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The Class AA Eastern League’s Akron RubberDucks named Brent DeCoster director of corporate sales and Brian Manning director of food and beverage.
The Class A California League’s Stockton Ports promoted Tim Pollack to director of tickets.
The Texas Rangers promoted Paige Farragut to senior vice president of ticket sales and service.
The NBA named Jeff Ianello vice president of team marketing and business operations. Ianello was senior vice president of sales and service for the Phoenix Suns, Phoenix Mercury and US Airways Center.
The American Athletic Conference hired Chevonne Mansfield as director of communications. Mansfield was assistant director of media relations at the Southeastern Conference.
Northern Virginia Community College named Steve Mrowka athletic director. Mrowka was baseball coach at George Washington University.
HarborCenter named Dominic Verni general manager of its restaurant and sports bar. Verni was general manager of the Hard Rock Café restaurant, retail and live music venue in Niagara Falls.
The Anaheim Ducks named Steve Tambellini part-time professional scout. Tambellini was general manager of the Edmonton Oilers.
The Columbus Blue Jackets promoted Zachary Kramer to staff accountant and named Kevin O’Malley ticket operations manager and Kaely Bistrek accounts payable coordinator.
IMG named Matthew Sganga and David Randell vice presidents of U.S. business development. Sganga was Los Angeles franchise director at Sports Illustrated, and Randell had a senior advertising sales role at Rural Media Group.
Team One named Lauren Mihalov assistant account executive for experiential marketing and Courtney Loomis account coordinator for experiential marketing.
Learfield Sports named Branden Miller to the newly created position of senior director of digital sales, Adam Froidl account executive for the University of Wisconsin, Josh Pell account executive for the University of Missouri and Jon Ihrig account executive for Southern Illinois University.
Advantage International hired Jamie Lee as account director. Lee was an advertising account executive for Publicis.
The Marketing Arm named Roger Payne research analyst. Payne was brand marketing director at Killerspin.
The Aspire Group promoted David Foster and Maggie Gordon to ticket service consultants for Arizona State University and named Bryan Moore ticket service consultant for Arizona State University, Kelvin Long and Jill Davis sales consultants for Middle Tennessee University, Phenicia Taylor and Lauren McGee sales consultants for Honda Battle of the Bands, Shaunice Smith sales consultant for Fordham University, Suki Hayer business to business team leader for London Irish Rugby Club and Alex Milnes sales consultant for London Irish Rugby Club.
U/S Sports Advisors promoted Megan McCarty to manager of program development, Rashelle Stearns to manager of event marketing and Teri Toler to vice president of administration.
Dynasty Sports and Entertainment named Ryan Bertschman senior consultant. Bertschman was executive director of sales and service with the Florida Panthers.
IMG College named Gerri Brommer director of partnership marketing, Suzanne Hamm general manager of the American Athletic Conference, Phil McCarn director of sales for IMG College events, entertainment and development, Darren Meyer general manager of the Atlantic 10 Conference, William Bennett general manager of ticket sales at the University of Arkansas and Corey Schwartz general manager of ticket sales at Boston College, and promoted Liz McMillan to executive director of the Gamecock IMG Sports Network.
Lammi Sports Management promoted Ryan Brunlieb to director of partnership development.
ESPN promoted Stephanie Druley to vice president of production for college networks and head of production for the SEC Network.
Fox International Channels named Simon Thomas executive vice president of global sports and content sales, effective in January. Thomas was the chief executive officer of Team Marketing.
NJ.com named Jordan Raanan and A.J. Perez reporters on the New York Giants beat, Dan Duggan reporter for Rutgers University football and basketball, and Brendan Kuty reporter for the New York Yankees beat.
beIN Sport promoted Antonio Briceno to North America deputy managing director.
Richard Childress Racing named Mike Coughlan technical director.
IHRA Motorsports named John Donaldson senior director of corporate partnerships.
Pacers Sports & Entertainment named Bill Benner vice president of corporate, community, and public relations. Benner was senior associate commissioner of operations and communications for the Horizon League.
USA Basketball named Jay Demings youth program director. Demings was director of operations for the Boston Amateur Basketball Club.
USA Gymnastics named Anne Heffernon women’s Junior Olympic program director. Heffernon is owner and coach at Kansas Gymnastics and Dance Center.
The IOC named Kit McConnell sports director. McConnell was head of Rugby World Cup.
Sporting Goods and Apparel
Fanatics Inc. named Raphael Peck president of Fanatics Apparel. Peck was chief merchandising officer at Oakley.
