SBD/Issue 100/Sports Industrialists

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  • Benson, Irsay Experience Redemption With Super Bowl Appearance

    Super Bowl Season Brings Redemption 
    For Saints' Benson (l), Colts' Irsay (r)
    The success of the Saints and Colts this season for Saints Owner TOM BENSON and Colts Owner JIM IRSAY "has produced something more significant than the normal degree of gratification that comes with winning football games," as for them, "success has brought redemption," according to Mark Maske of the WASHINGTON POST. The names Benson and Irsay "once were reviled by fans in a couple NFL cities." Many Saints fans in New Orleans "expressed their contempt for Benson when they suspected in the months after Hurricane Katrina that he wanted to move the Saints from the city." Benson: "It's different than most people thought. It was just a matter of working through the circumstances. New Orleans needed the team there." Benson said keeping the team in New Orleans was the "right decision because it certainly has been a great thing" for the city. Benson: "We know it's back. But now we're telling the whole world that it's back." Meanwhile, in Irsay's case, the "ire from fans in Baltimore was aimed at his father, not him, after the late ROBERT IRSAY ... relocated the franchise to Indianapolis." Former NFL Commissioner PAUL TAGLIABUE said Jim Irsay "certainly has taken to heart the pain and criticism heaped on his father." Tagliabue: "I think he's done a magnificent job of trying to be a solid citizen and making sure he never finds himself in the position of having to move the Colts again. ... He put (team president) BILL POLIAN in there. He's hired good coaches. He's engaged, but at the appropriate level" (WASHINGTON POST, 2/5).

    MUCH RESPECT: In a sports-section cover story for USA TODAY, Jon Saraceno writes Irsay "has matured into a respected owner who still manages to stand out among his sometimes staid, blueblood brethren." In a world of "starched collars, the rock 'n' roll aficionado and guitar strummer remains mostly a tie-dye guy, at least at heart." Irsay, who is a member of the league's Finance Committee, is "anything but one of those intrusive owners who micromanage teams." Irsay "has transformed the once financially strapped Colts into a model franchise ... with Polian's astute personnel maneuvering," along with "shrewd investments outside football, plus two new stadiums since relocating to Indianapolis" in '84. Forbes valued the Colts "in excess" of $1B, and Irsay is "one of the few owners who own 100% of the team." Colts QB PEYTON MANNING: "Jim is everything you want in an owner. He knows football. He's in the locker room before and after the game to say the team prayer. But he doesn't call plays; he doesn't meddle." Chiefs Chair CLARK HUNT said of Irsay, "When he speaks at owners meetings, everyone listens. Frequently, he has insights the rest of us don't" (USA TODAY, 2/5).

    IMAGE REFORM: USA TODAY's Saraceno notes Benson "hasn't always been the life of the Mardi Gras party in New Orleans," as "for years, players grumbled about their owner's frugalness." Benson's popularity "waned when he suggested the Saints could be moved without a new stadium," and it "worsened after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 when Benson appeared ready to relocate the franchise." Saints radio analyst and former Saints QB BOBBY HEBERT said Benson "doesn't have the greatest PR skills." But he added of Benson's past struggles, "That's all water under the bridge. When you win, people forget a lot" (USA TODAY, 2/5).

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  • What's U.S. Sports Film Festival's Hartman Up To This Weekend?

    Hartman Will Be In South Florida This 
    Weekend For Super Bowl Festivities
    Ever wonder how executives in sports business spend their weekends? THE DAILY this week continues "What's Up For The Weekend," providing readers with an inside look at people in our industry. This week, we catch up with U.S. Sports Film Festival Founder & Chair STEVE HARTMAN, who is also an investment banker in N.Y. Staff Writer Jessica Collins talked with Hartman, who will be in South Florida this weekend producing a film festival and attending Super Bowl XLIV festivities.

    Q: What are your plans for this weekend?

    Hartman: Besides escaping the cold, the snow and the never-ending intensity of Manhattan (two out of three of which I actually love), I am looking forward to sports people, film people and sports films! While I have screened all of the films for this weekend's South Beach Festival, it's different to "experience" them with the stars of the film. I'm excited to see festival-award-winning baseball documentary "Faded Glory," and to watch "The U" again and experience the film in the context of hearing our panel of MICHAEL IRVIN, NAJEH DAVENPORT and other Univ. of Miami alums comment and debate the social, racial and thematic issues in the film. 

    Q: What are you most looking forward to this weekend?

