Detroit — Chris Granger, a home-run hire when he was tapped by the Ilitches to oversee business operations for the Tigers, Red Wings and Little Caesars Arena, is poised to leave the organization, representatives from Ilitch Holdings announced Wednesday.
Granger will become CEO of facilities, media and conferences for the Pennsylvania-based Oak View Group, which specializes in venue management and event programming.
Granger will work his new job from the Metro Detroit area, telling The News, “We love it here.”
“I would like to thank Chris Ilitch for the amazing opportunity to steward the business operations of two iconic teams, six world-class venues, and the hardest working people in sports and entertainment,” Granger said in a statement released by Ilitch Holdings.
“Chris has been a fantastic leader and trusted sounding board in our efforts to make Detroit a world leader in live entertainment. I look forward to unapologetically rooting for the Tigers and Red Wings, just as I will root for the employees of this organization, and the people of this city, for years to come.”
Granger joined Ilitch Holdings as group president for sports and entertainment in June 2017 — essentially, the second in command at the company, behind Christopher Ilitch. Granger was the boss of longtime Metro Detroit sports executive Tom Wilson, president and CEO of Olympia Entertainment. He retired in 2020. The Red Wings’ and Tigers’ general managers reported to Ilitch.
With Ilitch Holdings, Granger oversaw the final steps toward the completion of Little Caesars Arena, including some last-minute changes to accommodate a second tenant, the Pistons, who moved from Auburn Hills.
He also helped launch 313 PRESENTS, the one-stop marketing wing for Ilitch entertainment properties, including LCA, Comerica Park, Fox Theatre, DTE Energy Music Theatre and Meadow Brook Amphitheatre
Granger helped guide the company through the COVID-19 pandemic, which shut down sports for several months, and the concert industry for even longer. Granger’s wife Jennifer worked with several local nonprofit organizations to help during the pandemic, including Forgotten Harvest, Matrix Human Services, Salvation Army, Lighthouse, Make-A-Wish and Heart 2 Hart.
Granger came to the Ilitches from the NBA’s Sacramento Kings, with whom he was team president and spearheaded plans for their new arena, which opened in October 2016. He joined the Kings in 2013, after working in various roles throughout the NBA.
He was named Sacramento’s business person of the year in 2017, and was a “Forty Under 40” honoree by the Sports Business Journal in 2010.
According to a spokesperson for the Ilitches, Granger will remain in his role until a successor is in place.
“Chris Granger has brought diverse and unique programming to one of the most important and passionate markets of live sports and entertainment anywhere in the world,” Christopher Ilitch said in a statement. “He and his talented team demonstrated that the unique power of sports and entertainment can be harnessed to touch lives, strengthen the community, and lift up the city of Detroit. I am grateful to Chris for the expertise, leadership and passion he showed every day.
“With the strong leadership team Chris helped put in place, we will not only maintain our status as a world-class organization, but, as we recruit for a successor, grow to even new and greater heights.”
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