2018 Game Changers: Neil Johnson, MGM Resorts International

Neil Johnson, MGM

Neil Johnson is Director of Global Sales—Sports and SMERF at MGM Resorts International. As a 2018 Connect Sports Game Changer, he discusses his passion for sports tourism.

Connect with Johnson on Twitter.

What I Do: I bring conventions, meetings and events to our 13 properties in Las Vegas and six other properties throughout the country. I’m assigned the sports (in particular emerging sports and esports) market, as well as the SMERF market.

How I Got Here: I originally started in the sports industry with positions at ESPN Regional at UNLV, Anaheim Sports Inc. (Anaheim Angels and the Might Ducks) and the Las Vegas Bowl. I left the industry and went more corporate meetings and incentives and recently came back to sports after a conversation with MGM Senior Vice President and Chief Sales Officer Michael Dominguez at the HPN Global Annual Partner Conference, where he asked if I would be interested in a global sales position at MGM Resorts that focused on sports and diversity. The rest, as they say is history!

Why I Am a Game Changer: I think we can all acknowledge the impact esports is having on the sports scene, as well as Fortune 500 companies—as seen with the NBA 2K—and leagues, teams and athletes owning individual esports franchises. I’m a key member of our internal esports team positioning MGM Resorts as an industry leader in this space.

Greatest Career Accomplishment: I was a member for the 2007 Leadership Las Vegas Class (a Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce program for 44 business executives); this was a leadership program that consisted of VP-level participants. Additionally, I was the 2017 Chapter President for the Southwest & Pacific Chapter of PCMA.

Impressive Stats: I’m part of an overall team that has secured several high-profile esports events including the Evo Championship Series at Mandalay Bay, Major League Gaming Las Vegas Open at Mandalay Bay, DreamHack Masters Las Vegas at MGM Grand and Rocket League Championship Season 4 World Championship at MGM Grand National Harbor in Washington, D.C. In all, these esports events have totaled more than 15,000 room nights.