Coast to Coast PBR positions Vegas event as a ‘major’ MLB Turnstile Tracker MASN case returns to the courtroom Ebersol stands by critique of Conan Pac-12 presents new model to ADs In rebranding, the Bucks aren’t stopping here New NYRR chief puts focus on running Bums get their bleachers back RTA gets access to NASCAR data
SBJ/August 16 - 22, 2004/This Weeks IssuePrint All
The recent addition of road races to the Indy Racing League schedule has opened up the possibility for the IRL to expand into Canada and Mexico, according to an IRL official.
Earlier this month, the IRL released its schedule for 2005, and for the first time since its inception in 1996 it included road races — at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., and at Watkins Glen International in upstate New York.
Ken Ungar, vice president of business affairs for the IRL, said adding road races to the schedule makes a move to Canada and Mexico much more likely.
“We will probably have one race in Mexico and one race in Canada,” Ungar said.
When exactly those races will, or could, be added to the schedule remains unclear. Sixteen events are currently scheduled for 2005, with the possibility to add races if “the opportunity presents itself,” Ungar said. He added that the IRL’s goal is eventually to expand to 20 events, with six of those being road races.
“It could be next year, but it is not likely,” he said of the international expansion. “Our hope would be for 2006.”
When IRL racing does head north of the border, Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal, which currently host races for three Champ Car events sponsored by Molson, will have the edge initially.
“Obviously, these cities are attractive to us and we would consider racing there,” Ungar said.
In Mexico, Monterrey and Mexico City, which also currently host Champ Car races, “are the cities of primary interest,” he said.
Tim Cindric, president of Penske Racing, supports the moves to Mexico and Canada, but he said the league needs to keep the schedule under control.
“I think an 18- or 20-race schedule is what the market can bear,” Cindric said.
Besides an annual race in Japan at the Twin Ring Motegi oval track, at which the IRL debuted in 2003, Ungar said Canada and Mexico are as far as the league will venture. The move to Japan was fueled by Honda’s debut as a series engine manufacturer and race promoter last year.
Ungar also downplayed competition with NASCAR as a reason to expand to Mexico. “This is about our series and our growth,” Ungar said.
NASCAR recently announced its Busch Series will feature an event in Mexico City in 2005.
If and when the IRL expands to Canada and Mexico, significant additional revenue will be possible with sponsorship and television network interest. Ungar said “most of our sponsors and teams” have expressed interest in hitting these new markets, despite the certainty for added travel costs.
“We believe these costs will be more than offset from sponsorship and corporate interest in the sport,” he said.
Cindric downplayed the additional travel costs but also said additional sponsorship dollars will depend on the sponsors’ international budgets.
“Most companies have a certain amount of marketing dollars,” he said. “It really just depends on who your sponsor is and where they are based.”
Omnicom’s Millsport will be folded into fellow agency The Marketing Arm, creating one of the largest sports marketing consulting divisions in the industry.
Under the merger, the two Omnicom Diversified Agency Services (DAS) shops will create a “new” consultancy that will be a business unit of The Marketing Arm, yet retain the 29-year-old Millsport name. Previously, the separate, yet wholly owned Omnicom agencies would compete for clients, but now they will have one sports marketing consulting unit under TMA’s broad umbrella. Millsport’s staff of around 40 will bring TMA’s head count to 150.Millman back at startup
Jim Millman founded Millsport almost 30 years ago, when aMillman
Millman envisions PMC as the catalyst for a wide range of activities, such as cross-marketing products or services to disparate employee groups, procurement, media and event buys and corporate foundation initiatives.
Initially, the five-person firm will be housed within Millsport’s Stamford, Conn., offices. Millman has been on the road for the last few months and says he has had a good reception from the Omnicom shops. Since the corporate initiatives he’s hoping to coalesce have normally been spearheaded from within companies, Millman knows he must change ingrained behavior to be successful. However, “sponsorship is probably the ultimate kind of partnership marketing, so I feel well prepared,” he said, “and it’s fun starting something brand-new after all these years.”
— Terry Lefton
While precise figures are not available, SportsBusiness Journal estimates that the new Millsport will rank third in annual revenue among sports marketing consultancies, behind the consulting divisions of Octagon and IMG. Still, the principals said this was less about scale and more about trying to re-establish Millsport as a marketing agency leader.