Nike promoted Scott LeClair to vice president of action sports and Gavin Lindberg to vice president and chief financial officer for the Jordan Brand and named Gregory Fowler director of investigations. Fowler was special agent in charge for the FBI Portland field office.
Britton Gallagher named Nick Robinson client associate in the professional athletes and entertainers insurance division.
MainGate named Terry Angstadt chief strategy and sales officer, effective Jan. 6. Angstadt was president of Green Savoree Racing Promotions.
The WWE named Matthew Singerman to the newly created position of executive vice president of programming and Stefan Kastenmüller to the newly created position of general manager for Germany, Switzerland and Austria.
Huddle promoted Evan Perzel to assistant director of affiliates and hired Tom Loizzo as affiliate territory manager.
Awards and Boards
David Evans was named to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Evans is a partner at Murphy & King.
The L.A. Sports Council named Jack Caress to its board of directors. Caress is president and chief executive officer of Pacific Sports.
To have your personnel announcements included in the People section, please send information and photos to Brandon McClung at 120 W. Morehead St., Suite 310, Charlotte, NC 28202, or email them to email@example.com. Electronic photos must be a jpg or tiff file for Macintosh, 2.25 inches wide at 300 dpi. Color only, please. News items may also be sent via fax to (704) 973-1401. If you have questions, call (704) 973-1425.
The motorsports industry gathered at the 14th annual
event in Las Vegas to discuss current events and future
plans on and off the track.
Photos by Kristina Paumen / Limelight Photography
Sprint Cup champ Jimmie Johnson: “The brand is important, but the brand to me that’s most important is hoisting those trophies.”
ISC Chairperson and CEO Lesa France Kennedy on the Daytona Rising project: “I liken it to a house. Sometimes you continue to renovate and it’s all working good. But at some point it’s time to tear down and start anew.”
NBC Sports’ Sam Flood engaged in a rapid-fire Q&A session at the forum.
Eastman & Beaudine CEO and author Bob Beaudine gave a featured presentation on driving sales and reaching revenue goals.
Telemundo Chief Operating Officer Jackie Hernandez was a featured speaker on the issue of marketing to Hispanic audiences.
Hulman & Co. CEO (and former ATP CEO) Mark Miles: “I wouldn’t trade the personalities in the IndyCar paddock for the tennis world, period. These are very attractive athletes.”
NASCAR K&N Pro Series East driver Dylan Kwasniewski said he had “a lot of creative control” in the AOL documentary series “Flat Out.”
Rob Keith of Richard Petty Motorsports and Kirk Gillette of Hewlett-Packard Co.
Leslie Withoft and Jared Melzer of Farmers Insurance, Marc Stein of Turner Sports Digital and Ryan Schumacher of Sprint
Ben Reiling of Coca-Cola North America Group and Rick Perko of Immersion Media
Kristen Wentzell and Glen Cromwell of the NHRA and Matt Petersen of IEG
Please submit photos for review of industry conferences, parties, product launches and openings showcasing the people and personalities at the event. Include the event date, location, names/titles of those featured along with credit information. The photo specifications are as follows: 300dpi, tiff, jpeg or eps color images. Submit digital photos for review at: firstname.lastname@example.org or send color prints to: Faces & Places, c/o Street & Smith’s SportsBusiness Journal, 120 W. Morehead St., Suite 310, Charlotte, NC 28202.
At the Arizona Diamondbacks’ holiday party last December, the wife of the team’s chief financial officer was seen chasing after cocktail napkins she was convinced were $100 bills.
OK, we should explain. She was under hypnosis.
The Arizona Diamondbacks, who brought in a hypnotist to entertain last year, will offer karaoke with a live band at this year’s party.
Photo:COURTESY OF ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS
“One of the funniest things I’ve ever seen,” said Diamondbacks President and CEO Derrick Hall, still laughing as he recounted the tale a year later.
Kalmon asked for volunteers and got the willing participants to come up on stage. Several turned out to be prime subjects, falling into a deep hypnosis. A public relations staffer, known for being a bit shy around the office, was hypnotized into thinking he was the lead singer of Van Halen. But the real show-stopper was when the hypnotist focused on the wife of team CFO Tom Harris and informed her that every cocktail napkin at the party was a $100 bill.
Mrs. Harris collected every napkin that she could find in the ballroom of the party site, the Westin Kierland Resort and Spa in Scottsdale. No one there will ever forget it.
“She was an incredible sport about it,” Hall said. “That’s the spirit of our holiday parties: Everyone works so hard during the baseball season, it’s nice to take a day to close the office early, unwind, have a few laughs, and celebrate the holidays with our loved ones.”
