By Rubin E. Grant
Gene Hallman had reached a crossroad.
After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in economics from the College of Charleston in 1982 and earning a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of South Carolina in 1985, Hallman went to work for NCR, a financial firm.
But after five years of working in corporate America, Hallman decided that wasn’t the life for him. He had a passion for sports and wanted to work in the sports world.
So, he moved back home to Anderson, South Carolina, to live with his parents while he figured out what direction he wanted to take.
After a while, he went to work for IMG as a manager for PGA tour golfers, starting as a marketing consultant for Corey Pavin. But he decided that wasn’t for him, either, especially with the constant traveling.
“It was too tough trying make a living doing that,” Hallman said. “I didn’t want to just be a small player in a big business.”
So, without knowing a soul, Hallman moved to Birmingham in 1992 to become tournament director of the inaugural Bruno’s Memorial Classic golf tournament. Three years later, he founded the Bruno Event Team with Ronnie Bruno. It specializes in managing operations at large sporting events.
Now, 30 years since coming to Birmingham, Hallman is the chief executive officer and owner of Bruno Event Team, which has grown into one of the largest sports event management companies in the nation. Bruno Event Team has more than 80 employees in nine offices throughout the United States and Bermuda.
“I didn’t envision being in Birmingham for 30 years and counting or that I’d still be in the sports business,” Hallman said. “I wasn’t sure where my life path would take me.”
“When we formed the Bruno Event Team in 1995, we didn’t have a strategic plan. We were just going to pursue the opportunities in front of us. We didn’t look beyond maybe even a year.”
Bruno Event Team manages a number of notable events, such as U.S. Women’s Open, U.S. Senior Open and many other professional golf tournaments on the PGA Tour, along with PGA Tour Champions and LPGA.
Other events it manages include Magic City Classic, SEC Baseball Tournament, WBC Heavyweight Championship title fights, SEC Gymnastics Championship, NCAA Gymnastics Championship, NCAA Men’s Soccer Championship, SEC Women’s Golf Championship, SWAC Football Championship, Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama, Barber Vintage Motorcycle Festival, Davis Cup, Fed Cup, 1996 Olympic Soccer and 2004 Olympic Marathon Trials.
Hallman also is CEO of both ZOOM Motorsports and Bruno Hospitality, a catering service.
He lives in Vestavia Hills with his wife, Allison, and their two children, Ella, 18, and Marshall, 16, both students at Vestavia Hills High School. He also has two stepdaughters, Maddie and Molly.
Marathoner in Life and Career
A long-distance runner, Hallman has completed six marathons, including both the New York City and Boston marathons.
Now 62, Hallman is showing no signs of slowing down or considering retirement. As a matter of fact, Bruno Event Team is assisting with the management of The World Games to be held in Birmingham this summer.
“The World Games and the 1996 Olympic Soccer are probably the two most gratifying events I have been involved with because they are international in scope,” Hallman said. “I am really looking forward to the World Games and I am really proud they are coming to Birmingham.”
Since 2008, Bruno Event Team has managed gameday operations for the University of Alabama football, basketball and gymnastics programs. More recently, Bruno Event Team has worked with Auburn University, UAB and Alabama State University on various aspects of their football gameday operations.
Hallman also was instrumental in bringing the USFL to Birmingham. The league kicks off its spring football season in April. He is currently assisting the league with marketing and community relations in its inaugural season.
The first sporting event Hallman managed, which is now called the Regions Tradition, will celebrate its 30th anniversary in May, having raised more than $20 million for Alabama charities.
“I am not thinking about retiring at all,” Hallman said. “I’m more energized than I have ever been.”
Hallman is a member of the Birmingham Golf Hall of Fame and the Birmingham Business Journal Top 40 Under 40 Hall of Fame. The Alabama Sports Hall of Fame will recognize Hallman as its 2022 Distinguished American Sportsman during its 54th Annual Induction Banquet and Ceremony on May 7.
He will join an impressive list of others who have been honored as ASHOF Distinguished American Sportsmen. They are: Bob Hope (1988), Hugh Culverhouse (1991), former President George H.W. Bush (1992), Charles O. Finley (1993), Larry D. Striplin, Jr. (1998), Bill Ireland (2000), Roy Kramer (2003), Jim Wilson Jr. (2005), Michael E. Stephens (2006), Joseph Gibbs (2008), Nick Bollettieri (2009), Rick Woodward (2010), Don Logan (2011), Ron Froehlich (2015), Mike Slive (2015), Edgar Welden (2016), Pete Derzis (2017), Jimmy Rane (2018), Daniel Moore (2019), Robbie Robertson (2020), Angus R. Cooper II (2021) and John McMahon Jr. (2021).
“I was stunned when they told me,” Hallman said. “I was also delighted and excited. That’s the biggest award of my professional career. It’s humbling to think I will be in the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame.”