• Populous working high-profile events this week

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    Populous’ event design and planning group is working behind the scenes at two high-profile events this week, the NFL draft and the Kentucky Derby.

    The Denver-based division of the Kansas City sports architecture firm is working its 11th NFL draft dating to 2005. As the draft moves from New York City to Chicago, Populous’ role is to transform the Auditorium Theatre into a broadcast-friendly facility and a venue to accommodate 3,000 fans.

    In the days leading up to the draft, the 126-year-old building, designed by famed architect Louis Sullivan, presented some challenges for hanging multiple video screens and fitting draft sets on stage for ESPN and NFL Network.

    “We were at Radio City [Music Hall] for nine years and got set in our ways with work crews,” said Todd Barnes, an architect and principal with the firm. “We had it dialed in there and our installation period was less than four days. In Chicago, with the unique conditions, we’re looking at load-in, with all the technology, [of two weeks] leading up to [Thursday] when the theater is filled with fans. There can be no hiccups.”

    In addition to sets for the two main networks, Populous developed a press box in the balcony level for 200 reporters and interview space for radio outlets ESPN, Sirius and Westwood One.

    In Louisville, Churchill Downs recently hired Populous to develop a more efficient method for patrons to enter the 140-year-old facility on Derby Day. This year’s event is Saturday.

    Populous, whose sports designers created the track’s new Winner’s Circle suites, had been talking with track officials for several years on the event planning side, and this is the first year that the consultant has been engaged in that role, said Kevin O’Grady, an event manager and associate principal.

    Over the past two months, Populous has had four employees on site to develop operations improvements, including reconfiguring gate entrances, increasing the number of signs directing attendees to their seats, adding more guest services staff and boosting the number of restrooms and betting lines placed under tents inside the gates, O’Grady said.

    “The Kentucky Derby draws 160,000 people, which is like having two Super Bowls on top of each other,” O’Grady said. “It’s such a historic building with unique challenges and a different style. When you put 160,000 into this place, there is always room for improvement.”

    Tags: On The Ground
  • Podcast: This week's NHL Wrap-Around

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    NHL writer Ian Thomas and Alex Silverman discuss Seattle's possible expansion effort, the Edmonton Oilers' front-office changes and the second-round playoff matchups in this week's NHL Wrap-Around.

    Among the comments:

    "You look at some of the fan support there, whether it’s for the Portland junior-level team. The Northwest in general is a good hockey market, I think an untapped one. If they could put a world-class arena there, I think the NHL would certainly listen to any pitch from a potential owner. The question still remains about whether the arena can get done."

    "You can’t imagine that anyone would be willing to invest in an arena without some sort of assurance, or at least a notion, that they would be granted a team when that arena is built. … You look at the Quebec City situation, where they are set to open a brand-new arena without an NHL tenant and really no indication that they might get one in the near future."

    "It’s an important time for the Oilers to start to improve the team, with a new arena in their sights in the near future. … It’s the first time in a while if you’re an Oilers fan that you can really see a path to change, similar to what’s happened in Toronto as of late."

    Tags: NHL, SBJSBD Podcast
  • TV Timeout: Of Major Concern

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    N.Y. Daily News’ Bob Raissman said of Yankees DH Alex Rodriguez chasing a milestone 660th home run, “The way he’s playing, he’s the face of this team now ... and if he does hit this home run and he was to sell t-shirts, I think they’d sell a few. I don’t agree that he’s not marketable” (“Daily News Live,” SNY, 4/27). FS1’s C.J. Nitkowski: “He can be marketable if they want him to be. ... You need to embrace it. It’s not going away” (“America’s Pregame,” FS1, 4/27).

    BIGGER THAN BASEBALL: MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, on postponing games in Baltimore due to the ongoing civic unrest in the city: “First and foremost, we worry about the fans, their ability to get in and out of the ballpark, but it's also important to remember that we have players, umpires and a lot of day-of-game staff that are in the ballpark. We want to make sure that they’re safe, that we're not putting them at risk. ... Cancellations are difficult for us, and so moving forward, we will have to consider alternatives that are focused more on getting the games played as opposed to exactly how many fans will be able to see the games” (“Mike & Mike,” ESPN Radio, 4/28). MLB.com’s Brittany Ghiroli reported from Baltimore: “I’ve been impressed by how much the Orioles have paid attention to what’s been going on. ... This whole city really seems like it’s under siege” (“OTL,” ESPN, 4/27).

    PLAYER HATERS BALL: ESPN Radio’s Colin Cowherd: “I will quit this network if I am ever asked to cover (videogames or eSports). I tagged out at Harry Potter. I tolerated Donkey Kong. I’ll tell you what that was the equivalent of … me putting a gun in my mouth and having to listen to that” (“The Herd,” ESPN Radio, 4/27).

    AND BACK TO BASEBALL: ESPN’s Jayson Stark, on the Angels eating a ton of cash to trade away OF Josh Hamilton: “The why it happened really goes back to this past winter when Josh had his relapse and from that day forward (Angels Owner) Arte Moreno … essentially decided Josh Hamilton was never going to play for their team again. He never had a locker in spring training. He never had a locker in Anaheim this year at any point." Stark: “It looks like they saved $20 million, but this still is going to go down as one of the biggest contract disasters in baseball history” (“Mike & Mike,” ESPN Radio, 4/28).

