DENVER, CO - October 27, 2014 - Matthew Payne, former executive director for the Austin Sports Commission and an avid promoter of the Austin sports scene for almost a decade, has been hired as the new executive director of Denver Sports. In this position, he will be responsible for helping to bring high-profile sports and athletic events to Denver.

"Matthew Payne brings a great mix of experience in both managing major sports events and in recruiting sports events for cities. He has been very successful in bringing events like the ESPN Summer X Games and other first time sports championships to Austin, and we look forward to having him in Denver," said Richard Scharf, president & CEO of VISIT DENVER.

Denver Sports was founded in 2001 with the purpose of bringing large sports events to The Mile High City for economic development and for the national and international media exposure that these types of events generate. The organization is best known for its involvement with events like the 2008 NCAA Men's Frozen Four and the 2012 NCAA Women's Final Four. In December 2012, Denver Sports merged with VISIT DENVER's sports marketing efforts.

"Denver has an incredible worldwide reputation as a city that loves sports, and has the fans and infrastructure to support major sporting events," Payne said. "It's really an honor to join the Denver Sports team and help bring new athletic events to the Rocky Mountain region," he said.

During his tenure with the Austin Sports Commission, Payne's primary duties included overseeing the agency's efforts to recruit, retain and grow sports and athletic events throughout the Greater Austin area. In 2005, Payne helped establish the commission under the larger umbrella of the Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau, Austin's official destination marketing organization.

His leadership role enabled Austin to recruit and attract first-time championships in the disciplines of soccer, triathlon, cycling, volleyball, football and others. The culmination of these efforts resulted in Central Texas successfully hosting impactful events such as the Davis Cup, USA Volleyball's Boys National Championships, and the Ironman 70.3 Austin - all of which greatly contributed to the overall economic impact of the Austin community.

Payne was also instrumental in representing Austin in the city's successful multi-year bid to host ESPN's Summer X Games, the first of which took place in June 2014.

Prior to his work in sports tourism, Payne was director of national sales for Global Entertainment Marketing, a Phoenix-based company engaged in sports management, event center development, facility/venue management and ticketing. He also worked with the first minor league professional hockey franchise in Austin, the Austin Ice Bats, where he served in several capacities for the startup franchise, including general manager.

Payne will start with Denver Sports on December 1, 2014.