By Ben Whiteside
From Tuesday, May 24 to Thursday, May 26, the Innovation Institute for Fan Experience (IIFX) will host its first in-person FANCENTRIC™ International Conference & Expo at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada. On Tuesday, May 24, IIFX will host a Celebration Luncheon to induct three sports and entertainment industry leaders into the IIFX International Hall of Fame. The winners were selected for their lifetimes of distinguished meritorious service to the sports and entertainment industry and its fans. Criteria for induction into the International Hall of Fame include longevity to the industry, sustained performance and contributions, inspirational leadership, a FANCENTRIC focus, management, vision, and business ethics.
The 2022 International Hall of Fame inductees are:
LEN KOMOROSKI – Chief Executive Officer of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, and Rock Entertainment Group. Len Komoroski’s career with the Cavaliers began in 2003 as President. Since then, Komoroski led his team to build an award-winning foundation, one well-positioned for continued growth and sustained success. Komoroski’s tenure included the acquisition of the Cleveland Monsters (AHL), the Cleveland Charge (NBA G League) and the Cavs Legion (NBA2K) franchises, with all three teams earning league-level awards for business operations. The Cavaliers were named a top five finalist for the prestigious Sports Business Journal (SBJ) “Sports Team of the Year” award three times. Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse was named a finalist in the “Sports Facility of the Year” category in SBJ’s industry awards for 2020, the year after completing the venue’s massive, $185 million transformation. Komoroski’s leadership helped create the public/private partnership that made the transformation possible. This commercialization of a new or renovated venue is one of the most successful in NBA history.
RUSS SIMONS – Chief Listening Officer & Managing Partner at Venue Solutions Group, LLC. For more than 35 years, Russ Simons has been involved in nearly every facet of the sports and entertainment facility industry including design, construction, and management. Most recently, he served as the full-time venue operations representative for the Los Angeles Stadium & Entertainment District (LASED), including SoFi Stadium. At Venue Solutions Group (VSG), Russ directs the firm’s safety, security, risk, and crowd management operations. He works with operators at every level from college to every major professional league. Russ is a founder and instructor of the IAVM’s Academy for Venue Safety and Security and is an instructor and former Chairman of the Board of Regents of IAVM’s Venue Management School at Oglebay. He has served on the Board of Directors and Life Safety Council. Simons currently serves as the chairman of the Department of Homeland Security Public Assembly Facility Sub-Sector for Commercial Facilities. Russ is a former volunteer firefighter, instructor at the Hartford County Fire Training Center, and an Emergency Medical Technician. Russ also serves as a IIFX Distinguished Fellow.
LEE ZEIDMAN – President of Crypto.com Arena, Microsoft Theater, and L.A. Live. As President of Crypto.com Arena (formerly the STAPLES Center), Microsoft Theater, and L.A. LIVE, the sports, residential and entertainment district, Zeidman oversees the venues event operations, production, including guest services, booking, box office, event security, event staffing, guest relations, facility presentation, marketing, communications, hospitality, and food and beverage services. Along with his hard-working team of employees, Zeidman also supervises Crypto.com Arena’s overall day-to-day support for its tenants, sponsors, clients, and partners including the Los Angeles Kings, Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, and Los Angeles Sparks franchises, hosting seven NBA Finals, two Stanley Cup Finals and five WNBA Finals in which the home teams won seven NBA Championships, two Stanley Cup Championships and three WNBA Championships. Zeidman and his team have successfully hosted an unprecedented schedule of events since October 1999, including multiple summer X Games competitions, 19 of the last 21 GRAMMY Awards, and more than 400 sold out concerts. Zeidman also helped develop and open The Colosseum at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas and iconic AEG venues such as the O2 in London and the Mercedes Benz Arena in Berlin.
Ben Whiteside is a Brand Manager with The Focus Group.