In what can only be considered a precursor to an eventual succession plan, Comcast-Spectacor is expected to announce the promotion of Valerie Camillo, maybe as soon as today, to a new role that gets her one step closer to becoming the first female CEO of an NHL franchise, Crossing Broad has learned.
Camillo, 48, who is currently the President of Business Operations, is expected to be given a new title, which is President and CEO of Comcast-Spectacor Sports Entertainment. In this more specific role, Camillo will be the top dog when it comes to the Wells Fargo Center and the business operations side of the Philadelphia Flyers, the Philadelphia Wings, the Maine Mariners, and other Spectacor special events.
Dave Scott, who remains the Governor of the Flyers and presides over decisions from the hockey operations perspective, will remain in his position. Crossing Broad has been told there is nothing imminent coming in terms of Scott and his role and that he is looking forward to another season as the Flyers’ boss.
Originally hired in 2018, Camillo was named president of business operations for the Flyers and Wells Fargo Center. In this role, she was expected to oversee all key business functions, including sales, marketing, analytics, technology and overall business optimization.
Camillo said she was drawn to Philadelphia for the chance to oversee the arena’s upgrades, including the installation of a 4K kinetic scoreboard, new LED video and lighting systems, and upgrades to the mezzanine, main concourse, and suite levels.
As the NHL began making an effort to combat racism and accelerate inclusion efforts, Camillo was elected to serve on the league’s Executive Inclusion Council. In recognition of her efforts, Camillo was named a 2020 Woman of Distinction.
Crossing Broad was unable to obtain a comment or statement from Comcast-Spectacor, Scott, or Camillo regarding this pending executive maneuvering.
But if we’re being honest – and this is speculation on our part – Camillo was already one step away from Scott’s job in her previous role, so giving her this title all but puts her on the same spot on the game board as Scott and she just rolled doubles, meaning she gets to go again.
Not to mention, there has been a lot of consternation between the Flyers and their fan base, in the last year especially, with fans vocally calling for a change at the top.
To be fair, while they have been more derogatory toward Scott, fans haven’t exactly been writing love poems to Camillo either.
She has taken her share of criticism as well. The one thing about Camillo, though, is that rather than deflect the criticism, she has seemed to embrace it, and on several levels has tried to rebuild fractured relationships.
She was again on hand for an Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation event Wednesday, as ground was broken on an outdoor street hockey rink at the Scanlon Rec Center in Kensington:
Flyers break ground on new outdoor street hockey rink at Scanlon Rec Center in Kensington (video via Comcast/Flyers) – pic.twitter.com/GrMmYGquqC
— Kevin Kinkead (@Kevin_Kinkead) September 15, 2022
Earlier this year, Camillo presented Snider Hockey with a check for $400,000 from Flyers Charities, one of the largest, single-initiative donations ever given by the franchise. It was one hell of an olive branch too, as Snider Hockey and the organization had been estranged in recent years.
Camillo also has been more present at other team charity and community functions after being criticized early in her tenure for being reclusive. In the past year, Camillo has been present at many Community events, including those spearheaded by either Snider Hockey or the Flyers Alumni Association.
After hearing repeatedly that the Flyers staff was too unfamiliar with the franchise’s history and not being able to connect with its fans in that way, Camillo created Flyers history 101 sessions for staff members, having daytime gatherings in the Wells Fargo Center, showing videos from the past on the big screen, and having follow up Q and A sessions with prominent alumni.
Over the summer she penned an op-ed in The Hockey News imploring the league re-open locker rooms to media for the coming season to create more transparency, access, and accountability for players and coaches to their fan bases through credentialed media. Two weeks ago, the Professional Hockey Writers Association announced that the NHL had agreed to do just that.
She also was the driving force behind the Flyers new initiative that requires each player to be active with at least one local charity.
She is making the effort to finally understand the hockey landscape in Philadelphia, but some may never be willing to give her the chance.
First and foremost, it’s tough being a woman trying to navigate these waters, only because no woman has done it before, and with a traditionalist fan base, it’s going to be that much harder. Combine that with the team’s lack of success – something she has no control over – and the long memories of the fan base – who are still bitter about the firing of some prominent alumni, other long-term employees, and yes, even the absurd grudge being held over the fate of the Kate Smith statue (The situation was definitely poorly handled and botched even further with the shroud over the statue, but whether you agree with how it was handled or not, for Pete’s sake, it’s a freaking statue. It’s time to get past that).
Nevertheless, poor play, a lack of faith in the management of the hockey team, and previous missteps on the business side have created a chasm between fans and organization that is so disparate at this point, that no matter what she does or tries to do, fans may be so spurned or apathetic that they won’t give her, or anyone in the organization for that matter, the benefit of the doubt until the team is successful again.
It appears though that her bosses don’t care about the cacophony of the fans at this juncture, because they seem to like Camillo and the work she’s doing.
And remember, Scott retired once before, so not everyone is in their current job permanently. Might he only hang in there for one more season before hanging it up for good? If so, it’s a pretty sure bet that Camillo will be his replacement.
