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TranSports Group Shows That Sports Business Can Happen Anywhere

This past weekend in Atlanta, the TranSports Group had a nearly 100-car fleet shuttling sports industry professionals from one place to the next.




Photo credit: TranSports Group

The world of business is all about disruptions and, often, all it takes is a little luck and ingenuity.

This past weekend in Atlanta, the TranSports Group had a nearly 100-car fleet in the area shuttling sports industry professionals from one place to the next. The three-year old company worked tirelessly with eight NFL sponsors and several prominent brands on the ground in Atlanta.

A decade ago, Ryan Peck lamented to a colleague in the agency world why there wasn’t a one-stop shop for transportation at major sports and entertainment events across the country. Researching the best companies and ways to get VIPs from point A to point B on the ground at major events can take up a lot of time.

“You’re asked to do 100 things and you have time for 50, and this is one of the easiest things to outsource,” said Peck, the managing partner of TranSports. “For many events, transportation is 10 percent of a program, but takes up 40 percent of the time.”

He knew there was a better way.

Obsessed with finding a solution, Peck sought to become an industry innovator, with a commitment to customers and customer service, and a network of support. Tapping into his prior agency days, he and his team understand the needs of his agency, brand, and property clients.

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By creating a true one-stop solution for clients, TranSports provides peace of mind with complete program coordination, execution, and real-time tracking technology. TranSports connects all the chauffeurs for a client on the back end and gets them where they need to go via the most efficient vehicle, ranging from a luxury sedan to luxury coach bus. Client program managers are given a vehicle-tracking application customized to their program so they can see where their VIPs are at any given moment. The app provides critical information about their vehicles, chauffeurs, and timing that eliminates inefficient communications with dispatchers and vehicle operations managers.

Peck has always been an entrepreneur at heart. He hails from an Iowa farm and is driven beyond the corporate structure. Despite this, he worked at agencies for the first part of his career, before stumbling on this chauffeur solution.

Peck isn’t from the transportation industry. He had experience with a pain point and knew he could solve the problem. He partnered with George Jacobs and Tim Crockett, highly respected limousine and bus industry executives with more than a combined 60 years of experience, to create solutions for every size of need both domestically and internationally.

The success has in part been because Peck said he speaks the language of the users of the service, but also the delivery of an upscale product that hits when it’s needed.

“We do what we say we’re going to do,” Peck said. “We work hard on the customer service side. Price is price, we don’t compete on price. We compete on service, relationships, and being relentless in pursuing better ways of doing things.”

There are plenty of legacy chauffeur companies across the nation in major cities, but there’s no centralized system. Transportation ridesharing disruptors like Lyft and Uber haven’t broken into the VIP transportation world, but some companies have emerged focusing on the business community — leaving sports and entertainment relatively unserviced.

Unlike Ubers and Lyfts, chauffeurs must know the routes without maps, be sensitive to high-touch clientele, and leave the customer feeling like they had a true luxury service. This means getting to a city — like Atlanta — days in advance to work out detours and familiarize themselves with the traffic.

“The niche is a strength,” Peck said. “People pay for superior quality and service, so let’s be great in this space and let things fall where they will.”

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Timing was in Peck’s favor. Hard work and brains can only do so much, he said. As TranSports launched, it had the luxury of a nearby Super Bowl in Minnesota. With the large fleet in an area Peck knew well, his initial major event launch was a success.

“If that Super Bowl is in L.A., and it’s my first year, we’re probably not at this same point,” he said.

The company has continued to grow with work at events in the U.S., such as the Super Bowl, NHL Winter Classic, the Masters, Final Four, and Sundance Film Festival. The group has recently made inroads into the PGA Tour too. The international business for TranSports has continued to grow, and it has recently done work at the Olympics in Brazil and Russian World Cup.

“We’re very fortunate. We continue to talk to more and more international events for opportunities,” Peck said. “The tracking technology is intriguing to clients and we are looking to employ it with the largest properties. It’s simple, scalable, and provides a unique value to our clients by adding much-needed transparency and accountability in our industry.”

Pat Evans is a writer based in Las Vegas, focusing on sports business, food, and beverage. He graduated from Michigan State University in 2012. He's written two books: Grand Rapids Beer and Nevada Beer. Evans can be reached at


How Debbie Spander Embraced Change and Followed Her Dreams

Behind some of the top talent working in sports broadcasting today, you’ll notice a commonality: Many of them are represented by Debbie Spander.




