SBD/Issue 88/Sports Industrialists

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  • Tony George Resigns From BOD Of IMS, All Hulman & Co. Affiliates

    George's Resigns From BOD Of IMS
    And All Other Hulman & Co. Affiliated Companies
    Former IRL and Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) CEO TONY GEORGE has resigned from the BOD of IMS and all other Hulman & Co. affiliated companies, effective immediately. The resignation removes George from any remaining role in Hulman, the IRL, IMS and IMS Productions. George stepped down as CEO of the companies on June 30, 2009. The BOD vacancy will be addressed at a later date (IMS). In Indianapolis, Anthony Schoettle noted George "continues to be involved in the IRL through his ownership of Vision Racing." Meanwhile, George's mother, IMS Chair MARI HULMAN GEORGE, said that she is "very pleased with the direction of the company and the progress that has been made during the last six months" (IBJ.com, 1/19). In Indianapolis, Curt Cavin notes George was "unavailable for comment" yesterday, and he has "not publicly addressed his status since he was forced out of his position" at IMS Corp. in June. In addition to "conflicts with family members," George has "hinted at a strained relationship with" his replacement, IMS Corp. President & CEO JEFF BELSKUS. Belskus said, "I feel bad for Tony; I know he's hurt. But again, that's between him and his family." Meanwhile, Hulman George and Belskus said that IMS and the IRL are "not for sale, although Belskus confirmed there have been multiple inquiries" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 1/20).

    TUNNEL VISION: SPEEDTV.com's Robin Miller wrote George "seemed content to run his one-car Vision Racing team with step-son ED CARPENTER and has been supportive of the proposed Delta Wing project (a new Indy car for 2012 owned by several IndyCar owners)." But without longtime sponsor JOHN MENARD "on board for 2010, George is scrambling to keep Carpenter on the track." In a team meeting recently George "reportedly told his crew that he hadn't given up and was searching for sponsorship but it was possible the season might only include Indy and a couple of ovals" (SPEEDTV.com, 1/19).

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  • Catching Up With Saints VP/Marketing Ben Hales

    Saints VP/Marketing &
    Business Development
    Ben Hales
    The Saints this weekend will host their first NFC Championship Game in team history, and few know just how much it means to both the franchise and the city as Saints VP/Marketing & Business Development BEN HALES. Since joining the team in '00, Hales, a New Orleans native and former Saints season-ticket holder, has been a part of some of the Saints' biggest successes, including their first playoff win and first conference championship game appearance. He also has experienced firsthand the toll Hurricane Katrina has had on the city, region and the team. Ahead of Sunday's big game, Hales took some time to speak with Staff Writer William Cooper from Miami, where Saints officials were preparing for what they hope will be a return visit in two weeks for Super Bowl XLIV.

    Favorite leisure time activity in New Orleans
    : Spending time with my wife and two daughters.
    Book you are currently reading: A biography of NIXON and KISSINGER. It's really interesting the dynamics between them as well as the history of world affairs at that time. 
    Favorite vacation spot: Anguilla.

    Q: What is your favorite memory of your time with the Saints thus far?

    Hales: Winning our first divisional game against Philadelphia because it was a year after Katrina. I remember watching the game, and people were still in unfinished suites and it was still very rudimentary. To have that kind of emotional payoff after what the whole city had been through was really something that's probably unmatched.

    Q: What has been the team's marketing strategy during such a successful regular season and playoff run?

    Hales: What we've really tried to do is to keep the focus on football. We've got a great team, we've got great players, we've got great coaches, and it's pretty simple just to focus on them, and let the players tell the story. The connection between our players and our fans I think is greater than anywhere else.

    Q: What is the feeling around the franchise relative to the last time the Saints made it this deep in the playoffs in 2007?

    Hales: It's interesting, when we were leaving these prep meetings when we were this close last time the [Super Bowl] was also in Miami. There's a lot of similarities. Last time, when we made it we were coming off of a 3-13 season and Katrina, and while we were all really hopeful, I think there was a certain sense that we were just excited to be there. I think right now is a little more business-like. We've learned a lot about preparing and how we can really go out there and maximize the opportunity to make sure that we take care of this, and make it as great as it can be for our teams, players, families and fans.