    Hartman: The continuing of our Sports Making a Difference (SMAD) in Society Film Program, which offers developing Miami youths the opportunity to experience the Festival, film and sports as an extraordinary vehicle for individual empowerment and social change. With the recent focus on Haiti, the SMAD program takes on additional significance in terms of using sports as one vehicle to help rebuild communities. We have reached out and will be bringing in at-risk and underprivileged youths to our events. I'm looking forward to seeing these kids react when they feel the energy of VINCE PAPALE speaking to them after the screening of his film "Invincible." … Wall Street may be what I work for but these moments are what I live for. This is what puts a smile on my face.

    Q: Will you be attending Sunday's Super Bowl or any parties this weekend?

    Hartman: Definitely the parties. I will probably attend some of JAMIE FOXX' "Eats Beats and Cleats" party or DIDDY's party at Nikki Beach or LEIGH STEINBERG's party. As for attending the Big Game, I have not decided. … I might just attend MICHAEL STONE's Allied Athletes Super Bowl party on South Beach and chill. Other than that, I'll mainly attend our screenings and Powerade sponsored Sports Film Model Search all day Friday at Nikki Beach. … The winners will receive a modeling contract and role in an upcoming sports film to yet be named. I told Sports Studio President MARK ELLIS that I'm considering jumping in to test and see if I'm more of an actor or, more likely, an ACL waiting to happen.

    Q: What is a weekend must read?

    Hartman: My primary work is on the finance side but my passion is sports and the arts, so I have to make sure I know what's going on with the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, etc. But I also have to mix in Daily Variety and The Sporting News to see what opportunities are out there for sports and film. There is more crossover than people imagine.

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  • This Week's Newsmakers: Thrashers Trade Away Another Star

    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:

    WIN: CBS -- What a difference a year can make. After last year's Super Bowl saw advertisers shying away from pricey spots, CBS reaps the benefits of an improving economy, selling out its inventory almost a week before the Big Game. The demand is so high that execs claim they might create more ad space to accommodate more companies. The net also is able to hold the line on its prices, with some 30-second spots topping $3M. Meanwhile, analysts are claiming the Saints-Colts game could become the first Super Bowl to top 100 million viewers, and could perhaps even threaten the "MASH" finale for the most-viewed program in television history.

    Kovalchuk Is Latest Thrashers Star
    To Be Traded Away
    LOSE: THRASHERS -- The NHL team exacerbates a "disturbing franchise trait" by trading away superstar Ilya Kovalchuk to the Devils. The Thrashers, just three points shy of the last Eastern Conference playoff spot as of Friday, moved the All-Star during the season to protect against losing him during free agency, but will this mark the end of the line for long-suffering Atlanta hockey fans? Some suggest the trade may be the "final nail in the coffin" for the NHL at Philips Arena, and "should tell you all you need to know about the miserable state of this franchise."

    DRAW: NFL -- After announcing an ill-advised attempt to claim trademark ownership of the popular “Who Dat” phrase, the NFL wisely relents and allows Saints fans to fully embrace the motto. The league concedes it only has legal rights to the phrase when it is used in conjunction with Saints and league marks after high-powered politicians weigh in on the issue, including U.S. Sen. DAVID VITTER stating in a letter to the league, "Please either drop your present ridiculous position or sue me." However, it is worth asking the question of why the NFL even began wandering down this road in the first place?

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  • Executive Transactions

    The NTRA named BARKLEY PORTER VP/Sales & Business Development (NTRA)….USA Gymnastics appointed LEE JOHNSON Senior Dir of Marketing, effective February 8 (USA Gymnastics)….Steelers Pro Scouting Coordinator DOUG WHALEY has been named Bills Assistant GM (PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 2/4)….The Eagles promoted Dir of College Scouting RYAN GRIGSON to Dir of Player Personnel, college scout ANTHONY PATCH to Assistant Dir of College Scouting and Assistant Dir of Pro Personnel LOUIS RIDDICK to Dir of Pro Personnel (PHILLY.com, 2/3)….The Red Sox promoted Coordinator of Latin American Operations EDDIE ROMERO to Assistant Dir of Latin American Operations, Major League Scout GUS QUATTLEBAUM to Assistant Dir of Amateur Scouting and Pro Scout STEVE PECK to Major League Scout (Red Sox)....ISP Sports named Drake Univ. Dir of Athletic Marketing BRIAN GABEL GM of the Drake ISP Sports Network, PAUL PHIPPS GM of the Seminole ISP Sports Network and SANDY ROSENBERG VP & GM of the St. John's ISP Sports Network (ISP Sports)….776 Original Marketing named ANTHONY BARTKOWSKI an Associate (776 Marketing).... Triple-A PCL Omaha Royals VP/Baseball Operations KYLE FISHER has resigned to become Senior VP & GM of the IFL Omaha Beef (Omaha Royals).

