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Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment President & CEO TIM LEIWEKE, who "lost an estimated 50 pounds" since leaving AEG in March, recently returned to L.A. for his daughter FRANCESCA’s wedding to Maple Leafs RW TROY BODIE. During his return, Leiweke sat down for an extensive interview with Giselle Fernandez of L.A. MAGAZINE. Leiweke, whom Fernandez called the “powerhouse driving force that helped diversify and build AEG into the sports and entertainment giant it is today,” discussed his departure from the company, his relationship with AEG Chair PHIL ANSCHUTZ and the whether the NFL has a future in L.A., among other topics. Watch the video here.
PARTING WAYS: Leiweke said the attempted sale of AEG made his departure “predictable because of the process we were going through as a company.” Leiweke: “We tried to sell the company (and) I knew the minute we got in to that process, if it didn’t end well that I’d want to move on, and that’s what happened.” However, he said his leaving L.A. is “not a permanent goodbye.”
ROLE PLAYING: Fernandez asked whether Leiweke, in trying to build AEG, “forgot” Anschutz was the boss. Leiweke: “People say that, and to his credit, we never had any problems about our roles. I always understood it was his company and his money. He always understood, in order to grow a company, you needed a CEO that was out front and public. In our business -- we were in the entertainment business, the sports business, the development business -- so we had to be aggressive, and it was a role he never wanted to play.” Leiweke disputed the notion that there was a falling out between him and Anschutz. Leiweke said, “He’s not a harsh words kind of guy. We’ve done this for 20 years. People who think at the end of the day we got into a shouting match and declared nuclear war, that’s not true.” Leiweke was asked whether he and Anschutz stay in contact, and he said they only "see each other at board meetings." Pressed further on how he feels about seeing Anschutz at those meetings, Leiweke said, “I just move on. So I don’t talk about it, don’t think about it.” He said of whether Anschutz was a father figure, “I don’t talk about him. I just move on. I respect what he’s trying to do and have great respect for AEG and have nothing but the best to wish them, to hope they accomplish. ... I hope they can get football.”
UPWARD AND ONWARD: Fernandez cited Anschutz as saying that Leiweke was “trying to push” upward the value of AEG by pursuing an NFL deal. She also cited Anschutz as saying that he “wasn't as into the NFL” as Leiweke. In response, Leiweke said, “I don’t think the final chapter in that story has been written yet. And so I think he understands the value of bringing the NFL back to L.A. I think he has respect for the league and I think he does enjoy that idea. It’s a great idea; and I think he shares that. And I think he is still uniquely positioned to still finish that dream and I hope he does.” Leiweke said of whether he was too aggressive in pushing for a stadium deal: “I don’t think so. I don’t think we would have accomplished everything that we accomplished as a company if you weren't driven and focused and at times maybe making the river run upstream a little bit. So it’s not a style that everyone loved and occasionally we stepped on some toes. For that I’m not apologetic, but I do get that style is not one that everyone loves.” He said of his regrets during his time at AEG: “Not getting the NFL. A lot of people put their necks on the line for that vision. ... More importantly, it’s the right thing for Los Angeles.” He added, “Clearly being in a situation where we didn’t finish everything that you wanted to finish in L.A. humbles you because you feel like you let some people down, and I do feel like I let some people down.”
DEAL BREAKER? It had been reported the NFL was not keen on AEG developing and owning Farmers Field. Leiweke said of the league’s approach: “What I think you always have to remember about the NFL is the last time I checked, they are doing extremely well without L.A. So it had to be the perfect solution for everyone involved. It had to make sense for the league, it had to make sense for the other 31 owners that weren't coming here, it really had to make sense for the one team that was coming here, it obviously had to make sense for the private developer who was taking on risk on the stadium, and it had to make sense for the rest of the campus. It had to fit in with the uniqueness of L.A. Live.”
CULTURAL DEVELOPMENT: Leiweke also discussed reaching out to L.A.’s Hispanic population. He said, “It always amazed me with the Lakers, they did a pretty good job with the Hispanic community. When you saw the championship parades, what you began to understand is they were the favorite team at the time with the Hispanic community. The Dodgers have always done a very good job of that. So we tried to emulate that because we knew where the future of this community was going.”
