SBJ/20100308/Forty Under 40
Published March 8, 2010
Bill Rhoda has played a key role in developing 75 percent of the big league and NCAA Division I sports facilities built over the past 15 years.
This year is no exception. Rhoda, as a Dallas-based principal of CSL International, completed market studies for the New York Red Bulls, Orlando Magic, Philadelphia Union, Pittsburgh Penguins and University of Oregon, all opening new buildings in the next year. Rhoda’s research determined the right mix of suite and club-seat revenue to pay construction debt.
Three years ago, Rhoda started CSL Marketing Group, a separate firm that has generated $1 billion in sales by selling premium inventory for Yankee Stadium and New Meadowlands Stadium.
Rhoda says his entry into sports came by accident in 1992. At the time, he worked for the old Coopers & Lybrand in Dallas, an accounting firm that had Ford Motor Co. and New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner’s off-field interests as clients.
In those days, accountants did all the feasibility studies for teams striving to build new venues, and there was plenty of work during the building boom of the 1990s. In 1996, Rhoda and Craig Skiem, his business partner, broke off from Coopers & Lybrand and founded CSL, focusing on sports.
The Magic, Detroit Lions, Arizona Cardinals and New York Mets were among CSL’s first clients. “Our work with the Mets goes back to 1992-93,” Rhoda said. “Believe it or not, it took that long for them to actually get to a new building.”
Compiling an impressive array of relationships in sports means a new job is always just a phone call away, as is the chance to provide a valuable piece of information to a past client. Such was the case in Dallas, where American Airlines Center officials leaned on Rhoda’s extensive database to answer a question about the average term of a concessions deal, said Brad Mayne, the facility’s president.
“We were making a change in food and beverage providers, and our two owners [Mark Cuban and Tom Hicks] both wanted different information,” Mayne said. “We called Bill and got an answer in less than 30 minutes.”