The Diamondbacks, of course, aren’t alone. Teams, leagues and companies across sports mark the holidays with events for their employees, but the Diamondbacks go as all-out as any group. Staffers — about 200, with each one also bringing a spouse or guest — have a chance to win prizes through raffles and casino games. Last year, two ticket sales staffers won a trip to the MLB All-Star Game in New York. This year, the grand prize is a trip to see the Diamondbacks when they open the 2014 season in late March with two games against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Sydney, Australia. Other past prizes have been TVs and iPods.
Although December is in the offseason for baseball, Diamondbacks players are invited to join the staff for the party as well. First baseman Paul Goldschmidt attended last year with his wife. At that party, a takeoff of the TV show “The Office” (with Hall playing the Steve Carell role as he spoke with members of the staff) was shown on large video screens to big laughs. At the conclusion of each party, which starts in the early evening and can last past 2 a.m., complimentary taxi service is provided. And every employee goes home with a gift, usually a high-end piece of apparel like a team jersey.
“The holiday party is an important part of a culture of inclusion and involvement that we instill in the office,” Hall said. “It’s a spectacular night.”
A peek at sports properties’ approaches to holiday parties reveals many variations. A common refrain from team and league offices is that their get-togethers are merely a merry round of drinks after-hours in the office or at local pub, with maybe a meal or a Secret Santa included. “Definitely nothing worth writing about,” was the refrain of executives at a few NBA teams (though to be clear, no one was complaining).
Some team and league officials politely declined to divulge details of their gatherings, saying their preference is to keep the spirit of their events private. One NHL executive said it’s a policy of his team not to post photos or videos of the event on the team website.
There’s an additional consideration for NFL clubs. For them, the end-of-the-year holidays fall in the final stretch of their teams’ seasons, a time too busy and intense for many clubs to schedule a day of franchise-wide celebrating. “It’s just a quick toast and then back to work,” emailed one NFL team public relations official. “The offseason is long enough to have social events.”
NASCAR headquarters in Charlotte does not hold a major staff event for a different reason: The holiday season is the only quiet time in the calendar year for employees to take an extended vacation.
On the other hand, the staffs of Dan Gilbert’s sports properties celebrate as one big family. More than 1,000 employees of the Cleveland Cavaliers, the AHL Lake Erie Monsters, the NBA D-League’s Canton Charge and Quicken Loans Arena gather at the arena or at a local establishment like the House of Blues for a party that starts with happy hour and continues into the night.
“Dan makes a point of being inclusive,” said Tad Carper, Cavaliers senior vice president of communications. “Many of the Aramark [concessionaire] staff and team and arena part-timers are there, too, and everyone goes home with gifts — everything from apparel to gift cards and honey-baked hams. Dan participates, as do [vice chairmen] Jeff Cohen and Nate Forbes, and we all love being together as one big group.”
For GMR Marketing, multiple locations means multiple parties, like this one in Charlotte.
Photo:COURTESY OF GMR
“It’s quite an undertaking to have all those events, but we ask a lot of our folks — a lot of time and a lot of travel away from family,” said Tyson Webber, GMR’s executive vice president of client management. “It’s an opportunity to not only thank our associates for their dedication, but also their loved ones for their sacrifices and understanding. Everyone deserves a memorable night.”
As you might expect, sports marketing executives can be particularly creative with their holiday events. Staffers from JHE Production Group, for example, sang, played guitars and banged drums on stage with Dee Snider of Twister Sister at the Fillmore in Charlotte for their company’s holiday bash last year.
JHE Production Group’s party has awards for employees and a surprise musical guest. Last year Dee Snider belted out tunes while President Jay Howard played the drums.
Photos:COURTESY OF JHE
Howard, a drummer in his spare time, produces an awards show as part of the agency’s party — which welcomes his 100-person staff and their families along with some top vendors. Awards are given to executives in categories such as the Goose-bump Moment of the Year and the Best Save. According to Howard, the latter goes to “the person who saved our bacon when it looked like something was going horribly wrong.”
Each year, the evening culminates with the
“Then we scored on the cute-meter,” Howard said. “Our receptionist has a 12-year-old daughter who can really sing, and Dee had a recent holiday album out — so we put them together for a duet on ‘I’ll Be Home for Christmas.’ It was beautiful.”
This year’s party, called The 6th Annual Dog & Pony Show, is Dec. 19, back at the Fillmore. As usual, the guest artist will be a surprise to everybody at JHE, except for Howard.
For NHL clubs, creating an idyllic “Winter Wonderland” setting for a holiday party can be as easy as looking at the teams’ frozen playing surfaces. The Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Islanders are among the clubs that set up a Christmas tree at center ice, pump festive songs through the arena speakers, and host an organization-wide skating session for staff, players, coaches and their families.
