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HIGHLIGHTS FROM ANNUAL MEETING OF TOP SPORTS EXECS
Published January 18, 1995
The 17th International Sport Summit continues today in New York after a successful opening day. Today's keynote speeches will be delivered by USOC Exec Dir JOHN KRIMSKY, Olympic gold medalist MEL STEWART, 1996 Special Olympics Organizing Committee President TIM SHRIVER, White Sox Vice Chair EDDIE EINHORN, and ESPN/Chilton Poll Exec Dir RICHARD LUKER. (For highlights from yesterday's keynotes, see "Center Court" on the front page.) THE AFTERNOON SESSIONS: Following the keynotes, Summit participants split up into smaller groups to discuss in depth such issues as: Sports P.R. Spin, TV & Rights Fees, Sports as Special Events, Licensing, How to Create a Bid to Gain a Franchise, Emerging Sports/In-Line Roller Hockey, and The Player as an Icon. Highlights follow: NEIL PILSON, CBS Broadcast Group Senior VP, said that Rupert Murdoch and Fox have forced the networks to take a different view toward their sports properties, with a focus now on "protecting their franchises" and returning to an acceptance of sports as "loss leader." Pilson sees several "tests" for the networks in the coming year: Sydney 2000 (with negotiations possible before Atlanta '96), MLB (with the future of The Baseball Network in doubt), and the NFL (with NBC facing an AFC that has increased in value). BILL TORREY, Panthers President, addressed NHL expansion efforts, saying: "There is no longer any limit to where a franchise can go." Noting that the NHL has broken out of the mold of a typical NHL city, Torrey said the key for a successful hockey city is the franchise's "financial resources." He outlined the following necessities in today's market: An 18,000- seat arena with premium seating, and revenues from luxury boxes, in-arena advertising, parking and concessions all going to the team. LOU PITONTI, Merchandise Manager for Jeep/Eagle, said his group is looking to consolidate into a "special events group," including media buying, in an effort to get "out of the stone age." He addressed the differences between title partnerships and simple sponsorship, taking the view that the access to all financial info from an event, the ability to coordinate brand goals and the potential for a percentage of sales makes a partnership more attractive. MAX MUHLEMAN, President of the Muhleman Group, outlined his group's successful pitch on behalf of the Panthers' NFL expansion bid, relating how they defined a market in new terms: An "area of reasonable influence." JERRY SOLOMON, ProServ President, made the case for athlete- created events noting the risk to sponsors if an event is not seen as credible. ROB APATOFF, L.A. Gear VP for Marketing: "When doing a deal with a player, look at the player as a business partner, not a locker room buddy." DENNIS MURPHY, Roller Hockey Int'l President, said sales of in-line hockey equipment are on pace with ice hockey, and by 2000, will pass ice hockey. Murphy called roller hockey "the sport of the decade." JOSEPH MIREAULT, President of the National In-Line Hockey Association, called in-line an "equipment-intensive" industry, with manufacturers the driving influence. He also noted the strong bonds being developed between young in-line skaters and retailers. DAVID FALK, President of F.A.M.E: "Athletes that might not be the best performers are often the best endorsers." FRANK VUONO, President/CEO of Integrated Sports International, on the licensing world: "There is a trend toward consolidation. The NFL is eliminating a hundred licensees; baseball and hockey labor problems have forced retailers into other businesses; and acquisitions and mergers by Fruit of the Loom, VF, Tultex, Sara Lee and Russell -- along with aggressive moves by Nike, Reebok, Starter and Apex -- creates a battle of dinosaurs." TODAY ... AND BEYOND: Today's sessions include Ambush Marketing, Sports Finance, Tennis At The Crossroads, Agency Marketing, Evaluating TV in a Sponsorship Package and Women's Sports as a TV Vehicle. The 18th Int'l Sport Summit will be held February 1-2, 1996 in Atlanta.