• Background

The General Sports Mission

Anyone who has participated in sports as an athlete or a spectator has vivid emotional memories of moments that cemented their passion for sports. These moments are woven into the fabric of our collective history and provide a tremendous bond across cultures and socio-economic divides. Sport is unmatched in its ability to affect positive change — generating economic growth, fostering national pride, and improving the health and well-being of children and young adults. No one understands this better than General Sports and Entertainment. We were founded on the belief that nothing can bring people together like the power of sports.

General Sports was established with the very purpose of developing a sports and entertainment firm that would ultimately pursue the acquisition and management of Major League professional sports franchises. Since then, GSE has grown by leaps and bounds, developing a strong consulting practice and a premier sponsorship and naming rights division.

Our mission is to use the power of sports and entertainment as a platform to help our clients build relationships with their clients, customers, employees and the community.

Andy Appleby, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of General Sports and Entertainment, LLC, and Founder of AppleTree Advisory, LLC has more than 32 years of sports management experience. Since founding General Sports in 1998, Andy has led the effort to develop all of its operational divisions, subsidiaries and affiliated entities, as well as having created the General Sports Foundation. Andy was awarded the prestigious Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2002. Under Andy’s leadership, General Sports has had a very strong rise into the upper echelon of the sports and entertainment industry.

Andy Appleby

20 Years of Excellence

1998 — GSE Founded

Andy Appleby founded General Sports with the purpose of developing a sports and entertainment firm that would ultimately pursue the acquisition and management of Major League professional sports franchises.

1999 — Purchased Fort Wayne Wizards

General Sports owned and operated this team from 1999 to 2006. We applied major league practices to this minor league team and transformed them from a money-losing team with little fan support into a first class operation with sustainable profit.

2003 — Started General Sports Turf Systems

Our artificial turf company was wildly successful, selling and constructing upwards of 50-100 fields per year at the time it was sold to Astroturf in 2009.

2001 — Sports Executive Leadership Conference

The Sports Executive Leadership Conference is a meeting of the great minds in sports. The conference was designed to be the quintessential leadership and networking event for the top executives in the global sports industry. Since its inception in 2001, the Sports Executive Leadership Conference has become the one "must attend" event in the sports industry.

2008 — Purchased Derby County Football Club

In January 2008, General Sports acquired the Derby County Football Club, an English Premiere League football club based in the iPro Stadium in Derby, England. Formed in 1884, the Rams were one of the founding members of the English Football League in 1888. Derby County is currently in the Championship League, but aspires to someday make it back to the Premiere League (EPL).

2015 — Founded USPBL

The United Shore Professional Baseball League was founded by General Sports, and is the culmination of a 10-year effort to bring professional baseball to the Detroit area. The USPBL launched May 2016 with an initial slate of three teams playing a full 75-game schedule at Jimmy John’s Field in historic downtown Utica, with its fourth team added for the 2017 season.

2018 — Founded AppleTree

AppleTree Growth Strategies was created to assist clients by facilitating connections between best-in-class businesses. Andy Appleby has spent his career over 30 years cultivating meaningful relationships at the highest levels, and connecting individuals and businesses who can help each other immensely.

Our Divisions

United Shore Professional Baseball League

In the summer of 2015, GSE announced the creation of the United Shore Professional Baseball League, an independent professional baseball league which will be based out of Jimmy John's Field in Utica, MI. Andy Appleby has loved minor league baseball ever since he was young, and it has been a goal of his since owning the Fort Wayne Wizards to start his own minor league. The league is the first of its kind in Metro Detroit and aims to provide a fun and exciting family atmosphere, while showcasing top baseball talent to fans of all ages.

The USPBL launched May 2016 with an initial slate of three teams playing a full 75-game schedule at Jimmy John’s Field in historic downtown Utica. The USPBL is the first league in history to feature best practices such as having all of its games played on prime dates, Thursday to Sunday from mid-May through early September – the very finest months of weather in Michigan.

The USPBL added a fourth team, the Westside Woolly Mammoths, in 2017, joining the Utica Unicorns, the Birmingham-Bloomfield Beavers, and the Eastside Diamond Hoppers.

As the USPBL develops additional ballparks in the years to come, every ballpark will always feature two home teams, which will give our league the benefit of having home games every weekend and on only the best days of the week (Thursday to Sunday) and in the very best months for weather in Michigan.

Jimmy John's Field Crowd Cheering Mascots on Lawn
Naming Rights Logos

General Sports Alliances

General Sports and Entertainment's Naming Rights and Sponsorship Development division, General Sports Alliances, brokered strategic matches between sports and entertainment properties and corporate partners. GSE offered a broad range of services in this area such as sales representation, the development and implementation of naming rights campaigns, sponsorship evaluation, sponsorship negotiation services, and the development of high-end sports marketing collateral.

GSA’s mission was to build a premier national sports and entertainment sponsorship organization in North America by providing specialized sponsorship sales and consulting services to premier properties and major corporations. GSA built long-term, client focused relationships by providing its services through highly skilled personnel and through its uncompromised set of core principles: quality, integrity and the passion to drive our client’s business.

GSA was hired by USA Triathlon to assist in securing sponsorships. USA Triathlon is responsible for the selection and training of teams to represent the United States in international competition, including the world championships, Pan Am Games and Olympic Games.

