Posts Tagged ‘greg ambrosius’

NFC Deal Just a Part of STATS’ Fantasy Plan

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

We overlooked in mid-February the announcement of Greg Ambrosius’ deals taking control of the National Fantasy Championships from Liberty and partnering up with STATS. It seemed mostly formality for a deal that Ambrosius had already announced at the end of January.

Thanks to a post by Scott Atkins on the Fantasy Players Association website and a Sports Business Journal story from Feb. 21, though, there are some more interesting tidbits worth passing along. Chief among the info is STATS’ apparent plan to make this a mere first step in getting back to consumer fantasy gaming.

STATS executive vice president Steve Byrd told SBJ: “This is a very fertile market and obviously one where we have history, are comfortable with and know well. We don’t have any intention to get into the free, ad-supported space. That’s obviously very well staked out by ESPN, Yahoo! and others, many of which are our clients. But the pay side continues to show strong growth, and we think there’s a way for us to achieve scale there.”

As the report pointed out, STATS played a significant role in consumer fantasy games in the late 1990s and early 2000s. It also provided the back-end support for the NFFC and NFBC before Fanball acquired the events in 2009.

With its majority stake in the NFC, STATS has added Ambrosius to its staff as general manager of consumer fantasy games. Tom Kessenich also joins the company’s ranks as manager of high-stakes fantasy games. The NFC sites have also been switched over.

No specifics have yet been announced about further fantasy plans, but Byrd did tell SBJ that “there’s potentially interest in other assets” remaining at Liberty from the pending Fanball closure.


NFBC Partners Back up with STATS

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

One of the key questions coming out of last month’s Fanball news was what would happen to the NFBC and NFFC going forward. Founder Greg Ambrosius answered that earlier this week site message boards.

The National Fantasy Baseball Championship — along with its football twin — has buddied back up with STATS, which provided technology services for the events before Fanball acquired the contests for the 2010 seasons.

Here’s what Ambrosius had to say in his Monday evening announcement:

“We’re proud to announce that STATS Inc will return as the back-end provider for this contest in 2011 and beyond. STATS ran the back-end software for the NFBC and NFFC from 2004-2009 and is the perfect partner for this contest going forward. More details will come shortly, but we wanted everyone to know this as soon as possible.

“STATS created many of the features that NFBC owners enjoyed in the past, such as an easy-to-use Conditional Bid setup, Live Standings for your league and overall standings that updated your position in real-time data, and a reliable FAAB process.

“We are VERY excited to be working with STATS Inc again and we have every confidence in the world that 2011 will be a smooth ride for our customers. The back-end software is being dusted off as we speak and it’s been tried and tested before. We believe 2011 will be a great season and we have plans for technological enhancements in the near future as well.”

Further details on the events can be gleaned from the message-board threads. Ambrosius said further announcements will follow but that the new NFBC site will include its own draft-room software that will be provided by STATS.

We’ll share any further details that become available to us.


It’s Official: Fanball to Close

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

This message was posted at the top of the homepage at late Tuesday afternoon:

The management of has determined to cease operations, effective as of June 30, 2011. Commissioner, Draft & Play, and Challenge games already in progress for NBA, NHL and NFL will continue to their conclusion. Prize payouts for the NBA, NHL and NFL games already in progress will be honored according to Fanball game rules. will not initiate new games for the NBA playoffs, the NHL playoffs or any other sports, and will promptly send a refund to customers of entry fees for 2011 PGA Tour Trade 1 and PGA Tour Trade 2.

Please visit the My Account page on in order to ensure that has your current address for sending any disbursements.

We have to assume that “management of” refers to Liberty Media, based on the way this story has developed. This, of course, is merely confirmation of what we reported late last week and offers no details about specific pieces of the operations beyond what is mentioned in the official note.

The biggest and most interesting question in the wake of this announcement is what becomes of the National Fantasy Baseball Championship, whose site carries no message as of this writing about the changes at Fanball and which has been taking entries up to this point.

The NFBC and it’s football relative remained under the guidance of founder Greg Ambrosius and Tom Kessenich through Fanball’s acquisition of the contests, so we’ll see how the events come through. In a message-board thread in which he shared the official Fanball announcement with the NFBC community, Ambrosius also offered the following:

While there is never good news in a historic company being shut down, please realize that some things are still unannounced and undecided. Hopefully there’s a reason for that. I don’t know what will happen or if anything will happen with these assets, but they’re not mentioned here in this first statement and that isn’t all bad.

