President, Tampa Bay Rays
Local Board Member, Tampa Bay
In his eight years as President of the Rays, Matt Silverman has seen to it that the Rays remarkable run of six consecutive winning seasons, including four postseason appearances, is only part of the Rays stunning turnaround story.
As Richard Justice of MLB.com wrote last fall: “There’s more to this story than mere wins and losses. The Rays do almost everything right. They’re good citizens of the community, giving millions to charities and nonprofits. They encourage their players to become involved. They’re not just one of the best-run baseball teams. That’s too narrow. The Rays can stand alongside businesses in almost any industry.”
In its most recent measurement, Bloomberg Businessweek named the Rays the “smartestspenders” among the 122 MLB, NFL, NBA and NHLfranchises. In its 2013 “Ultimate Standings,” ESPN ranked the Rays highest among the nine major professional sports teams in the state of Florida, judging teams on ownership, coaching, players, fan relations, affordability, stadium experience and bang for the buck. ESPN has also named the Rays in the top six in affordability in each of the past seven years among all major sports franchises including No. 1 rankings in 2009 and 2012.
At 37, Silverman’s list of accomplishments belies his age. At the top of the list is the revitalization of the Rays. In the fall of 2007, Silverman directed a complete organizational rebranding, including a new name, colors, uniforms and icon, a bright yellow sunburst. Since then the franchise has combined a winning, exciting product on the field with a creative promotional strategy.
One of the organization’s most recent innovations is the development of the Rays Flex Pack. Offered in three-, six-, or nine-game increments, the Flex Pack allows fans to pick the games they want to attend at significant discounts off face value. Rather than using paper tickets, Flex Pack buyers use a Rays Card as their entry to the game.
This offseason, the Rays initiated another round of capital improvements to the ballpark with the creation of 360-degree pedestrian circulation around the lower seating bowl and a reimagined batter’s eye gathering point.
The project builds on the more than $20 million the Rays have invested in Tropicana Field since 2006, including the creation of the Hancock Bank Club, major improvements to the interior of the ballpark, the installation of new video boards and sound system, as well as the addition of the Ted Williams Museum and Hitters Hall of Fame located in Center Field Street.
The team’s charitable work through the Rays Baseball Foundation has invested more than $3 million into the Tampa Bay region over the past six years and brought the team and the community even closer together. The Rays have rebuilt fields and playgrounds and promoted volunteerism by creating the Employee Community Outreach Team (ECOT), which plans one volunteer project per month for staff during work hours.
Silverman is Board Chairman of Starting Right, Now (startingrightnow.org), which aids homeless families and adolescents, and earlier this year was named the first Chairman of the Board of the Positive Coaching Alliance-Tampa Bay, a national nonprofit providing youth and high school athletes a positive, character-building youth sports experience. He also serves on the Board of Governors for Tampa Bay Partnership.
The organization’s objective to expand its reach and become a regional standard bearer is being realized. TV ratings over the past four seasons are among the top one-third in the major leagues. To help foster this regional presence, the Rays moved their spring training home to Charlotte Sports Park in 2009 and built a new facility that has drawn glowing reviews and has given the Rays a year-round presence in the southern part of its region along Florida’s Gulf Coast.
Silverman also serves as the president of the Sunburst Entertainment Group, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Rays, which serves as a vehicle to attract events to Tropicana Field. Sunburst provides consulting services to industry partners and enables the Rays organization to make investments in other sports and entertainment-related business opportunities.
Prior to joining the Rays, Silverman worked closely with Sternberg at Goldman Sachs and orchestrated Sternberg’s purchase of controlling interest in the franchise. The partnership and friendship that first developed on Wall Street found its way to Tampa Bay and helped directed the Rays to its winning ways including the triumphant last-place-to-World Series season in 2008.
In 2010 Silverman received the George M. Steinbrenner III Citizen of the Year award from the Sports Club of Tampa Bay. Street and Smith’s Business Journal has twice named Silverman to its “Forty Under 40” list honoring accomplished and promising sports executives under age 40.
A lifelong baseball fan, Silverman also enjoys running and writing. The Dallas native holds a bachelor of economics degree from Harvard University. Matt and his wife, Andrea, married in December 2012. They reside in St. Petersburg with their daughter Alexa.