By: Donald V. Watkins
Copyrighted and Published on January 4, 2024
An Editorial Opinion
Alabama State University (ASU) and Alabama A&M University (AAMU) never saw it coming. They had the Alabama Sports Council, Gene Hallman, and Eventive Sports over a barrel last year while they were negotiating a new four-year sports management and promotions contract for the Magic City Classic.
Historically, the Magic City Classic has been the biggest revenue generator for the Alabama Sports Council, Gene Hallman, and Eventive Sports (formerly known as the Bruno Event Team).
While the two participating HBCUs only focused on the “pocket change” or "tip money" that Eventive Sports and the City of Birmingham agreed to pay each school to play in the Magic City Classic, Gene Hallman and Eventive Sports focused on locking down a new four-year Classic sports management deal.
While the two universities that owned the Magic City Classic name, trademark, and related intellectual property rights were showboating with VIP parties and social media postings during the Classic weekend last October, Gene Hallman was putting his deal together with Troon, a Scottsdale, Arizona company that provides golf and club-related leisure and hospitality services.
The new Magic City Classic contract made Eventive Sports an attractive acquisition target for Troon. The Classic contract guarantees Troon four years of exorbitant profits from the nation’s premier HBCU sports event.
ASU and AAMU never understood the economic value that their Magic City Classic contracts conferred upon Eventive Sports/Bruno Event Team. Likewise, these universities never understood how badly they were being ripped off.
While the patrons of the Magic City Classic busied themselves with tailgating, VIP parties, and cheering for the two participating football teams, Gene Hallman was working hard on an acquisition deal that would make him rich -- thanks to ASU and AAMU.
To this day, neither ASU, nor AAMU, knows how many millions of dollars Gene Hallman and Eventive Sports/Bruno Event Team made from the Magic City Classic. In past years, neither university conducted proper audits of Hallman’s financial books and records for the Classic event.
Neither university understood the sports promotion, management, operations, licensing, merchandising, and accounting business. Neither university was properly represented in their contract negotiations with the Alabama Sports Council and Eventive Sports.
ASU and AAMU never acted like the “owners” of the Magic City Classic event. They always assumed the role of “beggars,” and they got what beggars get – nothing but “pocket change" or "tip money."
ASU and AAMU were gouged during the previous four-year contract with Eventive Sports/Bruno Event Team. However, the new four-year contract announced last October amounts to gouging on steroids.
I congratulate Gene Hallman and Eventive Sports! Hallman took the premier HBCU football Classic game in America and made a fortune from it.
Gene Hallman did what business owners do. Hallman engineered a great business deal that heaped economic value upon Eventive Sports and himself. Once his deal with ASU and AAMU was signed, Hallman sold Eventive Sports to Troon.
Hallman reportedly got big bucks from Troon's acquisition of Eventive Sports. Several individuals associated with the Alabama Sports Council reportedly benefitted financially from this transaction, as well. That's a story for another day.
The patrons of the Magic City Classic got wonderful memories and great photos of the Classic weekend. ASU and AAMU got shafted in every way possible. Gene Hallman got the money and economic value from the Classic events!
Finally, Gene Hallman's power moves and personal enrichment opportunities were NOT the result of white racism. They were a direct result of willful ignorance on the part of ASU and AAMU.