Photo credit: Wasserman

Behind some of the top talent working in sports broadcasting today, you’ll notice a commonality: Many of them are represented by Debbie Spander, senior vice president of broadcasting and coaching at Wasserman.

The daughter of a longtime sports columnist in the Bay Area, Spander had an early introduction to the media world. After college, Spander took the next step in her career by earning a law degree from UCLA.

After law school, Spander rose through the ranks of the sports law and agent world, including stints as a vice president at FOX Sports Net and MTV Entertainment. In 2012, she joined Wasserman as the vice president of broadcasting before being promoted to her SVP role in 2016.

Spander felt drawn to working with broadcasting talent after noticing a trend of people in the profession being treated unfairly by leagues and networks in the early 2000s.

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“I decided that at some point I wanted to work directly with talent because after September 11 and the recession, it seemed that the talent was always getting squeezed by the networks. So, I saw that happening and I wanted to help at that point. I had a couple friends who played in the NFL and at UCLA who were retiring, and I helped them get some small deals broadcasting and I thought, ‘I think I can do this.’”

Spander found clients almost immediately and was soon asked by Wasserman to launch its broadcast division. Her client base quickly multiplied significantly as she began representing coaches and athletes transitioning into broadcasting like Brian Scalabrine and Aaron Boone.

After all the changes that broadcasting has undergone in the last decade, Spander prides herself on embracing change and encouraging clients to achieve their dreams.

“There’s a number of sports broadcasting agencies out there and everyone does a good job in their own way. I think the thing that Wasserman does is we have very personalized service and we’re available 16 to 17 hours a day for a lot of former players who are used to being able to call or text their agents at all hours. If our clients need us, we do all we can.”

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For Wasserman clients, Spander and the group’s other agents often help professional athletes find broadcasting opportunities during their playing careers. In addition to being somewhat of a trailblazer herself as a woman in a male-dominated subsect of sport, Spander represents clients like Candace Parker and Meghan McPeak who are breaking down walls within broadcasting themselves. Parker recently became one of the first women to call both NBA and NCAA men’s basketball games while still playing in the WNBA.

“I didn’t specifically seek them out to have them break barriers, but we’re like-minded and we all embrace the opportunities that are there for them. This was a really exciting fall between what Candace and Meghan were able to accomplish.”

With all that she has accomplished in her career, Spander advises young women to be active networkers in order to get their careers in sport off of the ground.

“Get out there and meet as many people as you can. Get internships while you’re in college and law school and just start working in the industry. Don’t look at your gender as a barrier and follow your dreams.”

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How a New Partnership Involving Tacos Is Kicking Off Massive Hype for Super Bowl LVI

Three years may seem like a long time away, but Los Angeles is hyping up the Super Bowl, College Football Playoff, FIFA World Cup and Olympics.

Jeff Eisenband




To most Atlantans, the sight was foreign. To Angelenos, it was familiar.

Trejo’s Tacos, the Los Angeles-based taco chain established by Danny Trejo, pulled up for the weekend in Atlanta to give out free tacos. For Rams fans, this was a boost to morale.

For Discover Los Angeles, which partnered with Trejo, this was an advertisement on wheels.

“Atlanta is actually a new advertising market for us,” says Jamie Foley, vice president of global communications at Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board (of which Discover Los Angeles is a part). “We’re kicking off advertising here Feb. 10 and when the Rams made the Super Bowl, we thought this is perfect for us.”

So they made the trip early.

Super Bowl LVI is headed to the City of Angels in February 2022. Three years may seem like a long way out to start promoting such an event, but not for a city that will ultimately wait 29 years between Super Bowls. Los Angeles last hosted Super Bowl XXVII in January 1993. At the time, LA’s seven Super Bowls were tied with New Orleans for most of any city in the country.

Without an NFL team from 1995-2015, Los Angeles was ineligible to host a Super Bowl for two decades. New Orleans and Miami have since reached 10 apiece, safely in the lead.

