Ethan Casson

CEO at Minnesota Timberwolves

Ethan Casson is entering his fifth season as Chief Executive Officer for the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Minnesota Lynx, the Iowa Wolves, and T-Wolves Gaming. Casson also serves on the NBA Board of Governors as the Timberwolves and Lynx Alternate Governor.

As CEO, Casson oversees all business-related operations, working closely with ownership and the executive team on setting the organization’s strategic vision. In the spring of 2019, Casson was charged with leading the executive search for the President of Basketball Operations resulting in the hiring of Gersson Rosas. Rosas was previously an executive of the Houston Rockets for sixteen years and is considered one of the most innovative minds in the game today. Rosas also became the first Latino President/General Manager in the history of the NBA. The hire aligns with the focus of diversity, equity, and inclusion Casson champions for the organization. Under his leadership, diversity of the organization’s senior management has increased by more than forty percent.

Another critical focus for the organization under Casson is the importance of Social Responsibility. Serving on several nonprofit boards locally and nationally, Casson is committed to using sports as a platform for providing support to the community. Prior to the 2019-20 NBA season, Casson announced the organization’s “Pack Gives Back” campaign, unifying all four franchises in committing to maximizing social impact over the next five years. Deemed “Drive to Five”, the organization has committed to the following: securing $5 million in monetary and in-kind donations, positively impacting over 500,000 Minnesota youth and families through programming initiatives, donating 15,000 hours of community service by employees, serving 2,500 Twin Cities nonprofit organizations, and completing 500 hours of player appearances. As a result of the significant social impact and community outreach, the organization was recognized as a 2019 Keystone Honored Company by the Minneapolis Chamber. During summer of 2020, Casson spearheaded efforts to revamp the organizations Fastbreak Foundation by creating a new public facing Board of Directors focused on creating a more substantial grant-making program. And the Timberwolves & Lynx were recognized by local non-profit, MATTER, with the 2020 Community Assist Award for their impact in the Twin Cities community.

In his tenure with the team, Casson implemented additional initiatives as part of an aggressive rebuild of the organization. In the Fall of 2016, Casson led a brand overhaul that included the rollout of a new logo and court, the unveiling of team uniforms, and the launch of a new marketing campaign. In an effort to re-establish Target Center’s resurgence in downtown Minneapolis, Casson oversaw the completion of the building’s $150 million renovation, the first major facelift in the venue’s 27-year history. The success of the project resulted in a nomination for the Sports Business Journal’s 2018 Facility of the Year and was chosen as Minnesota’s Finance & Commerce Top Project of 2017.In the interest of growing the franchise’s popularity, Casson worked with the NBA to secure the Timberwolves as a participant in the 2017 NBA Global Games in China, playing against the defending NBA Champion Golden State Warriors. Additionally, the franchise purchased the NBA’s G-League team from Des Moines, now the Iowa Wolves, expanding the organization’s footprint throughout the Upper Midwest. On a local level, Casson partnered with the WNBA in bringing the 2018 WNBA All-Star Game to the Twin Cities, where the Minnesota Lynx played host.

Since Casson’s arrival, the Timberwolves experienced consistent growth in all key metrics including season tickets, attendance, television viewership, corporate partnerships, merchandise, and social engagement. The Minnesota Lynx remain one of the model franchises in the WNBA, having been named WNBA Franchise of the Year for the 2017 and 2018 seasons including being crowned WNBA Champions in 2017. Further, Casson led the efforts in securing an NBA 2K team, joining 22 other NBA franchises with a 2K eSports team. In its inaugural season, T-Wolves Gaming won the 2019 NBA 2K Championship. Additional recognition for the organization includes: the prestigious 2020 MarCom Platinum Award for crisis management work during the pandemic, 2018-19 NBA Digital Innovation Award, the CLIO Award for the Prince Inspired City Edition Uniform platform, and the Hashtag Sports Award for Best Multi-Platform campaign.

Prior to his current role, Casson spent six seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, serving as the team’s Vice President of Corporate Sales, Chief Revenue Officer, and Chief Operating Officer. Casson led a team focused on generating corporate revenue associated with the 49ers’ new stadium project. He spearheaded the organization’s effort in securing a 20-year, $220 million naming rights partnership with Levi Strauss & Co., one of the largest naming rights deals in NFL history. Additionally, the team sold more than a dozen founding partnership deals, resulting in over $600 million in committed corporate revenue prior to the opening of Levi’s Stadium.

Under Casson’s direction, Levi’s Stadium accomplished record-breaking growth in several areas of the 49ers business, inclusive of ticket and premium sales and corporate partnerships. In addition, Casson helped procure some of the most prominent events in sports and entertainment, including Super Bowl 50, WrestleMania 31, the NHL Outdoor Stadium Series, Pac-12 Championship Football, various music headliners and was awarded the host site for the 2019 College Football Playoff National Championship. The success of Levi’s Stadium resulted in several industry awards including the Sports Business Journal’s 2015 Facility of the Year and Venue of the Year at the 2015 Stadium Business Awards in Barcelona, Spain. Leveraging technology with sustainability, Levi’s Stadium generated international acclaim for its green efforts, becoming the first NFL stadium to be twice LEED Gold certified and was named the 2016 Green Sports Alliance Environmental Innovators of the Year.

Prior to his tenure with the San Francisco 49ers, Casson worked at the Minnesota Timberwolves and Lynx as the Senior Vice President of Corporate Partnerships and with ESPN in sponsorship development.

Casson has garnered industry-wide recognition for his accomplishments throughout his career, including being chosen by Sports Business Journal as one of the “People Who Influenced Sports Business in 2020”. The annual list celebrates 79 individuals who, during an unprecedented year, set the standard for leaders in the sports industry. He was named to Minnesota Magazine’s 2018 and 2019 Minnesota 500, profiling the most influential business leaders in the state, C-Level Magazine’s CEO of the Month in February 2017, and being featured in Profile Magazine’s 2017 Q1 Executive Leadership Edition and Twin Cities Business Journal’s list of “100 People to Know” in 2016. He was honored as a member of Sports Business Journal’s Forty Under 40 class of 2014 and Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal’s Forty Under 40 class of 2008.

Casson earned a Bachelor of Science in Sports Management from Colby-Sawyer College in New London, New Hampshire. A former college basketball player, he was inducted into the New England Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013 and the Colby-Sawyer College Athletic Hall of Fame in 2015.

Casson previously served on the Board of Directors for the Make-A-Wish Foundation Greater Bay Area, the Make-A-Wish Foundation Minnesota, and the Board of Directors for YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Timberwolves and Lynx Fastbreak Foundation, the Executive Board of Minnesota Sports and Events, the Advisory Board for Positive Coaching Alliance, and is actively involved in Big Brothers Big Sisters Twin Cities. Casson is also a member of the NBA’s Team Advisory Committee.

Casson and his wife, Lisa, reside in Minneapolis.


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