Kinkead: they’ve now sent out the press release:
PHILADELPHIA (September 15, 2022) – Today, Comcast Spectacor Chairman and CEO Dave Scott announced that Valerie Camillo, who previously served as President of Wells Fargo Center and President of Business Operations for the Philadelphia Flyers, has been promoted to President and Chief Executive Officer of Spectacor Sports and Entertainment, which includes the Philadelphia Flyers Business Operations, Wells Fargo Center, Spectacor Events and Entertainment, the Philadelphia Wings, and the Maine Mariners. In this new role, Camillo will continue to lead business operations and serve as a key organizational leader for the Philadelphia Flyers, oversee the $350 million Transformation of the Wells Fargo Center, and lead the company’s plans to turn the South Philadelphia Stadium District into one of the country’s top sports and entertainment districts. She also serves as an Alternate Governor for the Philadelphia Flyers.
“Since she joined our organization in January of 2019, Valerie’s skill, vision, and determination have positively impacted every part of Spectacor Sports and Entertainment. She has expertly guided our business through the height of the COVID pandemic, overseen our incredible, $350 million investment in the New Wells Fargo Center, and built one of the most impressive, diverse, and creative teams in all of sports and entertainment.” said Comcast Spectacor Chairman and CEO and Flyers Governor, Dave Scott. “Valerie is unquestionably one of the strongest and most innovative executives in all of sports and entertainment, and we are proud to announce her promotion to President and CEO of Spectacor Sports and Entertainment as we look to the future.”
Under Camillo’s leadership, Wells Fargo Center has transformed into a new facility through one of the most significant arena projects anywhere in the country, slated to be complete in 2023. The transformation of the arena’s fan-facing interior areas will be completed this fall, and next year’s upgrades to the building’s exterior and event level will mark the final phase of the project. Under Camillo’s direction, every aspect of the arena and the guest experience has been re-imagined, from customized new spaces like the BetRivers Sports Lounge and the Shift4 Club (the first courtside and ice row club in Philadelphia sports history), to cutting-edge investments in contactless, cashless, and seamless technologies at each step of the guest experience. The arena also now offers food and beverage options that rival any venue in the world, including from three of Philadelphia’s world-renowned chefs: Stephen Starr, Marc Vetri, and Jose Garces.
The New Wells Fargo Center is the result of direct, private investment in the Stadium District, and serves as an anchor for the broader revitalization of South Philadelphia, including plans to revitalize FDR Park, invest in local roads and infrastructure, and redevelop underutilized areas.
As the New Wells Fargo Center is finalized, Camillo is also leading Comcast Spectacor’s development of the South Philadelphia Sports Complex into a world-class sports and entertainment district. In addition to Wells Fargo Center, Citizens Bank Park, Lincoln Financial Field, and Xfinity Live, Camillo is spearheading efforts to bring to life the master plan for the Sports Complex’s mixed use development. Now an established leader in Philadelphia’s business community, Camillo also oversees the organization’s day-to-day relationships with the Philadelphia 76ers, Live Nation and other concert/event promoters, and local elected officials and community leaders.
Since joining Comcast Spectacor in 2019, Camillo has made a significant impact while leading the organization through the complexities of the pandemic. During the height of the pandemic, Camillo pioneered initiatives like the Hometown Assist program, which provided $500,000 in advertising assets to five local small businesses impacted by the pandemic, which became a model for teams supporting local businesses across the sports industry, and the Take Your Shot campaign, the first public vaccination campaign from any NHL team. Emerging from the pandemic, she has worked diligently to strengthen the organization’s relationship with both the Flyers Alumni Association and Ed Snider Youth Hockey and Education – including the organization’s charitable donation of $400,000 to support Snider Hockey and Education’s construction of a new street hockey rink at the Scanlon Recreation Center in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia.
Camillo was also a champion for the Comcast Spectacor workforce during the pandemic, resulting in strong employee retention and engagement throughout the mandated shutdown.
Camillo has focused on building on the Flyers’ legacy of community engagement. Under her leadership, all Flyers players are now supporting a local community relations or charitable initiative, and Camillo has quickly become a leading voice within the NHL. Named by The Hockey News as one of the 100 People of Power and Influence in the game, Camillo has pushed for renewed media access to players and worked to re-connect Flyers players with the local communities. Valerie is also a member of the NHL’s Executive Inclusion Council, which has taken meaningful steps to grow the game of hockey for new, diverse audiences. Camillo led the establishment of Wells Fargo Center’s groundbreaking new Code of Conduct, which emphasizes the importance of a welcoming, inclusive environment at events, and is currently being used as a model for the NHL’s league-wide Code of Conduct.
Under her leadership, Spectacor Sports and Entertainment has diversified its senior leadership team, established clear core values and expectations, and placed an emphasis on organizational training and culture.
Camillo began her career in management consulting, where for over 15 years she advised Fortune 500 and public sector clients on business strategies as an executive at PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC) and Booz Allen Hamilton. After transitioning to a career in sports, Valerie worked for the National Basketball Association (league office) and Major League Baseball (Nationals). Camillo is active in the Greater Philadelphia community. She is on the Board of the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce and Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation, and a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO) and sits on the Corporate Council of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). She received a B.S. in Commerce from the University of Virginia, and her M.B.A. from the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia.