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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Charlotte Hornets hire new president from Cavaliers

The Charlotte Hornets hired an executive from the Cleveland Cavaliers as its new president of business operations, aiming to help revive a team with sagging attendance.

Shelly Cayette-Weston will oversee the day-to-day business operations of Hornets Sports & Entertainments’s properties, including the Charlotte Hornets, Greensboro Swarm, Hornets Venom GT and the Spectrum Center.

Shelly Cayette-Winston
Shelly Cayette-Winston

She will start July 1. Cayette-Weston succeeds Fred Whitfield, who had been leading the team’s business operations for 17 years.

“As we’ve gotten to know Shelly, we have been struck by her leadership skills, her experience and her ability to build relationships with key constituencies such as corporate partners, ticket holders and community members,” said co-owners Rick Schnall and Gabe Plotkin in a statement.

The duo bought the team from Michael Jordan last year for $3 billion.

The Cavaliers had average attendance of 19,345 this year, ranking eighth in the NBA. The Hornets ranked second-to-last with average attendance of 16,448.

The Cleveland team won its first NBA championship in 2016 with LeBron James, who left Cleveland two years later. It has made the NBA playoffs for the past two years, led by star player Donovan Mitchell.

The Hornets finished 21-61 in the 2023-24 season and last made the playoffs after the 2015-16 season. The team recently hired Boston Celtics assistant coach Charles Lee as its new head coach.

Cayette-Weston joined the Cavaliers’ partnership marketing department in 2012, later becoming vice president of global partnerships and senior vice president. Detroit investor Dan Gilbert, bought majority control of the Cavaliers from Gordon Gund in 2005 for a reported $375 million.

Gilbert, who built much of his fortune through Detroit-based Rocket Mortgage, bought Gund’s remaining 15% minority share three years ago.

Cayette-Winston oversaw all aspects of growth, new business development, innovation and retention of corporate partners, as well as ticket sales and services, for the Cavaliers, minor league hockey team Lake Erie Monsters, Cleveland Charge of the NBA’s G League and Cavs Legion GC of the NBA 2K League.

She oversaw core initiatives, including securing jersey patch partners, arena renovations, international business strategy and the growth of Cleveland’s youth sports outreach, all of which created a positive impact on the business, stakeholders and the community.

Cayette-Weston spent the first five years of her NBA career with the New Orleans Hornets where she worked in marketing, community investments and corporate partnerships.

Before joining the NBA, she began her sports and entertainment career at Caesar’s Entertainment in marketing and advertising.

Whitfield oversaw the name change from Charlotte Bobcats to Charlotte Hornets in 2014 and the rebranding of Spectrum Center in 2016 after naming rights partner Time Warner Cable’s merger with Charter Communications. A former sports agent, he’s a longtime friend of Jordan and has been active in Charlotte civic affairs for many years.

He announced plans to depart the Hornets in December, noting he successfully battled throat cancer in recent years.

Whitfield oversaw launches of the Greensboro Swarm in the NBA G League in 2016 and Hornets Venom GT in the NBA 2K League in 2020.

 

Chris Roush
Chris Roush
Chris Roush is executive editor of Business North Carolina. He can be reached at croush@businessnc.com.

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