SBD/January 17, 2012/People and Pop Culture

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  • Jets Exec VP/Business Operations Matt Higgins Leaving The Team After Eight Years

    Jets Exec VP/Business Operations MATT HIGGINS announced today he was leaving the team in the next few weeks after eight years with the club. He said his next opportunity is in the works but he declined to disclose what it is, or whether it is in sports. Higgins, who previously served as a spokesperson for former N.Y. Mayor RUDY GIULIANI, helped transform the business culture of the Jets into a brash one and elevated the club’s brand alongside the Giants in N.Y. He was also an aggressive user of social media to get out the Jets' message. During his time with the Jets, the team moved into a new practice facility and into MetLife Stadium. “Woody knows I am a restless soul,” Higgins said of Jets Owner WOODY JOHNSON and his own departure. Jets Senior VP/Programming BOB PARENTE, a 35-year veteran of the team, will replace him temporarily. The team will conduct a search for a replacement, and Parente will be considered as part of that, Higgins said.

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  • Group Heading F1 Race In N.Y. Names Tom Cotter President, Dennis Robinson COO

    Cotter lives in N.C., but plans to
    rent an apartment in N.Y.
    The F1 Grand Prix in New York-New Jersey today named longtime motorsports exec TOM COTTER President. He will manage every aspect of the event from logistics and security to public relations and sales. He will report to LEO HINDERY, the race's promoter and director, and initially will oversee a staff of five people. The staff is expected to swell to 20 and there will be a host of contractors hired by the time of the race in June '13. Cotter, who retired after selling his marketing and communications firm, the Cotter Group, to Clear Channel, said, "I feel I left my career with a comma. I decided this was a way to end my career with a period or even an exclamation point." In addition to hiring Cotter, the race group named former New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority CEO & President DENNIS ROBINSON its COO. In a statement, Hindery said, "It is vital that we have a leadership team that is highly respected in motorsports, and in running major sporting events in the region, and that understands and respects our overriding responsibilities to the fans, the people of New York and New Jersey, the teams and the drivers. Tom Cotter and Dennis Robinson are the best possible choices to fill these roles." Cotter, who is a resident of Davidson, N.C., plans to rent an apartment in N.Y. and spend four to five days working out of the race's offices in Manhattan. He plans to attend F1 races in Australia, Monaco, Valencia and Montreal in the coming months. Cotter: "I'm going to go to as many F1 races as I can and try to learn everything about turning a city into a race track for the fastest cars in the world. The challenge here is there's no time for a dry run. It's got to be perfect out of the box." The F1 Grand Prix of America, as the race will be called, has a 10-year agreement to host races beyond '13. The 3.2-mile race will be run on existing streets in Port Imperial, Weehawken and West New York, N.J., along the Hudson River and at the top of the Palisades, with the N.Y. skyline as the backdrop.

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  • New Yorker Looks At Anschutz-Leiweke's Relationship, Future Plans

    Leiweke said that Anschutz constantly tests his premises

    AEG Chair PHIL ANSCHUTZ and President & CEO TIM LEIWEKE "have transformed the sports and entertainment industry," according to an extensive look of Anschutz's business empire in L.A. and the relationship between the two men by Connie Bruck of the NEW YORKER. NBA Commissioner DAVID STERN said, "Their footprint and their areas of expertise don't seem to have boundaries. Tim really didn't become the Tim he is today until he went to work for Phil Anschutz." Stern said Leiweke is "a sort of modern-day P.T. BARNUM." Bruck did not speak to Anschutz while examining his various business endeavors. Leiweke said that Anschutz "constantly argues with him and tests his premises." He said, "Phil would probably say that we disagree more than we agree."

