SBD/Issue 221/Sports Industrialists

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  • Canucks President & CEO Zimmerman Resigns; Gillis Promoted

    Gillis Takes On
    President Title
    Canucks Sports & Entertainment (CSE) President & CEO Chris Zimmerman yesterday announced his resignation, "citing family reasons," according to Elliott Pap of the VANCOUVER SUN. The Canucks announced GM Mike Gillis will take on the additional title of CSE President. The team did not announce a new CSE CEO, though CSE COO VICTOR DE BONIS will "help fill the void created by Zimmerman's departure." Also, the team announced Vulcan Sports & Entertainment CEO and former Canucks exec TOD LEIWEKE will join the CSE BOD "as an adviser." Zimmerman, a New York native, "plans to move back to his roots in the eastern U.S." Zimmerman in a statement said it was "a very difficult" decision to leave the Canucks after three years in his position (VANCOVER SUN, 8/5). Pap notes Zimmerman has a 17-year-old daughter and a 14-year-old son, as well as an "elderly mother in the greater New York area." Zimmerman, "who came from a marketing background, said he has not secured a new job and will be seeking something in either team sports, the media or sportswear and equipment" (VANCOUVER SUN, 8/5).

    UPS & DOWNS: In Vancouver, Jason Botchford notes Zimmerman's objective when he was hired was to "find new revenue streams for the team," and on that front, he "had some success, but also had some initiatives that didn't work out as well as hoped." GM Place this offseason is undergoing an $8M (all figures Canadian) "overhaul, featuring the creation of the glossy Top Shelf Club," a project that will "add an estimated 188 seats, which will cost $210 a game." But a "couple initiatives that didn't work out as well as planned" include the hiring of Bombo Sports & Entertainment to "do a documentary-styled highlight film of the 2007-08 season from the perspective of both fans and players." The team also was "left with some egg on its face early last season when it unveiled the '7th man,' an in-house marketing gimmick that flopped." The "7th man" was "designed to get fans more involved at GM Place and featured a No. 7 banner which was to be unfurled before each game." Botchford notes the "7th man" was "greeted by indifference when it was first presented," and it "only lasted a couple of weeks before it was shelved" (Vancouver PROVINCE, 8/5).

    Difficult To Gauge Impact Of Loss Of
    "Business Guy" Like Zimmerman (l)
    SMOOTH TRANSITION: Gillis said the team's business side "is in good shape." Gillis: "I don't expect radical changes." The GLOBE & MAIL's Matthew Sekeres notes Gillis yesterday "showed a measure of humility in his new role, suggesting that many of the business decisions typically made by club presidents were best handled by the senior management team he will now oversee" (GLOBE & MAIL, 8/5). Gillis: "I don't see this as detracting from my priority. Most of my responsibilities will remain with hockey operations." In Vancouver, Cam Cole writes even if Gillis "adding another title to his nameplate should turn out to be mainly a money-saving device for a Vancouver Canucks ownership that is ever-vigilant for such opportunities, it underlines one thing quite clearly." The "mutual admiration society between [Canucks Owner] FrancesCo Aquilini and his now sophomore GM is very much alive -- maybe even stronger than 15 months ago." If the Aquilini family is "of the opinion that Gillis did a bang-up job last year in his main mandate, upgrading player personnel, then it makes perfect sense to reward him with elevated status and more clout within the club." Meanwhile, it is "difficult to gauge what effect losing a business guy" in Zimmerman "might have on a wildly-profitable franchise that has already strip-mined and clear-cut the Lower Mainland revenue base with remarkable efficiency." Cole: "No doubt there are other streams left to fish, and perhaps Gillis will think of them, but it's hard to imagine what they are" (VANCOUVER SUN, 8/5).

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  • Executive Transactions

    MSG has promoted PR Dir STACEY ESCUDERO to the newly-created position of MSG Sports VP/Business PR. Escudero will report to Senior VP/ Corporate Communications BARRY WATKINS and President SCOTT O'NEIL (MSG)….The U.S. Ski & Snowboard Team Foundation (USSA) has named Houlihan Lokey co-Head of Southwest investment banking JULIE SILCOCK to its Board of Trustees (USSA)….Gonzaga Univ. has hired Wake Forest Univ. Ticket Office Assistant JOSH COX as Ticket Manager/Travel Coordinator for the athletic department (Gonzaga).

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  • Names In The News

    PepsiCo Acquires PepsiAmericas 
    Stake From Pohlad Family
    In Minneapolis, Matt McKinney reports Twins Owner the Pohlad family yesterday sold its 9.7% stake in PepsiAmericas, one of PepsiCo's "two largest bottlers," back to PepsiCo. The deal brings an end to a "long run in bottling for the Pohlads" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 8/5). The pouring rights at the Metrodome currently belong to Coca-Cola, but Pepsi has long been a sponsor of the Twins. Pouring rights at Target Field, which will open for the '10 MLB season, have not yet been awarded (THE DAILY).

    ALL POLITICS IS LOCAL: In L.A., Zahniser & Willon report AEG was "credited as one of the sponsors" of a fundraiser held yesterday for L.A. Mayor ANTONIO VILLARAIGOSA's Summer Night Lights program, which helps "provide activities for youths." The sponsorship of the event, held at L.A. Live's Grammy Museum, has "sparked complaints" from public safety activist MONICA HARMON, who has "repeatedly called on the mayor and City Council to demand repayment from the company for the $1.4[M] cost of last month's MICHAEL JACKSON memorial." Villaraigosa has "regularly asked AEG for help with his political and policy initiatives, receiving six-figure contributions for his school takeover effort and, more recently, for a telephone tax ballot measure" (L.A. TIMES, 8/5).

    KEEPING HIMSELF ENTERTAINED: In Buffalo, Jeff Simon wrote one has to "wonder sometimes if we all wouldn't have been better off" if Sabres Owner TOM GOLISANO had been elected New York Governor when he ran in '94, '98 and '02. Simon: "At least then the Sabres' owner wouldn't be meddling so weirdly in matters of state." Golisano's "solutions to the Billionaire's Problem (i.e. now that I've got all this, what in heaven's name do I do with it?) are sometimes wonderful (buying the Sabres) and sometimes -- well, not so much" (BUFFALO NEWS, 8/4).

    BOOK REVIEW: In Dallas, Rick Gosselin reviewed N.Y. Daily News NFL writer GARY MYERS' book, "THE CATCH," which "hitches the rise of the 1980s 49ers and the fall of the 1970s Cowboys" to the '81 49ers-Cowboys NFC Championship Game. Myers "does a superb job of developing the characters on both sides of the rivalry," and he "paints the Cowboys as arrogant and the 49ers as the upstarts who felt disrespected by America's Team earlier that same season" (, 8/4).

    NAMES: Spanish La Liga club FC Barcelona has "teamed up with a nonprofit organization called Malaria No More, and enlisted a roster of international corporations, nongovernmental organizations, [the] MLS Works charity and some of the world’s highest profile players" (, 8/3)....MLB Commissioner BUD SELIG and his family have "donated $200,000 to Milwaukee's film festival," which has said that it will "express its appreciation by naming its two film festival audience awards after the family." The awards are for "overall audience favorite film in the feature and short-film categories" (AP, 8/4).

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