The Chicago Blackhawks’ party has a family flavor — Marián Hossa and family pose with Santa — and brief speeches from team execs like John McDonough (below).
Photos:COURTESY OF CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS
The event does not end with the skating. There’s a buffet dinner afterward, with an appearance by Santa. Everyone goes home with a gift card acquired by the team from top sponsors like Dick’s Sporting Goods and American Eagle.
The Penguins host a separate holiday party for team sponsors and their families, as well — a dinner at the arena for more than 200 people. All children go home with presents.
“Our corporate partners are an invaluable part of our success as a franchise,” Peart said. “They deserve a great night on us around the holidays.”
In addition to a skate at TD Garden, the Boston Bruins hold a lunch for the 220 full-time employees of the team, the arena and concessionaire Sportservice — all companies under the Delaware North umbrella. There is a cook-off between Garden chefs, with employees voting on their favorite items. The lunch is over by midafternoon, and everyone is free from work for the rest of the day — a built-in opportunity for staff to finish their holiday shopping.
Similarly, in Chicago, after the team’s players, staff and their families enjoy a skate on the United Center ice, Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz hosts a luncheon in one of the arena’s banquet rooms. There is a station for family photos, and Wirtz and team President and CEO John McDonough give brief speeches to the group.
Los Angeles Kings front-office members will be treated this year to an afternoon staff party at a restaurant in Manhattan Beach, Calif.
“Every season is such a grind, so it’s important that we take time to get away and just enjoy our colleagues and celebrate the holiday season as a work family,” said Luc Robitaille, Kings president of business operations.
This year, besides a skate with their families at Toyota Sports Center, the team’s training facility, Kings players are getting an added treat for the holidays: The players and their wives are attending a private screening of “Anchorman 2,” which will be preceded by a recorded message to the Kings from Will Ferrell as Ron Burgundy.
Despite the differences in their party plans and approaches, there is one thread that runs through most sports organizations at holiday time: a charitable consideration.
GMR offers Casual for a Cause, where employees can pay $5 per day to wear casual clothing to work. At the end of the month, all of the money raised is donated to a local charity. “The donations are really stepped up around the holidays,” Webber said. “We’ve raised tens of thousands of dollars.”
Like JHE, the Oklahoma City Thunder incorporates an awards show into its staff party. One week before the event, employees complete a survey and nominate their peers in categories such as MVP, most improved and most digitally capable. The winners receive prizes at the party. But there also is a charitable element to the proceedings. Starting in late November, employees decorate their work spaces in Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas and New Year’s themes. A panel of Thunder players, basketball operations staffers and executives judge the artwork, and the top three winners get a $1,000 donation made to the charity of their choice.
The New York Mets changed last year’s party to a cleanup effort after Superstorm Sandy.
Photos by:MARC S. LEVINE / NEW YORK METS
After Superstorm Sandy damaged the East Coast last year, front-office executives of the New York Mets decided to change their holiday plans. They dedicated the day usually reserved for their staff holiday party to assisting with the clean-up around a section of the Rockaways, a region in New York particularly devastated by the storm. The entire staff traveled in buses arranged by the team and spent an entire December day helping out.
“After the unimaginable happened with Sandy, senior management thought the best way to be together for the holidays was to volunteer in the community,” said David Newman, senior vice president of marketing and communications for the Mets.
The effort, he added, speaks to something beyond the office, particularly at this time of year: “It’s the true spirit of the holidays.”
What is your company planning as a holiday event this year? If you would like to share your story, please email Christopher Botta at email@example.com.
Luukko sees surprise departure from Comcast-Spectacor as chance to ‘make one more run at something new’
Peter Luukko’s resignation last week as president and CEO of Comcast-Spectacor surprised many in the industry, but Luukko said it was a mutual decision made with Comcast-Spectacor Chairman Ed Snider and that they parted on good terms.
“I’m actually very happy,” said Luukko, who was also president of the Philadelphia Flyers. “It’s a good opportunity for me to cash out of some of the businesses I started along with others.”
Luukko, whose relationship with the 80-year-old Snider dates to 1985, was widely considered to be in line to succeed him. Snider said the decision “came as a surprise.”
Luukko gave no details on what prompted his abrupt departure.
Comcast-Spectacor appointed two finance officials from Comcast Corp., Snider’s business partner in Comcast-Spectacor, to help lead the firm in Luukko’s absence. Dave Scott, a retired Comcast Cable chief financial officer, is now acting president of the company. Gary Rostick is now Comcast-Spectacor chief financial officer, moving over from Comcast Business Services, where he held the same position.