“We want to elevate our game, deliver more analytics and be able to provide the right mix of services as the marketing communications business shifts from traditional media to more experiential marketing,” said Howard Jacobs, who will be elevated from senior vice president of marketing and business development to president of Millsport in the new setup.
Concurrent changes in the executive ranks see Bob Basche, who has run the Stamford, Conn.-based agency with founder Jim Millman for years, gaining the titles of chief relationship officer for The Marketing Arm and chairman of Millsport. Millman is ending his association with Millsport and launching another Omnicom agency. Chris Smith, who ran consulting for TMA, now becomes chief strategy officer for TMA.
Millsport, founded in 1975, is one of the country’s oldest sports marketing firms. The merger with TMA follows a tumultuous few years that saw it tumble from near the top of the sports agency business, lose most of its signature Pepsi and Visa business, experience senior executive turnover and become increasingly dependent on its Charlotte motorsports division for much of its revenue. More recently, however, it regained some momentum, winning Sunoco’s “Official Fuel of NASCAR” business and a number of Taco Bell assignments.
Basche said the “new” Millsport will not represent sports properties in an attempt to avoid possible conflicts.
Millsport will retain its Stamford and Charlotte offices, but its Dallas office will be combined with TMA’s headquarters there. The expanded TMA co-exists with a roster of Omnicom sports agencies that includes GMR/Radiate, Horrow Sports Ventures, Steiner Sports and Optimum Sports, not to mention a plethora of traditional agencies and promo shops under the Omnicom/DAS umbrella that compete for sports clients.
If there has been a strategy among those Omnicom sports agencies,Clark
“If the experiential agency space is not completely defined now, it is quickly coming,” Clark said. “Now we have great capabilities and scale in consulting, events and promotions that should allow us to break from the pack.”
AOL Sports this fall is taking a place in the increasingly crowded market for fantasy sports services with a full slate of free and pay products for both AOL members and nonmembers.AOL Sports is trying to introduce fantasy beyond “a ‘SportsCenter’ crowd.”
The free offerings include weekly pro and college “Pick ’em” contests, a salary-cap game in which participants bid on players via an online auction and compete in a league against other participants based on player statistics, and a similar league where players are selected via an online draft.
AOL also is introducing a more advanced league-manager service. For $59.99, participants can form a league through a draft and customize the rules.
Outside of Yahoo! Sports, which offers all its games for free, most other leading fantasy providers charge more than $100 for customizable league-manager games.
Carlos Silva, AOL senior vice president of news and sports, said Fantasy Sports@AOL helps complement AOL’s ever-expanding sports content while introducing fantasy products to a mainstream audience that he said more-seasoned fantasy providers do not reach.
“There’s sort of a ‘SportsCenter’ crowd and everybody else that likes sports,” Silva said. “We think it’s the right time for us to get in in a big way.”
AOL’s fantasy offerings will include games for all major professional and college sports. AOL Sports has offered a few free fantasy products, but this marks the first time the site is offering a full slate of products covering all the major sports, as well as pay games.
AOL nonmembers must sign up for free to AOL Instant Messenger to participate.
Dan Bellino has all the credentials to look for in an up-and-coming umpire. He’s fit, hard-working and has a knack for calming tobacco-spitting, expletive-spewing minor league managers.
But unlike most men in blue, Bellino soon will be able to draft a will and possibly even get you out of a tight jam in traffic court.
No doubt, Bellino is a rarity. The 25-year-old, Chicago-area native is a minor league umpire completing his second year in the Class A New York-Penn League.
He’s also a law school graduate. Bellino completed studies at the John Marshall School of Law in Chicago last year and recently took a short break from his umpiring schedule to sit for the Illinois bar exam.
Few of the New York-Penn League managers know of Bellino’s legal credentials. The ones who do sometimes can’t resist getting in a lawyerly jab.
“A few started referring to me on the field as ‘counselor.’ It’s funny and all that, but I say, ‘Do me a favor: Call me Dan,’” Bellino said. “They all want to know what I’m doing here. Wouldn’t I be making so much more money doing other things.
“The answer is always the same: ‘Yeah, probably. But I wouldn’t love it as much.’”