NORTHERN EXPOSURE: Noting his transition from L.A. to Toronto, Leiweke said the process is “still not easy.” Leiweke: “As it relates to the Maple Leafs, and I got into a little trouble when I said this -- they didn't read the rest of the statement. If they understood what I was talking about, when the Maple Leafs made the playoffs, a third of the entire country watched the games. (Hockey) is not a sport there, it is a culture there and it’s part of their lifestyle and it’s unique.” He added, “I hope the Kings can get to that point here, but I will tell you, it is unique there. So you walk into the tradition and history, on one hand I probably didn’t understand how deep it was, and on the other hand what I understand is we had to change the culture a little bit because we haven’t won a Stanley Cup in Toronto since 1967.” Leiweke: “So we have to stop celebrating our past and start focusing on our opportunity to create the history today. ... I probably didn’t do a very good job of communicating that when I first went there.”
PAST AND FUTURE: Leiweke said his top three accomplishments in L.A. are the Kings winning the ’12 Stanley Cup, getting Staples Center built and “trying to create a heart” for the city. But when asked whether he had any regrets other than not securing an NFL stadium, he said he intends to return to the city. Leiweke: “Well, I think I’ll be back one day. I don’t think I’m done here. My family and I love it here; all of our friends are here. We spent 20 years here; we’re engrained in the community. ... I don’t have any regrets yet because I still have a chance to make sure the report card looks good at the end of the day” (LAMAG.com, 8/28).
The Warriors have added to their front-office staff by hiring KENNY LAUER as VP/Digital & Marketing. The job is a new position for the Warriors as the franchise looks to increase the use of digital operations not just at Oracle Arena but also in the planning of its proposed new arena in downtown S.F. Lauer’s previous position was VP/Digital Experience at the George P. Johnson Experience Marketing Agency. He begins his new job this week. Lauer will report to Warriors CMO CHIP BOWERS and will oversee all of the team’s digital strategies and in-game operations and marketing. “This appointment will accelerate the integration of digital throughout our entire business operation," Warriors President & COO RICK WELTS said in a statement. "The creation of this new role and hiring of Kenny is an important step in our goal of growing into the most 'digitally fit' organization in the sports and entertainment industry." Lauer also has worked for Apple, was a consultant at KPMG and co-founded the Top Niche Partners marketing agency.
Univ. of Delaware Senior Associate AD/Development TIM FORD is in his first year at the helm of the school's fundraising efforts after nearly two decades at Yale. With the fall semester just underway, Ford spoke to THE DAILY about fundraising differences outside of the Ivy League, how to build trust with a potential donor, and which cities by the shore he chooses for his downtime.
First year on campus...
Our big push is trying to get out and meet people. Yale had a strong tradition of alums getting involved and giving back to the university. So across the board at Delaware, that’s something that we’re working on with our Central Development team, the university's leadership, obviously ERIC ZIADY, our new athletic director, to build that foundation; to create that engagement, that culture of giving back and being involved.
First and foremost is putting the state logo on every one of our 21 varsity sports uniforms, and the state logo is now on our football field. We are currently fundraising for the Bob Hannah Stadium project. We’re also renovating our Delaware Field House, where we’re going to put a new synthetic turf to make it an all-purpose facility. We are about a year or two away from a university-wide campaign, and our plan is to have additional facility projects that will be a part of that.
Keys to fundraising...
You always want to match a donor’s interest with a need. You have to be a great listener to the things that are important to them and be able to match that. If you’re trying to force something that isn’t of interest to them, it won’t work out the way you want it to. The other piece of that is the communication and being very genuine in your approach. You have to be very straightforward and develop a genuine relationship with people you want involved.
Best advice I've ever received...
From my dad, DON, who passed away in 2010. He's someone I obviously have the utmost respect for. A couple things he would talk about were being able to treat people with kindness at all times regardless of the level of where they’re at. And then never compromising your integrity.
Best spot for a business lunch...
