SBD/July 22, 2011/People and Pop Culture

Names In The News

Johnson investing millions in Dan Gilbert's venture capital fund
Basketball HOFer MAGIC JOHNSON Thursday announced that he is joining Cavaliers Owner DAN GILBERT's venture capital fund, Detroit Venture Partners, which is seeking to "remake Detroit as an entrepreneurial hub." Johnson confirmed that his investment "was in the millions of dollars" (FREEP.com, 7/21). Johnson added that his real estate firm, Canyon-Johnson Urban Funds, also will "look into buying buildings" in downtown Detroit (CRAINSDETROIT.com, 7/21).

ON THE OUTS? In London, Paul Kelso reported EPL Chair DAVE RICHARDS' position "could come under pressure following the Parliamentary inquiry into football governance." Richards, who has held the position for 13 years, has "faced criticism over his role" on the board of England's FA and his role the country's failed '18 FIFA World Cup bid (London TELEGRAPH, 7/20)....The Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority BOD Thursday announced that it will "hire a new chief executive -- though current CEO TIM NEWMAN will stay with the organization." The CRVA "has faced criticism over its inflated attendance projections" for the NASCAR HOF. A CRVA memo indicated Newman "will remain as an executive responsible for sales, marketing and business development while the board conducts a national search" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 7/22).

BUILDING A PLAYGROUND: In Connecticut, Jackie Majerus reports ESPN's "senior executives joined President GEORGE BODENHEIMER, rank-and-file ESPN employees, neighborhood residents and volunteers from the Bristol Boys and Girls Club to transform part of Brackett Park" in Bristol, Conn., "into a colorful new playground in less than a day." The playground is "one of 13" ESPN is building this year "in conjunction with the nonprofit organization KaBOOM!" ESPN Senior VP/Communications Counsel & Corporate Outreach ROSA GATTI said the playground is part of the company's "project called Magic of Healthy Living" (BRISTOL PRESS, 7/22).

WE HAVE LIFTOFF: YAHOO SPORTS' Jay Busbee noted when the Atlantis STS-135 space shuttle "landed on Thursday marking the end of America's current spaceflight era, it carried with it a flag from" Texas Motor Speedway. Atlantis pilot DOUG HURLEY is a TMS season ticketholder, and TMS President EDDIE GOSSAGE, "never one to miss a promotional opportunity, helped orchestrate the flag flight." The flag "will be formally presented to the track at a later date" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 7/21).

NAMES: MLB Giants President & COO LARRY BAER recently was spotted dining with broadcasters AL MICHAELS, BOB COSTAS and JOHN MADDEN at North Beach Restaurant in S.F. (S.F. CHRONICLE, 7/22)....WPS magicJack Owner DAN BORISLOW Thursday said that F ABBY WAMBACH "will not only play for, but also coach" the team "for the rest of the season" (PALM BEACH POST, 7/22)....NHL player agent DON MEEHAN was interviewed as part of the National Post's "20 Questions" feature. Meehan's Newport Sports Management "represents more active National Hockey League players (approximately 125) than any other agency" (NATIONAL POST, 7/21)....Teens from "across the country attended and lined up to ask questions" of Yankees SS DEREK JETER Thursday at his '11 Leadership Conference, which started last Saturday and ends Friday at the Univ. of Tampa (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 7/22).

IN MEMORY: Former 49ers pro personnel exec ALLAN WEBB passed away Monday of heart failure at the age of 80 (49ers).
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