Bellino’s alma mater doesn’t offer a joint degree in law and dusting home plate. Bellino dreamed up the offbeat career combination all by himself.
He was a catcher on his high school baseball team. He wanted to be a part of a sports team at a Division I college program and got his chance at Northern Illinois University as manager of the Huskies’ men’s basketball squad.
Hanging around gyms, Bellino befriended basketball officials and became interested in their jobs. He started officiating local games and then made the leap to baseball, umpiring high school baseball in Illinois.
By his second year of law school, Bellino was enrolled in adjunct professor Mike Kelly’s sports law class and, after school, umpiring college games.
“My final paper I submitted for that class was a research assignment on the major league umpire union and the strike of 1999,” said Bellino. “He absolutely loved the paper and I got an A+. By the way, that was the only A+ that I got throughout law school.”
“He was an easy kid to teach: very good in class discussion, a very independent thinker,” said Kelly. “And, yes, he did get an ‘A.’”
Bellino was working a part-time job as an aide for a federal judge in the Northern District of Illinois when he learned from another law student about the Harry Wendelstedt Umpire School in Florida. Bellino got so charged up about attending that he configured his school schedule to allow him to graduate with his law degree a semester early.
Bellino, who also completed his master’s in business administration while in law school, made his pro umpiring debut in the New York-Penn League on June 18, 2003. He remembers not only the date, the home team (Hudson Valley Renegades) and approximate attendance (5,000), but also the emotion coursing through his body.
“Standing on the field during the national anthem, I started to appreciate what took place for me to get to that point,” Bellino said. “It was just awesome.”
Corporate governance and estate-tax issues tend not to arise during minor league games, but Bellino said his legal training has proved to be an advantage as an umpire.
“It’s given me the confidence to sit back and think through a situation as opposed to just reacting,” Bellino said. “And when it comes to [becoming knowledgeable] about the rules, there’s no question that law school has been a major help. My baseball rule book is, geez, 80 pages. That’s one night’s reading in law school.”
When the New York-Penn League season ends in September, Bellino will return home for a wedding (he’s planning to be married in February) and a couple of offseason jobs. In addition to coaching at the Wendelstedt school, he hopes to pick up legal work for a few months.
For now, however, Bellino’s career ambitions have little to do with law books.
“My goal is to be a major league umpire,” he said. “That’s as short and sweet as I can put it. It’s my top priority, and I’m going to give it at least five more years.”
Sounds like a plan, counselor.
Mark Hyman (email@example.com) is a lawyer and writer.
The Sacramento Kings and San Antonio Spurs are riding the crest of consistent success, with each team also enjoying the enviable position of being the only Big Four league franchise in its market. Conversely, the Toronto Raptors find themselves battling to retool a franchise that has missed the playoffs two straight seasons, pulling attendance down along the way.
SportsBusiness Journal this week examines these three clubs in its continuing look at NBA offseason marketing activities.
San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs played to 97 percent capacity at SBC Center last season. That has team officials this summer working to maintain the club’s fan base as much as increase it.
Early next month, the team plans to roll out its 2004-05 ad campaign, using a “Game Time” theme and highlighting local fan support. The Spurs’ ad agency of record is locally based Creative Civilization.
“We are the only game in town and it shows, so we will be branding around that concept,” said Bruce Guthrie, vice president of marketing for the Spurs. He declined to specify the team’s marketing budget, which is unchanged from last year.
The Spurs had 30 home sellouts last season. This year, the goal is to sell out all 41 regular-season home games, something the team didn’t do even during SBC Center’s debut season two years ago. “It’s a lofty goal, so we are going to be aggressive on game-day sales,” Guthrie said.
With a renewal rate of about 85 percent, nearly all of SBC Center’s 10,000 lower-bowl seats have been sold as full season tickets. As a result, the team is formulating a marketing campaign beyond the “Game Time” effort to help sell the remaining seats.
“We have full- and half-season tickets, and two 10-game plans, so we will be doing a lot to promote the balcony seats,” Guthrie said.
In addition, the Spurs will be featured in mid-February as part of the NBA’s Rivalry Week marketing platform, with a game scheduled against in-state rival Houston. Guthrie said the team will devise a promotional plan around that game. “I don’t know yet if we will sell new sponsorships, but we will definitely bring in an existing sponsor to create something,” he said.
