SBD/January 7, 2011/People and Pop Culture

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  • Fox Networks Group Chair & CEO Tony Vinciquerra Stepping Down

    Vinciquerra stepping down at Fox Networks Group
    Fox Networks Group Chair & CEO TONY VINCIQUERRA Thursday announced his decision to step down from the position, effective Feb. 11. As a result, News Corp. announced a restructuring of the Fox Networks Group. Fox Int'l Channels CEO DAVID HASLINGDEN will take over most of Vinciquerra's responsibilities as President & COO of Fox Networks Group. Fox Sports President ERIC SHANKS and FSN President RANDY FREER will serve as co-President & COO of Fox Sports Media Group, taking direct responsibility for sports cable channels including Fox Soccer Channel, Speed, Fox Deportes and Fuel TV. Shanks and Freer also will gain oversight of all digital ventures for the sports group. The pair will report to Fox Sports Media Group Chair & CEO DAVID HILL, who now will report to News Corp. President & COO CHASE CAREY as part of the restructuring. Hill will expand his role to manage Fox' oversight of the National Geographic Channels domestic joint venture and will take a seat on the National Geographic Channels board (News Corp.). Vinciquerra said that it was "six to eight months ago when he began leaning toward stepping down," and that he told Carey of his decision "around Thanksgiving" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 1/7). Vinciquerra: "I've been doing this job for 10 years, and it's time to think about other things. We have some good people who have really grown in their jobs; they have become more focused and are ready to step up to the challenge." Vinciquerra, who also serves on the Motorola Inc. BOD, said that he "didn't have another job lined up but was interested in communications technology" (L.A. TIMES, 1/7).

    INSTRUMENTAL FIGURE: In N.Y., Bill Carter wrote Vinciquerra over the past decade has been "instrumental in most of the biggest financial deals involving News Corp's television operations, including a host of lucrative retransmission deals with cable operators and contracts for rights to sports events for the Fox network as well as Fox's regional sports cable channels." His departure is "being described by both sides as completely voluntary," with Vinciquerra indicating that he "decided to leave because he wants to pursue some undetermined entrepreneurial ventures." His name "circulated last year in a potential management role at NBC Universal after Comcast completes its acquisition of that company" (NYTIMES.com, 1/6).

    Print | Tags: Fox, News Corp, People and Pop Culture
  • MLB Hiring Koskovolis As Senior VP/Corporate Sales & Sponsorship

    Koskovolis takes MLB sales position
    MLB is hiring former ESPN/ABC Sports Exec VP/National Sales & Customer Marketing Lou Koskovolis as its new Senior VP/Corporate Sales & Sponsorship. Koskovolis, 47, has been Exec VP/Corporate Alliances at Six Flags Entertainment since ‘06. He replaces John Brody, who left MLB in August after 11 years to be head of global sales at Wasserman Media Group. Koskovolis will report to MLB Exec VP/Business Tim Brosnan. “I sold a lot of baseball in 15 years at ESPN, worked closely with Tim and his team and I was looking to get back into sports; that and being associated with the MLB brand made this the perfect opportunity for me,” said Koskovolis, who will start his new job on Jan 18. Sources said Koskovolis grew sponsorships across Six Flags’ 19 theme parks from a low base to around $47M over the past six years, bringing in sponsors including Mars and Discover, along with various films and TV studios. “I tried to run that business as if [it] were a league with 19 teams, so I see this as a similar situation,” said Koskovolis, who would not confirm the Six Flags revenue figure. Koskovolis joins MLB with the league facing a number of important renewals, including soft drinks and automobiles. “The media market has bounced back well over past six to nine months and there’s always a trickle down there to sponsorship,” said Koskovolis. “I’ve started to look at different categories and I just see a lot of opportunity.” Brosnan said Koskovolis is long on relationships, strategy, and preparation. While Brosnan was "overwhelmed by resumes" after Brody's departure, he said, "I reached out to Lou myself as a unique talent."

