Danny Nikitas, Avison Young principal and managing director of the firm’s Chicago office, announced the company’s legacy sponsorship of the Chicago Sky, the local Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) franchise.
To launch the sponsorship, employees from the firm’s Chicago office joined Nikitas, former U.S. secretary of education, Arne Duncan, and members of the Chicago Sky organization recently for a discussion on some of the problems facing the City of Chicago.
According to Nikitas, the firm’s financial support for the Sky is more of a strategic partnership than just a straightforward sponsorship. As the relationship between the organizations blossoms, he and the firm’s marketing group hope to take the sponsorship to another level, creating a mentorship program between the players and the real estate community.
“Professional athletes and commercial real estate professionals are analogous in their long-term commitment to refining their skill sets – and their unprecedented tenacity,” Nikitas, who played professional basketball in Greece before embarking on a career in real estate, said. “Both also must focus on working as a team and have a strong understanding that the whole of a team is greater than the sum of its parts.”
Duncan, who is originally from Hyde Park, recently returned from Washington, D.C. to join the Emerson Collective, a non-profit organization focused on education, employment, the environment and other social justice initiatives. “It’s important to discuss the issues facing our city with members of the Chicago business community,” comments Duncan. “The young professionals from Avison Young and the Sky organization were engaged and they asked the right kind of questions. These are the people that will take up the torch and continue to create better opportunities for less fortunate members of our community.”
After the question-and-answer session, the group sat courtside to watch the Sky take on the defending Eastern Conference-champion Indiana Fever.
The Chicago Sky organization has more direct ties to the commercial real estate community as well. The team is owned by a partnership that is led by Alter Group President Michael Alter. Chicago-based Alter Group is one of the nation’s largest real estate developers.
Founded in 2005, the Sky has seen considerable success in recent years, with consecutive playoff appearances in 2013, 2014 and 2015. The Sky won the Eastern Conference championship in 2014. The team plays its home games at Allstate Arena, which is located about a mile and a half from Avison Young’s suburban office on Higgins Road in Rosemont, IL. This proximity provides significant opportunity for Avison Young employees to participate in Sky events.
As part of the strategic partnership, Avison Young representatives will participate in community events throughout the year. “We are very excited to be involved with this highly successful local basketball program,” Nikitas said. “This strategic marketing program provides a great opportunity for Avison Young to stand behind and support Chicago, whether it be through professional athletics, commercial real estate or the community at large.”