SBJ/February 28 - March 6, 2005/Forty Under 40

David Ehrlich



David Ehrlich was simply acting the dutiful spouse when he followed his wife Meredith’s suggestion to apply for a job advertised in the Denver Business Journal in 1996.

David Ehrlich
• Age: 39
• Title: Chief operating officer
• Company: Kroenke Sports Enterprises
• Education: B.S., industrial and labor relations, Cornell University, 1987; J.D., Hastings College of the Law, 1991
• Family: Wife, Meredith; son, Mason, 7; daughter, Eva, 5
• Career: Corporate attorney, Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker, 1991-1994; corporate attorney, Sherman & Howard LLC, 1994-1996; assistant general counsel, Ascent Entertainment Group, 1996-1999; general counsel, 1999-2000; vice president, business and legal affairs, Kroenke Sports Enterprises, 2000-2002; executive vice president, 2003-2004; chief operating officer, 2004-present
• Last vacation: La Jolla, Calif.
• Last book read: "A Soldier of the Great War" by Mark Helprin
• Greatest disappointment: Professionally, the brawl between the Indiana Pacers and Detroit Pistons at the Palace of Auburn Hills.
• Fantasy job: Big-wave surfer. I love the ocean. I have a bit more than 10 years to get ready for the 50-and-over circuit.
• Executive most admired: Robert Loup of Loup Development Co. in Denver. Bob is a local real estate developer and a mentor of mine. He has built a very successful company and has selflessly given an incredible amount of his time and energy to the community for over 40 years.
• Business advice: Never forget that you are part of a greater whole.
Ascent Entertainment Group, owner of the NBA Denver Nuggets, NHL Colorado Avalanche and Pepsi Center, wanted to fill the position of assistant general counsel. Ehrlich, a corporate attorney, didn’t think he had even a remote chance of landing the gig.

“I told my wife she was nuts,” he recalled.

Lo and behold, the organization hired Ehrlich, and his string of good luck continued.

“My first day of work the Avs won the Stanley Cup, so things started out pretty well,” Ehrlich said. “After that, however, it was a roller-coaster ride with Ascent.”

The ride included a few aborted attempts to sell the two teams and the arena. It ended four years later in April 2000, when real estate developer and St. Louis Rams co-owner Stan Kroenke acquired the properties from Liberty Media Group. Liberty had bought the entities from Ascent the same year.

Kroenke asked Erhlich, who had been promoted to general counsel in 1999, to stay on with the new company, and Ehrlich was promoted to executive vice president three years later.

“When the CEO [Don Elliman] retired, Stan gave me the opportunity to become chief operating officer,” Ehrlich said.

Since then, the company has bought Major League Soccer’s Colorado Rapids, Arena Football League’s Colorado Crush and the National Lacrosse League’s Colorado Mammoth and built the Universal Lending Pavilion, a 4,200-seat outdoor concert venue on the Pepsi Center grounds.

KSE recently launched Altitude Sports & Entertainment, a Denver-based regional television network, and is planning to build a $64 million soccer-specific stadium for the Rapids.

“There are more balls to keep an eye on and it’s definitely a challenge,” Ehrlich said. “I go to all the staff meetings and there are a lot of people I don’t know. Our company has grown to more than 400 employees from slightly over 200.”

Ehrlich also has supervised the renovation of Pepsi Center, entering its sixth year of operation in 2005. KSE upgraded a concessions area into the Crown Royal Bar, a branded area open to the public.

The freedom that team owner Kroenke provides his executive staff makes it exciting, Ehrlich said.

“It’s something new every day,” he said. “If a deal pencils out and the numbers make sense, it’s not a question of wherewithal. Stan is in a position where he can do these things.”

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