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NFL Commissioner ROGER GOODELL tops SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL's annual list of the "50 Most Influential People In Sports Business." Goodell has "in part the fate of America's most popular game in his hands." He "must hash out a new labor deal to save the 2011 season -- in other words, he has the primary influence in what the entire industry is watching most closely." The philosophy in shaping the list this year was "rooted heavily with an eye on labor and management relations." More participants could have been added "into the mix who are part of the negotiating teams," but the focus instead was on the "main negotiators." There has been "criticism in the last year about splitting slots and having multiple people listed in one position." But while the list would be cleaner with 50 names for 50 slots, "it wouldn't be as accurate." Many executives "have similar spheres of influence within a company or sector." It is "just the way the world works" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 12/13 issue).RANKEXECUTIVE1NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell2ESPN/ABC Sports President George Bodenheimer3
NBA Commissioner David Stern4 MLB Commissioner Bud Selig5 NFLPA Exec Dir DeMaurice Smith6 NBC Sports & Olympics Chair Dick Ebersol7 News Corp. Deputy Chair, President & COO Chase Carey8 CBS News and Sports President Sean McManus9 The Kraft Group Chair & CEO Robert Kraft10 Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones11 NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman12 AEG President & CEO Tim Leiweke13 Turner Broadcasting President of Sales, Distribution & Sports David Levy14 Nike CEO Mark Parker and Brand President Charlie Denson15 NFL Panthers Owner Jerry Richardson16 IOC President Jacques Rogge17 IMG Chair & CEO Ted Forstmann and IMG Sports & Entertainment President George Pyne18 NASCAR Chair & CEO Brian France19 PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem20 Fox Sports Media Group Chair & CEO David Hill and FSN President Randy Freer21 FIFA President Sepp Blatter22 ESPN Exec VP/Content John Skipper and Exec VP/Sales & Marketing Sean Bratches23 adidas Chair & CEO Herbert Hainer24 WMG Chair & CEO Casey Wasserman25 Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany26 New England Sports Ventures Owner John Henry27 NBA Deputy Commissioner & COO Adam Silver28 MLB Exec VP/Business Tim Brosnan29 A-B InBev VP/Media, Sponsorship & Activation Mark Wright and VP/Global Connections Maarten Albarda30 NBPA Exec Dir Billy Hunter31 NFL, NHL and MLS Outside Labor Counsel Bob Batterman and NFLPA Labor Counsel Jeffrey Kessler32 NCAA President Mark Emmert and Exec VP Greg Shaheen33 MLBAM President & CEO Bob Bowman34 MLS Commissioner Don Garber35 Yankees co-Chair & Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner36 CAA Sports co-Heads Michael Levine and Howard Nuchow37 Monumental Sports & Entertainment Chair Ted Leonsis38 Under Armour Chair & CEO Kevin Plank39 GM VP/U.S. Marketing Joel Ewanick40 USOC Chair Larry Probst41 Coca-Cola North America CMO Bea Perez42 Univ. of Texas Men's AD DeLoss Dodds43 MLBPA Exec Dir Michael Weiner44 MillerCoors President & Chief Commercial Officer Tom Long and CMO Andy England45 PepsiCo Chair & CEO Indra Nooyi46 Time Warner Cable Exec VP & Chief Programming Officer Melinda Witmer47 Galatioto Sports Partners President Sal Galatioto48 Verizon Wireless Exec Dir of Media, Engagements & Interactions Suzy Deering49 Octagon President & CEO Rick Dudley, President of Athletes & Personalities Phil De Picciotto and Octagon Marketing President Jeff Shifrin50 HBO Sports President Ross Greenburg
NBA OWNERS LARGELY ABSENT: In San Antonio, Tim Griffin wrote it is "interesting that owners like" the Mavericks' Mark Cuban, the Knicks' James Dolan, the Trail Blazers' Paul Allen, the Nets' Mikhail Prokhorov and the Spurs' Peter Holt did not make the list. Griffin: "Considering the growing popularity of the NBA, it's a little surprising that more NBA figures don't dot the list. Particularly Cuban, who is becoming widely known as one of the most quotable owners in pro sports" (MYSANANTONIO.com, 12/13). Mavericks F BRIAN CARDINAL said it is "unfortunate" that Cuban is not on the list. When asked about not making the list Monday, Cuban said, "I don't care. Have I been on the list before? Whatever." The only NBA owner who made the list was Wizards Owner TED LEONSIS, who is listed at No. 37 (STAR-TELEGRAM.com, 12/13). Leonsis on his blog wrote, "I was shocked to see myself on this list. I have no idea why I am on this list. ... I don't feel influential or powerful. I would grade us and me with an 'incomplete!'" (TEDSTAKE.com, 12/14).
