ARTS, ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTS
Arts, entertainment, athletics, motorsports and many other cultural activities have a significant financial impact in our state. Leaders in the sector include the owner of an NFL football team, arguably the best basketball player of all time and performing arts masterminds.
CEO | Charlotte Knights
Since moving to downtown Truist Field in 2014, the Mooresville native’s team has ranked among the national leaders in minor league baseball attendance. Beaver, who pitched in the 1952 Little League World Series, owned the Hickory-based Brian Center nursing home chain for more than two decades.
COO | Charlotte Checkers
Prior to assuming her current role in 2008, the California native served as vice president of the team, which is owned by wine and spirits distributor Michael Kahn. The San Diego State University graduate has led the team through its transition from different hockey leagues and move to Bojangles Coliseum.
CEO | Wyndham Championship /
Piedmont Triad Charitable
Director of Greensboro’s annual Professional Golf Association tournament since 2001, the Baylor University graduate was named CEO last fall. He also oversees the Piedmont Triad Charitable Foundation, which raises money through the Wyndham Championship for philanthropies in the region.
Pre-workday motivation: Two things: How do we most effectively showcase the Piedmont Triad and North Carolina to the rest of the world with a fun and successful Wyndham Championship as the vehicle and the objective of creating a cool, “live music vibe” around the region.
Key to industry success: At the Wyndham Championship, we deal with a bunch of important partners — sponsors, pro golfers, fans, PGA TOUR staff, agents, vendors, Sedgefield Country Club, volunteers, community leaders, and others. So, undoubtedly, the key to our success is building and maintaining relationships.
Best advice: When dealing with a request from a sponsor or client, my chairman, Bobby Long, always says, “The answer is yes. Now, what’s the question?” Even if the request is challenging, we will always figure out a way to say “yes.”
Three people to share a meal: Michael Jordan, Fred Couples and Kevin Hart.
Favorite hobby: Definitely playing golf.
Where to entertain a visitor: I love taking guests to the home of the Wyndham Championship at Sedgefield Country Club. The golf course and clubhouse are absolutely beautiful.
owner | Richard Childress Racing
The Winston-Salem native founded his stock-car racing team in 1969 and was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2017. Childress, 76, has diverse interests, including building Childress Vineyards into one of the state’s largest wineries. It opened near Lexington in 2004.
athletic director | N.C. State University
The son of former ACC Commissioner Gene Corrigan took his post in 2019 after working in athletics at the U.S. Military Academy, Duke University and Notre Dame University. He has degrees from Notre Dame and Virginia Commonwealth University. The Wolfpack’s 23-team program employs more than 200.
athletic director | UNC Chapel Hill
Since he arrived in 2011, the Tar Heels have won 16 national titles. Cunningham, who has degrees from Notre Dame, was named 2019-20 Athletic Director of the Year by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics. He previously was AD at Ball State and Tulsa universities.
athletic director | Wake Forest
Currie brought 18 years of college sports experience in ACC, Big 12 and SEC posts when he joined his alma mater in 2019. From 2009 to 2017 he was AD at Kansas State University.
Pre-workday motivation: Appreciation for the incredible opportunity to serve Wake Forest, Winston-Salem and Demon Deacon student-athletes.
Key to industry success: Listening and relationship building.
Best advice: Hire people that are smarter than me.
Three people to share a meal: Nelson Mandela, Dwight Eisenhower and Condoleezza Rice.
Proud family accomplishment: Resilience and positive support of my wife and children throughout our professional journey.
Favorite hobby: Snow skiing.
Where to entertain a visitor: Reynolda Gardens and Village and The Graylyn Estate.
CEO, owner | Carolina Hurricanes
The Southern Methodist University graduate chairs and is managing partner of Dundon Capital Partners, a private investment company in Dallas. He bought a majority stake in the Raleigh hockey team from Peter Karmanos in 2018. Since then, the Canes have made the playoffs four straight years.
president, CEO | Blumenthal
The nonprofit’s CEO since 2003 manages 110 employees and six Queen City theaters. He has a bachelor’s from Pepperdine University and an MBA in arts management from Golden Gate University. The pandemic caused revenue to shrink from $43 million in 2019 to $23 million a year later.
Owner, founder | Joe Gibbs Racing
The Mocksville native, 81, has been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and NASCAR Hall of Fame. He started his racing team in 1992. Gibbs’ drivers have won five Cup Series championships. As a coach of the NFL’s Washington Redskins (now Commanders), his team won three Super Bowls.
director, CEO | North Carolina Museum of Art
After 14 years with the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation in New York City, the Duke University and New York University graduate succeeded veteran CEO Larry Wheeler in 2018. She is a member of the Association of Art Museum Directors and Association of Art Museum Curators.