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Along with Trejo, Discover Los Angeles featured another L.A. mainstay in Atlanta for Super Bowl week: Eric Dickerson. Along with being a legendary player for the Rams, recording the most rushing yards ever in a single season, Dickerson has been a fixture in the LA community for over three decades. Born a Texan, Dickerson was drafted by the Rams in 1983 before being traded in 1987 to the Colts. Even as he bounced around the NFL (including a stop with the Los Angeles Raiders in 1992), Dickerson maintained his residence in Los Angeles.

“We have a new stadium that’s not just a stadium, it’s the stadium,” Dickerson says of Los Angeles. “I think everyone will want to mimic that stadium. When you think of L.A., you think of Hollywood, you think of actors, you think of entertainment. You think of mountains. You think of the beaches, Venice Beach. You think of Rodeo Drive. You get all that in Los Angeles.”

Dickerson is talking about Los Angeles Stadium at Hollywood Park, the new venue in Inglewood that will house both the Rams and Chargers starting in 2020. The stadium will be able to expand to over 100,000 spectators for the Super Bowl and will include 275 executive suites.

But the Los Angeles Super Bowl will represent more than the NFL. The game will be the first of a string of major LA events, which include the 2023 College Football Playoff National Championship, the 2026 FIFA World Cup (Pasadena’s Rose Bowl hosted the 1994 World Cup Final) and 2028 Summer Olympics.

“We’ll have a new stadium, we’ll have more hotels downtown, the convention center is going through a renovation, so all of those pieces are critical,” Foley says. “Transportation will be connected to the airport by then, so you’ll be able to take public transportation to the airport, which is amazing. All those big changes will make it a pretty seamless experience.”

Being one of the major cities in America, Los Angeles doesn’t necessarily need to pitch itself from scratch to the world. However, after two decades without an NFL team, there is some skepticism of L.A.’s interest in football. After all, Mercedes-Benz Stadium felt like a home game for the Patriots, despite the Rams making a long-awaited return to the Super Bowl.

“We have an identity with a football team,” Dickerson says, specifically referencing the success of the Rams this season. “Most cities do. You think of Chicago, you think of New York, they have two teams too. You think of New England, the Patriots. You want to have that football team. Football’s rough and tough. It used to be rough and tough, not so much anymore. People want to drink beer and root for their team. You have that back in L.A. now. Just in the three years they’ve been there, you see so many people with Rams paraphernalia, Rams hats, Rams shirts, Rams shoes, something you didn’t see three years ago.

“We have some of the greatest fans there are. But they want a good product and I don’t blame them. In Los Angeles, there’s a lot to do. And sports sometimes aren’t the things they want to do because it’s inside and they want to be outside. But if you’re winning and it’s a nice, beautiful 70-degree day outside, why wouldn’t you go to the stadium?”

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While the Super Bowl has always been a spectacle, since 1993, much has changed around the week. In 2003, the NFL moved the Super Bowl from one week to two weeks after the conference championship games, building an elongated lead-up to the game. This means more parties, more events and more media attention. For Los Angeles, that means even more glitz.

“I can’t even imagine how excited everyone in town will be to have this in their backyard,” Foley says. “Just looking at how star-studded Atlanta’s event is, I know LA is gonna show up big.”

Maybe L.A. native Adam Levine could have waited for his city’s Super Bowl, but that’s neither here nor there. There are other local stars to choose from for a Halftime Show… or the dozens of other performances that will take place in Los Angeles that week.

And maybe fans will pick up some Trejo’s Tacos while they are there.

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Why the Premier Lacrosse League and Women’s Professional Lacrosse League Joined Forces

The new partnership will see the two leagues collaborate with an emphasis on co-hosted events, youth initiatives, broadcast exposure, and new media.

Bailey Knecht




Photo via Premier Lacrosse League

In a major move toward gender parity in sports, the Premier Lacrosse League (PLL) and the Women’s Professional Lacrosse League (WPLL) have entered into a partnership with an emphasis on co-hosted events, youth initiatives, broadcast exposure, and new media.

The partnership stemmed from parallel values between the two young leagues — the WPLL was launched by Michele DeJuliis in 2018, while the PLL, founded by Mike and Paul Rabil, kicks off its inaugural season this upcoming summer.

