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Lamping Leaving Cardinals To
Lead New Meadowlands Stadium Co.
OUTSIDE THE BOX: NFL Giants co-Owner JOHN MARA said Lamping's hiring was a "little out of the box because he wasn't known as a building operator but as an executive who oversaw one." Mara added Busch Stadium is "one of the best facilities in the country." In N.Y., Richard Sandomir reports Lamping's responsibilities will include "running the stadium's marketing, selling its sponsorships, naming rights and luxury suites, and attracting non-football events." Lamping said one of the goals of the new stadium is to "make sure each team and each team's fans feel that it's their stadium.'' Lamping in '07 was identified by an executive search firm and met in N.Y. with Mara, Giants Chair & Exec VP STEVE TISCH, Jets Owner WOODY JOHNSON and Jets President JAY CROSS (N.Y. TIMES, 3/14).
Reebok has elevated VP/Brand Communications JOHN LYNCH to head of U.S. Marketing. The move comes about a week after President & CEO PAUL HARRINGTON departed to become CEO at Easton-Bell Sports and former Reebok CMO ULI BECKER was promoted to President & CEO. In a memo to Reebok staffers, Reebok North America President MATT O'TOOLE said Lynch "will be responsible for delivering a strong, integrated brand message that is consistent across all consumer touch points in the U.S. and for building stronger brand equity in the market." Lynch will report to O'Toole with a dotted-line-reporting responsibility to global brand marketing head RICH PRENDERVILLE. Elsewhere at Reebok, DAVID KAHAN is switching from Reebok USA Senior VP/Sales to a new slot heading U.S. sales and operations for the company's Rockport brand. Kahan's replacement at Reebok has not been named.
Giants Exec VP
& CIO Bill Schlough
College attended: Duke Univ., with an MBA from Wharton.
First job: Mowing lawns for neighbors. I also had a paper route. I delivered the Reporter Dispatch in Westchester County (NY).
Childhood sports idol: AHMAD RASHAD.
Favorite vacation spot: Well if I just say Hawaii that’s kind of lame. … Mt. Hood in Oregon. A little town there called Government Camp. It’s a ski racing Mecca. All the great ski racers in the world convene there each summer to train.
Are you a big skier? Yeah, I’ve been ski racing for 20 years, and my wife ski races also.
Favorite spectator sport: Baseball and table tennis.
Men’s Final Four prediction: Duke, UNC, UCLA, Memphis. That would be a sweet Final Four.
Q: So you went to Duke. Thoughts on last Saturday’s North Carolina-Duke game?
Schlough: We’re even at this point.
Q: Tell me a little bit about creating the first 100% Wi-Fi stadium (AT&T Park) in professional sports.
Schlough: That was for the 2004 season, so we’re going into our fifth year now, the ballpark being a Wi-Fi hotspot. Back then there was a little bit of chicken and egg because there weren’t that many wireless devices out there. Today, every laptop has a Wi-Fi card in it; back then you had to add the Wi-Fi cards to laptops. But we felt like it would be a great way to enhance the experience for our fans. At first some people scratched their heads about it, because they said, "Are people really going to bring their laptops to the ballpark?" Admittedly, you didn’t see thousands of people bringing their laptops to the ballpark in the 2004 season. In a typical game we’d have just a handful, probably less than 50 laptops in the ballpark. But we knew back then that it wasn’t about laptops, it was about handheld devices that leveraged the Wi-Fi technology. Bringing those to the ballpark and being able to use those as a platform to enhance the experience for fans, deliver information that they wouldn’t be able to get elsewhere. So you know, an avid baseball fan can come to the game and follow, not only the Giants game in front of them, but other games across the league they can watch live video of other games. Last year with the debut of the iPhone, overnight our traffic on the Wi-Fi network went up close to 50%.
Q: What else have the Giants done in terms of technological advancement that other teams haven’t?
Schlough: We really were fortunate in a couple ways, one is that we’re here real close to Silicon Valley and a lot of our fans embrace technology and want to see it at the ballpark. But at the same time, we don’t want a ballpark that just exudes high-tech. We want it to have a bit of an old time feel while you’re at the ballpark. Over the years we’ve rolled out a number of technologies. We were the first team to roll out a digital video coaching system when we opened the ballpark in 2000. That was a first, and all teams do that today. Also when we opened the ballpark, we did launch the Double Play Ticket Window and we were the first organization in professional sports and the entertainment business to really embrace the secondary market for our tickets. Today it’s all one marketplace and it just speaks to the success of that technology and the whole concept of embracing the secondary market.