Main Street in Newark is terrific. It is a great college environment, great college town. There’s terrific restaurants and shops and all that. Taverna, an Italian restaurant, is wonderful. And then I like Catherine Rooney’s Irish Pub.
Best way to unwind...
Time with family. We have 11-year-old twins, KATIE and JACK, nothing better than being a dad and having time away with them. We enjoy Ocean City, New Jersey -- it’s a spot we love to go to. And Singer Island, Florida. When you get away with family there, it’s as relaxing a spot as you could imagine.
On the tube and playing tunes...
I love watching “BOARDWALK EMPIRE” and “HOMELAND,” my wife, KARIE, has gotten me into that in the last year. And I’m a huge BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN fan. There's a lot of E Street Brand on my car radio. I've been to approximately 20 Springsteen concerts. The ones we saw this past year were three-and-a-half hours, and I think the crowd gets more tired than he does.
STEPHEN PERRY is scheduled to announce this afternoon his plans to retire as Pro Football HOF President & Exec Dir after seven years running the museum. The HOF in a press release to be issued later today confirmed it had hired executive search firm Korn/Ferry to find a replacement. Perry will remain in his position until his successor is named, the press release said. Perry plans to spend time with his family and will be an emeritus member of the HOF’s BOD. SportsBusiness Journal first reported the development in May (Daniel Kaplan, Staff Writer).
BOWLED OVER: Twitter named PBA CEO GEOFF REISS Head of Sports Partnerships. He will report to Twitter VP/Media CHLOE SLADDEN. It is "unclear whether Reiss will be based" in S.F. or N.Y., where "many sports leagues and media companies are based" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 9/2 issue). The PBA named Reiss to its BOD, effective next Monday. PBA Commissioner TOM CLARK will assume day-to-day management responsibility for the organization (PBA).
EXECS: Baseball America Exec Editor JIM CALLIS has left the magazine after 23 years to cover prospects and the MLB Draft for MLB.com (Eric Fisher, Staff Writer)....Sources said that the Spurs hired ESPN recruiting analyst DAVE TELEP as an NBA Draft scouting coordinator. Telep will report to Spurs GM R.C. BUFORD (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 9/1)....REI named Coach President & COO JERRY STRITZKE to the same position (REI)....Premier Partnerships named ERIK RASK Corporate Partnerships Assistant (Premier)....Freight forwarding and customs brokerage company Delmar Int'l named former NHLer MATHIEU DARCHE Dir of Business Development & PR. Darche does not "rule out a career in hockey management." He was an "impressive, important voice" on NHLPA Exec Dir DON FEHR's negotiating team during CBA talks, but in hockey "found neither the right boardroom fit nor the challenge he sought." He will "continue as a studio hockey analyst for RDS and expects to be a regular visitor to the Bell Centre, where Delmar, sponsor of TSN Radio 690's Canadiens post-game show, has a loge for business entertainment" (Montreal GAZETTE, 9/2).
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Dolphins Owner STEPHEN ROSS will become the Univ. of Michigan's "biggest benefactor" today with a gift of $200M, with the "single largest in the university's history" set to be split between the university's business school and athletic program. Ross' total giving to the school after this gift will be $313M. The donation will "build out the athletic campus, which will carry his name, to serve some 900 student athletes." Ross said that he "wanted to boost athletes who aren't part of Michigan's marquee sports programs" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 9/4).
HOBBY LOBBY: In Jacksonville, Matt Dixon reported pro sports teams with interests in Florida during Q2 "paid $150,000 in lobbying fees," which is "up from $70,000 during the same period in 2012, and $30,000 five years ago." Q2 is "often the most lucrative for lobbyists because it includes the end of the legislative session." Additionally, lobbyists registered for sports teams and clubs have "increased from 13 to 47 over the past five years." The Blue Jays, who paid an "estimated $60,000 in lobbying fees, are leading the charge." This year’s session had a "higher number of sports-related issues, but the lobbying increase likely represents a new normal rather than a single-quarter spike" (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 9/3).
