Dennis Mannion is entering his sixth year as President and Chief Executive Officer of Palace Sports & Entertainment and the Detroit Pistons. He oversees and directs all aspects of the organization’s business operations.
Under Mannion’s leadership, PS&E has experienced an active first five seasons of business including dramatic changes to the company’s vision, organizational structure and culture. His focus on encouraging collaboration and promoting innovation among the revenue, operations, creative and communications teams has transformed the business operations into a progressive cross-functional front office. Mannion’s management philosophy of building a targeted, lifestyle brand has resulted in an enriched season ticket holder and corporate partner experience, as well as increased brand awareness among PSE’s four operated properties – The Palace, DTE Energy Music Theatre, Meadow Brook Amphitheatre and Freedom Hill Amphitheatre.
Pistons season ticket members have enjoyed newly created lifestyle programming focused on the delivery of inside-access media, merchandise and memories. “State of the Pistons” season ticket member events, the debut of the club’s new “Motor City” and “Chrome” jerseys, as well as the rollout of new Pistons Member Loyalty Programs have all been developed under Mannion’s direction. Corporate partnership has been elevated through a multi-faceted Pistons Playbook, a digital inventory of assets ranging from media opportunities to product activation and promotions.
The Pistons Programming Network (PPN) was conceptualized by Mannion to drive engagement and provide multi-channel inside-access content to consumers and corporate partners. An increased focus on social media and the development of three new fan affinity groups catering to men, women and youth haven driven both corporate and consumer based revenues. The game night experience has been elevated to include halftime concerts by top national recording artists and the game entertainment has evolved with the introduction of seven new performance teams, a new interactive Action Guide game night program and the installation of Wi-Fi inside the arena bowl allowing fans to interact freely throughout any event. Pistons “Power Hour” was introduced during the 2012-13 season, giving fans pregame access to discounts on food and beverage and merchandise, opportunities to meet Pistons personalities and nightly entertainment an hour before tip-off.
Palacenet.com, the official website for PS&E, was re-launched with new video capabilities and easier navigation and a new entertainment affinity club, The Blue Room, was created to deliver concert fans inside-access media content, event announcements, schedules and special offers. Mannion also brokered the current management agreement with Luna Entertainment for Macomb County’s Freedom Hill Amphitheatre, which produced 26 shows this past summer.
Mannion launched a new program tabbed “Come Together,” which has honored over 10,000 “game-changers” making a difference in communities throughout the State of Michigan, as well as a new youth basketball development program labeled “Pistons Academy” that provides a platform for youngsters to learn the game of basketball and develop their skills.
Maintaining The Palace’s reputation as one of the top arenas in sports and entertainment, Mannion has overseen over $40 million in improvements and renovations - the largest capital improvement project since 2006. In a four-year span, the organization has completed large-scale renovations to the event level locker rooms, main concourse level, suite areas and club areas along with construction of a new open-air lounge located inside the arena’s third level suite area, a state-of-the-art multimedia studio and technological upgrades inside the arena bowl. During the summer of 2015, Mannion oversaw the building’s most recent renovations with the addition of a new East Terrace and the replacement of roughly 10,000 seats in the arena’s lower bowl. The newest destination, an overhaul of the old East Terrace, features a new entrance foyer with improved lighting, contemporary finishes and increased space for entry. Three new food and beverage concepts have also been added to the upstairs concourse area. The new seating, from the bottom of the lower-level suites to the floor, consists of leather seats that are more ergonomically comfortable with a sleek black look. NFC technology will be installed in the future to provide mobile connectivity and in-seat ordering.
In 2014-15, The Palace debuted a new sparkling high-definition “Palace360” center-hung scoreboard and digital asset upgrade. The new scoreboard has six displays and is 60-feet-wide and 22-feet-high from foul-line to foul-line. The scoreboard is 21-times sharper and three-times larger than its predecessor and weighs approximately 56,000 pounds. The video display boasts two 42-foot-wide and 24foot-high 1080p HD screens that run along the sidelines and two 720p HD end screens facing each baseline that measure 27.5-feet-wide and 16-feet-high for a total of 2,896 square feet of active display area. Other prominent features of the new video display system include two LED light rings – upgrading existing electronics – that encircle the arena fascia between the upper and lower bowls. Digital signage also will be featured on the inside portals of the arena and on the floor behind the basket in padded portable units, resulting in just under nine million pixels spread across 42 new displays. The final component of the new digital video system was a new 1080p HD screens and programming capabilities for The Palace Marquee at the Lapeer Road entrance.