Pre-workday motivation: Going over my calendar and emails to remind me of the key tasks and meetings to be accomplished.
Key to industry success: Remaining open to ideas appearing unexpectedly and being in touch with talented people whose ideas and energy can lead to an impact on the organization and community.
Best advice: Remember to praise and thank staff along the way.
Three people to share a meal: Kerry James Marshall, Lee Child and Dolly Parton.
Proud family accomplishment: My family always encouraged the daughters to follow our dreams and ambitions.
Favorite hobby: Travel.
Where to entertain a visitor: The North Carolina Museum of Art.
chair | Charlotte Hornets
Jordan, 59, became the first former NBA player to own a majority stake in a league team in 2010. In 2019, Wall Street investors Gabe Plotkin and Daniel Sundheim joined as minority partners. The Wilmington native won an NCAA championship with UNC Chapel Hill and six NBA titles with the Chicago Bulls.
owner, chair | North Carolina
A medical technology entrepreneur who grew up in Kinston, Malik has a passion for soccer. He bought the Carolina Railhawks in 2015 and rebranded them as North Carolina FC. He then bought and relocated a National Women’s Soccer League to Cary, the North Carolina Courage.
COO | NASCAR
O’Donnell got his start in the racing company’s marketing department more than two decades ago. In March, he assumed his new role, where he oversees racing and track operations, competition and strategic development. The Rollins College graduate worked in minor league baseball before switching to racing.
commissioner | Atlantic Coast
The former Northwestern athletic director succeeded longtime commissioner John Swofford in 2021. He has stressed the need to make ACC football stronger. Phillips has a Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee, a master’s from Arizona State University and a bachelor’s from the University of Illinois.
CEO | Speedway Motorsports
The son of company founder Bruton Smith assumed his current title in 2015 after serving as president since 2008. The company operates 11 speedways, including Charlotte and Atlanta tracks. He helped take the company private in a 2019 deal that valued the company at about $800 million.
chair, CEO | Teall Capital
In 1993, the Murfreesboro native founded ISP Sports to help improve and expand college athletic departments. He sold the company to industry leader IMG College in 2010. In 2017, he started Teall Capital Partners, a private equity firm that invests in sports, media, entertainment and lifestyle brands. He is a member of the N.C. Sports Hall of Fame and received the Wake Forest University Distinguished Alumni award.
Pre-workday motivation: Big cup of coffee and reading 3 or 4 newspapers.
Key to industry success: Never accepting things as they are but imagining how much better they could be.
Best advice: Always do the right thing, the right way, at the right time.
Three people to share a meal: Ronald Reagan, Winston Churchill and Stevie Nicks.
Proud family accomplishment: Seeing our children growing, prospering, following their passions and sowing seeds of joy.
Favorite hobby: Golf.
Where to entertain a visitor: Wake Forest University
owner | Carolina Panthers;
Charlotte Football Club
Worth more than $16 billion according to Forbes, the hedge-fund operator is considered among sports’ richest owners. The Carnegie-Mellon University graduate bought the NFL team for $2.2 billion in 2018, then paid $325 million for a Major League Soccer franchise, now called Charlotte FC.
executive vice president |
Vassar joined the New York-based entertainment company in 1998 after working in television and radio. Starz, Amazon and Netflix productions used his Wilmington studios last year. He has served on the boards of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and Wilmington’s film commission.
president, vice chair | Hornets
Sports and Entertainment
The Greensboro native has helped reinvigorate the region’s interest in the NBA since joining longtime friend Michael Jordan’s team in 2006. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Campbell University and a law degree at N.C. Central University. A former talent agent, he oversees business operations for the Charlotte Hornets and Spectrum Center.
Pre-workday motivation: Realizing how lucky I am to have found a career path that allows me to combine my love for basketball with my undergraduate and graduate school studies in business while also being able to utilize the skills I learned in law school.
Key to industry success: Hiring the brightest and the best people to be part of your organization and letting them do their jobs. Having truly competent people that can be trusted, are self-motivated and are great teammates helps build a successful culture.
Best advice: If you are the leader of a company, don’t be the smartest person in the room in meetings. Surround yourself with ultra-talented teammates that you can lean on for advice, counsel and guidance.
Three people to share a meal: Warren Buffett, Jeff Bezos and Robert F. Smith.
Proud family accomplishment: I am really proud that I was raised by a mom and dad who both earned undergraduate and master’s degrees and always stressed to me that education could be a differentiator in my career and life’s journey. They pushed me to excel as a student and remain focused on getting as much education as possible.
Favorite hobby: I enjoy traveling and playing golf.
Where to entertain a visitor: Besides a Hornets game or concert at Spectrum Center, I would take them to Charlotte Motor Speedway for a NASCAR race.