    A FOCUS ON CHINA AND L.A.:  AEG in '08 "committed to building twelve arenas in China," and the company that year "helped develop an arena in Beijing, and in 2009 built one in Shanghai." But AEG recently "withdrew as an equity investor from the Beijing arena; Leiweke said that the company had trouble getting its profits out of China, so it is not making any new equity investments there." The company "operates as a consultant instead." Leiweke said, "I took a beating from our board on China. That was not a favored project of anyone on our board except for me, and so we persevered, but have we learned lessons? Yeah!" Bruck examined the relationship between Anschutz and Majestic Realty Chair & CEO ED ROSKI, who were previously development partners. Roski has his own plan for an NFL stadium at the City of Industry. When AEG announced it's own proposal for an NFL stadium in downtown L.A. in '10, a source said Roski "felt that Tim misled him and became a competitor." While Roski and Anschutz "had started out as roughly equal partners in the [NHL] Kings, the Lakers, Staples Center, and the surrounding thirty acres that would become L.A. Live, Roski's stake has dwindled to less than eight per cent." Leiweke said, "Ed Roski was involved at the beginning of this, but the fact is, Phil had the resources and the vision."

    WHAT LIES AHEAD: Bruck writes in the NFL's view, the L.A. stadium deal that Anschutz was proposing "was doubly flawed: not only was he trying to get a share of a team at a discount but he wanted a landlord-tenant relationship that, in its control of revenues, amounted to a kind of asset-stripping." NFL Exec VP/Business Ventures ERIC GRUBMAN said, "It's unlikely the league or a team would approve this proposal." Grubman said that six weeks earlier he had "given Leiweke an outline of elements that he thought would persuade a team to sign with Anschutz." Grubman: "Since they haven't quit, I have some optimism they're working toward it." He added that Roski also "has not gone far enough to interest a team." Grubman: "Roski's site is attractive on several fronts, but, to get something across the goal line at that site, the deal for a club owner would have to be very good and very low-risk." 

    FUTURE OF LEIWEKE? Leiweke's contract with Anschutz "will end this year," and a source said that Leiweke has a stake "of about four per cent of AEG, including the arenas and sports teams." In the past, Leiweke has "mused publicly about running for office." At a recent neighborhood council meeting he said, "The reality is, I wish I could run for mayor, but I can't afford to." His brother, Lightning CEO & Minority Owner Tod Leiweke, said that people should not "rule out the possibility" that Tim will enter politics (NEW YORKER, 1/16 issue).

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  • Executive Transactions

    USA Water Polo promoted Associate Dir of Competition CLAUDIA DODSON to Dir of Club & Member Programs (USA Water Polo)….Specialty cycling retailer Performance Bicycle named ANDY KENNEMER Senior VP/E-Commerce. Previously, Kennemer was Resource Interactive VP/Social Media & Marketing (Performance Bicycle)….Lifestyle brand OGIO named MARK TALARICO Dir of Int’l Sales. Talarico has had previous stints with Easton Sports and The Sports Authority (OGIO)….Aviator Sports & Events named Women’s Sports Foundation Athlete Marketing & Promotions Consultant JACLYN MUNS Marketing Manager (THE DAILY).

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

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  • Names In The News

    Moreno quietly assists struggling Latinos in Orange County and elsewhere

    ESPN L.A.'s Mark Saxon profiled Angels Owner ARTE MORENO and noted amid the "clamor and posturing over Arizona's immigration law in the past few years, Moreno -- who grew up in Tucson, spends most of his time in Phoenix and has stocked his teams with Latino stars over the years -- didn't touch it." Moreno is "unabashed in his support of Republican politics." Saxon asked, "Is his silence on ethnic issues a calculated stance or simply a preference to separate the professional from the political?" Through his foundation and the Angels' community fund, Moreno has "assisted struggling Latinos in Orange County and elsewhere." But he "does so quietly." USC Sports Business Institute Exec Dir DAVID CARTER, who works with Moreno on the board of advisors for his Sports Business Council, said, "He's a businessman who happens to be Hispanic. He's not a Hispanic businessman" (ESPNLA.com, 1/16).

