SBD/Issue 55/Sports Industrialists

The Trials And Tribulations Of SFX; Tollin/Robbins Profiled

The SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL begins a four-part look at SFX SPORTS GROUP, and Andy Bernstein writes, "The SFX saga is a story of an ambitious plan that collapsed under the weight of egos, financial pressure and the often-agonizing process of one company consuming another. To most of the 180 current employees, the SFX Sports Group is a powerhouse sports talent agency backed by a giant media conglomerate. The viewpoints do not conflict. They're merely acts I and II of a sports industry epic. It's a tale that stars the mythic figures who made the sports business tick in the 1990s but found one last aspiration out of reach: the creation of a sports marketing behemoth that would combine all their experience and clout. ... SFX spent more than $350[M] in cash, stock and assumed debt to create the SFX Sports Group, combining 21 companies that at one time operated under other names. Today, few would argue that the collective asset is worth anywhere near that" (SBJ, 12/2).

HOT MIKE: In N.Y., Neal Koch profiled Tollin/Robbins Productions partners BRIAN ROBBINS and MIKE TOLLIN and wrote that in seven years, the pair have "turned their backgrounds in sports documentaries and cable children's programming into profitable mainstream films, like `Big Fat Liar' and `Varsity Blues,' and prime-time TV series, like `Smallville,' now a signature show for WB. Perhaps more important, they have done it by embracing the entertainment industry's consolidation." In '98, Marquee Group President BOB GUTKOWSKI offered Tollin and Robbins $20M in cash for their company, saying he "wanted Hollywood glitter to entice more athletes and Wall Street investment capital to his company." Marquee was sold to SFX, which was then sold to Clear Channel in '00, making Tollin/Robbins a "largely autonomous anomaly in a huge company" (N.Y. TIMES, 12/1). Read THE DAILY's "One-On-One" with Mike Tollin.

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