SBJ/August 15-21, 2011/Opinion

Timing sank Islanders; Props to Scott, Leiweke

Abe Madkour
Charles Wang had the worst possible timing for a voter referendum on public financing of a new arena for the New York Islanders. The vote was Aug. 1, one day before the debt ceiling deadline, a time when Congress was displaying its worst form. The bid to borrow up to $400 million for a new Isles arena and minor league ballpark was defeated soundly, 56 percent to 43 percent. With Nassau County residents already paying among the highest taxes in the country, this was a tough sell in the first place. It had no chance amid the current political environment.

Rarely does ESPN leave itself open to questions on its business deals, but the Longhorn Network, its joint venture with the University of Texas, hasn’t been the worldwide leader’s best moment. I was struck by well-respected Houston Chronicle writer Richard Justice’s surprising tweet: “Sure there have been worse ideas than The Longhorn Network. Give me a week, and I’ll come up with one.” The effort just doesn’t feel right, and it makes me wonder if ESPN underestimated the divisiveness this would foster.

I continue to be impressed by the job that Larry Scott is doing at the Pac-12. He is easily one of the most progressive and innovative sports executives today. … The Tampa Bay Lightning have sold more than 10,000 full-season tickets for the coming season, doubling last season’s total of 5,000. Yes, the team’s first playoff appearance in four years was crucial, but it’s been just over a year, and CEO Tod Leiweke has completely changed the culture and environment in Tampa. Does anyone doubt that he is possibly the most effective team operator in sports? … Finally, congratulations to longtime NBA PR czar Brian McIntrye, who has spent 33 years in marketing and media relations for the league. Last week, McIntrye was to receive the John W. Bunn Lifetime Achievement Award from the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass. Well deserved honor to a good man.
Abraham D. Madkour can be reached at amadkour@sportsbusinessjournal.com.


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