Scott O’Neil is the Chief Executive Officer of Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, an organization with the mission of building passionate, high-performing teams that inspire people to enhance the communities where its teams live, work, play and win.
O’Neil is responsible for the organization’s leadership, strategic vision, operations and global ambitions, including the pursuit and acquisition of sports, entertainment and consumer-facing properties. He is the acting Chief Executive Officer overall properties within the organization’s portfolio and under the ownership of Managing Partners Josh Harris and David Blitzer, including: the Philadelphia 76ers (NBA), the New Jersey Devils (NHL), Prudential Center, a top five-ranked performance venue in the U.S. located in Newark, New Jersey; Dignitas, an internationally renowned esports organization which includes Clutch Gaming, the NBA 2K League’s 76ers Gaming Club, the Sixers Innovation Lab, the GRAMMY Museum Experience Prudential Center, the Delaware Blue Coats (NBA G League), and the Binghamton Devils (AHL). He is an acting Co-Managing partner for Elevate Sports Ventures, a sports and entertainment agency created in partnership between HBSE, Live Nation | Ticketmaster, the San Francisco 49ers and Oak View Group.
With more than 20 years of experience in the NBA, NHL and NFL, O’Neil has earned a reputation as a leader of leaders and is one of the most connected, dynamic and driven executives in the industry today. Previous executives whom he has mentored and managed run many of the top organizations in sports and entertainment today; those he currently manages are poised to lead the industry into the next generation.
O’Neil’s reputation for authentic leadership, unparalleled drive to innovate and emphasis on the importance of corporate culture has placed him at the forefront of the industry vanguard. In merely six years overseeing operations for the properties in HBSE’s portfolio, O’Neil led the Philadelphia 76ers to sign the first jersey patch sponsorship in “Big Four” sports history; construct the most technically advanced training complex in professional sports, the Philadelphia 76ers Training Complex; establish an industry-leading Innovation Lab, and become the first U.S. professional sports franchise to acquire a world-renowned esports team. In that same period, under O’Neil’s ambitious and aggressive leadership, Prudential Center has become a top seven and top five most-played venue in the U.S. and the world by Billboard and Pollstar, respectively, and welcomes over 1.75 million fans and event attendees through its doors annually.
Of his professional accomplishments, O’Neil considers his organizations’ corporate culture and dedication to community service his greatest successes and future legacy. The Philadelphia 76ers have been named one of the “Most Innovative Companies” in the world by Fast Company magazine (2018), one of the “Top 50 Cultures” in the U.S. by Entrepreneur (2017), three-times named a “Best Place to Work in Philadelphia” by the Philadelphia Business Journal (2016, 2015, 2014), twice named a “Best Place to Work in Pennsylvania by the Central Penn Business Journal (2018, 2017) and twice named one of the “50 Best Companies to Sell For” by internationally-renowned Selling Power Magazine (2019, 2018). Prudential Center was named a “Best Business” by NJBiz (2016). O’Neil’s belief that those who steward iconic sports and entertainment brands have the responsibility and privilege to use those platforms to mentor the next generation of leaders and make the world a better place is the driving force behind HBSE’s community engagement initiatives.
Recognizing the important role HBSE’s properties play within its communities, O’Neil’s employees individually volunteer 76 hours of service annually in the communities where their fans and patrons live, work and play, resulting in more than 30,000 hours of dedicated community service each year. The Philadelphia 76ers’ charitable endeavor, the Sixers Youth Foundation, has additionally raised more than $1 million for Philadelphia-area youth last year alone and is leveraging sports to help children in need.
A former President of Madison Square Garden Sports, O’Neil was the key architect in some of the largest venue sponsorship deals in history while overseeing iconic sports properties including the New York Knicks (NBA) and New York Rangers (NHL). O’Neil spent seven years as the Senior Vice President of the NBA’s renowned Team Marketing and Business Operations group, where he advised NBA, WNBA and NBA Gatorade League teams on all business operations, CRM Department and NBA Canada business. Earlier in his career, O’Neil served as the President of HoopsTV.com and held positions with the Philadelphia Eagles (NFL) and New Jersey Nets (NBA).
For almost a decade, O’Neil has served as an Alternate Governor for the NBA and NHL. In 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 the Philadelphia Business Journal named O’Neil to their “Power 100” list of the “most influential people” in the greater Philadelphia region; he additionally received Philadelphia Business Journal’s “Most Admired CEO” honor in 2018. In 2019, The Hockey News named O’Neil No. 37 on their list of “100 People of Power and Influence.” In 2019, Hashtag Sports honored O’Neil with an award for “Leadership in Supporting Diversity in Sports.” Sports and technology outlet, SportTechie, named O’Neil as 2017’s “Most Innovative Executive”; in 2016, Philadelphia Magazine declared him one of the “Most Innovative Leaders” in Philadelphia. He has been twice named to The NJBiz “Power 100” list. As a young executive, O’Neil was thrice recognized at Sports Business Journal’s acclaimed “Forty Under 40” Awards; launching him into the publication’s renowned “Hall of Fame.” He additionally received “Forty Under 40” honors from Adweek and Sporting News in 2006 and 2005 respectively.
O’Neil’s influence and experience have earned him a place at the podium at some of the largest industry conferences in the world, delivering keynotes at events such as: Leaders in Sport, Beyond Sport, Sports Business Journal’s World Congress of Sport, the IEG Pivot Conference, the Ivy Sports Symposium, Sports Marketing Association’s Conference and more. O’Neil’s leadership practices have been chronicled and applauded in The Outward Mindset by the Arbinger Institute, publishers of The New York Times Best Seller, Leadership and Self Deception, The Orange Revolution by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton, and Potato Chip Ticket Sales by Kathy Burrows. He has made numerous appearances on CNN, CNBC, FOX Business Network, and has twice co-hosted Bloomberg television’s Bloomberg. He also interacts daily with his nearly 20,000 Twitter and 35,000 LinkedIN. He serves on the boards for the March of Dimes, Zoomi Inc., the Sixers Youth Foundation and the Sixers Innovation Lab.
O’Neil earned his bachelor’s degree in Marketing from Villanova University and his master’s in Business Administration from Harvard Business School. He currently resides in Pennsylvania with his wife, Lisa, and three daughters.
What you’ll learn about in this episode:
- How applauding talent, rewarding character, and celebrating both teamwork and teammates has earned Scott the reputation for his authentic leadership, having an unparalleled drive to innovate, and the emphasis he places on the importance of culture
- How Scott and his team went about changing the landscape of diversity and inclusion when he took over the 76’ers
- Why Scott is intentional about hiring people for leadership roles when they may be too young and not quite ready
- How Scott does such an incredible job of prioritizing and balancing his life as Father, Husband and Sports Executive
- What is Scott’s process of recruiting and retaining incredible executive talent
- What were the three biggest lessons that Scott learned from David Stern
- How the 76’ers were able to set season ticket sales records despite having one of the worst records in the NBA
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