President Bill Manning
Bill Manning was named President of Real Salt Lake and what would become Rio Tinto Stadium in April 2008, and is responsible for all team and venue operations, both on and off the field. Manning also oversees the operation of a third property, ESPN 700 Sports Radio. Last October, following 3+ years of outstanding growth for the organization, Manning agreed to a contract extension to remain in Utah through 2015.
In his first four years Manning has helped transform the Real Salt Lake franchise into a winner. During his tenure, the team brought the state of Utah its first major-league professional sports championship in nearly 40 years and successfully sold naming rights and opened one of America’s premier sports and entertainment venues, Rio Tinto Stadium. With Manning leading the charge, tickets sales & sponsorship revenue has more than tripled since his arrival, it and it did not take long for the business community to take notice, as in February 2010 the Salt Lake Chamber named Real Salt Lake only the third-ever honoree of the Salt Lake Chamber’s “President’s Award” in the Chamber’s 107-year history.
Under Manning’s guidance, Real Salt Lake has vaulted into the League’s elite in virtually every metric, including winning percentage, Sponsorship & ticket sales revenue, merchandising and media coverage. With a focus across the organization on customer service, the club under Manning’s direction has broadened the ticket sales functionality with the establishment of a Fan Relations department, resulting in a 90% annual renewal rate and extremely high loyalty quotient by fans for the club and its partners. Manning has the 70+ person staff so clearly invested in the company’s values and goals that the club culture is featured in an upcoming book by a pair of The New York Times best-selling authors this spring.
Mr. Manning, 46, has a wealth of experience on the soccer field and in the sports business, where he has enjoyed a successful 19-year career including executive positions in the NFL, NBA & MLS. He has been intimately involved in the establishment and opening of the Toyota Center (NBA Houston Rockets) and Rio Tinto Stadium (MLS Real Salt Lake), as well as the growth of Lincoln Financial Field (NFL Philadelphia Eagles) after its opening just prior to his arrival there.
Prior to his relocation to Utah, Mr. Manning served four years as Vice President of Sales & Service for the Philadelphia Eagles of the NFL, where he was responsible for all corporate sponsorships and premium seating. During his tenure, the Eagles saw a 50% increase in corporate sponsorship from the 2004 thru 2007 seasons, and in August 2007, Forbes cited the Eagles as the fastest-growing brand in the NFL using a value formula that included sponsorships and ticket sales. In June 2006, Mr. Manning was selected to represent the Eagles at the prestigious NFL Program for Managers at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
A native of Massapequa, New York (Long Island), Mr. Manning received national recognition as a college player and was selected to play in the 1986 Intercollegiate Soccer Association of America East-West All-Star Game. As a sophomore at the University of Bridgeport, he helped the Purple Knights to a NCAA quarterfinal berth, and as a senior in 1986 he led his team to a final four appearance while earning first-team All-America honors. Mr. Manning continued his playing career after college and won a U.S. Open Cup with the Brooklyn Italians in 1991, and played professionally in the United Soccer Leagues (USL) with the Penn-Jersey Spirit (1991), Valley Golden Eagles (1993) and New York Fever (1994-95). While with the Fever, Mr. Manning began advancing his coaching education and eventually completed his U.S. Soccer National “A” License in March 2001.
Mr. Manning began his sports management career by joining the front office of the Continental Indoor Soccer League during its inaugural season in 1993. A year later, he returned home to play with the New York Fever and become more involved as an administrator doing double duty as Director of Marketing & Operations. In 1996, Mr. Manning was hired as Vice President & General Manager of the Long Island Rough Riders, where he helped lead the Rough Riders to consecutive USL final four appearances in 1996 and 1997. During Mr. Manning’s tenure in Long Island, the club was honored twice by Soccer Business International as the recipient of the publication’s Marketing Excellence Award for best overall marketing in the USL.
After the 1997 season, Mr. Manning left Long Island for the Minnesota Thunder to become President & General Manager, and immediately made an impact as Minnesota advanced to the 1998 USL A-League championship match after a sub .500 finish the previous season. The following year, Mr. Manning was named USL Executive of the Year after Minnesota won the 1999 championship and developed the second-highest revenue base in the league. Bolstered by Mr. Manning’s key player acquisitions, the Thunder capped a 24-2-8 season with a 2-1 championship victory over the defending champion Rochester Rhinos. While with the Thunder, Mr. Manning earned national acclaim as one of Soccer Business International magazine’s individuals “To Watch” in 2000. Mr. Manning was also named to Minneapolis-based CityBusiness magazine’s 1999 40 Under 40 list, which recognized the next generation of Twin Cities business and community leaders, and also was selected as one of “100 People to Watch” by Mpls St. Paul Magazine.
Mr. Manning’s first entry into Major League Soccer came in February 2000 when he was named President & General Manager of the Tampa Bay Mutiny. After a promising first season on the field, which saw Mr. Manning named 2000 MLS Executive of the Year by the Washington Post, the 2001 campaign turned out to be a low point in Manning’s career as the Mutiny, a league-owned team, were contracted prior to the 2002 season. At a career crossroads, Mr. Manning ventured away from soccer to the NBA, where he joined the Houston Rockets as Director of Corporate Partnerships. In Houston, Manning helped generate nearly $10M in new cash sponsorships prior to the opening of the state-of-the-art Toyota Center in November 2003.
Mr. Manning received his BS (1987) and MBA (1989) from the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut. He has been inducted into the Berner High School Hall of Fame with the class of 1987 and into the University of Bridgeport Hall of Fame with the class of 2006. Since his arrival in Utah, Manning has become involved with the business community and has been appointed to the Board of Directors at the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce and Junior Achievement of Utah. Mr. Manning is also serves on the Executive Advisory Committee for the Utah Sports Commission and as a Board Member for USA Wrestling Utah.
Bill and his wife Jennifer reside in Sandy and are the parents of two boys, 12-year old John and 9-year old Will.