DAYS OF THUNDER: In Detroit, Frank Witsil noted NASCAR VP/Marketing KIM BRINK is "one of the few women to reach the executive ranks in the family owned sports venture." Brink said of NASCAR trying to reach young fans, "If you don't understand the sport or if you don't follow your favorite drivers, then you get these perceptions it's just cars going around in circles. You don't understand the strategy. You don't understand how much skill it takes to drive a car, because these guys make it look easy" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 9/3).
CHARITY STRIPE: The Alberta-based Foothills Minor Hockey Association yesterday "got a helping hand" from the NHLPA and RBC with the donation of $50,000 to replace equipment after it was destroyed by floodwaters in June. Flames players MATT STAJAN, T.J. GALIARDI, DEREK SMITH and MARK GIORDANO "helped present a cheque" (CP, 9/3)....Tennis player JOHN ISNER plans to donate 20% of his U.S. Open winnings to America's VetDogs, a "national group that has been providing service dogs to veterans across the country" (NEWSDAY, 9/4)....The Yankees prior to their game against the Orioles on Sunday "helped launch the Alzheimer's Association's 'Worldwide Alzheimer's Awareness Month.'" Univ. of Tennessee women's basketball coach emeritus PAT SUMMITT and her son TYLER took part in a pregame ceremony (NBCSPORTS.com, 9/1)....A's Owner LEW WOLFF helped "serve up another free lunch" yesterday at St. Vincent de Paul of Alameda County (MERCURYNEWS.com, 9/3).
NAMES: Former Dodgers Owner FRANK MCCOURT "has made his first major New York purchase" in buying a roughly $167M development on Manhattan's West Side. McCourt's plans "call for a 730,000-square-foot tower on the site, which would include both residential and office space" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 9/3)....The family of Pirates Owner BOB NUTTING yesterday agreed to acquire Pennsylvania-based Hidden Valley Resort from the Buncher Co. and "add it to their holdings," which include the Pirates, Seven Springs Mountain resort and a publishing company (TRIBLIVE.com, 9/3).....Golf HOFer NANCY LOPEZ has an agreement with HarperCollins Publishers for a memoir scheduled to be published in June (AP, 9/3)....Patriots QB TOM BRADY and wife GISELE BUNDCHEN "have broken ground" on a new 7,500-square-foot home near Pine Manor College in Chestnut Hill (BOSTONHERALD.com, 9/2)....Ravens LB ELVIS DUMERVIL recently bought a $2.3M home in Parkland, Fla. (BALTIMORESUN.com, 9/3)....Stars Exec Advisor MIKE MODANO on Sunday married golfer ALLISON MICHELETTI in Dallas. Among those in attendance were former teammates BRENDEN SHANAHAN, MARTY TURCO and BRETT HULL, as well as Mavericks Owner MARK CUBAN (DALLASNEWS.com, 9/1)....Tennis agent JOHN TOBIAS on Monday became a father with the birth of EMMA ROSE TOBIAS (TWITTER.com, 9/3).
IN MEMORY: Former USGA President WILLIAM CAMPBELL "died in his home Friday at the age of 90" (GOLFCHANNEL.com, 8/31)....RAY GREBEY, who represented MLB owners in “the bitter 1981 labor dispute with players who went on strike for nearly two months, causing the cancellation of 713 games,” died on Aug. 28 in Stamford, Conn., at the age of 85. Grebey came to MLB with a “long record as a tough labor negotiator.” Some thought he “pushed too hard and provoked a strike that could have been avoided” (N.Y. TIMES, 9/3)….Agent ROB ADES died Sunday night at the age of 65. Among those he represented were GARY WILLIAMS, JIM BOEHEIM and DIGGER PHELPS. ESPN’s TONY KORNHEISER also was represented by Ades, and he was “one of many who went to see him when he came home for his final few hours" (WASHINGTON POST, 9/3)….EDITH “EADIE” LEVY, the mother of restaurateurs LARRY and MARK LEVY, died Aug. 28 at the age of 92. Edith “helped establish some of the Levy restaurants’ most-loved dishes” (CHICAGOBUSINESS.com, 9/2).