“It was a culmination of six months of in-person meetings, hours on the phone, and an exploration of what a partnership would look like,” said PLL co-founder Paul Rabil. “We discovered a match both intellectually and of company core values. We’re especially excited about this one because it is important for our sports — and all team sports — to align the men’s and women’s games and work toward creating a more powerful industry, but also to focus on correcting historicals around gender gaps in sports.”

DeJuliis, who serves as CEO of the WPLL, added that the partnership originated from a shared commitment to providing players with a top-notch experience on and off the field.

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“Honestly, we are 100 percent dedicated to making this experience great,” she said. “Of course, money is always important, but providing the opportunity to play at a high level and build their brands, showcase their talent, connect with the next generation, and grow as amazing players — that is our focus. I think Paul is the same way. He really values what lacrosse has given him, like I value what it’s given me, and it’s at the forefront of our minds.”

The collaboration will take advantage of a business model aimed at bolstering the PLL and WPLL brands using new media and technology.

“I think we have that major focus, getting it across as many media platforms as we can,” DeJuliis said. “Obviously, with us partnering with the men, it gives us even more opportunities.”

“We believe that these two groups are far better together,” Rabil added. “There are tactical ways to deploy it, from both a commercial business standpoint and so that players feel that unification — co-hosting events, combining our commercial assets to work with brands, and a broader distribution of our athletes and games.”

The co-hosting aspect will take shape in the form of joint events held by the leagues, showcasing men’s and women’s players on the same stage.

“One example is, we’ll have a major-market city where WPLL and PLL teams are playing, and we will each have games played that weekend, and a single ticket will get you access to both games,” Rabil said.

The leagues also plan to work together to host youth initiatives — something the WPLL has prioritized since its origin.

“(The WPLL) has done a terrific job with this, taking players into existing markets where teams play, and new markets, and having them interact with women’s players, to hosting tournaments,” Rabil said. “We have a similar initiative, with the PLL Academy. It will be similar to co-hosting game weekends, where we are co-hosting youth events with both men’s and women’s players.”

“We all know how important this is for young boys and girls to see two individual pro leagues supporting one another, respecting one another, and how important that life lesson is,” added DeJuliis. “It’s critical to the development and success of boys and girls.”

The partnership was a natural fit for Rabil and the PLL, considering that the league was created with inclusion and equality in mind from the get-go.

“For us, we’re building our business around core values like critical thinking, unifying, diversification and inclusion,” Rabil said. “The latter, for us, stems from a number of areas, from the partnership with the women’s pro lacrosse game, to speaking on behalf of groups that have been primarily under-serviced and under-amplified, like Native Americans who were the initial lacrosse creators, and African Americans and Hispanics who play but don’t have the same access to the sport as white people.”

Unlike many partnerships in which the men’s league was established before the women’s — such as the NHL and NWHL and the NBA and WNBA — the WPLL was founded just prior to the PLL. As a result, the PLL will look to the WPLL as an example, and the two will collaborate as equals, rather than facing an uneven power dynamic from the inception of the partnership.

“We’re really excited because, for a long time, men’s and women’s sports have been bifurcated,” Rabil said. “We’re basically starting from scratch where the WPLL is two years in, and this is our first year, so this is the messaging out of the gate, and we can have a greater impact. It’s primarily a byproduct of timing, but it’s still an important factor nonetheless.”

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Another strength that the leagues can lean on is the fact that both were founded by those who know the game of lacrosse better than anyone. Rabil holds the all-time scoring record in Major League Lacrosse, while DeJuliis is a former member of the U.S. national lacrosse team.

“Not only do players have multiple strong touchpoints on where sports are going, from the new technology and new media, and the product on-field, but we also have existing relationships, and, in business, relationships are so powerful, especially if they align both from a hard and soft-skill standpoint,” Rabil said. “We have a collective vision of the sport — where our players have passion, the commitment and sacrifice it takes, and alignment on collaboration and coalescing our assets where it makes more business sense.”

That firsthand experience allowed Rabil and DeJuliis to create their own unique leagues, and now, a progressive partnership based on coinciding values.

“We help them as much as they help us, and I see us as being equal, and they treat us as such, and we treat them as such,” DeJuliis said. “We have just as much respect for each other, probably because we’re all putting everyone else first. If we do that, we can’t go wrong because we know we’re following what we think is right for everyone else before thinking of ourselves.”

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