Faces and Places Shiffrin heats up sponsor market First Look podcast: Opening Day and more Raveling ‘an information reservoir’ F1 players accelerate growth in U.S. Instagram expands its student program Plugged In: Amy Trask Venue lockers deliver merch, food SunTrust Park brew steeped in the game Teams to get millions in relocation fees
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The Los Angeles Angels named Joshua Thoensen inside sales representative.
Minor League Baseball announced a reorganization of its office, naming Scott Poley senior vice president of legal affairs, Tina Gust vice president of business development, Tim Brunswick vice president of baseball and business operations, Brian Earle vice president of Baseball Internet Rights Co. and business services, Rod Meadows vice president of sales and marketing, Steve Densa executive director of communications, Sandie Hebert director of licensing, Scott Kravchuk director of business development, Noreen Brantner senior assistant director of exhibition services and sponsorships, Kelly Butler senior assistant director of event services, Melissa Agee assistant director of sales and marketing, Lou Brown assistant director of legal affairs, Jill Rusinko general manager of the Durham Athletic Park and MiLB Charities, and Darryl Henderson coordinator of affiliate programs.
The Class AA Texas League's Frisco (Texas) RoughRiders named Jason Brayman ticket operations manager.
The Class A Carolina League's Kinston (N.C.) Indians hired Benjamin Jones as general manager. Jones was general manager for the Wilson (N.C.) Tobs of the collegiate summer league Coastal Plains League. The Cleveland Indians promoted Sara Lehrke to vice president of human resources and chief diversity officer.
Eric Curry stepped down from his position as Minnesota Twins vice president for corporate partnerships.
The San Diego Padres hired Josh Byrnes as senior vice president of baseball operations.
The Class A Midwest League's Beloit (Wis.) Snappers promoted Matt Bosen to assistant general manager and hired Matt Glocke as director of corporate sales and promotions, Will Shelton as head of food and beverage operations and Justin Waters as director of media and community relations and marketing.
The Class A South Atlantic League's Greensboro (N.C.) Grasshoppers hired John Redhead as executive director of business development. Redhead was Triad vice president of client services for Right Management.
Little League International promoted Dawn Hall to sponsorship and marketing manager and Sara Thompson to director of softball development.
Spurs Sports & Entertainment named Jason Dawbin franchise ticket manager. Dawbin was vice president of ticket sales for the American Hockey League's Rockford (Ill.) IceHogs.
The NCAA promoted Bob Williams to vice president of communications.
The Northeast Conference named Kelly Webb director of compliance. Webb was assistant director of compliance for the Atlantic 10 Conference.
California State University-Bakersfield hired Jeffrey Konya as athletic director. Konya was athletic director at Northeastern State University.
The University of Michigan hired Hunter Lochmann as chief marketing officer. Lochmann was vice president of marketing for the New York Knicks.
The Northwestern University School of Continuing Studies promoted Curt Gruber to director of the master of arts in sports administration program.
Pepperdine University promoted Steve Potts to athletic director.
Richmond International Raceway hired Heather Blackwood as a corporate sales executive. Blackwood was a corporate account executive for Memphis Motorsports Park. Finance Raptor Group hired Sean Barror. Barror was senior vice president of transformation sales for Madison Square Garden.
Lisa Lang will step down from her position as vice president of communications and government relations for the San Francisco 49ers at end of January.
The PGA Tour promoted Andy Pazder to executive vice president and chief of operations.
Julie Busha will serve as president of her newly formed company, benchmarketing. Busha was director of marketing at Breaking Limits.
Tickets.com hired Ed Gow as vice president of sales and marketing. Gow was with TicketsWest.
Michael Pine may be the only thing that the sports of triathlon and cage fighting have in common. Last week, Pine left his post as vice president of sponsorship sales with Ultimate Fighting Championship to join the World Triathlon Corp., owner of the Ironman brand, where he will oversee sponsorship, marketing and public relations as the chief sales officer. He answered questions from staff writer Fred Dreier last week about the transition to his new post.
Triathlon and ultimate fighting are two vastly different worlds. What knowledge can you bring to triathlon from your three years with UFC?
Pine: Right now [triathlon] needs more mainstream media exposure to drive its attractiveness and make people say, “I want to do this.” We can do that through storytelling. You watch “The Amazing Race,” and people are drawn to that. If we could do something like that, we could hook more people into the sport. You look at what “The Ultimate Fighter” on Spike did for UFC — it put us on the map.
What could a triathlon television show look like?
Pine: I don’t know, maybe you have six men and six women who go through weekly training challenges, and the end prize is qualifying for [the Ironman World Championships in] Kona [Hawaii]. I think a video game would also be very interesting. I was instrumental with kicking off round one of sponsorship inside the UFC video game. We expected to sell 1.5 million and it sold 4 million. I could also see us get into gyms and training facilities where Ironman athletes or aspiring athletes could train. The sky is the limit right now for the brand.
Triathlon is a sport that has traditionally relied heavily on endemic sponsorship. How will you change your approach to bring in more non-endemic brands?
Pine: The alcohol vertical is an interesting one, especially with people being so health conscious in triathlon. I spoke with the brand manager at Michelob Ultra, and I told him that just because you’re an Ironman doesn’t mean you never have a beer or a vodka tonic. Other verticals are with airlines and hotels because of the travel that triathletes go to for these races. I don’t want to break away from endemic sponsorship. I think there is a way we can live in harmony.
Ironman recently announced it is launching the 5150 series of Olympic-distance (one-mile swim, 25-mile bike, six-mile run) races, which are much shorter than the Ironman-length (2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.2-mile run) events. Isn’t the WTC worried about watering down its successful brand?
Pine: First of all, 5150 is not an Ironman, and no one wants to put any offense toward the people who have put in the time and sweat and tears to finish an Ironman. But we’re not just Ironman, we also have Iron Girl and IronKids and the 70.3 series. Strategically, I’m going to utilize different tactics to bring in different sponsors for those brands. It’s like we did with UFC. We also had World Extreme Cagefighting as the sister league. It was very similar, but we kept the brands separate.
After three years with the UFC, what is your parting advice to the league?
Pine: They need to continue to stay regulated. They also need to land New York City. They were close last year, but it took a bad turn politically. But I think they will eventually get it. Once you have a fight at Madison Square Garden, it will really solidify that sport.