John Willi, the award-winning general manager of the New Britain Rock Cats (Class AA; Eastern League), is jumping ship to DSF Sports & Entertainment, owner of two teams and more to come. He’s the firm’s new vice president and will be based in Bowling Green.
DSF Sports & Entertainment owns and operates the New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Class AA; Eastern League) and the Bowling Green Hot Rods (Low Class A; Sally League). It’s no secret the outfit has been on the lookout to add additional properties to the mix; they were in deep talks to acquire the Oklahoma City RedHawks (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League), and we expect it to be announced in coming months that the company has closed on the acquisition of the Frederick Keys (High Class A; Carolina League).
Willi brings 14 years of Minor League Baseball experience to DSF Sports & Entertainment, eleven as an executive with the Rock Cats. He was named the 2009 Eastern League Executive of the Year and also to the Hartford Business Journal’s 40 under 40 list in 2008, recognizing the top business executives under 40 years of age in the Greater Hartford area.
“We are thrilled to welcome someone like John to the DSF family,” said DSF Sports & Entertainment Owner Art Solomon. “He comes to us with several years of experience and a superb track record of success in Minor League Baseball.”
Under Willi’s direction, the Rock Cats saw the team’s annual attendance rise over 100 percent from 2000 to 2009 and its average attendance increase from 2,700 per game to over 5,500 fans per game.
“John’s credentials speak for themselves,” said DSF Sports & Entertainment President Rick Brenner. “He is a proven leader and his experience will further strengthen both the Fisher Cats and Hot Rods’ overall operations heading into the 2011 season.”
“I have an enormous amount of respect for Art Solomon and Rick Brenner and what they have already accomplished in this industry,” said Willi. “The allure of working with them to help DSF strive to be the best in the business is incredibly appealing and an opportunity I am grateful to have. I look forward to great things to come.”
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