SBD/May 29, 2013/People and Pop Culture

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  • Jeff Knapple Named Van Wagner Sports & Entertainment President & CEO

    Knapple has been with Van Wagner since February '12
    A shakeup at Van Wagner Sports & Entertainment sees CLIFF KAPLAN out and JEFF KNAPPLE in as President & CEO of the N.Y.-based rotational signage, sales rep, venue services, and corporate consulting company. In a written statement, Van Wagner said Kaplan was "leaving as a result of differences in strategic direction." Kaplan, a former NBA Senior VP, joined Van Wagner in '05 when his Premiere Sports & Entertainment was acquired by Van Wagner. He was named Van Wagner Sports President in '07. "I am enormously proud to have helped develop and lead the growth and evolution of the sports business group and work with a tremendous, spirited group of colleagues," Kaplan wrote in an e-mail. "The rapid growth and evolution of the Property Representation and Corporate Consulting businesses as well as the more recent expansion through the birth of the Team & Venue Services division and Van Wagner's recent foray into digital media (via CineSport) have resulted in Van Wagner Sports becoming a truly diversified sports marketing company." Knapple, a 25-year industry veteran, has been at Van Wagner since February '12, heading the Team & Venue Services Group. Knapple will relocate from L.A. to N.Y. for the new job. CHRIS ALLPHIN will now head Team & Venue Services. "This is a profitable company with terrific fundamentals and capabilities and still lots of room for growth including consulting and the digital world," said Knapple.

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  • Kevin O'Connor Leaving Lagardère Unlimited To Become Senior Advisor To Agency Namesake

    Lagardère Unlimited COO/North & South America KEVIN O'CONNOR is leaving that position to become Senior Advisor to ARNAUD LAGARDÉRE, Chair & CEO of Lagardère SCA, the France-based parent company. Lagardère said in a statement, “We are pleased that Kevin has chosen to extend his relationship with us.” O’Connor will transition into his new position in the next couple of months. It was not announced who would replace O’Connor, who was appointed as head of Lagardère Unlimited’s sports representation and marketing business in the Americas in '10. Arnaud Lagardère earlier this month said he intends to grow the company's sports business operations in the U.S., and is looking at both acquisitions and organic growth. O'Connor said in a statement, "After having fulfilled my initial agreement and following several discussions with Arnaud, I expressed a desire to work on a new set of opportunities for Arnaud and the group. The Lagardère Unlimited platform is poised for growth and I am proud of the position in which we have placed the business for the future. The opportunity to continue working with Arnaud and Lagardère Unlimited as Senior Advisor is an exciting one. I eagerly accepted Arnaud's offer and look forward to the challenge.”

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  • Minding My Business With Roush Fenway Racing VP/Strategic Marketing Kevin Thomas

    Thomas enjoys discovering restaurants that are off the beaten path

    Roush Fenway Racing VP/Strategic Marketing KEVIN THOMAS heads up a group created in March to design activation programs for the racing team's sponsors. The peripatetic Thomas grew up in Huntsville, Ala., attended New York Univ., and landed at Roush Fenway after two years working in PR for driver KURT BUSCH. Thomas recently chatted with THE DAILY about CARL EDWARDS' keen eye for marketing opportunities, why NASCAR may have a bad rap when it comes to sponsor support, and his notorious insistence on visiting the best hole-in-the-wall restaurant in every town.

    Misperceptions about NASCAR sponsorship...
    I think there was a perception in the general sports industry several years ago that NASCAR was suffering more than the other sports, but ironically the reason that perception was there was just because of what a significant role the sponsors in the sport play. Because if the isotonic beverage deal for the Charlotte Bobcats goes away, nobody’s going to be writing about it on the front page of the sports section. Whereas if Ricky Bobby’s sponsor goes away, everybody’s going to be talking about it, because that sponsor is so visible and front and center.

    Most of my time at work is spent thinking about...
    Definitely delivering value to our partners. The unique value proposition that we enjoy as a race team is the fans understanding of the role of the sponsors in the sport, and I’m fortunate that I’ve never had to focus on selling a ticket in my life. ... If it’s Best Buy, it may be a certain number of visitors to the website in a time period. Or it may be driving traffic to the stores for the period we’re in the race market. Or if it’s 3M, it may be a more sales-related goal about a certain product that they’re working on, or if it’s Fastenal, it may be significant interactions with key customers. We look to our partners for the answer to that question.

    Athletes double as marketing experts...
    With racing there’s a cost-of-entry barrier, and our drivers learn this at a very, very young age. They start racing go-karts, and mom has to get a second job to pay the bill for the tires on the go-kart. So they develop at a very, very young age an appreciation for what it costs to race. Therefore they develop a very good appreciation early on for the partners that are helping them to do that. Carl was doing a cover shoot for a magazine that should be out now, and they were going to do a fitness piece. Carl called and said, "Hey, New Balance is the official shoe of our pit crews, it’d be great if I was wearing their product for this commercial shoot even though they’re not a partner of mine, they’re a team partner." So absolutely, they’re incredibly involved.

