Ilitch Sports + Entertainment (IS+E) has a new executive leading the organization’s business operations, with Ryan Gustafson being promoted to Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer.
Chris McGowan, who was IS+E’s President and Chief Executive Officer, will be leaving the organization.
“I’m confident the leadership of Ryan Gustafson and our executive team will continue providing a world class sports and entertainment experience for our fans and guests,” said Chris Ilitch, CEO, Ilitch Companies. “I thank Chris McGowan for his hard work and leadership. He is leaving IS+E in a great position and set up for continued future success.”
Previously holding the title of Senior Vice President of Business Operations Strategy with IS+E, Gustafson joined the organization in February of 2022. In that role he focused on project management, operational support, and business development strategy to drive future growth, including spearheading many of this off-season’s ballpark enhancements at Comerica Park.
“This is an incredible opportunity to lead the talented colleagues throughout IS+E including a world class senior leadership group that will continue with the mission of Amazing, Inspiring and Uniting our fans through the power of sports and entertainment,” said Gustafson.
Gustafson has a diverse background in sports, including nearly 15 years of strategic planning and revenue generation experience. Prior to joining IS+E, he served as a strategy consultant at Elevate Sports Ventures and Pegula Sports and Entertainment and was the Team President of the Seattle Dragons (XFL) where he led all business operations. Prior to that, he served as Vice President, Strategy and Development for the Seattle Sounders, where he oversaw all revenue-generating areas for the club, and as Vice President, Strategy, and Innovation for the San Diego Padres. Ryan earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Puget Sound and his MBA from Harvard Business School.
“I have made the difficult decision to step down as President/CEO of Ilitch Sports + Entertainment,” said McGowan. “I am grateful to Chris Ilitch for giving me the opportunity to work for the Red Wings and Tigers and thank everyone for the collaboration, passion, and true dedication to this company – it is something very much appreciated. I wish the organization continued success in the future and I have full confidence that Ryan Gustafson will be an outstanding leader.”