Best of 2021 (Page 4)

The Best of 2021 Awards. COVID changed the way teams present game entertainment and these winners have adjusted and excelled.

Best Team Operations:

Which team is doing the best job in their game operations and game presentation. We level the playing field by considering budget constraints to minor league teams. Consider creativity, value to fans, overcoming sport and budget limitations, quality of presentation, and attention to detail.

Winners: Vegas Golden Knights

One panelist summarized their Best Team Operations pick with this “VGK continues to be at the top of the sports production experience.”  When the game is creating a valuable experience for fans through your event production the Golden Knights are at the very top of the discussion.

As noted in the previous award, fans come EARLY just to see the pre-game story and introductions.  Their cadre of entertainment is utilized all game long and they use top touring acts like Cameron Hughes for multiple games and events. Plus the team leverages its access to top local stars from the Vegas Strip for in-game elements and video productions.

Las Vegas is synonymous with over-the-top entertainment and flair, and the Vegas Golden Knights embody that style with their excellent show.  The team has also further embraced the “Knight” branding for their show adding an immersive quality to the production.

Honorable Mention: Savannah Bananas and Golden State Warriors

Savannah Bananas

The Bananas are making headlines with creative themes, promotions and in-game activities seemingly every week. Jesse Cole inspires the madness and the infections playfulness, coupled with a no-limits mindset has reset what’s possible.  If Willy Wonka, Abe Saperstein, Mike Veeck and PT Barnum could dream up a baseball team, the Savanah Bananas might be it.

Don’t miss minor league baseball expert Ben Hill on the Best of 2021 Roundtable adding perspective to the unlikely nature of a team selling out every game for years at an out-dated ballpark in the searing heat of a Savannah summer.  What the Bananas are doing is as awe-inspiring as it is hilarious.

Also see more with Jesse Cole: February 2021 Party in the Back Podcast and Find Your Yellow Tux by Jesse Cole

Golden State Warriors

The Golden State Warriors didn’t let a global pandemic slow their event production. It super-charged their work. Their entertainment teams all embraced the limited-fans setting and they created social media video spectacles.  The front office and ownership was aggressive from the start looking for ways to boost safe arena capacity and get fans into Chase Center to experience Warriors basketball.

When many teams went dark and cut back on event production and fan entertainment, the Warriors innovated.  If fans couldn’t come to them, they blasted entertainment out via social channels and reinvented how entertainment teams are produced.

They also created fan innovations like interactive LED boards, behind-the-scenes viewing access for remote fans and an in-game DJ for a fanless arena.

Beginning with the Warriors’ home opener on January 1, 2021, vs. the Portland Trail Blazers, 120 fans will have the opportunity to appear live in the Dub Hub, virtual LED boards surrounding the court. These fans will also have the opportunity to interact with each other during the game, create custom signs to display in their fan box, and change their broadcast angle of the game through a touch of a button. Additionally, in collaboration with The Famous Group, the Warriors have placed a virtual LED board in the Warriors’ player tunnel, allowing for two-way fan interaction with the players before they take the court for the game. At this point, the Warriors are the only NBA team to activate virtual fan attendees, and to offer fans a behind-the-scenes virtual look at the player tunnel.

Additionally, while the Warriors are currently in a fan-less scenario at Chase Center, the team is enhancing the fan experience, and the player environment in the bowl by replicating crowd noise throughout the game. Four speaker clusters positioned around the court will provide enhanced audio for both game play and game breaks. Warriors’ DJ, D Sharp, will layer into the audio options pregame and in-game, with pre-recorded crowd noise reactions mixed into the audio soundscape, audible in the arena and on telecasts. (team media)

Innovating and adapting while many teams looked for ways to downsize their entertainment helped the Warriors stand out in a crowded field for Best Team Operations of 2021.

Category Winners:

Listen to the Best of 2021 Audio Round Table discussing all the categories and winners with out panel of Jon Cudo, Amanda Greco, Chris Grosse and Benjamin Hill. – December 2021 Party in the Back Podcast

Congratulations to the Best of 2021

Since 2007 the Best of award winners will receive The Golden Steagle™ Bobblehead trophy to commemorate their award. You can get the full history of the award on the Best of Awards page, including video from The Colbert Report where Stephen Colbert proclaims that receiving a award is “the Big Time.”

Winners may use the “Best of 2021” logo and “The Golden Steagle™” award designation in their promotional material or web site.

Winners will receive an award and letter from If you receive any publicity or post the award announcement on your website, please let us know.

Thanks to our panel for helping sort through all the great submissions and for sharing their time and insight.

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