SBJ/May 13-19, 2013/Opinion

Gathering SBD/SBJ memories; there’s a ‘new sheriff’ in sports

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We need to hear from you because we need your stories. For what? Well, for our anniversary issue that will hit this December. A few months ago, we told you that we are planning a special issue devoted to 20 years of sports business — more specifically, a celebration of 20 years of publishing for SportsBusiness Daily and 15 years for SportsBusiness Journal. In a stand-alone issue that you will receive on Monday, Dec. 9, we will chronicle the history of the publications, as well as other major milestones and stories that have had an impact on the sports industry over this time. I’m sure there are some of you out there, the diehards, who recall when SportsBusiness Daily would jam up your fax machine around noon when we first began to publish — our first issue was Sept. 12, 1994. Others remember when the first issue of SportsBusiness Journal came across your desk during the week of April 27, 1998.

As SBD prepares to turn the page on its 20th year of publishing in 2014, and SBJ moves into its 16th year, we are making a request to readers of both publications. We’re asking you to delve deep into your memory bank and share your stories with us — your first recollections of the publications, specific ways that you would use the products or the information and what role the publications have played in your professional lives. As we plan out our special issue, we’ll be looking back through the years at the people who have made key contributions to the products, the publishing process and the role SBD and SBJ have had in helping inform executives in sports. So a call out to both longtime diehards and new subscribers: If you’re interested in sharing your stories, your thoughts and recollections on these publications, let me know. I’ll be working closely with Managing Editor Ross Nethery (rnethery@sportsbusinessjournal.com) and we would love to have you be a part of our special issue.

Steve Stoute (right) says Jay-Z’s Roc Nation Sports is fueling a culture change in the athlete representation business.
Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
> THE WINDS OF CHANGE: While in New York recently, I was able to spend some time with Translation CEO Steve Stoute, who will be the subject of a back-page feature, The Sit-Down. Stoute sits firmly in the cross section of sports, entertainment, music and lifestyle marketing, and his career accomplishments are well-known to many readers. He co-owns Translation with Jay-Z, and I met with Stoute shortly after plans for Jay-Z’s Roc Nation Sports were publicly announced.

Asked what he made of his partner’s plans to begin representing athletes, Stoute was to the point. “Jay has been a lover of sports and has developed a great relationship with the athletes,” he said. “His reputation as a businessman has obviously been well-documented, so I don’t need to get into that. I think that there needs to be a new sheriff. Scott Boras and those guys, the agents of the past, they had a run. They had 10 or 15 years, maybe even longer, unadulterated. David Falk had a long run in basketball and that had to change. Scott Boras had a long run in baseball and that has to change. Those things have to change.”

He sees Roc Nation Sports as fueling part of that culture change. “The athletes change, the athletes’ attitudes change, the needs and their wants change, and the people who are representing them should change along with their needs.”

Stoute firmly believes athletes want to be “bigger than just athletes.”

“They realize the power of an athlete today is much different than the power of an athlete 20 years ago,” he said. “The opportunity with media, multimedia and how people engage with the athlete is much different than before. They find themselves to be more ubiquitous as lifestyle stars and celebrities than they are just typically a jock. They want to be with management and representation that can harness all of the different touch points to help build their profile, build their brand and build their wealth, and Jay-Z uniquely has that to offer them.”

> ON BROADWAY: I recently caught up with Ponturo Management Group’s Tony Ponturo, who, along with his partner Fran Kirmser, is working on bringing the story of the New York Yankees, “Bronx Bombers,” to Broadway next year. Ponturo and Kirmser produced two other sports-related plays on Broadway — “Lombardi” in 2010-11 and “Magic/Bird” in 2012.

With “Bronx Bombers,” Ponturo and Kirmser are actively in script development, “working with actors, so we can hear the words to the script for the first time, as we get the story right,” Ponturo said. A group will go to Colorado in June for theater workshops, and do on-stage performances in New York off Broadway in the fall, before looking to open on Broadway in January/February. With the Super Bowl hitting New York City, Ponturo said, “Once the sports community hits the city, they will have some sports options on Broadway.”

In putting together the script, Ponturo said the idea behind “Bronx Bombers” is “about what makes a great team over a long period of time. There is conflict. There is pulling together. There is performing on the field.” He wrapped it up by adding, “This will span generations of players to tell the story of what goes into making a team.” Ponturo will be working with the Yankees and MLB on promotional plans, and look for promotional material touting the release of “Bronx Bombers” coming later this summer or early fall.

Abraham D. Madkour can be reached at amadkour@sportsbusinessjournal.com.

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