Sioux Falls Sports Announces Ownership Change

Posted: 5/1/2012


Sioux Falls Sports, LLC, the parent company of the Sioux Falls Stampede Hockey Club, the Sioux Falls Fighting Pheasants Baseball Club and SFS Management Services announces the transfer of majority ownership from Quartzite Holdings, LLC to SD Sports and Entertainment, LLC pending league approval of the United States Hockey League and the American Association of the Professional Baseball.

Quartzite Holdings, LLC is owned by Bill Sexton, Jasper, a MN native and minority owner of the NBA's Minnesota Timberwolves. Sexton along with Brian Schoenborn, a St. Cloud, MN attorney and Sioux Falls businessmen Gary Weckwerth, Don Dunham, Jr. and Chuck Hey have made up Sioux Falls Sports since 1998. Quartzite Holdings has been the majority owner of Sioux Falls Sports, LLC since 2004.

Sioux Falls Sports acquired a United States Hockey League franchise in 1998, which became the Stampede. At the same time it created SFS Management Services, a facility management company that has managed the Sioux Falls Ice & Rec Center for the City of Sioux Falls. The company then acquired Sioux Falls' independent professional baseball team in 2010.

"We will miss Bill and all he has done," commented CEO/Managing Partner Gary Weckwerth. "Bill is a businessman first, but he loved being a part of what a USHL franchise stands for. Helping the young men we develop on and off the ice was important to him."

The group went on to own two other USHL franchises in the last 13 years (Sioux City and Des Moines) and acquired the Pheasants in 2010. "Bill also loved baseball and was proud to keep professional baseball in Sioux Falls when the opportunity came to buy the franchise. He recalled many times how as children, he and his brother would travel from Jasper to Sioux Falls to catch a game. He has great memories of that.  He will be missed dearly as a mentor and friend to all of us," added Weckwerth.

SD Sports and Entertainment is led by an impressive group of regional businessmen with strong ties to the area and professional sports that will bring incredible knowledge and experience to the company.

The group is led by Robert (Bob) Naegele III (pronounced NAY'-glee). Bob was one of the primary catalysts in bringing NHL hockey back to Minnesota in 1997, the Minnesota Wild, where he served as a Director on the Board of Wild parent, Minnesota Sports and Entertainment, LLC (MSE), and as a minority owner until selling his interest in 2008.  His father, Robert Naegele, Jr., was the lead investor and Chairman of the Wild and still holds a minority interest.  While starting his professional career in Chicago real estate brokerage, Naegele began his entrepreneurial career in 1993 when he founded Athletica, Inc. to serve an emerging hockey arena equipment market.  When he sold his interest in Athletica in 2004, it had become the leading supplier to NHL and community arenas in North America with offices in Minneapolis and Toronto, Canada.  Today, Bob is also a founding partner/board member in two entrepreneurial start-ups, Endurable Building Products, LLC and Skky, Inc., both based in Minneapolis, MN.  As someone who enjoys the process of creating teams to build successful business enterprises, Mr.  Naegele III is excited about the Sioux Falls opportunity.  Last, Bob was an MN All-State (WCCO) goalie at Minnetonka (MN) High School and went on to play hockey at Brown University in Providence, RI, where he graduated in 1988.

Also joining the group is Matt Majka (pronounced MAH-kuh) who currently serves as the Chief Operating Officer for MSE. MSE has grown into several operations including the Minnesota Wild, its minor league affiliate of the American Hockey Association Houston Aeros, 317 on Rice Park, the facility management of Xcel Energy Center and the St. Paul River Centre. Majka has been with MSE for 15 years serving in various capacities and has been in his current role the past four years. Majka has been instrumental in fostering the unique relationship between the Wild and its fan base. Majka is a Detroit native, but grew up in the Twin Cities. He's a University of Minnesota graduate.

Arnie Abens is owner and CEO of Abens Financial Services, Inc. Abens is a native of Illinois, but has called Minnesota his home for over 25 years. He has been active in sports his whole life. Abens has served and serves on many for profit and nonprofit boards. These include: SRC Computers, New Perspective Senior Living, National Flooring Equipment, American Investor's Bank, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and New Saint Andrews College. He is a graduate of Bethel University, St. Paul, Minnesota

Tom Garrity is the founder and CEO of Quan Sports Marketing, LLC, a sports marketing consulting firm specializing in leading sports franchises in the areas of revenue generation, expense and operations management. Quan's clients have included NHL, NBA and WNBA teams, the Minnesota Wild, Houston Aeros and the Phoenix Coyotes. Prior to Quan Sports Marketing, Garrity was the Senior Vice President of Sales for the Houston Astros. He was instrumental in creating new ticketing platforms that drove new fans to the major league baseball team. He was named the National Lacrosse League Marketing Executive of the Year in 2007 and Executive of the Year in 2008 when working for the Minnesota Swarm for his leadership in increased attendance. Garrity's extensive sports marketing background also includes stints with the Minnesota North Stars, Dallas Stars, Minnesota Timberwolves, the AHL's Cincinnati Mighty Ducks, Major League Soccer's San Jose Clash and the University of Minnesota. Tom is a native of Prairie du Chien, WI and a graduate of the University of Wisconsin at Platteville.

"My partners and I are thrilled to become involved in the Sioux Falls community and build on the impressive success of the Stampede and Pheasants. Our collective contributions in other businesses have been predicated on being supportive and connected corporate citizens and we look forward to the same approach in the outstanding community of Sioux Falls and the State of South Dakota," said Naegele.

Schoenborn, Weckwerth, Dunham and Hey, all founding members of Sioux Falls Sports will continue to hold their interests in the company. Both Schoenborn and Weckwerth have served in leadership positions in the respective leagues of both teams throughout the last 13 years and will continue to do so going forward.

There will be a press conference Thursday, May 3rd at 4pm at the Sioux Falls Arena lobby to meet the new owners. The public is invited to attend.