LOSING TRACK POSITION: In Virginia, Dustin Long wrote under the header, "Is Brian France's Influence Waning?" The NASCAR Chair & CEO was "one of five people in the top 20 of the list who fell at least a spot from last year." Others who fell included Cowboys Owner JERRY JONES, IOC President JACQUES ROGGE, PGA Tour Commissioner TIM FINCHEM and Fox Sports Media Group Chair & CEO David Hill (HAMPTONROADS.com, 12/13).
TWITTER REAX: Broadcasting & Cables’ Ben Grossman: “SBJ's great annual top 50 most influential in sports list is out. Always good read, I'm shocked at lack of Dana White.” Women In Sports & Events: “What does it take to be considered influential? Surely there are more than 4 women in sports business worthy of a top 50 mention.” ESPN’s Mike Massaro: “Only 1 NASCAR team owner listed. John Henry & his bio doesn't even mention NASCAR. 2 NFL owners in top-10.” CNBC’s Darren Rovell: “Not 1 journalist on list.”
MAKING THEIR CASE: ESPN Radio's "Mike & Mike in the Morning" light-heartedly discussed the list yesterday, and ESPN's MIKE GREENBERG jokingly said, "If I had one, I would cancel my subscription to SportsBusiness Journal." Greenberg noted every year SBJ "lists the 50 most influential people in sports and every year we don't make it." Greenberg: "Frankly, it's enough with this already." ESPN's MIKE GOLIC: "We call every year, and they keep telling us we're 51st and keep our fingers crossed, maybe next year. We've heard 'maybe next year' for eight, nine years now." SBJ/SBD Exec Editor ABRAHAM MADKOUR said the publication talked to ESPN Exec VP/Content John Skipper and joked, "He didn't want you guys on the list in your contract year." Meanwhile, Golic said ESPN/ABC Sports President GEORGE BODENHEIMER ranking No. 2 on the list was an "injustice," as he "should be No. 1 on this list." Greenberg: "George has been done wrong. ... George should be No. 1. They should leave No. 2 vacant and the rest of the list should start at No. 3." Madkour again joked, "I love the way that you guys are kissing up to George Bodenheimer this morning, calling him compassionate, what a wonderful boss he is. He's been No. 1 on our list many times, and with your campaign, I think he could return there again" ("Mike & Mike in the Morning," ESPN Radio, 12/15).
NBA Senior VP/Business Development PETER FARNSWORTH is leaving the league at year's end to start his own consulting practice. Farnsworth, a former SportsBusiness Journal Forty Under 40 Award winner, has been at the league for nearly a decade and is credited with landing many large corporate sponsors, including Hewlett-Packard, Kia, and the recent BBVA sponsorship, which was the NBA's first banking deal. He has also been a key man in developing NBA business overseas. Farnsworth said his consultancy was yet to be named, but would focus on cause-related efforts and global business, along with basic services like corporate consulting and property representation. "I'd like to find a way to better link sponsorship and philanthropy, the way we have with NBA Cares, or what we've seen recently with Barcelona and the Qatar Foundation. The non-profit world and the corporate world don't speak to each other well and I'd like to bridge that gap." With the threat of a lockout clouding the '11-12 NBA season, sales prospects should decrease, but Farnsworth said it was more a case of looking for new challenges than anything else. Within the league, business development VPs GARY JACOBUS, RACHEL JACOBSON and KELLY FLATOW, who had reported to Farnsworth, will now all report to Exec VP/Global Marketing Partnerships MARK TATUM. Farnsworth began his sports marketing career in '92 at ProServ and joined the NBA in '01.
The Nets have promoted the following: Leo Ehrline to Exec VP & Chief Administrative and Relationship Officer; Charlie Mierswa to Exec VP/Business Operations & CFO; Jeff Gewirtz to Exec VP & Chief Legal Officer; Fred Mangione to Senior VP & CMO; Petra Pope to Senior VP/Event Marketing & Community Relations; Chris Brahe to Senior VP/Partnership Sales & Marketing; and Barry Baum to Senior VP/Business & Entertainment Communications (Nets).