    Best advice I've ever received...
    Reward excellent failure and punish mediocre success. I like it for a couple reasons. I think there’s so much wisdom there. You've got to focus on the process, you can’t focus on the result. We can’t determine outcomes, the only thing we’re in control of is in the energy we put into something, how we approach it strategically, making sure we do everything we can to do our best. From our perspective, if we understand what (the sponsor's) trying to accomplish in the sport, and we present well-executed, well thought out, well-planned opportunities, if it doesn't work, let's figure out what didn't work and improve it for the next time. If it just went kind of okay and we feel like we left a lot on the table and could have done a whole lot better, that's the kind of thing that makes me lose sleep at night.

    My smartphone...
    I’m an Android guy now. I miss the real keyboard of the BlackBerry. I do a whole lot of communication via email, and when you’re hammering away on a touchscreen, it just doesn’t work quite as well as the BlackBerry type of keyboard did. I’ve got the Samsung 3G. I can fit the phone in one pocket and the battery in the other, and halfway through a day at the racetrack when the battery’s dead, I look around at my friends who are using mobile devices without interchangeable batteries and two seconds later I swap the batteries out and I’m good to go for the rest of the day.

    Apps I'm using the most...
    I use Evernote a good bit. In the past, if I had an idea on the plane I would jot it down, try to remember it later, or e-mail it to myself. And Evernote is a good tool to aggregate all those ideas you have in different places and share pictures, things like that. Flipboard I like a lot. It’s a content aggregator as well, so they’re aggregating Twitter, news, Facebook information.

    My favorite tunes and TV...
    I’m a big music guy, I love good music and good films. My wife and I have probably watched the first four seasons of “THE WEST WING” five times. It’s a great way to relax and unwind. The one I’m looking forward to this week is "ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT" coming back. It was one of those that if you didn’t get into it at the time, it was hard to jump into midstream, but it’s a terrifically funny television show. I got the new DAWES, they opened for (BOB) DYLAN in town a few weeks ago. ALT-J, THE NATIONAL. Can’t talk about music without talking about THE BEATLES. THE BAND. So much good old stuff, but a lot of good new stuff too.

    Guilty pleasure...
    My guilty pleasure is local, bad-for-you restaurants in the markets that we go to. I’ve got a reputation. People hate getting in the rental car with me at the airport because they know we’re going to drive an hour-and-a-half to some hole in the wall where we’re going to stand in line for 45 minutes to get a table, and they have to pay cash, and it’s going to be an incredible experience. There’s a couple out of Connecticut who published a book called “ROADFOOD,” the first edition came out about 30 years ago, about every three years they update it. I bought a copy of it, the first copy I got was probably five or six years ago, and at the time there were about 700-something restaurants in it across the country. And since then if there’s a restaurant that’s convenient, I always try to make a swing by and check it out. I’m about halfway through the 700.

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  • Executive Transactions

    XOS Digital promoted Exec VP MATTHEW BAIROS to President & CEO and CHRISTOPHER MCCLEARY to BOD Vice Chair (XOS Digital)....LockerDome named KC Marketing Group Principal KEITH CUTLER Senior VP/Strategic Partnerships (LockerDome)....Sun Life Stadium named JORGE NARANJO Senior Dir of Events & Sales (Sun Life Stadium)....Wizards Dir of Player Personnel PAT CONNELLY and former Lakers Assistant GM RONNIE LESTER "are joining the Suns' scouting staff in unspecified roles" (AZCENTRAL.com, 5/27)....BYU named Utah State Univ. Dir of Basketball Operations CODY FUEGER to the same position (DESERET NEWS, 5/29)....Delta State Univ. named RONALD MAYERS AD and Dir of Aquatics. He has served as interim AD since Oct. 1, 2012 and replaces JEREMY MCCLAIN, who "resigned to accept a position" as Univ. of Southern Mississippi Senior Associate AD/External & Student-Athlete Affairs (WTVA.com, 5/24)....The Univ. of Detroit Mercy named NCAA VP/Membership & Student Affairs ROBERT VOWELS AD, effective July 8 (DETROIT NEWS, 5/29)....The Univ. of Montana Western named football coach RYAN NOURSE AD, effective July 1. Nourse will replace JANELLE HANDLOS, who has been interim AD since May '12 (MONTANA STANDARD, 5/24)....Temple Univ. named Loyola Univ. Chicago Exec Senior Associate AD PAT KRAFT Deputy AD (Temple)....Greensboro College AD and men's lacrosse coach DAN CETRONE has "resigned to pursue an opportunity as" LB3 Lacrosse North Carolina Managing Dir (NEWS-RECORD.com, 5/28).

