SBD/Issue 96/Sports Industrialists

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  • Del Biaggio Pleads Guilty To Fraud, Could Serve Eight Years

    Former Predators investor William "Boots" Del Biaggio III yesterday "pleaded guilty to one count of securities fraud and admitted misusing millions he raised from investors," according to Bailey & Sulek of the SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS. Del Biaggio on June 10 will be "sentenced to federal prison under a plea agreement that could give him more than eight years" in prison. Del Biaggio pleaded guilty to a fraud in which he "used phony collateral to obtain $48[M] in loans from banks and business associates, some of which went to buy a stake" in the Predators. In a written plea agreement, Del Biaggio also "admitted to separate schemes in which he misappropriated at least $20[M] from investors." A federal bankruptcy court is now "sorting out a mountain of claims from Del Biaggio's creditors, totaling more than" $500M. The plea agreement calls for Del Biaggio to "cooperate with authorities and the bankruptcy trustee, and includes a proposed formula that could send him to prison for roughly six to eight years" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 2/5).

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  • THE DAILY Goes One-On-One With Legendary Golfer Arnold Palmer

    Palmer Still Oversees Arnold Palmer
    Enterprises, Hosts PGA Tour Event
    ARNOLD PALMER is equal parts iconic golfer and salesman, with an endearing personality and unfailing image. Partnering for five decades with late IMG Founder MARK MCCORMACK, Palmer was the first athlete to take sports marketing into the modern era, becoming synonymous with products like Pennzoil and Cadillac. Despite Palmer's last professional win coming in '88, his name remains in the public eye through an array of products, including his eponymous iced tea and lemonade. At the age of 79, he still oversees Arnold Palmer Enterprises and hosts a PGA Tour event at his course in Bay Hill, Florida, where he recently took a moment to speak with SportsBusiness Journal Staff Writer Jon Show.

    Favorite piece of music: Marching music; classical music; and I'm a fan of BING CROSBY, FRANK SINATRA and DEAN MARTIN.
    Favorite vacation spot: I've traveled most of my life so I enjoy being home (in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, Orlando and Palm Springs, California) as much as anywhere. I picked my domiciles to be next to the things I enjoy, like lakes and golf.
    Favorite author: (Western authors) ZANE GREY and LOUIS L'AMORE and (Palmer biographer) JIM DODSON.
    Favorite sports movie: "Hoosiers."
    Favorite piece of memorabilia: The trophy for being the first Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year. It sits in a special place.
    Most influential person: My father.
    Biggest challenge: Continuing to make contributions to charity and do the right things. It will always be a challenge.
    Best advice received: From my father -- Treat others as you'd like to be treated. That's stayed with me throughout my life.

    Q: From a business standpoint, how would you assess the state of golf?

    Palmer: I suppose the state of the game today might be beyond my highest expectations. On the other hand, I suppose I could be somewhat, I don't want to say critical, I could advise some things as far as the game and status of the game today that might be helpful in some manners. A lot of those things would be things that my father taught me.

    Q: How about the state of the PGA Tour?

    Palmer: The PGA Tour is also very good right now, even in this economic situation. I think the PGA Tour is probably going to see a few tournaments fall by the wayside. I think that it's going to become far more centered on international golf than many of us ever suspected. And I think that the potential for world golf is greater than it has ever been. One of my early thoughts and ambitions as far as golf was concerned was to see the world of golf become the world of golf.

    Q: Your avid followers were dubbed Arnie's Army. Do you think fans connect with players today the way they did in your prime?

    Palmer: Fans and people all over the world still write me and talk about Arnie's Army and that is still something that is very special to me. Are the players as personal to the world of golf and fans? I think some individuals are but, overall, no.

    Q: What could be done to improve that connection?

    Palmer: I recognize people and, one of the things that I constantly do is I write to people that write me. I return the greetings that I get from people. I think that has become something that has helped me better understand people around the world. I feel a certain satisfaction for having had the opportunity to still have a relationship with people that are interested in what I do, or what the game of golf is doing.

    Palmer (l) Thinks Golf Rivalries, Like His With 
    Player (c), Nicklaus (r), Can Help The Sport
    Q: The rivalry between you, JACK NICKLAUS and GARY PLAYER helped shape the sport, and rivalry is something that's been lacking in recent years. Can golf thrive with just one superstar?

    Palmer: I think it can survive. I don't think having one superstar is the ideal situation. It's better to have competition ... and I think we'll see that in the coming years.

