stanford University sports business professor George Foster for agreeing to moderate our discussions, contributing a wealth of industry wisdom from decades of research on challenges facing both sporting organizations and companies around the globe.

Beginning next Wednesday, we will take another step in our commitment to helping the sports business industry take serious strides past the nascent stage of BSA adoption that made its first foray into sports in the celebrated Moneyball era. Only over the last decade has the proliferation of data and analytics in sports moved beyond the pursuit of the undervalued first baseman, to leveraging existing and future technology and behavior intelligence to generate improvements in those elements that are meaningful to our fan: venue ticketing and entry, concessions, VIP experiences, content creation and more. We know the impact of BSA on our industry is only beginning to show its true value.

As I reflect on next week, it's hard not to think about my friend Simon Sinek's words: "WHAT GOOD IS AN IDEA IF IT REMAINS AN IDEA? TRY. EXPERIMENT. ITERATE. FAIL. TRY AGAIN. CHANGE THE WORLD."  We look forward to welcoming some of the industry's most innovative thinkers and future world changers into our home at Levi's® Stadium next week, join us if you can: TICKETS.