    RULE BOOK: In Miami, Michelle Kaufman reports the Univ. of Miami athletic department compliance office yesterday e-mailed its "biannual newsletter to boosters, and in it was a headline that read: Change in Occasional Meal Policy." Underneath, it read, "Effective immediately, boosters are no longer permitted to entertain student-athletes with an occasional meal and boosters are prohibited from hosting current University of Miami student-athletes in their homes or other locations." The e-mail "goes on to explain that UM boosters should not provide any type of food, drink, transportation or other extra benefit to student-athletes." Among the items "listed as 'extra benefits' are discounts, credit, transportation (car or ride), tickets, cash and clothing." The new UM rule is "stricter than the NCAA rule" (MIAMI HERALD, 1/17).

    FREQUENT FLYER: USA TODAY's Charisse Jones profiles NFL VP/Player Development TROY VINCENT and notes he travels "at least two days a week" to oversee player initiatives that stress "preparation for life beyond football." Vincent carries "two boarding passes -- one that's printed and another on his mobile device." He also carries a "tiny toothbrush and tube of toothpaste," in addition to "deodorant, a washcloth and soap in his day bag." Vincent "maintains his health regimen on the road." Along with consuming his "energy drink, he tries to spend at least 35 minutes every morning on the hotel's treadmill or stationary bike" (USA TODAY, 1/17).

    HOT WATER: Carnival Chair & CEO MICKY ARISON is overseeing the response to the cruise ship company's "worst accident from Miami, more than 5,000 miles from the site." Arison, who also owns the Heat, has so far "left it to regional managers to face the press since the Costa Concordia cruise ship ran aground off the coast of Italy" Friday. Arison said that he and Carnival COO HOWARD FRANK "are helping coordinate actions with authorities in Italy from Florida" (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 1/17).

    AND THE AWARD GOES TO...
    Late Charlotte Observer sportswriter DAVID POOLE and SMI Chair & CEO BRUTON SMITH were honored in Concord, N.C., for their contributions to motorsports. The North Carolina Motorsports Association gave Poole the Media Recognition Award, while Smith received the Achievement in Motorsports Tribute Award (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 1/17)....The Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation Saturday named Tigers manager JIM LEYLAND recipient of the TOMMY LASORDA Managerial Achievement Award at the foundation's fundraising and awards banquet in L.A. The ceremony, called "In The Spirit Of The Game," is a "celebration of baseball in general and scouting in particular." Former MLB exec AL ROSEN received the Executive Leadership Award (GRAND RAPIDS PRESS, 1/17)

    NAMES: Beginning Saturday, a group of 18 former NHL fighters "who call themselves 'Enforcers for the Forces' will begin raffling 150 signed and framed photo montages" of themselves. Former NHLer TROY CROWDER said that the group "hopes to generate between $10,000 and $50,000 a week." The money will be donated to the Military Families Fund (TORONTO STAR, 1/13)....Former MLBer PEDRO MARTINEZ joined Red Sox prospects at Dana-Farber's Jimmy Fund Clinic in Boston, where they signed autographs and posed for pictures with patients" (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/7)....KERRY EARNHARDT, son of late NASCAR driver DALE EARNHARDT, will join Sportsman Channel's "FAMILY TRADITIONS" as co-host in the second half of '12 (Earnhardt Outdoors)....Capitals RW ALEX OVECHKIN rapped a verse of singer SASHA BELYI’s song “Champion” (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 1/16)….Heat G DWYANE WADE Saturday celebrated his 30th birthday with a family brunch at the W South Beach. On Sunday night, 300 friends celebrated with him at the Setai South Beach, where he received a custom-designed McLaren car as a gift (N.Y. POST, 1/17). 

    IN MEMORY: National Association of Broadcasters Exec Dir DAVID DZIEDZIC, 49, died Saturday of brain cancer. Dziedzic joined the NAB in ’97 and prior to that was VP/Marketing with the MLB Rangers. He also previously served as MLB Dir of Special Events in N.Y. (VARIETY.com, 1/16).

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