Bringing in executives from outside Comcast-Spectacor to head the firm raised questions among some observers. “It’s so unusual because Ed would never appoint a finance guy from outside the Spectacor family to lead the company,” said one source familiar with company. It also comes about a month after the departure of former Comcast-Spectacor Chief Financial Officer Russ Chandler.
Luukko said there was no connection between his resignation and Chandler’s exit.
Asked why Chandler left Comcast-Spectacor, Snider said, “It’s not something I want to talk about.”
Luukko’s resignation comes at an awkward time for Global Spectrum, considering that the Minnesota Vikings, breaking ground last week on their $975 million stadium project, plan to issue a request for proposal next month to manage the facility. Global Spectrum, along with AEG and SMG, its two main competitors in that space, is expected to compete for the assignment.
Luukko said there are opportunities elsewhere to make his mark. At age 54, he said, “I have a nest egg and can make one more run at something new and exciting.”
Scout Sports and Entertainment Managing Partner Michael Neuman has been leveraging brands with sports and entertainment properties for more than 20 years. He’s now learning to do so within the framework of technology that has changed everyone’s life.
How sports, brands and media engage consumers and help them make choices relative to them pursuing a healthier life is a vital area of growing importance.”
Photo:MARC BRYAN-BROWN / ROXXE IRELAND
Thoughts on this year’s NYC Super Bowl: I’m both optimistic and pessimistic. It’s a great honor for the city, but there are challenges. Within MetLife Stadium, it will be “A Tale of Two Cities”: Those who spent $450,000 for a suite, and those sitting outside in the stadium. Activation plans from longtime NFL business partners, like DirecTV and Anheuser-Busch, sound exciting, but I’m not certain how fans will respond. Clients are still trying to figure whether enough noise can be made or if it’s a better marketing investment elsewhere. Only a few brands will be able to spend the significant money it will take to make a dent in the chaos New York will be that week.
State of NASCAR, from a marketing perspective: NASCAR is going through a recalibration, but this has always been an industry of cycles. Brands are starting to understand that to really stand out in NASCAR, you need to spend at levels that far exceed other pro sports. The other thing is how different some NASCAR race markets are. One locale might be extremely interested in an upcoming race, but just 100 miles north, it can be totally different. I like the ability to own one car or race that fits perfectly with my client’s targets.
Stories to watch in 2014: I will be looking at whether Sochi can successfully host a Winter Olympics free of infrastructure problems and tragedy; how the U.S. competes in Brazil’s World Cup; how weather will affect the New York Super Bowl; how the A-Rod situation plays out; and how all the changes in college conferences affect college bowl sponsors.
— By Terry Lefton
The Marketing Arm
Chief operating officer and chief marketing officer
Golden Boy Enterprises
HEATHER BROOKS KARATZ
Vice president of legal
Up wristband by Jawbone
Receiving: I have one item on my wish list each year — a 30-year-old bottle of balsamic vinegar from Zingerman’s Deli in Ann Arbor, Mich. It’s only about 3 ounces, but it’s the greatest liquid on earth. A bottle lasts me a year!
BENITA FITZGERALD MOSELY
Chief of organizational excellence
U.S. Olympic Committee
As for gift giving, my husband recently lost a Colorado Golden Bear necklace that I gave him for Christmas 18 years ago when we got engaged, and I’d like to replace it. We met in Colorado, our first child was born here, we’ve just moved back to the state, and we now have bears in the park behind our new house, so it’s very fitting!
Senior director of strategic development
Receive: A Qualcomm Toq wristwatch smartphone to put Twitter on my wrist or an Xbox One for Xbox Live game nights with my family around the country.
LESA FRANCE KENNEDY
CEO and vice chairperson of the board
International Speedway Corp.
I will be purchasing car accessories for Ben, my son. He also wants a PlayStation 4 … we will see.
Director of consumer products licensing
Getting: With all the outdoor hockey coming this season, I’m hoping Santa brings warm winter boots that will fit in my carry-on and aren’t so goofy and clunky that I’ll be waddling around the stadiums like an astronaut.
Head of Bloomberg Sports
I hope I get a new paddle tennis racket, since I’ve just started playing the sport and can’t keep borrowing equipment.
Octagon First Call
Gadget: Motorola P4000 Universal Portable Power Pack. With upcoming events like the Super Bowl and entertainment awards season, having an everlasting battery is key.
Vice president and general manager
President and CEO
Portland Trail Blazers
Receiving: Anything from Filson (my new favorite store).