The Raptors are a team in transition, with a new general manager (Pete Babcock), a new adviser to the GM (NBA front-office veteran Wayne Embry) and a new coach (Sam Mitchell). Their job is to lead the turn-around of a franchise that last season won just 33 games.
“Our marketing strategy is simple: We are trying to communicate to our fans what our plans are to rebuild the franchise,” said Tom Anselmi, COO of franchise owner Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment. “We’ve had a few tough years, and people haven’t seen where we have been going.”
Despite the Raptors’ poor 2003-04 on-court play and related 3.5 percent drop in attendance, the team has a base of more than 10,000 season tickets with an 80 percent renewal rate.
“We have slipped a little, but we are still fifth in the league in season-ticket sales,” Anselmi said. Similarly, the team’s overall average of 18,308 fans per game last season ranked eighth in the league, despite the drop from the previous season.
The Raptors’ marketing efforts also will highlight this season being the team’s 10th in the league, with plans including an anniversary logo.
Team officials have secured a deal with Bank of Montreal to be the Raptors’ season sponsor for the second consecutive season. It’s the fifth year the Raptors have had a season sponsorship. Previously, TD Waterhouse filled the sponsorship.
The Kings’ battle this summer with Sacramento city officials over a new arena has, so far, had little fallout with the club’s fans.
The team last season sold out every game at 17,317-seat Arco Arena. Kings officials expect the same for the coming season, despite a 5 percent increase in ticket prices. Only limited single-game tickets are available.
“We expect 17,317 in the building,” said Danette Leighton, senior director of marketing for the Kings.
Like the Raptors, the Kings’ 2004-05 marketing efforts will include celebrating an anniversary: the team’s 20th in Sacramento. Plans call for an anniversary logo and special nights dedicated to the anniversary.
“We will have the powder-blue uniforms from the 1985 season for our Hardwood Classics night,” Leighton said, referring to the NBA promotional effort that puts teams in retro-inspired uniforms to help celebrate franchise history.
In addition to adding two clubs in 2005, MLS is working on creating a reserve league that would add 48 to 72 roster spots.
If the MLS board of governors and the U.S. Soccer Federation, which is helping fund the league, approve the plans and funding for the reserve league, each of the league’s teams will add four to six developmental players, bringing the reserve roster to 10 or 12 players a team. Each now has 18 senior roster spots and six developmental players.
These reserve, or developmental, players would then play other reserve teams in or around the weekend of an MLS match.
Todd Durbin, senior vice president of player personnel for MLS, said Chivas USA and Salt Lake City, the two new teams in 2005, will have the same size reserve teams as the other 10 clubs.
Durbin would not comment on the financial requirement to add the developmental players, but a league source said developmental players make between $800 and $1,000 a month during regular-season months. A typical season is seven months long, April through October, meaning a low-end reserve player would cost $5,600 a year and a senior reserve player would cost $7,000.
That would mean the overall cost of adding 48 to 72 reserve players would be between $268,800 and $504,000 a season.
Durbin said that the league would not increase the rate at which it signs players younger than 18 but that a significant portion of the players would come from the college ranks and local markets.
Durbin said there is a significant number of talented, young players in the United States who need an opportunity to play competitively in an everyday situation.
“This is the natural next step in our evolution,” he said.
NASCAR will unveil a national print and television advertising campaign to promote its new “Chase for the Nextel Cup,” highlighted by 50 million free-standing inserts in national Sunday newspapers on Sept. 12.
Two television ads, which will begin airing next month, also will be part of the campaign, said Roger VanDerSnick, managing director of brand and consumer marketing for NASCAR.NASCAR’s newspaper insert will include a promotion for Domino’s Pizza.
NBC and TNT broadcast the second half of the Nextel Cup season.
NASCAR’s new scoring system, which debuts this year, begins Sept. 19. After years of a traditional scoring system in which yearlong performance determined NASCAR’s champion, the chase pits the top 10 drivers in a 10-race “postseason” for the Nextel Cup championship. The idea is to increase excitement — and TV ratings — during the last two months of the season.
“The big issue is to build awareness,” said Jay Abraham, president and CEO of NASCAR Images, who is in charge of producing the TV spots. “We want to educate consumers on what the chase really is.”