  • TV Timeout: So Sorry

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    Comedy Central’s Larry Wilmore said of ESPN’s Britt McHenry, “I heard Twitter accepted her apology but the lady she actually insulted is still waiting for hers” (“The Nightly Show With Larry Wilmore,” Comedy Central, 4/20).

    UNHAPPY CAMPERS: NFL Senior Dir of Broadcast Michael North said of creating the league’s master schedule, “We’re not going to make everybody happy and truth be told, we’re unlikely to make anybody happy” (“NFL Total Access,” NFL Network, 4/20).

    FINDING VALUE: L.A. Times columnist Bill Plaschke on Raptors President of Basketball Operations & GM Masai Ujiri cursing when addressing fans of the team: “It’s a great marketing tool. He makes about $3 million a year (and) it’s probably worth it to him to endear himself to the fan base, to rally around” (“Around The Horn,” ESPN, 4/20).

    CHECK SWING: N.Y. Daily News columnist Bob Raissman said of Pete Rose being hired by Fox to cover MLB, “I’m wondering if Pete Rose is going to be himself and be feisty, be combative, be controversial because don’t forget that Rob Manfred has opened the door for him to come back. Pete might start playing to the commissioner’s office and the baseball owners and pull his punches” (“Daily News Live,” SNY, 4/20).

    SOUND OF MADNESS: ESPN’s Tony Kornheiser said of Pelicans coach Monty Williams suggesting the noise level at Oracle Arena is illegal, “I didn't know that there were legal limits to noise. This is what you want from your fans. You want them to be so persistently loud that the other team has a drum beat in their heads and they can't react” (“PTI,” ESPN, 4/20).

  • Podcast: This week's NHL Wrap-Around

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    NHL writer Ian Thomas and Alex Silverman discuss the Maple Leafs' front-office shakeup and rebuild, as well as attendance numbers from the regular season and the NHL and NBC's marketing for the playoffs in this week's NHL Wrap-Around.

    Among the comments:

    "There’s a lot of media pressure (on the Leafs) and, while losing naturally the team is going to take a lot of heat from the media in Toronto and presumably the fans, it is a rabid hockey market where a few lean years on the ice doesn’t necessarily lead to lean years in attendance or ratings because the interest level there is just so high."

    "Say what you will about the job that Dave Nonis did, but one thing he did manage to do was trade the virtually untradeable contract of David Clarkson to Columbus. … They’re going to have to trade Dion Phaneuf’s contract, which an inexperienced GM might have trouble coming up with a creative way to get out from under that contract. It’s a similar situation with Phil Kessel."

    "You look at some of the teams that drive attendance from a total number standpoint, whether that’s Canadiens, Red Wings, Blackhawks, Wild, Rangers, teams that are essentially at 100 percent already. There’s little room for those teams to grow. So the fact that (attendance) was flat, considering the types of years that the Hurricanes and Panthers had, is rather impressive. You’re talking about teams that had double-digit drops, including almost a 20 percent drop for the Panthers."

    Tags: NHL, Hockey, SBJSBD Podcast
  • TV Timeout: Going Green

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    Golf Channel’s Frank Nobilo, on golfer Jordan Spieth’s win at The Masters and its effect on the game of golf: “We have a very healthy future. This is the sign of the next wave. We’ve been talking about it for the last two or three years, but people would always say, ‘They got to win the big events’” (“Live From the Masters,” Golf Channel, 4/12). ESPN’s Jason Sobel, on his standing among the faces of golf: “I don't know that we’re going to replace Tiger Woods with another Tiger Woods. I think that's sort of what people have been looking for in the last year-and-a-half. … I don't think it happens in the form of one person. I think it happens with Rory McIlroy and with Jordan Spieth” (“Mike & Mike,” ESPN Radio, 4/13). Golf World Editor-In-Chief Jaime Diaz, on Spieth: “I think he just gains traction naturally. He checks all the boxes: He’s young, good looking. It helps to be American, certainly. He's very gracious. He's really smart. I think he's media friendly. He's savvy about how to deal with it. His quotes are extensive and yet he doesn't get himself in trouble. I just think there are no negatives at the moment” (“Morning Drive,” Golf Channel, 4/13). CNBC’s Joe Kernen said of Under Armour, Spieth’s endorser, “Under Armour was in the winner’s circle big-time” (“Squawk Box,” CNBC, 4/13).

    FEELING PAMPERED: Reds COO Phil Castellini said of the team’s nursing suite at Great American Ball Park, “We have to make the ballpark experience everything that it can be and we try to do that every year” (“Today,” NBC, 4/12).

    : ESPN’s Mike Golic, on PEDs in MLB: “It’s a matter of how far you're willing to go because anybody that says, ‘We want to get it out of the game,’ you're kidding yourself. You're not getting it out of the game. You could go to, ‘If you test positive one time, you will never play baseball again,’ people will still do it” (“Mike & Mike,” ESPN Radio, 4/13).

