President, Tampa Bay Rays
One of the youngest team presidents in the history of Major League Baseball, Matt Silverman’s leadership and steady hand have positioned the Tampa Bay Rays as one of baseball’s most celebrated turnaround stories. Silverman, 33, took over the team’s day-to-day operations in October 2005, and, under his guidance, the Rays are now considered one of baseball’s best-run organizations. Home attendance has increased every season and the team’s 2009 attendance mark of 1,874,962 was the second highest in franchise history behind the Rays’ 1998 inaugural season. The team’s rebranding efforts prior to the 2008 season which included a new team name, colors and uniforms have produced the major leagues’ largest increase in retail sales. And by all possible measurements, from all-time high television and radio ratings to a surge in team website traffic, the organization’s objective to expand its regional reach and become a regional standard bearer is being realized. To build this regional presence, Silverman decided early on to do things a little differently both on and off the field. On the field, in the 2007 and 2008 regular seasons, he relocated a series of games to the Disney Sports Complex in Orlando, expanding the team’s reach across Central Florida. And in 2009, the team opened its first spring training camp at Charlotte Sports Park, a state-of-the-art facility giving the Rays a year-round presence in the southern part of its region along Florida’s Gulf Coast. Off the field, Silverman’s emphasis on improving customer service and the fan experience have reinforced with even the casual fan that things have changed. Major capital improvements to Tropicana Field and a refreshed commitment to improving staff preparation and training has greatly enhanced the Rays game day experience. And the team’s charitable work through the Rays Baseball Foundation has brought the team and the community even closer together. Silverman also serves as the president of Sunburst Entertainment Group, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Tampa Bay Rays, which serves as a vehicle to attract events to Tropicana Field, to provide consulting services to industry partners and through which the organization makes investments in other sports and entertainment-related business opportunities. Prior to joining the Rays, Silverman worked closely with Principal Owner Stuart Sternberg at Goldman Sachs and orchestrated Sternberg’s purchase of controlling interest in the franchise. That partnership and friendship that first developed on Wall Street, has now found its way to Tampa Bay and directed the Rays triumphant last place to World Series season in 2008. In January 2009, Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal named him to its 2009 “Forty Under 40” list honoring accomplished and promising sports executives under age 40. A lifelong baseball fan, Silverman also enjoys running and writing. The Dallas native holds a bachelor of economics degree from Harvard University. He is a member of the board of the Rays Baseball Foundation, the Hillsborough Education Foundation, and Starting Right, Now. He also serves as the Chairman of the Tampa Bay Partnership’s Council of Governors.