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  • Twins Sports Inc. President Bell Retiring After 23 Years With Team

    Jerry Bell was face of Twins' effort to get Target Field built

    Twins Sports Inc. President JERRY BELL Thursday informed team employees that "he is retiring after spending 23 years with the organization," according to La Velle Neal III of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. Bell joined the Twins in '87 after serving as Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission Exec Dir, and he was the "face of the organization's stadium efforts through the years," which "paid off last year with the opening" of Target Field. Bell was named the Twins' third president in '87 and "led the organization's business operations." In '02, he was named to his current position and "focused most of his efforts on the design and construction of Target Field." Despite announcing his retirement, Bell "will keep his hand in a couple of projects for the club." Notably, he will "work with officials in Florida to upgrade the Lee County Sports Complex, the Twins' year-round facility and spring training headquarters" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 1/7). When asked for the reasoning behind his decision to step down, Bell said, "I'm 69 years old." Bell "considers Target Field his top contribution." He said, "It secures the franchise's future" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 1/7).

    Print | Tags: Minnesota Twins, Baseball, People and Pop Culture
  • Top A-B Marketer Keith Levy Leaves Brewer After 24 Years

    Levy first joined A-B in '87
    Anheuser-Busch VP/Marketing KEITH LEVY has left the brewer "amid sluggish sales of Bud Light and Budweiser," according to David Kesmodel of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. A-B President Dave Peacock in a statement said Levy, whose last day was Thursday, left "to pursue other opportunities." A-B InBev Global VP/Brands & Insights FRANK ABENANTE "temporarily will lead the marketing effort in the U.S." Levy, who joined the brewer in '87, was A-B's "top U.S. marketing executive" and had "led the marketing division in the wake" of InBev's takeover in '08 (WSJ.com, 1/6). In St. Louis, Todd Frankel noted A-B is "being tight-lipped about the sudden departure" of Levy, offering "no explanation." The timing of the departure "is also interesting," considering January is "typically a busy month filled with last-minute changes to A-B's Super Bowl advertising strategy." But A-B and other brewers have "struggled in recent years to reverse declining sales of their major brands." Frankel noted the "head of marketing at A-B is one of the company's most important and high-profile" positions; Peacock once held the title, as did former A-B CEO August Busch IV (STLTODAY.com, 1/6). AD AGE's Ej Schultz noted shipments of Bud Light, the nation's top-selling beer brand, are "expected to decline for 2010 once the final numbers are calculated." Beer Business Daily Editor HARRY SCHUHMACHER said Levy's departure is "not a surprise in so much that Bud Light had another down year." He added, "I would think that priority No. 1 is to stabilize Bud Light. Sometimes it's best to change horses, even midstream, to get the brand rolling again." Schultz noted naming Abenante as Levy's temporary successor "could signal that the brewer might seek a permanent replacement from within its global operation" (ADAGE.com, 1/6).

    Print | Tags: Anheuser Busch, People and Pop Culture
  • Newsmakers

    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:

    Augusta National makes debut in EA Sports' golf game
    WIN: EA SPORTS -- The company nabs the golden goose of golf courses with the addition of Augusta National to its "Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12" game, including the placement of the iconic flag from The Masters on the cover. The addition should help reverse a trend of weak sales for the game in recent years and also gives Augusta National an expanded multimedia presence at a time when golf is seeking increased awareness among a younger demo. Fans of the game should also be clamoring for the ability to replay famous moments from The Masters, such as TIGER WOODS in '05 and ARNOLD PALMER in '58.

    LOSE: RON FRANKLIN -- The longtime ESPN college football radio voice is terminated following inappropriate comments made to colleague JEANNINE EDWARDS prior to last weekend's Chick-fil-a Bowl. Franklin had been a fixture of ESPN's radio telecasts since '87, but this marked his second run-in with a female co-worker after an '05 incident with sideline reporter HOLLY ROWE. With the company seeking to dispel perceptions of a "boys-will-be-boys" workplace attitude, execs in Bristol make the correct call in ending their association with Franklin.