    Q: Are there as many personalities in the game these days?

    Palmer: I suppose there are less characters such as LEE TREVINO. I don't know that we have the types of characters that we once did. You look at one of the most popular guys out there who is not helping himself, and that's JOHN DALY. If John could pull himself together and do what he has the ability to do, he'd be even more popular than he already is. But the bottom line is we're not seeing as much of the flamboyant character in golf as we used to.

    Q: Why do you think that is?

    Palmer: It's more commercial, I suppose. The fact that they're playing for so many millions of dollars every year has some effect on the viability of characters, so to speak. Those of us who are real close to the game always looked at certain people and tied their personality to the game. How they carried on in their life in the game.

    Palmer Believes Peter Jacobsen Is One Golfer
    Good At Spending Time With Fans, Sponsors
    Q: Is there a player that sticks out above the others when it comes to spending time with fans and sponsors?

    Palmer: I think one of the guys, this isn't the only one, but certainly PETER JACOBSEN is friendly to everyone. He is in business but he's also an entertaining guy. He's a guy that spends time with the fans and enjoys them.

    Q: Any players that are still active on the PGA Tour?

    Palmer: Oh boy, that's a tough one. The guys that are active today are so busy playing and doing their own thing, I suppose it becomes a little more difficult to mingle with the fans.

    Q: I heard a story about the time you played in a pro-am with a MasterCard executive who immediately informed his staff to sponsor your event at Bay Hill. You've been outspoken about players taking off their hats in the clubhouse, or signing legible autographs. Do the upper echelon players do enough to sell the PGA Tour?

    Palmer: I'm not sure they do enough. I'm not sure that they do as much to protect the personality of the game as they should. I always hope that as time goes on that they will help protect the things that are so near and dear to a lot of us who played the game.

    Q: If you were to sit down with a young player who just joined the Tour, what would you advise him?

    Palmer: Recognize the fans. The fans recognize you as a player, and you should give them the courtesy of recognizing them as people who support and have made the game of golf as great as it is. You can't ever stop thanking the American public, or worldwide public, for things that they have made possible for those of us who have played the game and been fortunate enough to have some success in the game. I think the players sometimes forget that their ability is important, but it's also important to recognize the fan and the person who's out there making all of we are enjoying possible.

    Q: I read that someone from IMG long ago said of your career, "We will have established you as a business, and you personally will not be so important." How was that different from what players and their agents were doing back then?

    Palmer: One time I said to someone who worked at Arnold Palmer Enterprises, and I was getting on in my playing years, what are you going to do when I can't shoot 65 every time or win tournaments? He looked at me and said, "It won't matter because you'll be branded, and that will carry on for longer than you think." That's the business of doing things.

    Q: Every athlete and his or her agent talk of creating a brand. Where do most go wrong?

    Palmer: I don't think they think it's important to create a brand. If you're a businessman you know it's important.

    Q: Is there something you always looked for in a corporate sponsor?
    Palmer: I look at products and quality. For most of the sponsors and the things I have created or associated with, were things that I used myself or would recommend to people that would be my customers.

    Q: Any favorite anecdotes about Mark McCormack?

    Palmer: Mark and I were good friends. Our objectives were sometimes different but we were able to discuss and put things together in a proper manner. We never stopped meeting and talking and philosophizing through our lives and association. He was a businessman; I was a golfer. I was the common-sense guy and he was the businessman. And that's a lot of our association. We discussed those things in reality. Sometimes common sense and business doesn't match up, and then you have to work it out, and we did.

    A couple days before he passed away we had a breakfast meeting and I can say without equivocation, it was one of the best meetings we ever had. We were both enjoying the years that we were together and the things that we did, but we didn't always agree and that wasn't that bad. We could always sit down and discuss and disagree and we could come out with the best for both of us.

    Q: What was the secret to your relationship? There aren't many players who have the same agent for such a long stretch of time.

    Palmer: We shook hands for our original deal and I think that had a lot to do with everything we did. We were living together and doing business on our word and I think that was the major connector between us, because we didn't always agree but we had a deal that we lived by.

    Q: Sounds like it was more binding than a legal contract.

    Palmer: Exactly.

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  • Executive Transactions

    Navigate Marketing recently hired MARK FRIEDERICH as Senior VP/Research. Previously, Friederich was COO & VP of The Bonham Group Market Research Company, a subsidiary of the recently-closed Bonham Group (Navigate).