Already successful in securing the team with its kit agreement, GSA handled all levels of sponsorship sales inventory for the Mercedes GP Petronas Formula One Racing team.

GSA also represented the PGA of America, whose properties include the Ryder Cup, PGA Championship, Senior PGA Championship, and the US Amateur. Additionally, they are responsible for all 27,000 PGA professionals and are the single retailer of golfing goods and services through 10,000 golf facilities.

GSE Consulting

GSE Consulting specializes in acting as a global business catalyst. We provide sponsorship consulting services to several prominent North American corporations on a variety of levels. While our scope of work varies per client, we consistently deliver measurable value to clients by utilizing decades of expertise within sponsorship. GSE provides our clients with full agency options including proposal management and evaluation, sponsorship planning, contract negotiations and management.

We also focus on technologies that improve sports and entertainment, helping a variety of businesses gain access to capital and break through barriers to entry at an accelerated rate. In difficult economies, money is held closer to the vest and barriers to entry are higher than ever. GSE Consulting can act as a sledge hammer, destroying these walls.

Whether it is an established company looking to expand their market share, a start-up looking to raise capital, or a company looking for an exit, GSE Consulting will be able to tap into its large relationship base to secure the necessary support.

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Team Acquisition and Management Logos

Team Acquisition & Management

Through the Team Acquisition and Management division, General Sports and Entertainment strives to deliver measureable results for each major or minor league franchise it owns and operates while at the same time creating an organization that is a highly visible, caring member of the community. In addition to deploying a skilled management team to run the day-to-day operations of the club, GSE is well versed in building sports management and marketing programs that maximize revenue streams in the following areas:

  • Ticket Sales
  • Corporate Sales and Sponsorships
  • Publication Sales
  • Food and Beverage Income
  • In-Stadium and Direct Mail Novelty Sales
  • In-Stadium Advertising
  • Hospitality
  • And Much More

The GSE team also provides expertise in the following services:

  • Staff training and development
  • Sports franchise specific financial review and strategic planning
  • Development and execution of marketing and promotional strategies
  • Negotiation of stadium leases
  • Creation and implementation of community outreach programs
  • Public relations

Sports Executive Leadership Conference

Over its thirteen year history, from 2001 to 2014, the Sports Executive Leadership Conference, owned and produced by GSE, has attracted some of the industry’s top team owners, presidents and high-level sports executives from around the world. The groundbreaking event offers world-class keynote speakers on everything from business to economics and politics. It brings the world’s thought-leaders to the sports industry elite.

The conference was designed to be the quintessential leadership and networking event for the top executives in the global sports industry. Like the Allen and Company event in Sun Valley, Idaho, where media and technology moguls converge every year, the Sports Executive Leadership Conference provides a forum for individuals to discuss the biggest issues in the global sports industry.

What separates the Sports Executive Leadership Conference from every other meeting, convention, or conference is our philosophy. The conference is comprised of a series of events and activities that are grounded in the fundamental principle that when great minds gather, great things happen. It is the only conference of its kind that focuses on creating the perfect environment to share ideas, build relationships, and relax with peers at a locale far from the hectic world we live in every day.

Quite simply, this is a conference where relationships take center stage. This exclusive event links the industry leaders who shape and control sports in North America and around the world. The conference provides a unique opportunity for the most influential sports executives to spend three days sharing new ideas, challenges, and opportunities for the purpose of building relationships and strengthening this dynamic industry.

SELC Speakers SELC Audience SELC Outdoor Gathering

Apple Tree Growth Strategies

With GSE’s extensive database network, we are able to introduce companies to decision makers at the highest level of business, sports and politics. We consult and act as a business accelerator to Best-in-Class companies both within and outside the sporting industry.

AppleTree has a very strict adherence to only working with the best products, services, and people. By working with only the best of the best, it’s not selling – it’s putting together winners with winners.

The objective of our work is for the benefit of what we like to call mutual improvement. The concept was originally established by Benjamin Franklin in 1727, in which a group of his friends, all from different industries, would regularly come together and share their best practices and relationships.

General Sports is a company that works all over the world, growing businesses. We can provide assistance in the following areas:

  • Revenue/Sales Growth
  • Deal Flow
  • Strategic Alliance
  • Strategic Feedback On Ideas/Concepts
  • Diversifying Customer Sets

Visit Apple Tree Growth Strategies for more information.

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Suite Dreams Healing Space Suite Dreams Healing Space

The Suite Dreams Project

In 2001, the General Sports Foundation's banner program, the Suite Dreams Project, was launched. The mission of the Suite Dreams Project is to bring comfort and joy to children affected by serious medical conditions. By creating healing environments in their homes, hospitals and communities, our aim is to improve their quality of life and speed up recovery. We primarily focus our services on children and families in low and moderate income, urban areas by transforming their bedrooms and other areas of their homes into beautiful healing spaces where they can rest and recover. Since 2001, the Suite Dreams Project has completed more than 200 healing environments serving thousands of chronically ill children in Michigan and Indiana.

The Suite Dreams Project has plans to expand nationally, and it has been featured in People Magazine and Oprah's O magazine, as well as on the CBS Early Morning Show as a charity on the rise. In 2001, in its first year of operation, the Suite Dreams Project won the Portrait of Hope Award from Detroit's Hour Magazine as the charity of the year.

Visit The Suite Dreams Project for more information.