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MY360: One Week In

Friday, 01.25.2013 / 1:00 PM / Blogs
Florida Panthers
Well Panthers fans, tomorrow it will be a week since Opening Night at the BB&T Center and I have to say that the magic and excitement of that evening has not yet worn off.
 
With an Opening Night record 19,688 red-clad guests packing the BB&T Center, we unveiled our Southeast Division Championship banner, dedicated the season to our fans with the 7th Man initiative, and came away with an exciting 5-1 win over the rival Carolina Hurricanes.
 
It’s hard to believe that by the end of Saturday night’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers, we will already have played five games in 2013, roughly 10% of our schedule. That is the nature of this shortened campaign – from here until the end of April, games will come fast and furious and there will be ups and downs and challenges for every team.
 
We’ve seen that thus far, taking an exciting victory in the opener before falling short over the last few games. But the bonus of a condensed schedule is that we have an opportunity to get right back out there on Saturday, in Tampa on Tuesday and then home again on Thursday against Winnipeg.
 
But regardless of the normal peaks and valleys of an NHL season, the one thing that does remain consistent is our commitment to thanking our fans and showing how much we need them and appreciate them, all season long.
 
On Opening Night alone, we launched our 7th Man initiative with a special fan banner, 7th Man jerseys worn by every player during warmups (which will be given out to fans one by one during the season), a postgame autograph session on the JetBlue Tarmac, my own Twitter campaign to sit with a different fan each game, and more.
 
Our fans are the lifeblood of our organization, and we are committed to giving them the exciting hockey and incredible experiences that they deserve. And clearly, our fans were extremely excited for the return of hockey. With nearly 20,000 in the building on Opening Night, another 15,634 at our game vs. Ottawa Thursday night, and a big crowd expected on Saturday vs. the Flyers.
 
It really is moving, and a bit humbling, to see how passionately our fans have responded to the return of Panthers hockey, and it just reminds our organization once again, how lucky we are to have the best fans in the National Hockey League. Yet another reason why the 2013 season is all about our fans.
 
Thanks for reading, looking forward to a great game tomorrow night, and go Panthers.

Follow me @PanthersYormark
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ABOUT MICHAEL YORMARK
SSE President

Michael R. Yormark is President of Sunrise Sports & Entertainment and is responsible for overseeing all of the organization’s operating entities including the Florida Panthers hockey club, the BB&T Center arena venue, the Saveology.com Iceplex recreational skating and training facility, SSE Gaming, 360 Premium, and more.


Since joining SSE in Sept. 2003 as Chief Operating Officer, Yormark has guided the organization into an era of growth and success. For his efforts, he was promoted to the position of President on Aug. 13, 2007.


Yormark and his staff have succeeded in building SSE in to a world-renowned and diverse professional sports and entertainment company. Yormark has utilized his unique leadership ability to nurture SSE in to an aggressive, hardcharging and innovative company predicated on his professional mantras and philosophies such as “dream big and dare to fail” and “anything is possible.”


Under Yormark’s watch, the Florida Panthers are the reigning Southeast Division Champions and returned to the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2011-12 for the first time in over a decade. The Panthers also currently boast the top rated group of prospects in the NHL by ESPN and Hockey’s Future. In addition, Yormark has reinvigorated and repositioned the Panthers’ brand in South Florida around the color red signifying passion, intensity and success, making hockey relevant in the market once again. Meanwhile, the BB&T Center is one of the top ranked arena venues of its kind in the world, hosting world-class concerts, shows and events and maintaining industry relationships with promoters such as Live Nation and AEG.


The Saveology.com Iceplex is the only triple ice-sheet facility south of Washington, D.C. and is one of the top facilities of its kind in North American featuring the $10 million state-of-the-art training center for the Panthers. SSE Gaming was formed under Yormark’s watch as a partnership with Las Vegas casino giant Boyd Gaming to develop a casino hotel resort on the property surrounding the BB&T Center. Key to this initiative is the strong government relationships that Yormark and SSE have built and maintained at the city, county, state and national level. 360 Premium is SSE’s premium seating sales and marketing arm, created by Yormark and focused primarily on selling the new all-inclusive Club RED – a brand new arena improvement built with a $7.7 million loan secured by Yormark from Broward County.


Yormark has also helped SSE develop new revenue streams by pioneering the all-inclusive arena club concept (Club RED, etc.), partnering with Boyd Gaming, signing a long-term television rights agreement with FOX Sports, extending and up-selling the naming rights partnership for the BB&T Center (most lucrative in Florida and most valuable in building history), creating dramatic revenue-generating improvements to the arena, and more.


Yormark has also heralded enhanced community involvement from SSE under the revamped Florida Panthers Foundation which donates more than $1 million in kind annually to the fight against pediatric cancer in South Florida. That community commitment continues on a personal level as Yormark sits on the Orange Bowl Committee, the Broward Workshop, Broward Health Foundation board, American Heart Association executive cabinet, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society board, and raised a record amount of money as two-year chair for LLS’ Light The Night Walk.


Yormark and SSE have been consistently recognized as leaders in the industry through awards and media profiles such as: SportsBusiness Journal 40 Under 40 Award, SBJ Stanley Cup Of Business, City Of Sunrise Business Leader Award, South Florida Business Journal Business Of The Year Finalist, Newsweek Magazine, Sports Illustrated, New York Times, American Way, Success magazine, Smart Business magazine, CNBC, South Florida Sun Sentinel’s Mots Influential People, ESPN The Magazine No. 33-ranke pro sports franchise, Pollstar Arena Of The Year finalist, and more. Yormark has also used his incomparable passion for physical fitness and 4 a.m. workouts to support charitable causes, including competing in the 2012 Tough Mudder event benefitting the Wounded Warrior Project.


Before joining SSE, Yormark spent four seasons with Palace Sports & Entertainment and the Tampa Bay Lightning, most recently as Executive Vice President, where he was a Tampa Bay Business Journal Forty Under 40 Award Winner and brokered the naming rights partnership that saw the Ice Palace become the St. Pete Times Forum. He has also served as Vice President of Integrated Sales and Broadcasting for the Columbus Blue Jackets. He began his professional career in corporate sponsorship sales with the New York Yankees and eventually joined the media rep firm Katz Communications in New York City, where he oversaw sports sponsorship sales for their affiliated television stations. From there, Yormark joined Front Row Communications, the marketing and broadcasting arm of Wayne Huizenga's sports holdings. In four years as Vice President of Sales for Front Row, he helped rebuild Sportschannel Florida and assisted in the opening of the BB&T Center.


Yormark and his wife Dana and daughter Sophia reside in Boca Raton.

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