    Bensussen Deutsch &
    Associates Hires Martin
    EXECS: DAVE BUTLER was named President of Ticketmaster North America. Most recently, Butler was CEO of Ticketmaster Irvine, formerly Paciolan (DAILY VARIETY, 2/4)….Bensussen Deutsch & Associates (BDA) appointed ROB MARTIN VP/Marketing Alliances. Martin will direct all aspects of marketing and PR for the company, including overseeing the firm’s internal creative agency, Design Lab. Most recently, Martin was Imagekind CMO. Prior to that, Martin spent 14 years with the Sonics, most recently as VP/Marketing & Strategic Communications (BDA)….NY-based Blake Sports Group hired former Grey Goose and Jagermeister brand marketer JEFF FUJIMOTO as its new VP/Business Development. The former Nationwide Tour player will run the agency’s new office in Scottsdale (Jon Show, SportsBusiness Journal)….GREG SUNKEL was named to the newly created position of Dir of National Sales for ESPN Radio-owned stations in New York, L.A., Chicago, Dallas and Pittsburgh. Most recently, Sunkel was National Sales Manager for ESPN 1000 Chicago (, 2/3).

    FRANCHISE: The Astros named Phillies Dir of Community Relations GENE DIAS Dir of Media Relations and promoted MARISA LOPEZ to Assistant Dir of Foundation Development (Astros)….Spurs Sports & Entertainment (SS&E) named PETER LUBELL COO of the D-League Austin Toros. Most recently, Lubell was VP/Strategic Alliances for Raceway Media (SS&E)….The Buccaneers promoted DOUG WILLIAMS to Coordinator of Pro Scouting (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 2/4).

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  • Names In The News

    Evans (l) Proposes $6M Donation To
    UGA Academics Over Three Year Period
    In Atlanta, Chip Towers reports Univ. of Georgia (UGA) AD DAMON EVANS yesterday at the winter meeting of the Georgia Athletic Association (GAA) BOD "proposed a donation of $2[M] per year over the next three years" for UGA academics. The BOD "gave Evans' motion unanimous approval and a round of applause." Towers writes the pledge "could not have come at a better time for UGA President MICHAEL ADAMS, who is fighting budget shortfalls and trying not to cut jobs." The GAA "expects to bank $4[M] this year" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 2/5).

    NEW VENTURE: "CORALINE," an animated film from Nike Chair PHIL KNIGHT's Laika studio, will premiere tonight in Portland. Knight: "Even if nobody goes to see it, we're going to make another couple of movies at least." Laika "envisions a new campus on 30 acres" in Tualatin, Oregon, employing "well over 1,000 Oregonians and turning out a film every year" (Portland OREGONIAN, 2/5).

    HELPING HAND: In DC, Michael Lee profiles ADRIANE MAYES, the cousin of Raptors F CHRIS BOSH, under the subhead, "NBA Star's Cousin Helps With Player's Foundation, His Everyday Life." Mayes was officially hired as Chris Bosh Foundation Business Coordinator, but she also serves as Bosh's "personal problem solver" and keeps "his life manageable." Lee notes it "helps that Bosh has an unpretentious, laid-back demeanor," and Mayes said that the two "have never had an argument." Mayes: "Our personalities kind of clicked because we're both nerds" (WASHINGTON POST, 2/5).

    Harbaugh's Three-Year Contract Extension
    With Stanford On Hold Due To Recession
    DELAY OF GAME: Stanford Univ. football coach JIM HARBAUGH's three-year contract extension is "on hold because of the crippling economy." Harbaugh: "I just don't think it's appropriate with what's going on with the economy, the pressure that's on our athletic department; now is just not the time to be talking about personal finances." The Stanford athletic department "expects to lose $5[M] in revenue over the next three years and is considering reducing staff" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 2/5).

    NAMES: Fox NFL analyst TROY AIKMAN last month purchased a 42,000-square-foot property in Highland Park, Texas. The property is appraised at $7.3M (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 2/5)....According to a court filing released yesterday, Baseball HOFer SANDY KOUFAX was among the clients who lost money investing with BERNIE MADOFF (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 2/5)....The Ft. Worth Star Telegram’s TOBIAS XAVIER LOPEZ has been elected President of the North American Soccer Reporters (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 2/5)....Lakers F PAU GASOL and G JORDAN FARMAR will appear in the March 13 episode of CBS' "Numb3rs" (, 2/3).

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