UNLV Brings Back Libonati

12 Nov

University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Booking and Marketing Services: Justice Entertainment Group

Date: Nov. 10

Terms: Two years, undisclosed retainer fee

Notes: Daren Libonati hadn’t even quit his old job when he was approached by his soon-to-be former employer about a representation deal. It was only a few weeks later that Libonati officially announced that his newest client at Justice Entertainment Group  (JEG) would be the University of Las Vegas, where he managed the school’s three athletic facilities for 12 years.

“This allows me to expand on so many things that I enjoy, and in return those things allow me to free myself for other projects, which I will drive back to UNLV,” Libonati said.

JEG is now the exclusive booker and marketer of special events at the three venues and will handle the school’s biggest shows including Supercross, Monster Jam, Disney on Ice, Professional Bull Riders and National Finals Rodeo. JEG will also provide business development and marketing services for the university’s regional ticketing firm UNLVtickets, powered by Paciolan.

Joining Libonati as VP of JEG is Jason Finfrock. Finfrock also spent the last 10 years at UNLV, overseeing marketing of the facilities. Susan Joseph is the chairman of JEG, which also handles artist management, production services and marketing.

Libonati said it was UNLV Athletic Director Jim Livengood who asked Libonati to stay on and help “maintain the integrity of what we created,” for the school’s three facilities: Thomas and Mack Center, Cox Pavilion and Sam Boyd Stadium. Combined, the three facilities have a $33 million budget.

“This isn’t what I set out to do when I joined JEG, but essentially I’m doing many of the same things, just from a different desk.”

Libonati said the two-year deal includes an undisclosed contract retainer, along with a bonus structure for hitting certain goals.

His other goal at JEG is to create a series of boxing events which can be used to market to both UNLV and other venues within the ArenaNetwork, a trade group that helps member facilities get bookings. Libonati plans to work with longtime boxing promoter Art Pellullo of Banner Promotions. Libonati is convinced the sport of boxing is still viable and points to the prominence of toe-to-toe fist fights in Mixed Martial Arts.

“The sport of MMA rose to its pinnacle as soon as the striker rose to prominence among the five disciplines that make up the sport,” Libonati said. “It’s proven to me that boxing is still the ultimate sport. When they stand up and swing for the fences, it becomes fun again.”

Libonati said he has the option for six, eight or 12 fights in 2012 that includes a broadcast deal with cable channel Versus.— Dave Brooks

Interviewed for this article: Daren Libonati, (702) 413-6801

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