SBD/February 1, 2011/People and Pop Culture

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  • Wasserman Quietly Leads Push To Bring NFL Back To Downtown L.A.

    Wasserman gained experience running an L.A. sports franchise with the AFL Avengers

    If the NFL "ever does return" to L.A., WMG Chair & CEO CASEY WASSERMAN "will likely be involved," according to Arash Markazi of ESPN L.A. Fans "won't find Wasserman at many news conferences" for the downtown L.A. stadium that he is teaming with AEG to build, nor will they "read many stories of him promoting the virtues of the venue." Fans "won't see or hear much from Wasserman until he feels there is something to be seen or heard." His 10-year run as Owner of the now-defunct AFL L.A. Avengers "was like getting a doctorate in sports management." No one else "currently positioning themselves to be involved with Los Angeles' next NFL team has hired and fired a head football coach, named an expansion team and designed football uniforms as Wasserman did with the Avengers." Wasserman said, "I operated a professional football team in L.A. By no means was it the NFL, but I understand what it takes on some level to build and operate a professional sports enterprise in Los Angeles." Wasserman, who became "fast friends" with NFL Commissioner ROGER GOODELL more than 25 years ago, brought the idea to build an NFL stadium near Staples Center to AEG President & CEO TIM LEIWEKE, who was "not only intrigued by the location and the business it could create for L.A. Live and, most importantly, AEG's newly built hotels and residences across the street, but by the retractable roof." Wasserman: "Putting it where there's already an infrastructure is a huge advantage and putting a roof on it and connecting it to the convention center is the other way. Those two things make the economics of this idea unique relative to other ideas presented in L.A. and therefore give this a better chance of success." Leiweke "jumped at the chance to build a football stadium with Wasserman" in '02, and he is "willing to go to bat with him again now." Leiweke said, "He's well respected, he's well liked, he's well connected and he's experienced. I've never heard anyone say anything bad about Casey" (, 1/31).

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  • Executive Transactions

    NBC Universal President & CEO STEVE BURKE is "giving up his title" of Comcast COO. The move "had been expected," but Comcast "made it official in a filing" at the SEC. Burke is "not completely cutting his ties to Comcast," as he will remain Exec VP (, 1/31).

    EXECS: National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics Exec Dir MIKE CLEARY will step down from the position after the June 16-18 NACDA Convention. NACDA Deputy Exec Dir BOB VECCHIONE will replace Cleary, effective July 1. Cleary, who was named to the post in '65, will continue to serve as Dir Emeritus for the next three years. Cleary also will continue to serve as President of the John McClendon Minority Scholarship Foundation and the Northeastern Ohio Chapter of the National Football Foundation (NACDA)....Turner Sports has hired PGA Tour VP/Business Development & Operations for New Media PAUL VOLEN as VP & GM for SI Digital, overseeing the strategy and day-to-day business and technical management of Volen begins his new role Feb. 14 and will be based in Atlanta. He will report to Turner Sports Senior VP & GM of Sports Operations MATTHEW HONG (Turner)....IMG has hired JAMES ROBINSON as Managing Dir of IMG Challenger World, based in London. Robinson previously served as Commercial Dir for Upsulot Sports UK Ltd., part of the Lagardere sports group (IMG)....The American Le Mans Series has hired Just Marketing Int'l Communications Specialist ERIN CECHAL as Dir of PR (ALMS).

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  • Names In The News

    Nashville charities face uncertainty in the wake of Jeff Fisher's firing

    Former Titans coach JEFF FISHER's departure "has left some uncertainty among charities and organizations that banked on his endorsement to raise funds." The Jeff Fisher & Friends Charity Softball Game "has raised more than half a million dollars in the past 10 years for local charities." The event was "scheduled again for June this year, but now that Fisher is no longer the coach, the charities that take part say they haven't heard whether it will go on as planned." Cooking Wild with Jeff Fisher and Friends is "one of four key annual fundraising events for Second Harvest Food Bank," and it "typically raises $30,000 from 60 to 65 major donors." But organizers "don't know whether they will be able to do the same this year." The Titans "have had a long-term relationship with Saint Thomas Health Services, which owns Baptist and Saint Thomas hospitals, among other facilities," but it "has been Fisher who appeared in the 'Game Day' themed commercials over the past two years." Hospital officials said that their "formal relationship is with the franchise and its owner, BUD ADAMS, and they expect it will continue in some fashion without Fisher" (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 2/1).

    THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES:'s Hal Bodley reported MLB Commissioner BUD SELIG was "among MLB's leading executives and friends who paid tribute" to outgoing Senior VP/PR RICH LEVIN at a retirement dinner in N.Y. last night. Levin is "retiring this week" after 25-plus years in the role, and Selig "praised Levin's loyalty during remarks at the dinner." Bodley wrote Levin "contributed enormously" to the league, and he "leaves behind a legacy that will be difficult to duplicate." He was "good for baseball and became a friend to the demanding media because he never forgot the days when he was one of them as an aggressive newspaper reporter" (, 1/31).

    GIVING IS BETTER THAN RECEIVING: The PGA Tour "has donated $150,000 on behalf of the Presidents Cup and International captain GREG NORMAN to a relief appeal to help victims of the devastating floods in Australia's Queensland state." Golfer STEVE ELKINGTON, an Australian native, "pledged support to the flood relief efforts by earmarking $1,000 per birdie he made" during the Bob Hope Classic last month. Elkington "made 24 birdies for a $24,000 donation" (AP, 1/31)....Nike is "giving $400,000 to Penn State's libraries in honor" of football coach JOE PATERNO's 400th win. Penn State libraries dean BARBARA DEWEY yesterday said that the donation "will in part help pay for renovations and technological upgrades" (AP, 1/31).

    NAMES: Dick's Sporting Goods "has agreed to pay up to $15 million to settle federal and state lawsuits claiming the company violated wage and labor laws affecting 190,000 current and former workers, according to the company and court documents filed yesterday." The settlement "resolves a class-action lawsuit filed in May 2005" (Pittsburgh TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 2/1)....Cardinals Owner the BIDWILL family bought downtown Phoenix restaurant Tom's Tavern, which "has built a reputation as a favorite spot for the big names of government and business." The restaurant, which "had been on the brink of closing," will be "run by a new division of the company the Cardinals created to operate the food service at University of Phoenix Stadium" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 2/1)....In N.Y., Juliet Macur details how an anonymous donor who passed away last February bequeathed to the School Sisters of Notre Dame "his estate, worth more than $1 million, including a 100-year-old HONUS WAGNER baseball card." The man "knew his T206 series Honus Wagner card was rare." Produced from 1909-1911, "about 60 are known to exist." The nuns sold the card for $220,000 (N.Y. TIMES, 2/1)....White Sox Dir of Int'l Scouting JERRY KRAUSE on Sunday night at the 65th annual Pitch & Hit Dinner in Rosemont, Ill., received the Nick Kamzic Award "as scout of the year in baseball" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 2/1)....Former MLBer SHAWN GREEN has relisted his home in Irvine, Calif., at $10.9M, down 38% from the original asking price of $17.495M (, 1/31).

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