SBD/March 4, 2011/People and Pop Culture

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  • Greg Avioli Steps Down As Breeders' Cup President & CEO After Nearly Five Years

    Sources say Avioli will take job overseeing racing/gaming assets of MI Developments

    The Breeders' Cup on Thursday announced that President & CEO GREG AVIOLI has resigned after nearly five years as the organization's top exec to take a new position with a racing and gaming company. The Breeders' Cup has called a board meeting for early next week to discuss interim leadership and the search for a new CEO. The board plans to work closely with the Breeders' Cup management team throughout the transition (Breeders' Cup). Sources said that Avioli resigned to “accept a newly created position overseeing the racing and gaming assets of FRANK STRONACH’s MI Developments” (, 3/3). In Louisville, Jennie Reese notes Avioli “led the Breeders’ Cup through major changes to the organization and its signature event, the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, including its expansion from eight races and one-day to 14 races and two days and the formation of the international Breeders’ Cup Challenge series of official qualifying races” (, 3/4).

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  • What's Up For The Weekend With Nets CEO Brett Yormark

    Yormark and the Nets are staying at the Langham Hotel in London

    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 Nets CEO BRETT YORMARK, who chatted with Staff Writer Theresa Manahan. Yormark is in London for two Raptors-Nets games, the NBA’s first regular-season contests in Europe.

    Q: What are your plans for this weekend?
    Yormark: We’re playing two games, so I have a game Friday night and a game Saturday night. We’re excited about that. They’re two home games that we moved from Jersey to London. We’ve got sponsors and a few of our partners out here, so we’ll be entertaining the next two nights. There are postgame receptions both nights. It will be a late night both nights. Just doing a lot of entertaining and a little bit of sightseeing on Saturday during the day, and some meetings and a game that night.

    Q: What are you really looking forward to?
    Yormark: We need some wins. I’m looking forward to seeing two wins. Also, I’m looking forward to seeing DERON WILLIAMS play.

    Q: Anywhere in particular you will be going sightseeing?
    Yormark: I’m going to go to the London Eye and probably to some good restaurants and some shopping, most of that probably on Saturday. The weather is pretty nice; it’s a little cool but sunny. It will make for a really nice weekend. Then we fly back midday on Sunday.

    Q: What do you like to watch and read on the weekend?
    Yormark: When I’m here in London, I like to read as much of the local newspapers as possible just to kind of acclimate myself to the market. Also, we have done a lot of interviews with the local media, so it’s nice to see how those interviews pan out.

    Q: What workout routines or activities do you like to do on the weekend?
    Yormark: I’ve got an early 7 o’clock breakfast so I’ve got to work out before that, and I’ll get a workout on Saturday morning and then on Sunday. We’re staying at the Langham Hotel -- nice gym here. It’s a good opportunity to get a workout in before my day starts. I’m a runner, all about the run. Every morning.

    Q: The thing that our readers would be most surprised you love to do on your weekends is...
    Yormark: On this particular weekend, my kids aren’t with me, but I always start my day speaking to my kids and I’ll end my day speaking to my kids. That’s the soft side of me I guess. I’m all about my kids.

    Q: Guilty weekend pleasure?
    Yormark: I eat pretty good during the week, so on the weekends I’m always looking for that treat. I have a bit of a sweet tooth so I’m looking for that sweet when I can get it. I’ll be on the search for some place this weekend.

    Q: Have you eaten at any great London restaurants yet?
    Yormark: Yes, I went to the River Café, which is pretty well known here in London. Tonight I’m going to Harry’s Bar, a very famous supper club here in town. Tomorrow night I’m going to a place called Annabel’s, also another signature restaurant here in London.

    Q: What do you usually do to pass time on a plane?
    Yormark: I bring a lot of reading with me. My week-long reading, you know journals. I catch up on all my reading every weekend. That’s what I’ll be doing on the flight home.

    Print | Tags: People and Pop Culture, Basketball, Brooklyn Nets
  • This Week's Newsmakers: New Spring Training Facilities Shine In Debuts

    D'Backs, Rockies open new Spring Training facility to rave reviews

    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: SPRING TRAINING FACILITIES -- Two first-class facilities opened this past week, with the Orioles unveiling a $31M overhaul to Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota and the D'Backs and Rockies opening the brand new Salt River Fields at Talking Stick in Arizona. The Orioles kick off their new 30-year lease at their venue to rave reviews from fans and media and take a major step toward shedding the organization's reputation of having substandard and outdated spring facilities. In Arizona, the combined Rockies and D'Backs facility becomes the first Spring Training stadium to be built on Native American land, and no expense is spared. At an estimated cost of $130-170M, better amenities for players and better access for fans have Salt River Fields already being dubbed the "Versailles of spring training facilities."

    LOSE: METS -- Word leaks out over the weekend of a $25M loan from MLB, putting the team’s travails back in the news and renewing questions about the WILPONS' financial viability. Those close to the Mets owners claim much of the reporting on the family's connections to BERNIE MADOFF has been unfair and too personal. But many others feel ownership has obfuscated the team’s true financial situation, and news they may face additional allegations from a court-appointed trustee in the Madoff case may be cause for further concern. The ongoing controversy is certainly not a welcome distraction with Opening Day only a few weeks away.