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

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  • Names In The News

    Yocum was considered to be a leading expert on Tommy John surgery

    In L.A., Mike DiGiovanna reports longtime Angels physician DR. LEWIS YOCUM died yesterday at the age of 65 "after quietly battling liver cancer." Yocum, who was "in his 36th season with the Angels," was "considered, with noted Alabama surgeon DR. JAMES ANDREWS, a leading expert on the elbow reconstruction procedure known as Tommy John surgery." Among Yocum's "recent prominent pitching prospects" were Nationals Ps STEPHEN STRASBURG and JORDAN ZIMMERMANN and Red Sox P JOHN LACKEY. In addition to the 75-100 Tommy John surgeries he "performed each year, Yocum operated on the shoulders, knees and ankles of numerous players" (L.A. TIMES, 5/29). Also in L.A., J.P. Hoornstra writes Yocum's illness was "kept hidden from colleagues." Many Angels players and staff members "didn't learn Yocum had died" until yesterday morning, when the team announced the news to the public (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 5/29). Reds VP/Scouting, Player Development & Int'l Operations BILL BAVASI said, "I would put his significance to sports medicine with anybody. Anybody." USA TODAY's Bob Nightengale notes Yocum "never spent a day on a pitcher's mound, put on a uniform or held a radar gun in the stands, but he has been an integral part to a whole lot of World Series parade routes" (USA TODAY, 5/29).

    SCHOOL TIES: In N.Y., Matt Krupnick examined Padres investor ALFREDO HARP HELU's La Academia de Beisbol Alfredo Harp Helu in Mexico, and the "sparkling school has seven baseball fields, a weight room, trainers, dormitories, even custom-made artwork by local potters." Harp's plan, in part, was to "prepare" boys from Oaxaca for major league careers. It may be "impossible to overstate Harp's enthusiasm for baseball." His stamp museum in Oaxaca "opened a baseball-related exhibition in May, with stamps borrowed" from fellow Padres investor PETER O'MALLEY. The school "sends players primarily" to Harp's two teams in the MiLB Triple-A Mexican League and the Mexican League's academy near Monterrey, but MLB teams "have taken note." Padres Senior VP/Baseball Operations OMAR MINAYA said, "I think what he has built there is the No. 1 academy in Latin America" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/26).

    COURT REPORT
    : Former Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing mechanic SCOTTY MERRYMAN on Friday filed a lawsuit against the team in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana "alleging sexual and religious harassment." Merryman claimed that he was the "victim of sex- and religious-based discrimination, retaliation for complaining about harassment, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress and wrongful discharge" (INDYSTAR.com, 5/28)....Federal prosecutors “plan to seek a prison term of one year and one day” for former Fiesta Bowl President & CEO JOHN JUNKER, who last year “pleaded guilty to a felony conspiracy charge stemming from his role in an illegal campaign-finance scheme” (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 5/26).

    AWARDS & HONORS: Fast Company magazine named NFL VP/Consumer Products & Apparel TRACEY BLECZINSKI and NBA Int'l President HEIDI UEBERROTH as two of their “100 Most Creative People in Business” (FAST COMPANY, 6/'13 issue)....PRESIDENT OBAMA for the second time will serve as the Honorary Chair at the Presidents Cup (GOLFCHANNEL.com, 5/24)....Univ. of Tennessee women’s basketball coach emeritus PAT SUMMITT, Basketball HOFer DAVID ROBINSON and former U.S. women’s basketball player TERESA EDWARDS will be inducted into the FIBA HOF on June 19 (AP, 5/27).

    NAMES: NLL Toronto Rock Owner & President JAMIE DAWICK yesterday was named NLL Exec of the Year (CP, 5/28)....Yankees President RANDY LEVINE reportedly resigned from the ASPCA BOD “after internal disagreements over the direction of the historic humane society” (N.Y. POST, 5/29)….Former MISL Milwaukee Wave Owner JIM LINDENBERG has “bought a majority interest” in Wisconsin-based sports memorabilia company Legends of the Fields (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 5/29)....A number of Orioles players along with manager BUCK SHOWALTER yesterday visited wounded veterans at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (BALTIMORESUN.com, 5/28)….Trail Blazers and Seahawks Owner PAUL ALLEN and his band THE UNDERTHINKERS will “release their debut album Aug. 6.” Allen "co-wrote every song and plays guitar on every track” of the “Everywhere At Once” album (OREGONLIVE.com, 5/25)….Dodgers CF MATT KEMP on Monday “had a good talk” with fan JOSH JONES. Kemp “gave his shirt, hat and shoes" to Jones earlier this month and “made good on his word to fly Jones and his family to a Dodgers game” (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 5/28)….Celtics F JARED SULLINGER, President RICH GOTHAM, TD Garden host WILLIE MAYE, Boston school superintendent CAROL JOHNSON and former players WALTER MCCARTY and DANA BARROS attended an end-of-year celebration for 1,500 middle schoolers at Northeastern Univ.’s Matthews Arena (BOSTON GLOBE, 5/26).

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