Recently, our focus has really been on the video side of the ballpark. We did a three-phase plan of converting the ballpark to high-def. The concept of someone being able to watch a game at home and have a better experience than at the ballpark is something we wanted to try to address. … But when HD TVs came out and people are putting plasma and LCD flat-screens up on their walls, that’s a pretty compelling experience. So for the 2006 season, we rolled out 225 new flat-screen TVs and we converted our infrastructure to be able to deliver high-def throughout the ballpark. We’re not just talking about replacing our TVs, we put TVs everywhere. For ‘07 -- Phase 2 -- we put in a huge screen, high-def TV, our Mitsubishi DiamondVision in centerfield. 130 feet wide by 30 feet high. And this year, we’ve wrapped it up and all remaining TVs in the ballpark are now high-def. So wherever you go you have a high-def experience.
One technology that I didn’t talk about on the concession side is really focusing heavily toward what we call the "Cashless Ballpark." In partnership with Visa, we’ve really tried to streamline the concession experience because we want fans to be able to spend their time in their seats watching the game or walking around the park, we don’t want them sitting in line waiting for their food. We most recently turned it around where you swipe the card yourself and no signature is required up to $25.
Q: Any plans for 2008?
Schlough: We are wrapping up that TV upgrade. We also have a mini-ballpark out in centerfield which was a big hit when we opened the park for little kids to play. When we did that we put a mini video board in that park as well, where the kids could watch themselves play. We put three cameras in the mini-ballpark, so for this season we’re going high-def for that as well. Another area of focus -- we’re probably a couple of weeks away from making an announcement -- is we want to try to leverage our Wi-Fi network to deliver more and more content to fans while they’re at the ballpark.
Schlough Says Naming-Rights Deal With AT&T
Helps Team With Technological Investments
Schlough: Our naming rights partner is in the technology space and is a huge player in that space. So, I don’t really want to name names of other facilities, but you can name them yourself. If your facility is not a technology vendor -- let’s say it’s a consumer product or something -- that really changes or reduces your ability to make some of these investments. It’s really neat for me to have a partner like AT&T that will support some of these investments. If I had a partner like Tide -- let’s say it was Tide Park. What could we really do with that? You can’t really enhance the experience with Tide products unless people got really, really dirty with ketchup or something.
Q: You helped lead San Francisco’s bid to host the 2012 and 2016 Olympics. Did you bring anything back to the Giants from this?
Schlough: One of the things that attracted me to the Giants nine years ago was the fact that our COO LARRY BAER and chief legal counsel JACK BAIR, were both a part of San Francisco’s bid committee. That was interesting to me because the Olympics are a real passion for me. My dream that hopefully will be fulfilled before I die will be to bring the Olympics to the Bay Area. There was definitely a lot of overlap. Not only with that bid process where I was able to go out there and work with a lot of the same partners, but to provide resources and an idea and a vision for the Games, but also the experiences I have had in the other cities. The Giants allow me to take leave to the Winter Games, so the experiences I’ve had in Italy and in Salt Lake give me a lot of great ideas that I can bring back here.
Q: What is your favorite technological gadget (that you own or want) and why?
Schlough: I am so not a gadget person. I don’t have high-def TV at home. I have a Treo and it’s very useful to me, but I wish I didn’t have to. If I had to say, the gadget that I rely the most upon is my alarm clock.
Q: Who is the team's most marketable player now that BARRY BONDS is gone?
Schlough: Our two pitchers, MATT CAIN and TIM LINCECUM, both have incredible upsides. Lincecum has not proven as much as Cain has, but anytime they are on the mound, I want to be at the ballpark because I think there’s a possibility of something special happening.
Q: What is the sports business story you will be following most closely in 2008?
Schlough: It’s definitely the Beijing Olympics. I’m just going to be really interested to see how Beijing is perceived during the Games. I was in Torino and I saw that city from the inside, but then what you see on TV here in America is very different from reality. I’ll be interested to see how the city is perceived versus some of the things you hear about the city in terms of pollution and the way people are treated and the government and that type of stuff. I just want to see how Beijing comes out.
