SBD/July 9, 2013/Franchises

Scott O'Neil Impressed By 76ers Ownership; Adam Aron To Head New Investment Fund

O'Neil sees fan engagement as his top priority with the 76ers
With the 76ers "staring at a complete rebuild in its future," the team's new CEO Scott O'Neil is "simply embracing the challenge ahead of him," according to Matt Haughton of CSNPHILLY.com. O'Neil yesterday said of his reasons for joining the 76ers, "The kind of history and tradition obviously that comes with the Sixers. Secondly, it’s a place my family wants to be, which is really helpful. Thirdly, and maybe most important, is that I like these owners, I like the guys. They’re smart, they’re aggressive, they’re young, they want to grow, they’re competitive as hell and they want to win and they’ll put the resources behind it." O'Neil replaces Adam Aron, who was the "de facto face of the franchise with his nightly appearances at Sixers games and big social media presence." While O'Neil "understands the importance of a CEO being accessible to the public, his approach is in stark contrast to his predecessor." O'Neil said, "If you ask people who know me they'll say I'm straight up, straight shooter. I like to engage fans quite a bit. I'll do it in my own way." He will "work in tandem with" President of Basketball Operations & GM Sam Hinkie. O'Neil believes that the two "should form a very good partnership." O'Neil said of his first interaction with Hinkie, "First thing he says when he gets on the phone is, 'Hey, this is about partnership. I want to be a great partner.' I said, 'Hey, nothing I want more than that too.' I think we’ll work really well together." O'Neil said of his responsibilities, "First and foremost, it’s about engaging the fans" (CSNPHILLY.com, 7/8). O'Neil said, "We are going to try to live the values" of Philadelphia. O'Neil: "The city was built on grit, hard work, and toughness and passion. ... It's not going to always be easy, and it's not always going to go right, and it's not always going to go our way." In Philadelphia, Keith Pompey notes O'Neil is a graduate of Villanova, and "this transition comes as no surprise" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 7/9).

NEW VENTURES: 76ers Majority Owner Josh Harris yesterday said, "I always wanted to bring in a world-class team that could lead this organization into the next 10 to 20 years." He added, "You don't always know when people like Scott O'Neil and Sam Hinkie are going to become available, so it's hard to put those people in place. I'm very excited about the team we have." In Philadelphia, Bob Cooney notes the team in O'Neil has "someone who is considered one of the brightest marketing minds in all of sports." Harris said, "When he became available, it was a no-brainer. He's a great team builder." Meanwhile, Aron yesterday "assured that he wasn't fired." He said, "I could have stayed, but I chose not to. I loved my 2 years with the Sixers and I think we all did a great job of re-engaging the team with the fans. I'm sure that will continue" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 7/9). In New Jersey, Eliot Shorr-Parks reported Aron will become Chair & CEO of a "new investment vehicle funded by members of the Sixers ownership group" (NJ.com, 7/8). Aron said that he has "increased his ownership stake in the franchise." He said, "It's a move of my making. I wasn't pushed, shoved or asked to go" (AP, 7/8). Aron said of the new investment fund, "It's good, it's exciting, it's big, it's fun, and it obviously grabbed my attention right away. When Josh told me he wanted to go down this road, I jumped at the opportunity to go with him. It's a decision that I made, and I'm giving up one very good thing for another good thing. We haven't acquired, yet, what I hope we can acquire, but for that to be as fruitful as I hope it can be, we have to be successful in our acquisition efforts. I'm very confident that we'll find attractive investments" (CSNPHILLY.com, 7/8).
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