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Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment President & CEO TIM LEIWEKE yesterday announced a restructuring of the company that centralizes the business operations of MLSE’s four franchises -- Maple Leafs, Raptors, MLS Toronto FC and AHL Toronto Marlies. MLSE’s senior management group is made up of COO TOM ANSELMI; CFO IAN CLARKE; Chief Commercial Officer DAVID HOPKINSON, in a new position; Chief Legal & Development Officer PETER MILLER; and Chief Facilities & Live Entertainment Officer BOB HUNTER. All are veteran MLSE execs who will report to Leiweke. Three senior VP jobs have been eliminated but the company did not disclose specifics. Leiweke said, "This leadership team is as strong as I have worked with in all of my years in the sports and entertainment industry. We have tremendous resources here at MLSE and this new company structure is driven by the need to make the best use of those resources while ensuring our fans and customers are always our highest priority." Hopkinson as Chief Commercial Officer oversees sales, marketing and communications for all MLSE properties. SHANNON HOSFORD will serve as VP/Marketing & Communications; JEFF DELINE is VP/Global Partnerships and TOM PISTORE is VP/Ticket Sales & Service. All report to Hopkinson. "This is not a turnaround," Hopkinson said. "Tim did want to restructure to garner efficiencies. You won't be talking to four different sales teams. We smashed those silos" (John Lombardo, Staff Writer).
SETTING THE TONE: Leiweke said that the changes were "needed to improve efficiency, 'better serve' fans and customers, and focus on streamlined communication and interaction with its fans." MLSE said that a "number of areas of the business will be reallocated to improve efficiency, but didn’t provide details about what those changes ... may mean." The CP reported, "A cached version of the MLSE executive web page showed three names have been pulled." Senior VP/Content & Communications CHRIS HEBB, Senior VP/Ticket Sales & Service BETH ROBERTSON and Senior VP/People MARDI WALKER "have all been removed." MLSE "only confirmed the departure of Hebb from the company" (CP, 7/24). The GLOBE & MAIL's Jeff Blair writes, "Leiweke’s tenure has so far been marked by bold pronouncements of intent that have garnered him his share of off-season headlines and criticism." He has "particularly touched sensibilities with a stated intent to give less prominence to representations of the Maple Leafs’ history, reasoning that after 46 years without a Stanley Cup there is an element of historical fatigue." It is a "marked departure from the public face MLSE has shown in the past, and the city’s business community had been anticipating a day such as Wednesday for some time." While these moves "aren’t as sexy as the canning" of former Raptors President BRYAN COLANGELO, they are "seen as another element of Leiweke’s imprimatur" on the $2.25B company (GLOBE & MAIL, 7/25).
Wasserman Media Group Chair & CEO CASEY WASSERMAN "enjoys a particularly close partnership" with former U.S. President BILL CLINTON, calling him "a philanthropic 'mentor,'" according to a cover story feature by Tina Daunt of the HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. Wasserman has "allied his family's Wasserman Foundation with the Clintons in an initiative that sends his company's client athletes into the schools to talk about exercise, health and nutrition." Clinton regards Wasserman as "a perfect example of the new generation of philanthropists -- one with an expansive worldview, a strong understanding of the power of technology as a tool for giving and a bias for action." Wasserman recalls how he "met candidate Clinton, then governor of Arkansas, in 1992 at a fundraiser hosted by his late grandparents," former MCA Chair LEW and EDIE. Wasserman said Clinton was "a rock star even then." Lew Wasserman "established a personal connection between his grandson and Clinton after the chief executive left office." Wasserman said, "Bill called and asked my grandfather to have a fundraiser for him, a luncheon to talk about the foundation he was starting. My grandfather said yes, 'But only one thing: I will be there, but Casey is going to host at his house.' I was 26 at the time, and thankfully my wife -- who wasn't my wife yet -- was around to help with the combined pressure of having the just ex-president and my grandparents there." Wasserman has "donated about" $10M to the L.A. Unified School District, including a $4M commitment to "support more than 9,500 classroom projects through Donorschoose.org" (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 8/2 issue).
Ticket liquidator ScoreBig.com has hired DAVID MARCUS as Senior VP/Partnerships and ERIC WILSON as VP/Technology & Product. Marcus formerly was with Warner Music Group and Ticketmaster. Wilson previously was with Sidebar, GoTV Networks and Jamdat Mobile, the predecessor to EA Mobile (Eric Fisher, Staff Writer)....The Univ. of Iowa named Northern Illinois Univ. Associate AD/Student-Athlete Academic Support Services LIZ TOVAR Associate AD/Student-Athlete Academic Services (Iowa)….UMass-Lowell promoted Dir of NCAA Compliance KRISTI STAKE to Associate AD/Compliance & Student Athlete Services and named Gonzaga Univ. Dir of the Multicultural Education Center TRACY ELLIS-WARD Senior Associate AD/Internal Operations (UMass-Lowell).
