hired as new leader
of Louisville Sports Commission
is former wife of the late Tug McGraw
(April 2007) Louisville has landed a star
in the sports and entertainment world to take the citys already-successful
sports commission to the next level. And the new executive director,
Diane McGraw, comes with celebrity star power, considering she is the
former wife of the late Major League Baseball star Tug McGraw and stepmother
to country music singer Tim McGraw.
A leader in sports and entertainment marketing for more
than 25 years, Diane McGraw has taken the helm of the Greater Louisville
Sports Commission and pledges to take advantage of Louisvilles
recent growth and energy.
The commissions work in recruiting and attracting sporting
events is so important because Louisville is a big-time sports town
and because sports in Louisville can mean big-time business, said
Metro Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson. Diane brings considerable
experience in sports marketing and management that will help us
extend and expand Louisvilles sports economy. I look for
her and the Sports Commission to energize our community
with sports activities things like the AVP Volleyball tour
coming Memorial Day and the National Senior Games and Ironman triathlon this
summer that create excitement and activity, bring in visitors
and create significant economic opportunities.
A new resident of Prospect, Ky., McGraw said that about a year ago,
she traveled to Lexington, Ky., to do a presentation on a youth sports
mentoring program, and she thought the area was beautiful. I really
didnt know much about the state at that point, and little did
I realize that a year later I would be living here, she said.
McGraw heard about the directors opening at the Louisville sports
commission and thought it would be a great opportunity to help nurture
a growing association. I was pleasantly surprised to find the
commission was already off to a good start with the Ironman triathlon,
the 2007 National Senior Games and the Ryders Cup, she said.
McGraw actually began her career in the entertainment industry in New
York, working for the Screen Actors Guild and the Astoria Motion Picture
& TV Center. A few years later, she started her own special events
production company and produced the I Love NY Pro-Celebrity Tennis
Tournament, which was televised on USA Network.
Six years later, she moved to Holland and produced events such as the
British Caledonian Airways Tennis Legends Championships.
She moved to Philadelphia in 1988 and accepted the position of executive
director at the Philadelphia Sports Congress, one of the first sports
marketing associations in the country.
Although I started in entertainment, and I did not have a college
education or specific training in sports marketing, I knew how to get
things done, she said.
While in Philadelphia, she spearheaded the citys bid to host the
1994 World Cup. She said she had made contacts while in Holland with
the Dutch soccer team. She had tried to set up a soccer match in Philadelphia
between the national teams of Holland and Brazil, but actually ended
with the first U.S. Mens National Team game against the Russian
national team. That set the stage for Philadelphia to host the World
She also helped keep the Army-Navy Game in the city and prepared successful
bids for the 1992 NHL All Star Game, Atlantic 10 Mens Basketball
Championship, World Cup Karate Championships and many other U.S. Olympic
and NCAA events.
After six years in Philadelphia, she moved to Orlando and was named
president of the Orlando Area Sports Commission. While there, she served
as chairperson of the Special Events for the 1996 Olympic Soccer Games,
hosted the U.S. Junior Olympic Volleyball Championships at Walt Disney
World, the U.S. Olympic Pan Am Games Team Processing and Training, the
U.S. National Field Hockey Champions and a numerous other major events.
She then was offered a unique opportunity in Los Angeles, where she
became the founding president of the Los Angeles Sports and Entertainment
Commission and helped bring many major world events to the city, including
the return of the Grammy Awards and the MTV Awards.
After Los Angeles, McGraw decided she needed a break, so she traveled
back to Philadelphia. There, she created the Dare to Dream mentoring
program for youths who want to pursue behind-the-scenes careers in the
sports and entertainment industries.
McGraw said she hopes to recreate her successful Dare to Dream program
in Louisville. I would like to team up with marketing students
from the University of Louisville and guide them on how to set up a
Some of her additional plans for the Louisville organization include
expanding the list of events already secured, establishing a sports
advisory committee and getting the citys business community involved
in forming a bid pool for major events.
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