If Chicago Cubs phenom Anthony Rizzo, who made his Major League debut last night, has as successful an eight-year run at Wrigley Field as ESPN Audio Midwest Sales Manager John Sardelis has had, you’re talking about an annual All-Star.
Sardelis and 300 of his closest colleagues, co-workers, clients and ESPN Radio commentators watched Rizzo double home the go-ahead run in the Chicago Cubs’ 5-3 win over the New York Mets from The Skybox on Sheffield overlooking the “Friendly Confines.”
It marked the ninth straight season the ESPN Audio has played host to the event. Sardelis has been there from the beginning, with a budget that barely covered 50 attendees.
“Eight years ago, we set out to create an event to highlight the ESPN Radio Brand and ‘talent,’ and I remember the first one — our signature ‘talent’ was Mike Golic and Mike Greenberg and it was a rather intimate gathering,” Sardelis says.
“But the feedback was clear: Getting our ‘talent’ in front or our clients was the differentiating factor. Anyone can rent the venue, but can they offer exclusive opportunities like playing pop-a-shot with Scott Van Pelt and Ryen Russillo, or taking a picture with Mike & Mike [hosts]. The event just kept gaining momentum year after year.”
This year’s line-up featured more than 20 on-air hosts, including ESPN Audio network’s Mike & Mike, Van Pelt and Rusillo, and Doug Gottlieb; ESPNChicago.com columnist Michael Wilbon; as well as ESPN Chicago 1000’s Tom Waddle and Marc Silverman (Waddle and Silvy), and John Jurkovic, Carmen DeFalco and Harry Teinowitz (Carmen, Jurko and Harry) mingling with sales staff, key executives and clients from ESPN and Disney.
“The event has expanded from a radio event to a showcase for our multiplatform opportunities and capabilities,” said Mike Connolly, vice president of sales.
“It’s our way to celebrate our mission of serving sports fans anytime, anywhere; locally, nationally, in English and Spanish. Having ESPN Audio’s network and local talent there to watch the game and talk sports with our clients and partners from ESPN and The Walt Disney Company enables us to create a unique experience in one of the game’s great ballparks.”