Mannion has also overseen technological upgrades that meet the needs of today’s digitally connected fan. The Palace’s DAS Wi-Fi system allows fans the ability to interact socially while accessing free internet and live-radio streaming on the Pistons mobile app. The mobile app, which has had over 80,000 downloads and over 1.4 million sessions since its inception in 2013, delivers 24/7 access to news
and information, live game statistics, inside-access video content and arena maps and information. Fans utilizing the Pistons mobile app can now have an enhanced experience at The Palace with the organization’s use of the latest in proximity beacon technology to send seat upgrade notifications, welcome messages, exclusive content, in-arena offers and more directly to mobile devices. Future technological advancements will include increased use of paperless ticketing, in-seat food and beverage ordering, zone based communications and multicast video replay capabilities.
Mannion holds the rare distinction of having experience in all four Major League sports where he has led operations during 14 postseason runs and been part of two World Series (1983 and 1993), a Major League All-Star Game (1996), a NHL Conference Championship (1998), a Super Bowl (2001), two National League Championship Series in 2008 and 2009, and an NBA Playoff Series in 2016. The 2016-2017 NBA season is his 35th in major league sports.
Prior to heading up PS&E, Mannion was most recently a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers front office (2007-2010), where he served as President/COO. His marketing guidance helped the 2009 Dodgers lead Major League Baseball in paid attendance for the first time since 1986. He introduced and created the Dodgers Sports Lab, an innovative production facility that integrated marketing, merchandising and media while also creating a new telemarketing center and a new fan hospitality program. In addition, he oversaw the implementation of several experiential sections around Dodger Stadium and initiated major changes to staff, structure and revenue driving strategies.
In 2008 he helped initiate the team’s season-long celebration of its 50th anniversary in Los Angeles, hosted baseball’s all-time most attended game at the LA Coliseum (115,300 vs. Red Sox) and transitioned the organization from its Vero Beach Spring Training home to a new facility at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Arizona.
Prior to joining the Dodgers, Mannion spent eight seasons with the Baltimore Ravens of the National Football League, where he served as the club’s Senior Vice President of Business Ventures. In that role, Mannion oversaw all revenue streams, image, and brandgenerating properties. He led and coordinated the development of more than 60 Ravens sub-brands, 12 season-long Ravens television and radio shows, and annual events such as Spring Football Festival, Ravens Kickoff Week, State of the Ravens, and the Ravens AllCommunity Team. In Baltimore, Mannion also led successful bids to host the 2000 and 2007 Army-Navy Game, the 2002, 2006 and 2008 Navy-Notre Dame game, 2005 and 2010 Maryland-Navy football game and the 2003, 2004 and 2007 NCAA Lacrosse Championships at M&T Bank Stadium.
He pioneered the Ravens’ efforts to converge its external programming assets (Rave-TV, Ravens Radio, baltimoreravens.com, Ravens Mobile-In-Zone, Ravens Podcast and Video On Demand) and represented the team during the sale of its stadium naming rights to M&T Bank. He also served on the NFL Business Ventures Committee, the board of Vehicles for Change, the Baltimore Classic Fund, the steering committee for Camden Yards Sports and Entertainment Commission, Medstar Hospital System Foundation, Salisbury University Foundation and was the founder of the Ravens All-Community Team.
With his hiring by the Pistons, Mannion returned to the NBA, where he spent two years managing business operations for Ascent Sports, owners of the Denver Nuggets, the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche and Pepsi Center (1997 to 1999). He handled business operations for both teams, helping them transition to the newly-built Pepsi Center and signed the agreement for the 2000 NHL All-Star Game.
Mannion cut his teeth in the sports business with the Philadelphia Phillies spending 16 years (1982-1997) with the baseball club. During the last eight of those years as Vice President of Marketing and Sales, he was noted for enhancing the fan experience at Veterans Stadium and was instrumental in both the acquisition and the staging of the 1996 MLB All-Star Game in Philadelphia. He was named a “40 Under 40” award winner by the Philadelphia Business Journal in 1996 and the Phillies won two MLB Marketing Excellence awards during his time with the club.
Mannion graduated from the University of Massachusetts in 1981 with a bachelor’s degree in business and sports management. He received the “Distinguished Alumnus Award” from his alma mater in 1998. He and his wife, Pam, reside in the Metro Detroit area and have five children: Ryan, Kate, Allie, Kellen and Tatum.