    Q: What do the Super Bowl prep meetings entail? How much prep are you doing for the potential Super Bowl appearance ahead of Sunday's game?

    Hales: It's a huge undertaking for any organization to do this. The demand for tickets and hotels and everything, when you go to these meetings, really that's what you spend your time on. A lot of times we're going over the different hotels, where the tickets are allocated, what services are provided to the team, where the team's going to practice, where the media is going to be, what the media schedule is. The idea behind all of this is you spend a week in planning so that when you get here, things are running as smoothly for everybody as possible so it’s a good experience, not a burden for anybody.

    Q: Playoff football obviously is different than regular-season football. What are some of the differences on the business side of things?

    Hales: It's just a little bit different in that things are a little bit more compressed. You have to get all of the sponsors, suite holders and everyone taken care of in terms of tickets and any other needs that they have. You don't have quite as much time leading up to the game as you usually would. At the same time, you have to plan a couple steps ahead in case you are fortunate enough to make it to the Super Bowl.

    Q: What is the biggest misperception out there about teams that go deep in the NFL playoffs and what it means on the business side?

    Hales: I think people assume that there is a lot of additional revenue for the participating clubs, and the reality is that's not the case. It's a league event and the revenue is really split up among the teams far more than it is the teams that are actually participating. All the ticket revenue, for example, goes to the league, you don't get your usual share from that. You don't get any additional suite revenue because the tickets and leases are already inclusive of any event in the building. It's not the financial boon that some people might think it is.

    Q: In your own words, what would making the Super Bowl mean to Saints fans and the city of New Orleans?

    Hales: I'm probably a little bit partial being from New Orleans, but I really don't think there's any connection between fans and the team like in New Orleans. When we get back from a road victory, you'll have ten thousand people lining the streets where we get off the plane. Just imagine, it kind of sets up perfectly, if we can get to the Super Bowl and basically play a week before Mardi Gras, I would say it would be the greatest party the world has ever seen. 

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  • Executive Transactions

    Darby Will Oversee Officials, Focus On 
    Technical Aspect Of Sport In New Role   
    NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Dir JOHN DARBY is leaving his position "for a new managerial role at NASCAR." Darby, who has held the job since '02, "will not leave until his replacement is fully trained" (SCENEDAILY.com, 1/19). In his new role, Darby will oversee the "officials in all three of NASCAR's national series, as well as focus on the technical aspects of the sport." The news "surprised many in the industry" at the Sprint Cup Series media tour (AP, 1/19). The move is "in line with the spirit of change that's coursing through" NASCAR, as it is "trying a lot of things to jump-start the series and this could be another one of those moves" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 1/20).

    EXECS: The Competitor Group (CGI) promoted COO SCOTT DICKEY to President. He assumes the title from President & CEO PETER ENGLEHART, who will remain CEO. Dickey joined the CGI BOD upon the company's inception and became COO in '08. He also serves as an Operating Partner for CGI parent company, Falconhead Capital. Prior to joining CGI, Dickey served as Transworld Media President (CGI)....Golf Channel promoted VP/Marketing & Brand Management REGINA O'BRIEN to Senior VP/Marketing. O'Brien will lead all the marketing and promotional efforts for the network and its new media businesses, including GolfChannel.com (Golf Channel)...The Electric Beverage Company named Pro Football HOFer LAWRENCE TAYLOR Exec VP (THE DAILY)....The CFL Calgary Stampeders named LYLE BAUER President & COO, replacing SCOTT ACKLES, who stepped down to become Chair of the '11 Grey Cup (Stampeders)….The Padres named RANDY SMITH Dir of Player Development (Padres)….The D'Backs named KRISTINE HEDLUND Dir of Community Affairs. Hedlund is the former Publisher of Phoenix Woman Magazine (BIZJOURNALS.com, 1/18)….The Nets announced assistant coach TOM BARRISE will move to the front office as Special Assistant to the President (Nets)….The MLS Portland Timbers named GAVIN WILKINSON Technical Dir (Portland OREGONIAN, 1/18)….The Triple-A Int’l League Gwinnett Braves named NORTH JOHNSON GM, replacing BRUCE BALDWIN, who stepped down in October after 23 seasons with the team (Braves).

    Do you have an executive announcement? If so, please send to editorial@sportsbusinessdaily.com.

