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Chris Ilitch, Chief Executive Officer of Ilitch Companies, today announced that Ryan Gustafson has been promoted to President and CEO of Ilitch Sports + Entertainment. In this elevated role, Gustafson will continue to lead business operations for the Detroit Red Wings, Detroit Tigers, Little Caesars Arena, Comerica Park, and Fox Theatre, as well as the joint venture interest in 313 Presents. He also manages the business operations for the Lakeland Flying Tigers, the Tigers’ Single-A affiliate. 

Gustafson had been Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer since March 2023, reporting to Chris Ilitch. There are no immediate plans to announce a successor for his current Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer role, but Gustafson will have an opportunity to assess the needs of his leadership structure over the coming months.

“Ryan’s collaborative and inclusive leadership style, business and analytical acumen, and passion for enhancing the fan experience has resulted in incredible accomplishments in a short time,” said Ilitch. “I’m looking forward to his continued success as he leads Ilitch Sports + Entertainment into the future.”

Gustafson has played a significant role in the multi-year renovation and expansion of the home clubhouse at Comerica Park, as well as a new videoboard which now ranks as the largest in the American League and second largest in Major League Baseball. He also had a key role in delivering significant upgrades to field lighting, outfield wall reconfiguration, and audio and video system enhancements throughout the ballpark. Future projects for the Tigers he will be central to include planning and preparation for a new dormitory at the club’s Lakeland complex, and new a baseball academy in the Dominican Republic. 

He has remained steadfast in his commitment to leading from the front in leveraging the iconic power of professional sport to positively impact communities. The teams and their charitable foundations – the Detroit Red Wings Foundation and Detroit Tigers Foundation, both affiliates of Ilitch Charities – continue to raise and invest vital resources in inclusive education, wellness, sport, culture, and community initiatives.

“Sports and live entertainment have a tremendous power to unify communities in hometowns and around the globe, and at Ilitch Sports + Entertainment, we are proud to bring together some of the most iconic brands in sports and entertainment to fulfill our mission to amaze, inspire, and unite,” said Gustafson. “It has been an absolute honor to work alongside a phenomenal group of professionals who embody this mission every day, and I truly appreciate this opportunity and confidence placed in me to further lead this exceptional organization.”  

Gustafson currently serves on the Detroit Sports Organization Corp (DSOC), an all-volunteer advisory committee that represents the top private-sector, civic, philanthropic, community and sports leadership across metro Detroit. The DSOC prioritizes, evaluates, and executes significant future bid opportunities to enable the Detroit Sports Commission to attract major sporting events to metro Detroit, accelerate economic growth and enhance the quality of life for citizens across the region. He is also a board member for Business Leaders for Michigan, the state’s business roundtable, which is dedicated to making Michigan a Top-10 state for jobs, education, widely shared prosperity, and a healthy economy.

Gustafson has a diverse background in sports, including 15 years of strategic planning and revenue generation experience. Ryan earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Puget Sound and his MBA from Harvard Business School.