THE DAILY each Friday offers our take on the performances over the past week of people and entities in sports business. Here are this week’s newsmakers.
LOSS: GOODYEAR -- Where there’s Smoke … TONY STEWART’s comments about how the tire company should be “really embarrassed about this weekend and what they brought” to the Sprint Cup race in Atlanta is a huge setback to the company and NASCAR itself. Having marquee drivers like Stewart and DALE EARNHARDT JR. publicly complain about the circuit’s exclusive tire provider can do nothing but hurt Goodyear’s reputation.
DRAW: MARK CUBAN -- Never one to shy away from controversy, Cuban again faces a media storm, this time stemming from his decision to close the Mavs’ locker room to full-time bloggers. While the Dallas Morning News claims the move is in direct response to a recent post from their dedicated team blogger, Cuban cites his belief that all bloggers should have the same access to news regardless of outlet. One thing to note -- Cuban defends his decision on his own blog. Is he in essence banning himself from the locker room?
The Univ. of Hawaii named JIM DONOVAN AD, replacing HERMAN FRAZIER, "who was dismissed in January." Donovan officially begins March 24 (Honolulu STAR-BULLETIN, 3/14)....The Dodgers promoted JOSH RAWITCH to VP/PR & Broadcasting, YVONNE CARRASCO to Assistant Dir of Multicultural & Business PR and SIGNE HILTON to Supervisor of Broadcasting & PR. The team also named DREW MERLE Assistant Dir of Entertainment & Business PR and MARK ROGOFF Assistant Dir of Media Relations (Dodgers)....FSN Northwest announced NICOLE ZALOUMIS will serve as an anchor and reporter, as well as serving as a member of the net's "Mariners Live" broadcast team. Most recently, Zaloumis was at CSN West (FSN)....Youth Sports Marketing LLC named AMY HIGGS Project Manager for the Florida High School Athletic Association (Youth Sports Marketing).
Do you have an executive announcement? If so, please send to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Smith's Compensation In '07 Rises To $2.6M
HONORS & AWARDS: The U.S. Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) has awarded its Katha Quinn Award to ESPN VP/PR JOSH KRULEWITZ and ESPN VP/Communications MIKE SOLTYS. The award, presented annually to individuals who service members of basketball media, is named in honor of former St. John's Univ. SID KATHA QUINN, who died in '88. Krulewitz and Soltys will be honored April 7 at the USBWA's awards at San Antonio's Marriott Riverwalk Hotel in conjunction with the NCAA Division I men's basketball Final Four (USBWA)....MLB has awarded its second annual MLB Beacon Awards to Baseball HOFer FRANK ROBINSON, actress RUBY DEE and Johnson Publishing Founder JOHN JOHNSON. The awards, given for efforts on behalf of civil rights, will be presented March 28 in Memphis at a dinner following the Baseball & The Civil Rights Movement roundtable discussion (MLB).
BOOKS & FILM: NBC's TIKI BARBER is planning a new book titled, "PARALLEL PASS" (N.Y. POST, 3/14)....An updated "BULL DURHAM" collector's edition will be released Tuesday, featuring new commentary from actors KEVIN COSTNER and TIM ROBBINS and a feature about life in minor league baseball (SI, 3/17 issue).
NAMES: Fox' "American Idol" host RYAN SEACREST and band Fall Out Boy have been added to the "Big Dance" festival surrounding the Final Four in San Antonio. Seacrest on April 6 will host My Coke Fest while Fall Out Boy on April 4 will headline the AT&T Block Party (SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, 3/14)....Bobcats Managing Member of Basketball Operations MICHAEL JORDAN, who "rarely" appears in Charlotte, is expected to be in town Saturday and Sunday as former Univ. of North Carolina coach DEAN SMITH will be honored at a legends brunch in conjunction with the ACC men's basketball tournament (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 3/13)....Univ. of Louisville coach RICK PITINO and former NBAers WALTER MCCARTY and JAMAL MASHBURN, behind their Kentucky-based Fast Break Donuts LLC, plan to open 17 Dunkin' Donuts stores in central Kentucky during the next several years. The first store is scheduled to open in late April in Lexington (BOSTON HERALD, 3/14).