Sports and entertainment industry veteran Dylan Wanagiel has been appointed vice president of sports properties and special events at Prudential Center.
Wanagiel has thus far spent 14 of his 27-year career at Madison Square Garden, most recently serving as the senior director of sports events. At MSG, Wanagiel increased the quality and quantity of bookings leading to record-breaking sales metrics in sports properties programming, according to his hiring announcement.
At the Prudential Center, Wanagiel will be responsible for pursuing, booking, retaining and the original creation of sports programming and non-ticketed special events across all Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment properties; as well as future properties and venues in the expanding HBSE entertainment portfolio. He will report to Prudential Center Executive Vice President of Entertainment Sean Saadeh.
While at MSG, he was an important voice in the legalization of mixed martial arts in New York State, resulting in the booking of the UFC 205 event at Madison Square Garden in 2016, the first MMA event in New York since an event in Buffalo in 1995.
Wanagiel created and served as executive producer of Grapple at the Garden, a mostly-college wrestling dual meet, from 2012 to 2018.
He told NJBIZ that Grapple at the Garden was his “most notable event creation,” which led directly to the booking of the 2016 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships.
“The idea was developed following experiencing the excitement of a dual meet of Lehigh at Rutgers in February of 2011, and by December of 2012 we had 14 D1 programs on the Garden floor,” Wanagiel said. “Without creating a showcase for the tremendous athletes involved in wrestling, there would have been no booking of the greatest wrestling tournament tin the world!”
The courting process for the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships, held March 17-19, 2016, was “extremely lengthy,” he said, requiring years of establishing MSG as a home for college wrestling. He said he’s proud of that event, and also of the UFC 205 event: NCAA wrestling had 110,000-plus fans in attendance over three days, and UFC 205 set a box office record which “will likely never be broken,” he said.
While at MSG he was responsible for the booking of marquee internationally-broadcasted sporting events including six UFC Pay-Per-View fights, 10 Bellator MMA shows, multiple WWE signature events including the 2008 Royal Rumble, 2011 Survivor Series, Raw, and Smackdown, the 2007-2014 NFL Drafts and 2014 NFL Honors, 2007-2010 NBA Drafts, the 2019 Fortnite Summer Block Party, and American Cup Gymnastics.
Prior to his most recent MSG Sports Properties role, Wanagiel was the general manager of Metropolitan Exposition Services in the trade show industry from 2004 to 2006; and before that, he held several senior leadership roles at MSG from 1993 onward.
Now with HBSE, Wanagiel believes the Prudential Center should be every promotor’s “first call,” giving a nod to the facility that includes the largest HD video scoreboard in the world, the operations team, and the creative partnership business models for event bookings.
For fans, he plans to bring in combat sports like mixed martial arts and boxing, entertainment and freestyle wrestling, collegiate sports, esports, and dirt-based events like Pro Bull Riders and Monster Jam. He also said that HBSE will focus on growing the Prudential Center’s portfolio of awards shows – it hosted the MTV VMAs in 2019 – as well as product launches, corporate meetings, religious and cultural celebrations, graduations, and film and TV shoots.