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  • Names In The News

    Writer Says "Love Affair" Between
    Manning, Indianapolis Like None Other
    In N.Y., George Willis writes the "love affair between" Colts QB PEYTON MANNING and Indianapolis is "like none that has ever existed in sports." While most of the U.S. might "view Manning as a four-time MVP quarterback and pitchman for a number of products," he is more famous in Indiana for his work with charitable organizations. 2012 Indy Super Bowl Host Committee President & CEO ALLISON MELANGTON said, "I'm not sure of any professional athlete who has dug into a community the way Peyton has dug in here." Indianapolis Public Schools AD CURT ERVIN: "If Peyton ran for mayor or governor of Indiana, it would be a landslide" (N.Y. POST, 1/20). Meanwhile, CBS' PHIL SIMMS said of Manning being the greatest quarterback ever: "If he wins another Super Bowl or two, it's going to be hard to argue it because of what he's done for the city. He probably kept that franchise in Indianapolis" ("Outside The Lines," ESPN, 1/19).

    THINKING BIG: BROADCASTING & CABLE's David Tanklefsky profiles Base Productions co-Founder & co-CEO JOHN BRENKUS, the host of "Sport Science," which ESPN recently acquired. The show "challenges long-held assumptions about what makes athletes successful, and utilizes Base's signature fast-paced visual production techniques." Brenkus on the show "plays the Everyman foil, often putting himself in harm's way to illustrate a point" (BROADCASTING & CABLE, 1/18 issue).

    DON'T FORGET ABOUT US: Jewish charity Areivim has sued the estate of late Pistons Owner BILL DAVIDSON for "refusing to pay the charity" money that Davidson pledged before his death. Davidson pledged to contribute $5M to the charity, but had contributed only $200,000 before his death. Areivim is suing in Oakland County (MI) Probate court for the remaining $4.8M (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 1/20).

    BEST WISHES: Thirty officials, coaches and referees from the Haitian soccer federation died in last week's earthquake, while "another 20 remain missing." FIFA is donating $250,000 to relief efforts, and FIFA CONCACAF President JACK WARNER has pledged $100,000 (MIAMI HERALD, 1/20)....MLS Crew President & GM MARK MCCULLERS was "injured in a personal watercraft accident yesterday while vacationing in Puerto Rico." McCullers, who was transported to the ER, said, "I'm OK. My arm is in a sling, but I'm able to walk. I feel pretty lucky" (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 1/20).

    James (l), Brown (r) Kick Off Celebration
    Of Black Heritage At Quicken Loans Arena
    NAMES: Cavaliers F LEBRON JAMES and Pro Football HOFer JIM BROWN yesterday gathered at Quicken Loans Arena to "kick off a celebration of black heritage." The pair talked about DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. before signing "special Sports Illustrated covers featuring the two of them" (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 1/20)....GQ named James, Patriots QB TOM BRADY, Galaxy MF DAVID BECKHAM and Real Madrid MF CRISTIANO RONALDO to its list of the "25 Most Stylish Men in the World" (THE DAILY)....Former boxer TOMMY HEARNS and actor ROB LOWE -- friends of Colts Owner JIM IRSAY -- watched Saturday's game against the Ravens from a Colts suite, as did NFL Commissioner ROGER GOODELL (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 1/19)....49ers LB Patrick Willis has signed a deal with EAG Sports Management to handle his publicity (EAG Sports Management)....Bobcats Managing Member of Basketball Operations MICHAEL JORDAN is a "regular at Miami Beach's Cafe Prima Pasta" restaurant, where he "orders chicken parmesan and red wine" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 1/20)....Browns QB BRADY QUINN and his girlfriend, U.S. gymnast ALICIA SACRAMONE, yesterday picked up fellow gymnast NASTIA LIUKIN from Boston's Logan Int'l Airport and had lunch at Stephanie's (BOSTON HERALD, 1/20)....ESPN/ABC NBA analyst JEFF VAN GUNDY completed Sunday's Houston Marathon in 4:14:29 (THE DAILY).

    IN MEMORY: ALASTAIR MARTIN, who was the top executive of the U.S. Lawn Tennis Association from '67-70, "when the distinction between pro and amateur was abolished," died last week at the age of 94 (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 1/20).

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