The newspaper insert, which has a tune-in message for the first chase race in New Hampshire, will include promos for Domino’s Pizza and NASCAR-licensed products. A code found on the insert will offer 20 percent off NASCAR-licensed merchandise on nascar.com.
A free-standing insert is usually comprised of 10 pages of coupons or promo offers. The inserts will appear in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Detroit News, Houston Chronicle and Charlotte Observer, among other publications.
The new head of Moorad Sports Management knows his competitors will try to steal his clients now that veteran agent Jeff Moorad has left to become CEO of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
But Greg Genske says he’s ready.Genske
But one rival agent said, “It’s open season,” echoing the sentiments of others in the representation business, none of whom would comment for the record.
“I think other agents have been trying to steal our clients since I joined the firm,” Genske said. “It is just the nature of our business. We are quite confident that our clients are satisfied and will be staying with us.”
Genske was hired last November as executive vice president and was groomed by Moorad to take over the practice. Genske said Moorad, 49, told him that being a sports agent was “a young man’s business.”Colangelo turns attention back to NBA
Jerry Colangelo plans to focus more on his role as chairmanColangelo
With the NBAs collective-bargaining agreement expiring at the end of the 2004-05 season, theres plenty to do, Colangelo said.
I believe [the NBA has] a very solid partnership and we need to protect it and prolong it, regardless of what happens in other sports, Colangelo said, adding that NBA Commissioner David Stern told him, I want you to be involved with us for 100 years.
Stern said of Colangelo, He has been deeply involved in every major decision in the NBA over the last decade collective bargaining, television negotiations and the new league launches, and his agreement on the ultimate sale of the Suns provides for him being involved as both governor for the team and an active voice in the NBA.
It was a surprise to be replaced as head of the Diamondbacks, Colangelo said, And yet, personality differences between myself and one member of the new general partnership was such that it was not a surprise.
Colangelo is set to become chairman of the MLB team after this year, but said he expects that will be in title only.
He did not comment further, other than to say, I want to put it behind me.
Brock Gowdy, managing director of the San Francisco office of Morgan Lewis Bockius and head of the legal team that handled the case for Steinberg and Moorad, said Genske was instrumental in winning the verdict.
“He is tough and forthright,” Gowdy said. “I wouldn’t be misled by his boyish charm.”
Kent Roger, a partner at Morgan Lewis, said third-year associates are rarely given the responsibility Genske had in such a big trial. “He is a bulldog,” Roger said.
Genske said part of his job on the litigation team was to become an expert in the business of athlete representation.
Scott Parker, a Moorad Sports lawyer who has worked on some of the firm’s biggest contracts in both baseball and football, said Genske has become “very capable and very competent” in a short time.
He noted, too, that all the agents and client service managers who worked for Moorad for years are staying with the firm, including Brian Peters and Gene Mato.
Genske said the “Moorad” name also is staying, at least for now.
Among the challenges Genske has to deal with is an MLB Players Association investigation into whether Moorad’s switch from representation to management violated the union’s conflict of interest rules (see related story above).
A major football client has fired the company, complaining about a contract negotiated by Moorad and Parker just before Moorad left the firm. Sean Taylor, the fifth pick in this year’s NFL draft, fired the agency just days before Moorad left and days after signing a deal with the Washington Redskins.
Taylor re-signed with NFL agent Drew Rosenhaus, the agent whom Taylor had fired right after the draft in favor of Moorad and Mato. Rosenhaus said Taylor now thinks his deal is below market value, and that the fact that Moorad negotiated the deal and then quit the agent business is an issue he has taken up with the NFL Players Association.
Genske replied, “We think the deal will stand up over time as a good deal.”
The Taylor deal was one that Moorad had a major role in negotiating, but in the last several months Genske, Parker and other agents in the firm have been taking over much of the contract and other work, which is why Genske thinks the firm will be able to retain player clients. High-profile baseball clients, including Shawn Green, Stewart and Gonzalez, have said they plan to remain with the firm.
Nets sale approved
The NBA board of governors unanimously approved the sale of the New Jersey Nets to Bruce Ratner, despite lingering questions about his ability to raise the $300 million he agreed to pay for the franchise. Sources told the New York Daily News that NBA owners supported Ratner’s bid because it is based on moving the team to Brooklyn. Ratner and his partners are expected to complete the deal this week.
