SBD/December 21, 2011/2011 Year in Review

People Who Made Sports Business Headlines In 2011, Part Two

Many brands, execs and ideas caught our eye in ’11. Here are five that, for better or worse, made an impression this year. See Tuesday's issue for five more newsmakers from this year.

METS OWNER FRED WILPON: Wilpon’s Bernie Madoff hangover continues. Wilpon won a legal victory reducing his potential liability from other Madoff victims, but a promising equity deal with hedge fund manager David Einhorn fell apart. Still strapped for cash, Wilpon at once faces declining attendance at Citi Field amid diminished on-field hopes, he has had to decrease ticket prices for the third straight year, and just saw perhaps his best player sign with rival Miami.

DEWEY & LEBOEUF GLOBAL LITIGATION CHAIR JEFFREY KESSLER: Kessler was a controversial voice of the players in the NFL and NBA labor talks, serving as outside counsel. As a young lawyer, he pioneered the strategy of unions decertifying in order to gain access to antitrust laws as a weapon during labor disputes. That strategy largely played out again with this year’s NFL and NBA talks, and helped push negotiations toward a resolution.

INTERNATIONAL SPORTS MANAGEMENT AGENT CHUBBY CHANDLER: The engaging and outspoken agent had a roller-coaster year that saw him develop perhaps the deepest roster of global stars and become the talk of golf. Through his ties on the European Tour, Chandler has built a roster that includes Darren Clarke, Charl Schwartzel, Louis Oosthuizen and Lee Westwood. But the usually chipper ISM leader was stung when Rory McIlroy dropped him in October.

ACC COMMISSIONER JOHN SWOFFORD: Swofford pulled off the surprise of the year when he lured Syracuse and Pittsburgh, two flagship schools, out of the Big East. At a time when expansion was in season and the ACC might have appeared vulnerable to the SEC, Swofford went on the offensive and secured a 14-school roster that solidified the conference’s future and enabled it to go back to the negotiating table with ESPN.

WARRIORS PRESIDENT & COO RICK WELTS: In May, respected industry veteran Rick Welts grabbed the national spotlight by becoming the first high-profile sports exec to announce he is gay. Later in the year, Welts made more news by leaving his job as president of the Suns and accepting a similar post with the Warriors, saying he wanted to align his personal and professional life. He now looks to create strong business results in a market with great upside.
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