Rick Welts has been named President and Chief Executive Officer of the Phoenix Suns, as announced today by Suns Managing Partner Robert Sarver. Welts joined the Suns in July 2002 as President and Chief Operating Officer.
“During Rick’s seven years with the Suns he has distinguished himself as one of professional sports best operators. Our creativity and success in areas such as marketing partnerships, technology, branding, customer service and this year’s NBA All-Star events have all been a result of Rick’s leadership,” said Sarver.
“I am very proud of what we have built here. Robert Sarver, Sam Garvin and our ownership partners have given this team the resources, confidence and support to be not just a good, but a great organization,” said Welts. “I have the best job in sports because of the extraordinary group of talented people I get to work with every day who are committed to being leaders in our industry and delivering our fans a great experience every time they visit US Airways Center.”
Welts’ NBA career started in 1969 as a ball boy for the Seattle SuperSonics. He remained with the Sonics for 10 years in several different capacities, including director of public relations when the Sonics won their lone NBA Championship in 1979.
He joined the NBA league office in New York City in 1982, and when he departed in 1999, he was serving as the league’s executive vice president, chief marketing officer and president of NBA Properties. Welts helped guide the revitalization of the league and its image through strong marketing initiated by the NBA and is credited with the creation of the NBA All-Star Weekend concept in 1984. He was responsible for the 1992 Olympics “Dream Team” marketing program as the agent for USA Basketball. In 1998, Brandweek magazine named Welts “Marketer of the Year,” for his role in creating and launching the WNBA together with WNBA President Val Ackerman.
In addition to his Suns responsibilities, Welts oversees the club’s interests in the Phoenix Mercury (WNBA) and US Airways Center.