NFL opening acts
The NFL will open the 2004 season with a one-hour pregame special — “NFL Opening Kickoff” — Sept. 9 on ABC. The show from Gillette Stadium and Jacksonville will lead into the Colts-Patriots game at 9 p.m. and will feature musical performances from Mary J. Blige, Destiny’s Child, Elton John, Toby Keith, Lenny Kravitz and Jessica Simpson. Simpson will perform from Jacksonville, site of Super Bowl XXXIX, while the others will perform at Gillette Stadium.
Cable talks resume
Cablevision and Time Warner Cable last week reached an interim agreement over carriage of Cablevision’s MSG, FSNY and Metro channels. The deal at least temporarily ended an 11-day blackout and came just in time for 2.4 million Time Warner Cable homes in the New York area to watch the Astros-Mets game. The companies have been trying to settle on the price Time Warner pays Cablevision for the channels.
Nike buys Starter
Nike has paid $43 million to acquire 100 percent of the equity shares of Official Starter Properties LLC and Official Starter LLC. The entities are the sole owners and licensers of the Starter, Team Starter and Asphalt brands, as well as master licensee of the Shaq and Dunkman brands.
Giants co-owner ill
For these stories and more, visit our sister publication, The Sports Business Daily, at www.sportsbusinessdaily.com.
The PGA Tours Deutsche Bank Championship has broadened its relationship with the Boston Red Sox this year, as the two will jointly host the tournaments new Monday pro-am later this month. PGA Tour marketers say the move represents the first time in memory that a tournament has aligned this closely with a major local sports property.
The Deutsche Bank Championship/Boston Red Sox Charity Pro-Am groups three sponsor representatives with a tour pro and a current or former Red Sox player or high executive. The price is $25,000 for the three sponsor reps. Sales began a month ago for the Aug. 30 event, and 14 of 18 spots were filled at press time. The event is at the tournament course, the TPC of Boston.
Deutsche Bank has bought several of the pro-am sponsorships, and Red Sox sponsors Bank of America, Stop-n-Shop and Dunkin Donuts have bought in. Bank of America is also one of 11 Founders Club sponsors, the level below title sponsor.
The tournaments Thursday pro-am sold out last year, as did all of its marketing inventory.
Our goal is to do as much as we can to connect with the community, and the Sox are such a legendary brand here, said Jay Monahan, tournament championship director for IMG, which manages and markets the event.
Reebok is launching a new Andy Roddick tennis sneaker and apparel line Aug. 24 as part of a multimedia campaign in New York to promote its star tennis endorser around the U.S. Open.A Reebok billboard featuring Andy Roddick is up in New York City’s Herald Square.
The campaign also will include a fleet of mobile billboards in and around Manhattan. In addition, Roddick debuts this month in a print ad in such publications as ESPN The Magazine, Tennis Magazine and the U.S. Open official program.
Reebok declined to comment on the campaign.
Roddick’s agent, Ken Meyerson of SFX Sports, said: “We have been pushing for Reebok to take advantage of Andy Roddick, and I am glad they are responding. It is a fully integrated marketing plan, and it will be super cool.”
In past years, Reebok has highlighted Venus Williams during the U.S. Open. Williams is no longer under contract with Reebok, even though she continues to wear the company’s apparel.
Roddick, last year’s U.S. Open champion, has become the sneaker maker’s top tennis endorser. His contract with the company expires next spring, and the tussle among sneaker companies over his services looks to be intense. He is ranked No. 2 in the world.
The unveiling of his sneaker and apparel line will occur Aug. 24 at the Reebok Club on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. His recent line is called the Fig Jam. Reebok would not say whether the new line keeps that moniker or assumes a new one.
The U.S. Open begins Aug. 30 and is scheduled to end Sept. 12.
Moorad (left) and the man he’ll replace, Jerry Colangelo, at news conference Aug. 6.
While he was an agent, Jeff Moorad tried to help former MLB Commissioner Peter Ueberroth buy the Los Angeles Dodgers, and also worked with a group of investors who wanted to buy the Phoenix Suns and Arizona Diamondbacks, said a source close to Moorad. The key though, the source added, is that Moorad himself wasn’t seeking a financial interest in the teams.