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The HOLLYWOOD REPORTER's Eriq Gardner reported ROBIN ANTONICK, the man who "created the first version of the mega-successful 'Madden NFL Football' video game," has scored an $11M win in a California federal court. Antonick in March of '11 "sued video game publisher Electronic Arts for allegedly breaching a development contract he signed in 1986 that entitled him to royalties on derivative versions of the Madden game." A jury "agreed, ordering Electronic Arts to pay him damages." His award is being "estimated with interest factored." With "significantly higher revenues" for games made after '96, Antonick is "hoping for damages that could stretch into the hundreds of millions of dollars" (HOLLYWOODREPORTER.com, 7/24).
A RED FLAG? In Vancouver, Brad Ziemer reports Canucks G ROBERTO LUONGO has "dumped his longtime agent" GILLES LUPIEN, and is "now being represented by the heavyweight duo of" CAA Sports' J.P. BARRY and PAT BRISSON (VANCOUVER SUN, 7/25). Also in Vancouver, Ben Kuzma writes the move will "only fuel speculation that something is seriously amiss with Luongo." Kuzma: "You don't require new representation with nine years and $40.5 million US remaining on an immovable 12-year, $64-million deal that was negotiated by Lupien but became an albatross. You do need new voices if you think some of the best minds in the business can get you someplace else" (Vancouver PROVINCE, 7/25).
DRESSED TO IMPRESS: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Smith & Sidel write under the header, "Should You Dress Like The CEO?" Employees are "wise to take fashion cues from above." Nets Community Relations Dir JEFF SCOTT said that Nets and Barclays Center CEO BRETT YORMARK is "one of his style influences." Scott: "As far as the neatness, I dress like him. I use the word 'like' in the sense that everything is pressed and neat and polished." Yormark describes himself as "a bit of a meticulous dresser, someone who believes in looking right." Smith & Sidel note he "almost always wears a custom suit and tie at the office, and while he doesn't expect employees to dress exactly like him, he says [he] is aware 'they probably follow my lead'" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 7/25).
HONORS & AWARDS: The National Football Foundation announced Cowboys Owner JERRY JONES has been named to the NFF Leadership HOF. Jones will be honored on Oct. 3 during an event at the Omni Dallas Hotel (NFF)....Cynopsis Sports announced Telemundo broadcaster ANDRES CANTOR will be honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the annual Cynopsis Sports Business Summit on Aug. 14 at the Grand Hyatt in N.Y. (Cynopsis)....The Orioles became the first team in the 13-year history of the annual Negro Leagues Baseball Museum Legacy Awards to "receive three individual awards in the same year." Manager BUCK SHOWALTER, P JIM JOHNSON and CF ADAM JONES all were honored in a ceremony yesterday (BALTIMORESUN.com, 7/24)....Major League Baseball Players Trust will receive the '13 Charles E. Horton Humanitarian Award for Global Health at the Physicians For Peace Gala on Nov. 2 (MLBPA)....Former Double-A Southern League Presidents DON MINCHER, BILLY HITCHCOCK and JIMMY BRAGAN will be the initial inductees into the Southern League HOF (AL.com, 7/24)....Boxer BERNARD HOPKINS has been named "goodwill ambassador" of the boxing program at Barclays Center (ESPN.com, 7/24).
NAMES: The Univ. of Michigan “released the details” of basketball coach JOHN BEILEIN’s extension through the ’18-19 season, and there was “no buyout included in the event Beilein leaves.” If Beilein is "fired early," UM “is responsible for a sliding downward scale from $7 million this year, decreasing by a million each season.” The base salary “is $300,000 and the additional compensation is now up to" $2.1M for the reported $2.45M total (FREEP.com, 7/24)….Sony Pictures Classics will “handle the worldwide release” of film director ALEX GIBNEY’s documentary on cyclist LANCE ARMSTRONG, “THE ARMSTRONG LIE.” A release date “has not been set” (VARIETY.com, 7/24)….ESPN anchor and Indiana Univ. alum SAGE STEELE will drive the pace car for Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (INDYSTAR.com, 7/24)….The opening ceremony for golf’s Presidents Cup “will be held on Oct. 2 at the Columbus Commons and will feature” country band RASCAL FLATTS. The ceremony will “include an international food festival, other musical performers and appearances by the U.S. and International team members” (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 7/25)....Heat F SHANE BATTIER bought a new home in Coral Gables for $3.22M (MIAMIHERALD.com, 7/24)….Brewers 3B ARAMIS RAMIREZ “sold his three-bedroom condo unit in a high-rise building” in Chicago for $680,000. Ramirez purchased the unit for $937,500 in ’05 (CHICAGOTRIBUNE.com, 7/25).