    DRAW: QUEBEC CITY -- A major step toward an NHL-ready arena in the city is taken, as Canadian communications company Quebecor agrees to a 25-year deal for naming and management rights to the yet-to-be-built facility. Quebecor's backing, which will provide somewhere between C$110-200M to the project, certainly makes the financing of the proposed C$400M building more realistic. But despite the deal, the city still faces the same obstacles. The long-sought support of the Canadian federal government remains absent, and NHL Commissioner GARY BETTMAN says the league is no closer to a Quebec City return.

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  • Executive Transactions

    USA Weightlifting has hired Throttle Motorsports Marketing Managing Dir JOHN DUFF as CEO. Duff replaces interim CEO LAURIE LOPEZ, who had served in the position since October when RICK ADAMS "left after 15 months on the job to become" Dir of NGB Organizational Development for the USOC. Duff will report to USA Weightlifting Chair ARTIE DRECHSLER (Colorado Springs GAZETTE, 3/4).

    FRANCHISES: The Padres have promoted Dir of Community Affairs and the Padres Foundation SUE BOTOS to VP/Community Relations (Padres)....The Cavaliers have hired BRIAN HERBERT as Dir of Safety & Security for Quicken Loans Arena and Cleveland Clinic Courts, the Cavs' practice facility (Cavaliers)....The Hornets have hired T'Wolves and WNBA Lynx Ticket Sales Associate JOE KRAMER as New Business Development Exec (THE DAILY).

    EXECS: ESPN has promoted producer AMY ROSENFELD to coordinating producer overseeing global soccer coverage. She will report to ESPN Senior VP and Exec Producer for Event Production JED DRAKE. Rosenfeld, who will be based at ESPN HQs, will be responsible for all soccer events on ESPN's linear and digital networks (ESPN)....Comcast Sports Group has promoted MARSHA PEREZ to Research & Marketing Solutions Senior Analyst (THE DAILY)....Learfield Sports has appointed JOSH PHANCO as Associate GM and HANK CHARLES as Account Exec for Fresno State Univ.'s Bulldog Sports Properties (Learfield)....The Univ. of Miami has named Deputy AD TONY HERNANDEZ as acting AD until the school makes a permanent hire to replace KIRBY HOCUTT, who left to become AD at Texas Tech Univ. UM "hopes to complete its national search by the fall" (MIAMI HERALD, 3/4)....The Univ. of New Haven has hired Eastern College Athletic Conference Dir of Division III Governance JENNIFER PACELLI as Associate AD for Marketing & Business Affairs (New Haven)....Federated Sports & Gaming has hired MATT SAVAGE as Tournament Dir for the company's new poker league. Savage will continue to serve as Exec Tour Dir of the World Poker Tour. FSG also has hired KAT KOWAL as VP/League Operations & Programming and JOANNE PRIAM as Dir of Player Relations (FSG)....The PGA Champions Tour Greater Hickory Classic has hired JIM GREEN as Tournament Sales Associate and NATHAN HARRELL and LEIGH ANN RUSSELL as Tournament Assistants (Greater Hickory Classic).

    Do you have an executive announcement? If so, please send to

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  • Names In The News

    In L.A., Bill Shaikin reported Dodgers Owner FRANK MCCOURT and his ex-wife, JAMIE, "renewed settlement discussions on Wednesday, with the Dodgers weeks away from starting a second season under uncertain ownership." The settlement talks "apparently were the first since a judge threw out an agreement that would have granted Frank sole ownership of the Dodgers," and it is "unclear whether additional discussions are scheduled." Frank has said that he "would pursue a second trial to establish the Dodgers as his separate property, on grounds he bought the team using a company formed before marriage" (, 3/3).

    HAD A BALL:'s Barry Bloom reported members of the '01 World Series champion D'Backs and a "quintet of baseball Hall of Famers graced the inaugural B.A.T. Celebrity Ball" Wednesday night at the Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale, Ariz. B.A.T. is the acronym for the Baseball Assistance Team, "which has awarded more than $23 million in grants to those who are down and out in the baseball family since" D'Backs TV analyst JOE GARAGIOLA SR. "founded the organization some 35 years ago." Garagiola was "honored with the non-profit foundation's first Lifetime Achievement Award on Wednesday night" (, 3/3).

    Weinstein Co. buys film rights to book on
    Univ. of Washington rowing team from '30s
    NAMES: The Women's Basketball Coaches Association Thursday announced ESPN VP/Programming & Acquisitions CAROL STIFF as the recipient of the organization's '11 Mel Greenberg Media Award (WBCA)....The National Association of Broadcasters Thursday announced that Casey-Werner Productions will be inducted into the Broadcasting HOF during this year's NAB Show in Las Vegas. The company was co-founded by Red Sox Chair TOM WERNER (NAB)....The Weinstein Company has acquired film rights to “THE BOYS IN THE BOAT,” a nonfiction book proposal to be written by DANIEL JAMES BROWN. The story, “set in the 1930s, centers around” the Univ. of Washington’s rowing team. Sources described the project as a cross between “SEABISCUIT” and “CHARIOTS OF FIRE” (, 3/3)….Lakers sideline reporter JOHN IRELAND has raised nearly $12,800 in pledges as part of the April 23 Walk Now for Autism Event at the Rose Bowl (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 3/4)….Three former NFLers -- ANTHONY MUNOZ, ESPN’s MERRIL HOGE and ESPN and NFL Network analyst MATT MILLEN -- will travel to the Persian Gulf to greet members of the U.S. military (NFL).

    : Rockies General Partner CHARLIE MONFORT “was being treated at a Scottsdale hospital on Wednesday for injuries he received in a fall.” Monfort is expected to be released shortly (, 3/2).

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