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

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  • Names In The News

    Allen Honored With Merit Award At
    Oregon Sports Awards Last Sunday
    In Portland, Kerry Eggers wrote Seahawks and Trail Blazers Owner PAUL ALLEN, who was honored with a merit award at the Oregon Sports Awards last Sunday night, "hasn't been the perfect sports franchise owner, but he has been better than good." Allen in November was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma. He is a "private man" who does not "make a lot of public appearances, even in the best of health." Allen said while accepting his award, "The support of the Blazer community has been great for me. So many people have said positive things" (PORTLAND TRIBUNE, 2/4).

    GROUP EFFORT: The NFLPA has joined the U.S. Justice Department's year-long campaign to commemorate the 15th anniversary of President BILL CLINTON signing the Violence Against Women Act into law. The NFLPA joins a group of more than 100 celebs, including 16 NFLers, actors, musicians and athletes who have lent their names to raise awareness. U.S. swimmer AMANDA BEARD, Yankees CF CURTIS GRANDERSON, Dodgers manager JOE TORRE, U.S. gymnast NASTIA LIUKIN and skateboarder TONY HAWK also are a part of the initiative (Justice Department).

    PAY TO PLAY? Virginia-based advocacy group U.S. Term Limits President PHILIP BLUMEL Thursday criticized Majestic Realty Co. Chair & CEO ED ROSKI for recent campaign contributions. Blumel in a statement said Roski's $300,000 contribution in support of a term limits change in California is "payback to California lawmakers who created a special exemption so he could build" a football stadium near L.A. Blumel: "It stinks" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 2/5).

    PIPE DOWN: Snowboarder SHAUN WHITE appeared on the syndicated "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" Thursday and talked about his crash on the halfpipe at the Winter X Games. White said of his run following the practice-round crash, "I'm at the top of the pipe and I have to do this trick in a little bit of time and I'm last to drop because I qualified first. I'm sitting there and they keep replaying and replaying, and I'm like, 'I hope I can do this.'" Host ELLEN DEGENERES: "That's not the thing you want to look at over and over when you try to visualize success." DeGeneres later presented White a helmet with a flag depicting DeGeneres' face, as well as a snowboard and jacket featuring her face and the caption, "laugh. dance. conquer." DeGeneres: "You think I'm kidding, but I'm not. I want to see this when I'm watching the Olympics" ("The Ellen DeGeneres Show," 2/4).

    LEGAL MATTERS: An agreement filed last week in L.A. Superior Court shows that former Dodgers CEO JAMIE MCCOURT can get "at least $1.4[M] to cover her expenses until next month's hearing on spousal support" from Dodgers Owner FRANK MCCOURT. The $1.4M comes from the "liquidation of an investment account in the names of Frank and Jamie McCourt." The agreement also provides Jamie with "access to additional funds ... from the couple's joint investments" (LATIMES.com, 2/4)....Ohio resident GUY WALKER has filed a civil lawsuit against 76ers G ALLEN IVERSON seeking $2.5M "plus damages stemming from an alleged incident at a Detroit nightspot last spring." Walker claims he "suffered severe pain, emotional distress and mental anguish" from injuries suffered during the altercation. Walker claims that ANTWUAN CLISEY was "working as a member of Iverson's security detail when Clisey initiated an unprovoked attack that cleared the bar, and Iverson, who was escorted away from the scene, did nothing to stop the altercation" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 2/4).

    Brazil President Wears Izod IndySeries Helmet,
    Pledges His Support For San Paulo Indy 300
    NAMES: The Gotham Group and Allentown Productions have begun developing "31 TAILGATES," a film "based on the true story of brothers NATE and AARON THOMPSON who, along with friend NOLAN MEYERS, set out to fulfill a lifelong dream to visit all 31 NFL stadiums in one season as a tribute to their friend JOE LUSK, who was killed in Kuwait in 2005." The trio "will end their five-month stadium trek" at Super Bowl XLIV on Sunday at Sun Life Stadium (DAILY VARIETY, 2/5)....Brazil President LULA on Tuesday during a meeting with IRL drivers HELIO CASTRONEVES and TONY KANAAN wore a green and yellow Izod IndyCar Series helmet -- with in Portuguese "President Lula, driving Brazil" printed on the front -- and "pledged his support for the inaugural Sao Paulo Indy 300" (INDYCAR.com, 2/3)....Marlins President DAVID SAMSON will host SCOTT STAPP, the lead singer of rock band Creed, in the team's suite at Sun Life Stadium for Sunday's Super Bowl (PALMBEACHPOST.com, 2/4)....NASCAR driver JEFF GORDON and his wife, INGRID VANDEBOSCH, are "expecting their second child in August" (PEOPLE.com, 2/4).

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