    DRAW: JERRY RICHARDSON -- Not a great week for the Big Cat. He loses a chance to draft ANDREW LUCK and holds his first press conference in nine years before a market eager to hear from him, but he fails to deliver or ease an anxious fan base. Local media pan the performance, with one columnist writing he was “condescending and he was certainly patronizing toward women among his questioners.” Another influential columnist said he came across “as irritable, cheap, confused, obstinate and a bit of a bully.” Ouch. But Richardson rebounds with a phone call to one of the writers and apologizes for coming across that way and stresses changes to the organization.

    Print | Tags: People and Pop Culture
  • What's Up For The Weekend With WWE COO Donna Goldsmith

    Goldsmith (r) plans on babysitting and opening birthday presents this weekend

    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 World Wrestling Entertainment COO DONNA GOLDSMITH, who chatted with Staff Writer Theresa Manahan.

    Q: What are your plans for this weekend?

    Goldsmith: Babysitting my very handsome 10-year-old nephew.

    Q: What are you really looking forward to this weekend? Anything special planned?

    Goldsmith: Looking forward to the zillions of presents I’m surely going to receive since it was my birthday yesterday. 

    Q: What do you like to watch and read on the weekend?

    Goldsmith: I catch up on my reading of the trade journals and any non-fiction book (I always read non-fiction!). I also will watch any WWE episodes I’ve missed this week and I certainly watch my guilty pleasure, “General Hospital.”

    Q: What workout routines or activities do you like to do on the weekend?

    Goldsmith: I never miss a weekend workout with my trainer of 15 years, GEORGE GIBSON. He’s truly the only trainer who will stand for my yelling “OYYYY! You’re killing me.”

    Q: The thing that our readers would be most surprised you love to do on your weekends is…

    Goldsmith: At least two of four weekends a month I go to a Broadway show.

    Q: Favorite weekend getaway?

    Goldsmith: My apartment in West Palm Beach, Florida.

    Q: Guilty weekend pleasure?

    Goldsmith: Massages and sleeping in.

    Q: Favorite local restaurant?

    Goldsmith: Atlantic Grill or Elio's (both are on Upper East Side in New York City).

    Q: What is your favorite local nightlife activity?

    Goldsmith: Dining out at any of the numerous, good restaurants in New York City.

    Q: Must see weekend game?

    Goldsmith: My nephew’s Little League game.

    Q: What do you always try to make time for even if you are traveling and working?

    Goldsmith: I always make time for dinner, calling family and checking-in with the office. In addition, I always make time for Reese’s peanut butter cups throughout the day.

    Q: Favorite restaurant on the road?

    Goldsmith: TooJay’s in Florida.

    Q: What do you usually do to pass time on a plane?

    Goldsmith: I always catch up on reading, watch a movie (as there is never enough time to go to the movies!) and sleep.

    Print | Tags: People and Pop Culture
  • Executive Transactions

    The USTA named JON VEGOSEN to a two-year term as Chair & President, effective Jan. 1. Vegosen previously worked as an attorney for Chicago-based Funkhouser Vegosen Liebman and Dunn Ltd (CHICAGOBUSINESS.com, 1/6).

    EXECS: SMU AD STEVE ORSINI has signed a contract extension through May 31, 2015. His initial five-year deal was set to expire this May (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 1/7)....Lions Senior Dir of Community Affairs TIM PENDELL will retire Feb. 1 after 26 years with the team (FREEP.com, 1/5)....ESPN Radio Group named Alacon Ventures Founder & Managing Partner SCOTT MCCARTHY GM of ESPN Radio 710 L.A. (ESPN)....Toronto-based architectural, engineering and planning firm Cannon Design has hired ROBERT CLAIBORNE as Associate Principal. Claiborne's recent work includes Frank Clair Stadium in Ottawa (Cannon Design)....Palace Sports & Entertainment named NICK BARTOLONE Marketing Specialist. Bartolone previously served as Promotions Dir for WDTW-FM and WDFN-AM (PSE)....BOB BRODERICK has launched RTB Media, a full-service PR and marketing firm (THE DAILY)....MTV Networks has hired KIM MANDARA to handle corporate communications and consumer products for their family and kids businesses, including Nickelodeon. Mandara previously worked in marketing communications at the NBA (THE DAILY).

