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SBJ/Dec. 14, 2009/Special Report
The 50 most influential list, 41-50
Published December 14, 2009
Shortly after a change in ownership in 2008, the Tampa Bay Lightning considered changing its concessions provider. But the new owners reversed after calculating the costs of dropping Delaware North Sportservice. After all, what if they need to call on Delaware North’s chairman for a favor? The decision underscores the sway Jeremy Jacobs holds in sports. It’s not just that he’s the chairman of the NHL’s board of governors and one of Commissioner Gary Bettman’s closest confidants, he’s also at the helm of one of sport’s biggest concessionaires, making him one of the most connected owners in pro sports.
Few sports brands have quickly and efficiently captured the attention of youths the way Under Armour has since Kevin Plank founded the company in 1996. The competition has noticed. Under Armour is a fraction of Nike’s size, but any company that replicates Nike’s long-demonstrated ability to retain its “cool” cachet, while counting sales in the hundreds of millions, makes Nike worry. Rapidly engineering a touchstone sports brand makes Plank and UA powerful; building a brand that troubles even the quietly cool “behind the berm” at Nike makes them influential across the sports and marketing landscapes.
Michael Adams, the immediate past chairman of the NCAA’s executive committee, used his position to establish his voice nationally on a number of issues. While he garnered the most attention for bringing up the prospects of an NCAA-run football playoff, Adams also became one of the most influential college administrators for speaking out on the role of the president in intercollegiate athletics. While he’s been replaced in the chairman’s seat by Ed Ray, the president from Oregon State, Adams evolved into a leading candidate for the president’s job at the NCAA and his voice will continue to be heard as a major influencer in the college space.
Tom Condon and Ben Dogra run the most powerful athlete representation practice
in the most popular sport in
The brother of former NASCAR chairman Bill France Jr. technically owns the majority of the family-owned business, even though he prefers to keep a behind-the-scenes role. Additionally, Jim France holds a non-executive position as chairman of the board for International Speedway Corp., the France-run track business that nicely complements the NASCAR business. All of that leaves Jim in a position to be the ultimate decision-maker in any situation, but he leaves most of those calls to Brian France in NASCAR and Lesa France Kennedy, ISC’s president, on the track side.
Coke is the world’s most recognized brand and the most widely available branded consumer product on the planet. Nonetheless, it must adjust to a changing marketplace that sees full-calorie drinks as less important, while water, low-cal offerings and “new age” beverages rise in prominence. Underscoring the growing significance of off-shore markets is Katie Bayne, an Australian who’s held the North American CMO post since 2007. With a sports portfolio that includes FIFA, the Olympics, the NBA and the NCAA, along with one of the biggest budgets in consumer marketing, Bayne’s charged with reminding consumers that Coke is still it.
President of Athletes & Personalities
President and CEO
While its competitors generate more headlines and tout more star power, Octagon quietly remains a smart player in the business. That can be traced back to the leadership of Rick Dudley and his top executive, Phil de Picciotto. Dudley hires smart people and the result is a smart agency that gets things done. From international assignments around this summer’s World Cup, to the launch of Twackle.com, to a deep and broad global talent roster led by de Picciotto, Octagon is well-respected and consistently in the conversation.
As all four major pro leagues face the possibility of a work stoppage in 2011, Billy Hunter is the only sports union head who has previously led a CBA negotiation. In fact, Hunter led the players through the 1998-99 NBA lockout. As negotiations are ongoing, Hunter has made it clear he wants owners to talk about revenue sharing and not expect players to solve the problems affecting small-market teams.
Michael Weiner takes over what is arguably the strongest union in sports with unprecedented support of the membership, who voted 1,055-4 to elect him earlier this year. But with allegations that owners may have colluded to keep a lid on free agency the past two years, an ongoing investigation into the free agent market, and upcoming collective-bargaining agreement talks, the former MLBPA general counsel faces many challenges.
As head of the country’s biggest regional sports network, it would be easy for Tracy Dolgin to sit back and revel in the enormous viewer numbers that YES Network posts with its Yankees games. But Dolgin’s year was punctuated by two moves that showed he remains a trailblazer in the regional sports field. He was the first to sign a live streaming deal with MLB Advanced Media. And YES Network has moved further than any other RSN in terms of setting up a national network, cutting several small deals that have added yet another revenue stream.