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GeekWire’s Todd Bishop (left) and Taylor Soper interview Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer.

What. A. Day.

It was so much fun learning how and why technology is changing the sports we love to watch and play at the first-ever GeekWire Sports Tech Summit on Wednesday at Safeco Field in Seattle.

More than 300 techies, geeks, entrepreneurs, executives, athletes, coaches, team owners, and many others came together for an awesome day all about the budding intersection of sports and technology.

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Speakers ranged from Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber to Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin to crowd-favorite and Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer, who shared a wealth of insight into how the former Microsoft CEO thinks technology can change basketball. You can watch the full interview with Ballmer here.

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ROOT Sports reporter Jen Mueller (left) interviews former Olympic swimmer Ariana Kukors and Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin.
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GeekWire’s John Cook interviews Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber.

Folks like former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Charlie Batch and San Francisco Giants owner Jeff Mallett mixed and mingled with the crowd, as the event provided fantastic networking opportunities for people interested in how sports and technology intersect.

The Sports Tech Summit also attracted plenty of media members, including reporters from The Seattle Times, Bloomberg, Associated Press, and local TV stations like KING5.

You can check out our coverage of the event here, and see the chatter on Twitter here. Don’t miss our images on Instagram, too. We’ll be posting more stories and videos from the Sports Tech Summit, so stay tuned for that.

We’ve put together a quick recap of the inaugural Sports Tech Summit below — thanks to Kevin Lisota for snapping so many great photos. And of course, a big thanks to all of our sponsors for the GeekWire Sports Tech Summit:

Presenting Sponsor: ComcastGold sponsor: Windows 10Silver sponsors: Wave Business, First Tech Federal Credit Union, Moz, OfferUp,Delta Dental, Zerto, VRCinematicSupporting sponsors: Sounders FC, Eiger Marketing, Alltech, Storytie, Tagboard,Bootstrapper Studios, Strideline.

Welcome Party at The Ninety

We kicked off the inaugural Sports Tech Summit with a Welcome Party, sponsored by Microsoft, at The Ninety in Pioneer Square on Tuesday evening. MLS Commissioner Don Garber met with local media, touching on a wide range of topics, while Sounders FC owner Adrian Hanauer addressed the crowd with comments about how technology is impacting sports.

Don Garber - Sports Tech Summit Welcome PartyGeekWire Sports Tech Summit Welcome Party

Seattle Sounders FC owner Adrian Hanauer speaks at the GeekWire Sports Tech Welcome Party.
Seattle Sounders FC owner Adrian Hanauer speaks at the GeekWire Sports Tech Welcome Party.

The Future of Sports

Our first panel discussion on Wednesday featured Adidas marketing exec Chris McGuire, ESPN.com co-creator Mike Slade, and Brooks Running CEO Jim Weber, who covered a wide range of sports technology-related topics from streaming to 3D-printed shoes to the fan experience.

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ESPN.com co-creator Mike Slade, Adidas marketing exec Chris McGuire, and Brooks Running CEO Jim Weber.

Fireside chat with Don Garber, MLS commissioner

Next up was Garber, who shared a ton of insight into why technology and innovation is such a priority for MLS.

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Power Talk: Tim Chartier, Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science, Davidson College

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Chartier gave a 20-minute Power Talk about data and analytics in the sports world.

Owners Panel with Jeff Mallett, owner of San Francisco Giants and former Yahoo president; Henry Nguyen of LAFC; and Sounders FC owner Adrian Hanauer

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From left to right: Henry Nguyen of LAFC; Jeff Mallett, owner of San Francisco Giants and former Yahoo president; and Sounders FC owner Adrian Hanauer.

This panel featured three experienced business and technology executives who now run sports franchises. They talked about mobile ticketing, sports science, and using technology to help their teams win games, win fans, and win revenue.

Fireside chat: Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer

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Ballmer then spent nearly an hour talking about one of his favorite topics: sports tech. Here is some of our coverage:

Lunch

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We took a break for lunch, as attendees had a chance to soak in some sun and enjoy skyline views of Seattle from the Safeco Field seats. Some decided to get in a little Pokemon Go.

Special Olympics

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Before heading into our afternoon sessions, former U.S. Men’s National Team goalkeeper and ESPN analyst Kasey Keller introduced Ivanova Smith, a Special Olympian who has competed in bowling, golf, track and field and basketball. Smith talked about how the power of sports has been such a positive influence on her life. Comcast then announced a $25,000 donation to the Special Olympics. 

The Next Playing Field: Virtual Reality in Sports Panel

NextVR Chairman Brad Allen (center) and STRIVR Labs CEO Derek Belch.
NextVR Chairman Brad Allen (center) and STRIVR Labs CEO Derek Belch.

NextVR Chairman Brad Allen and STRIVR Labs CEO Derek Belch joined us for a discussion about one of the hottest topics in sports technology today: virtual reality.

The Athlete’s Take: Former Olympic swimmer Ariana Kukors and Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin

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ROOT Sports reporter Jen Mueller moderated a panel with former Olympic swimmer Ariana Kukors and Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin. It was a great look into how athletes think technology improves — or sometimes, gets in the way of — how they perform.

Startup Showcase

CEOs of five sports tech startups from the Seattle region gave short presentations about how their companies are developing technology in industries like eSports, wearables, fitness training, and more.


Fireside Chat with Rick Cordella, senior vice president and general manager of digital media at NBC Sports

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Rick Cordella, senior vice president and general manager of digital media at NBC Sports Group, talked about technology at the Olympics and the changing face of sports media. Associated Press Global Sports Editor Michael Giarrusso moderated the fireside chat.

The Road to Rio Celebration: The XFinity X-Perience After Party

XFinity X-Perience After Party - GeekWire Sports Tech Summit

Presenting sponsor Comcast hosted an after-party in the ‘Pen at Safeco Field for networking, interactive demos, a VR experience and more.

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Sounders Day

The party continued Wednesday at our fourth annual Sounders Day at the rooftop deck of EMC/Isilon, where more than 400 folks enjoyed enjoy blue Seattle skies, great BBQ and plenty of beer before heading to CenturyLink Field to watch the Sounders destroy Dallas FC 5-0.

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The Sounders Day crowd on the rooftop deck at EMC/Isilon in Seattle on Wednesday. (Kurt Schlosser / GeekWire)

Sounders Day 2016

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In case you missed all of the action, here’s the recap video from the first-ever GeekWire Sports Tech Summit:

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