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

    Print | Tags: People and Pop Culture
  • Names In The News

    Orange Bowl committee paid for ACC execs to take cruise on Majesty Of The Seas

    In Greensboro, Jeff Mills reports the Orange Bowl Committee invited 46 ADs and conference administrators from 10 leagues, plus 43 spouses, "to go on a complimentary three-night cruise" last June. ACC Commissioner JOHN SWOFFORD and Assistant Commissioner MICHAEL KELLY "accepted the June trip," and Wake Forest AD RON WELLMAN also "confirmed that he traveled." Duke AD KEVIN WHITE and former NC State AD LEE FOWLER, "who was in his final weeks" at the school, "also were on the guest list." The Orange Bowl Committee "directs the Orange Bowl football game as a registered 501(c)(3) public charity," and the committee "hosted an 'all-inclusive, three-night, four-day complimentary getaway,' billed as the 'Summer Splash,' aboard Royal Caribbean's cruise ship Majesty of the Seas" (Greensboro NEWS & RECORD, 1/7).

    MAN OF THE PEOPLE: The AP's Michael Marot noted it "took some persuading to get" Colts Owner JIM IRSAY to join Twitter, but "now he can't stop." Since opening his account Dec. 1, Irsay "has posted an average of four dozen tweets per day." He has "more than 21,000 followers, some of whom hope to win free tickets from Irsay's continual contests." His Twitter feed is a "far cry from being an extension of the Colts' public relations office, nor does it reflect stark statements from a stodgy NFL owner trying to be careful in a year where labor disagreements threaten next season." If there is a "mission for Irsay in tweeting, it might be in revamping the image of league owners, at least a bit" (AP, 1/6).

    WHERE ARE THEY NOW? In Boston, Ron Borges profiles former Patriots VP & Chief Administration Counsel JACK MULA, who was the "primary contract negotiator and legal and business liaison to the NFL Management Council." Mula worked for the Patriots for eight years, leaving after the '07 season after "many quiet successes." Mula now is "on the move again, having joined forces" with former Redskins GM JOE MENDES to form Cornerstone Sports Consulting, which "works with some of the nation's biggest universities to educate their athletes on making the long jump to pro football." Mula recently "has been advising" Auburn Univ. QB CAM NEWTON (BOSTON HERALD, 1/7).

    NAMES: Boxer MIKE TYSON will star in "TAKING ON TYSON," a six-episode reality series that begins March 6 on Animal Planet. The show "brings Tyson back to the Brooklyn neighborhood where he grew up," and teams him with VINNIE TORRE and HELDER RODRIGUEZ, "who both raise competition racing pigeons" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 1/7)....Magic C DWIGHT HOWARD will make a cameo appearance in the Jan. 14 episode of Disney Channel's "THE SUITE LIFE ON DECK." T'Wolves F KEVIN LOVE and Jazz G DERON WILLIAMS "also appear on the episode as Howard's friends" (ORLANDOSENTINEL.com, 1/6)....DOUG ELLIN, the creator of HBO's "ENTOURAGE," is "batting around ideas for" Knicks C AMAR'E STOUDEMIRE's "cameo on the last season of the HBO drama." Ellin said he also Yankees 1B MARK TEIXEIRA to appear during the season (N.Y. POST, 1/7)....Monumental Sports & Entertainment Chair TED LEONSIS "has paid $20 million for Marwood, a historic 13-acre estate in Potomac, Md." (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 1/7)....Mariners TV analyst MIKE BLOWERS was "arraigned Wednesday after being arrested in December on suspicion of DUI" (SEATTLE TIMES, 1/7).

    Print | Tags: People and Pop Culture
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