Tom, myself and most of the Fanball employees are still employed today by Liberty Media, the message boards are still active, all of our players will be paid in full, employees now at least know the terms of their time at Fanball, and life moves on. It’s tragic to see such an important company leave this space, but it happens and folks move on.

Again, the boards are still alive. Use them for encouragement and positive thoughts, not to bash anyone or any entity. Let’s stay hopeful that all things will work out for this great industry, for these great games, for these great customers and hopefully this great community of like-minded baseball and football fanatics will remain intact. That’s my prayer tonight.

As this situation moves forward, we should begin to get a clearer picture of how this and other lingering questions get answered, and will provide updates as they become available.


FSWA Elects 5 to Fantasy Hall

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

We have our first class of Fantasy Sports Writers Association hall of famers:

Greg Ambrosius
Matthew Berry
Scott Engel
Eric Karabell
Greg Kellogg

FSWA president Mike Beacom told Thursday that these five reached the 70 percent threshold in the final round of voting by the 20-person hall committee. Ambrosius, Berry and Kellogg each came away with 16 votes, while Engel and Karabell followed with 15 apiece.

Ambrosius has been producing fantasy sports magazines since the 1980s, helping give voice to prospective writers along the way. Although this honor specifically deals with editorial contributions, Ambrosius also founded the National Fantasy Football Championship and its baseball counterpart, now part of Fanball.

“Greg Ambrosius was the first person that really gave me a break in the industry,” Beacom said. “I owe something to Greg Ambrosius.”

Berry is the most familiar face in fantasy today thanks to his placement at the forefront of ESPN’s efforts. He arrived at ESPN, however, by way of his site — which not only gave breaks to other prominent fantasy analysts of today but has helped to bring more personality out in fantasy writing.

Beacom said that Berry has also been important to FSWA efforts over the years.

“We have a lot of people who have helped the FSWA, and Matthew does it in a number of ways,” Beacom said, referring to more than just Berry’s work at the annual FSWA awards ceremony. “He’s a great showman, a great emcee. He always makes himself available to the FSWA. He doesn’t do it for me. He does it for young writers.”

Engel has popped up in various places throughout the fantasy industry, and if he’s not quite as publicly familiar as Berry, he is certainly known to everyone in fantasy.

Engel was on the earliest crew of fantasy analysts at CBS Sportsline, spent several years with ESPN and now runs, including its multiple shows on Sirius XM’s Fantasy Sports Channel.

“Scott’s a major-media pioneer,” Beacom said. “If you’ve been to the conferences, you know he’s the guy you’ve got to spend time with, get to know. He’s likable. He’s been doing it a long time. People are aware of him. Everybody likes him. He — along with Greg Kellogg — is a treasure in our industry.”

For his part, Kellogg has had his hands in just about everything fantasy since the mid-1990s. He began publishing his Kellogg’s Komments newsletter back when folks didn’t give fantasy advice. He helped build the fantasy operation at Fox sports, amid other major-media gigs. (Check his FSB profile for the full list.)

Today, Kellogg remains one of the most accessible veterans of the fantasy industry — including a pair of shows on The Fantasy Sports Channel — and a particularly valuable resource for those trying to break into the industry or make their way.

“A lot of people know him. Everyone loves him,” Beacom said. “He’s a very gracious person. When I spoke to him (about being chosen for the Hall), I could tell he was humbled, that it means something to him.”

Last but not least, Karabell has been with ESPN for many years, from the early days of fantasy’s integration into the Worldwide Leader through a fantasy overhaul that included the acquisition of Berry’s

The length of his stint with ESPN through various stages not only made Karabell one of fantasy’s most public faces, but also allowed him to help a number of new writers.

“He’s been at ESPN a long time, through their transition,” Beacom said. “Eric has worked with a lot of young writers.”

This inaugural induction class is a product of extensive volunteer work by the 20-person hall committee. Beacom stresses that committee members reviewed a lot of material in two separate stages and exemplified its dedication by asking questions of the candidates whenever allowed.

That portion of the effort was led by Robert Burghardt, who was integral to keeping things organized and flowing.

“You need someone who can put the pieces together, and Robert delivered,” Beacom said. “Robert ended up being a great pick.”

The FSWA has yet to nail down specifics on recognizing the inductees, but Beacom says the group wants to make sure the honor is special. More than a one-day honor, the FSWA wants to create a club atmosphere that ties the annual classes together and makes all feel a part of something.

“We’re going to spend, and we’re going to make it special,” Beacom said. “We’re going to do whatever it takes to make it a big deal.”

Getting recognized at this level by a jury of your industry peers — many of whom have probably never met you — is a big deal in itself.