MOVING UP: The Cavaliers named AHL Lake Erie Monsters COO RANDY DOMAIN VP/Corporate Sales & Services and Lake Erie Monsters VP/Sales & Service NICHOLAS FRASCO Senior Dir of Business Development, Suites & Premium Sales. The Cavaliers also promoted the following: Dir of Client Experiences A.J. BONDI to Senior Dir of Premium & Suite Experiences for the Cavs and Quicken Loans Arena; Manager of Client Experiences BREA SCHMIDT to Dir of Client Experiences; Manager of Premium Sales NIC BARLAGE to Dir of Suite & Premium Sales for the Cavs and Quicken Loans Arena; and Corporate Sales Exec JEFF KADLUB to Senior Corporate Sales Exec (Cavaliers).
EXECS: The Int'l Golf Federation BOD named R&A CEO PETER DAWSON President and PGA Tour Exec VP/Communications & Int'l Affairs Ty Votaw as VP. Both appointments are two-year terms commencing on Jan. 1 (PGA Tour)....The EPL named British Horseracing Authority CEO NIC COWARD as the league's first General Secretary, effective in April. Coward also will "head the Premier League's legal team" (London TELEGRAPH, 12/16)....IMG Worldwide has hired ALESSIO SECCO as a Consultant. Secco will work to develop an IMG Football Division in Italy (IMG)....The Frontier League Florence Freedom named Society for American Baseball Research Web Content Editor MATT FRIEDMAN Dir of Broadcasting & Media Relations (THE DAILY).
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USA TODAY's Brady & Jackson report White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, a native of Auburn, Ala., "will take time off from his day job Jan. 10 so he and two high school pals can go to" the Auburn-Oregon Tostitos BCS National Championship Game in Glendale, Ariz. Gibbs "grew up in Auburn, where his parents worked for the university library." He "plans to place a friendly wager with" U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs SEAN SMITH, an Oregon grad (USA TODAY, 12/16).
EVENTFUL YEAR: In St. Louis, Cynthia Billhartz Gregorian notes Blues radio analyst KELLY CHASE recently competed on the CBC's "BATTLE OF THE BLADES," Canada's "wildly popular version of 'DANCING WITH THE STARS.'" Only a year earlier, Chase "was waging a bigger battle while undergoing rounds of steroid treatments to shrink a lesion on his brain." Gregorian notes Chase "on a typical day" now "coaches his sons' hockey teams, plays with fellow NHL alumni, makes public appearances for charities and does color commentary" for Blues games (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 12/16).
WOODED TRAIL: In Colorado Springs, R. Scott Rappold noted the skis manufactured by Colorado-based Ski Logik are "catching eyes around the world, and their performance has earned critical praise unusual for a first-year ski model." The skis feature an "all-wood construction, which gives every ski a unique flavor." The company's plant in China is "scrambling to keep up with demand." At $750-850 a pair, the price "is competitive with mass-produced skis." Rappold noted Ski Logik Founder DAVID MAZZARELLA "oversees the 35-employee operation," and his wife "does the ski artwork and works with skiers who pay $100 extra to come up with their own design" (GAZETTE.com, 12/15).
EATING GOOD IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD: AEG President & CEO TIM LEIWEKE served as a judge of the Season Eight finale on Fox' "HELL'S KITCHEN" last night, with host GORDON RAMSEY introducing him by saying AEG is "the company behind the revitilazation of downtown Los Angeles, as well as L.A. Live, home to the restaurant L.A. Market." The winner will become head chef at L.A. Market. Leiweke came on-stage and tasted both of the finalists' soups, one a loaded potato soup and the other a roasted cauliflower soup. Leiweke said the potato soup was "very good" and added, "Very different taste, both of them. I love them both." He eventually picked the loaded potato soup ("Hell's Kitchen," Fox, 12/15).
NAMES: Comcast-Spectacor Chair ED SNIDER has been selected to receive the first Lifetime Achievement Award presented at the Comcast SportsNet Shining Star Awards on Jan. 21 (Comcast SportsNet)….The Twins honored Senior Dir of Minor Leagues JIM RANTZ for “45 years in the front office and 50 years with the organization at their holiday party for full-time employees” yesterday at Target Field (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 12/16)….Several NHL Rangers players, as well as Knicks Fs DANILO GALLINARI and RONNY TURIAF, this week took “a handful of underprivileged second- and third-graders” to see the Radio City Christmas Spectacular (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 12/16)….Browns Owner RANDY LERNER is “selling a double parcel family compound” in Amagansett Lanes, N.Y., for $6.9M (NEWSDAY.com, 12/15).