That distinction is important because the MLB Players Association is investigating whether Moorad’s recent switch from MLB player agent to his new position as CEO of the Diamondbacks violated union regulations regarding conflicts of interest.
Specifically, the union wants to know whether Moorad broke a rule prohibiting player agents from “holding or seeking to hold” a financial interest in any MLB club or other business venture that could create a conflict of interest between agent and client.
Moorad did not violate union rules because he acted in an advisory role, the source asserted, adding: “Jeff Moorad had explored over the last year or so, first with Peter Ueberroth, and then with investors out of Northern California, the possibility of establishing his own business much like an investment banking firm, where he would advise people on [the purchase of] professional sports franchises.”
MLBPA chief operating officer Gene Orza wouldn’t talk about the investigation, responding to questions with an e-mail that said, “We have no comment on the Moorad matter at this time.”
Greg Genske, who took over Moorad’s position at Moorad Sports Management, said the firm has been contacted by the MLBPA and will cooperate fully.
“They are interested in the details of Jeff’s resigning from the union and accepting a job on the team side,” Genske said. “The union should ensure there are no conflicts of interest. That is the union’s job.”Moorad Sports
Newport Beach, Calif.
MLB Opening Day portfolio: 30 players earning $111.16 million in 2004 salaries, including Manny Ramirez ($22.5 million), Mo Vaughn ($17.17 million) and Shawn Green ($16.67 million), each of whom is the highest paid player on his respective team
Moorad also had a business relationship with Ken Kendrick, one of the owners of the Diamondbacks. Kendrick said he has known Moorad for at least five years and is a partner with him in a non-baseball, private business, but he wouldn’t give further details.
“I would say the union has every right to investigate Jeff,” Kendrick said. “I think he is a person of real integrity and he has conducted his affairs in that manner.”
The baseball players union usually is mum on investigations of agents, but Orza confirmed the investigation to USA Today last week. Sources said the union was not happy that it got no advance notice of Moorad’s switch to management.
David Cornwell, outside counsel to Moorad Sports Management, said Moorad has severed ties to Loring Ward International, which owns the sports agency, and has no further financial, equity or other interest in the agency or its parent company.
Cornwell added that when Moorad “commenced his discussions with the Diamondbacks, adequate safeguards were put in place to ensure that he would not breach any of his duties to his clients and that no other employee of Moorad Sports would be put in the position that would implicate their duties to the company’s clients.”
Those who know him say Moorad has long wanted to run or own a club.
“I think he always felt at the end of his representation career it would be exciting and fulfilling to run a baseball team. It was something that we talked about a number of times over the years.,” said NFL agent Leigh Steinberg, Moorad’s partner from the mid-1980s until 2003.
The U.S. Tennis Association is squeezing most of its U.S. Open advertising campaign into the last few weeks of August to remind harried New York-area residents that even if they are avoiding the tumult created by the Republican National Convention, they can still attend the Open.The USTA will open up a can of this for the coming U.S. Open. The marketing effort started later than usual this year.
The convention, which lasts four days, begins Aug. 30, as does the two-week Open. The USTA owns and operates the Open, which is in Queens, while the convention is in Manhattan.
“We have a tremendous amount of tickets we sell the week before and the [first] week of the Open, and we don’t want to be in a position of realizing in the middle of that that [the convention] is an issue,” said Michelle Wilson, the USTA’s senior director of marketing.
“People are somewhat changing their behavior the week during the [convention]. Our goal is to communicate to people [that] if you are going to be working from home or avoiding Manhattan, you can go out to the U.S. Open.”
To reach those commuters, the USTA for the first time has advertised in publications ranging from Long Island Newsday to the Greenwich Times.
The added suburban advertising has not meant a reduction in city promotions, Wilson said. Because the USTA has bartered more ad space for tickets and hospitality than last year, the group has been able to increase the value of the ad campaign 32 percent.
The USTA’s ad campaigns are largely funded through barter deals, with a small amount paid in cash.
In the city, ads on subways and wrapped around buses and in city publications such as The New York Times and New York Post will be a constant.
TV advertisements have begun airing and can been seen on CBS and USA Network, the Open broadcasters.
Arnold Worldwide created the ads. Some yet-to-be-finished ads will in some fashion incorporate the theme of the Republican convention, Wilson said.