SBJ/December 16 - 22, 2002/Labor Agents

Ex-AMG hockey agents team up with Beverly Hills Sports Council

Baseball agency Beverly Hills Sports Council has formed a joint venture with hockey agents Allan Walsh and David Schatia in a new enterprise that will represent 35 NHL players, including Marian Gaborik of the Minnesota Wild, the league's top goal scorer as of last Tuesday.

Beverly Hills Sports Council Hockey is the first major foray into another sports practice by the successful baseball boutique, which represents 75 Major League Baseball players, including such stars as Mike Piazza and Curt Schilling.

Gaborik

Walsh and Schatia as well as Beverly Hills Sports Council partners Jeff Borris, Dan Horwits, Dan Lozano and Rick Thurman will all hold equity stakes in the new enterprise, Walsh and Beverly Hills Sports Council spokesman Eric Burak said. Walsh and Burak declined to reveal the split of the equity stakes or any other financial details.

Burak said the company is not in talks about acquiring or forming partnerships with any other sports representation firm. As to whether the company will go into other sports, such as football or basketball, Burak said, "We'll cross that bridge when we come to it."

Walsh and Schatia were part of the sports division of Michael Ovitz's former company Artists Management Group. AMG sold its entertainment assets to The Firm earlier this year, and the sports agents who were part of the company have all left either to form their own companies or to join other sports and entertainment agencies.

Walsh said it was originally his intention to build a multisports representation agency. "I have been out there for nine months talking to a lot of different groups and, ultimately, I feel that Beverly Hills Sports Council is the place to be."

In addition to the 35 players under NHL contract, who also include Ottawa Senators forward Martin Havlat, Nashville Predators forward Scott Hartnell and Montreal Canadiens forward Richard Zednik, Walsh and Schatia represent 25 minor league players and NHL prospects.

Walsh will move into the Beverly Hills offices of the baseball agency, and Schatia will remain in the office in Montreal. The hockey group will continue to maintain offices in western Canada, Russia, the Czech Republic and Slovakia as part of the deal. Walsh will bring all eight of his employees with him.

The baseball agents have no intention of representing hockey players and the hockey agents have no plans to go into baseball representation, both Walsh and Burak stressed.

  JOCKEYS GET FIRST DEAL: Jockeys Management Group, a marketing group representing about 135 thoroughbred and quarterhorse jockeys, has signed the Daily Racing Form as the riders' first sponsor.

Jockeys began wearing the logo of the horse racing industry newspaper on the outer thighs of their pants legs several weeks ago at races run in California. California has passed legislation allowing jockeys to earn extra income by endorsing companies during races.

R.J. Kors, president and CEO of Jockeys Management Group, declined to reveal financial details of the Daily Racing Form deal but said it runs through early 2003. Individual jockeys in the group are paid based on a formula that takes into account tenure, number of races ridden, purse money and stakes victories.

"We are extremely excited about this relationship because it is support from within the industry," Kors said.

Kors said the group is in talks with two companies from outside the horse racing industry about deals in the near future.

Kors said that although it was nice to get a sponsorship from a major horse racing company, the group is targeting mainstream companies beyond the track. "The object of JMG is to bring in new dollars from sponsors who are not here [in horse racing] yet," he said.

Jockeys Management Group also is selling advertising space on the rear of the trousers, the boots, the turtleneck jockeys wear under their shirts or silks and on baseball caps jockeys don for postrace interviews, Kors said.

Historically, jockeys' shirts, or silks as they are called, bear the colors of the horses' owners.

Jockeys Management Group represents 75 jockeys based in California and riders based in other states, including top riders Jerry Bailey, Pat Day and Edgar Prado, who will come into California to ride in major stakes races.

Kors said he hopes other states will pass legislation to allow riders to wear advertising on their clothing during races. He would not say whether the group was talking to other states about such legislation.

Liz Mullen can be reached at lmullen@sportsbusinessjournal.com.

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