    BROKEN WINGS: N.Y. Daily News’ Mike Lupica, on Angels Owner Arte Moreno’s handling of RF Josh Hamilton’s drug use: “This is a shameful thing that Mr. Moreno is doing. Here's Mr. Moreno's problem. First of all, he says it's not about the money. When they say it's not about the money, it's always about the money. This is a shameful thing that he is doing because he doesn't like looking like a fool in front of the rest of the baseball world. He is the guy that signed this contract” (“The Sports Reporters,” ESPN, 4/12). ESPN’s Eduardo Perez said of the Angels, “They have to take care of their budget and right now they’re looking for any loophole possible and they are letting everybody know, that is just publicly what is going on. Unfortunately, the human side, you would want to see something different, but on the business side it is what it is” (“Baseball Tonight,” ESPN2, 4/11).

  • NBC goes sweet on NHL playoffs

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    NBC Sports Group is combining chocolate and the NHL’s postseason bracket for a playoffs promotion this year.

    As NBC prepares for a broadcast schedule that could feature as many as 105 games across its networks this year, it’s collaborated with the NHL to produce 32,000 chocolate bars as an additional postseason marketing play.

    Called Lord Stanley’s Cup Diddly-Umptious Bracket Bars, each chocolate bar will come with a playoff bracket combination. Bars will be handed out to fans, celebrities and other select recipients, and the person who receives the wrapper with the perfect bracket (along with four others who find “silver tickets” inside) will get to spend time with the Stanley Cup.

    Tags: On the Ground, Leagues and Governing Bodies, Marketing and Sponsorship
  • World Congress (and Forty Under 40) Wrapup

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    World Congress (and Forty Under 40) Wrapup: What we heard, what we ate!, who we saw

    Get the party started: About 500 people in party attire descended on the JW Marriott at L.A. Live last night to celebrate the 2015 Class of Forty Under 40. The event was hosted by NFL Network’s Amber Theoharis and Scott Hanson. On the menu: Filet of Beef Bordelaise, with a dessert trio of seasonal fruit tart, cheesecake and chocolate ganache cake. Publisher Richard Weiss welcomed the crowd and noted all of the previous winners on hand (an impressive number stood up to be recognized). Then Executive Editor Abe Madkour gave his customary monologue to toast (and roast) members of this year’s class. His three biggest laugh lines:

    1) One related to winners getting a free vasectomy, connected to IMG’s Ray Deweese, who has five children.
    2) Another related to MLS’ paltry TV ratings
    3) A fun riff comparing Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady to the NFL’s other Tom Brady, a Forty Under 40 honoree.

    One other kicker: After 17 years of honoring people, this was the year for everyone who has been on the bubble.

    Their own personal soundtrack: Forty Under 40 winners get to select the music that plays when they come up to accept their award. Here are four of our favorites:

    1. Sashi Brown of the Cleveland Browns: “Paid the Cost to be the Boss,” by James Brown
    2. Nick Baker of AEG: “The Best is Yet to Come,” by Frank Sinatra
    3. Nicholas Carey of Wells Fargo: “The James Bond Theme.” (He even held up his finger and blew on it like a gun barrel.)
    4. Ray DeWeese of IMG College/Ohio State: “Let it Go,” from Disney’s Frozen. Got huge laughs, and blamed this selection on his kids. We’re not buying it.

    -- Who was there? Among the many boldface names spotted at the JW Marriott: Casey Wasserman, Jeff Shell, Robbie Kean, Bruce Arenas, Jed York, Eric Shanks, Randy Freer, Pat Haden. … Maybe the names most worth noting, but which we don’t have room enough for: The many friends, family and supporters of all the winners. We’re proud of how much of a family event this has become. By the way, attendees also noted the event’s swift run time – done by 10:00pm!

    -- Around the horn: Baseball executives were in strong supply at last night’s Forty Under 40 dinner. Diamondbacks chief baseball officer and Baseball Hall of Famer Tony LaRussa and MLB chief legal officer Dan Halem were present, supporting league SVP/economics and league strategy and 2015 honoree Chris Marinak. Cubs owner Tom Ricketts and president of business operations Crane Kenney were present for VP/sales and partnerships and 2015 honoree Colin Faulkner. And A’s and Earthquakes owner Lew Wolff attended in support of Earthquakes president and 2015 honoree Dave Kaval.

    -- Living in the Hall of Fame: After not adding any new members to the Forty Under 40 Hall of Fame last year, we inducted three last night: NFL’s Renie Anderson, ESPN’s Justin Connolly, and JP Morgan’s Scott Milleisen.

    -- (Almost) all present and accounted for: AEG has had 10 Forty Under 40 winners in the history of the award, and eight of them were at the dinner last night to honor a winner this year from AEG, Nick Baker. After the official 2015 group photo was taken on a stairway of the JW Marriott, AEG’s Michael Roth lined up the eight AEG past-and-present winners for a photo in the same spot, and included stand-ins so that the two missing winners could be Photoshopped in later.

    -- After-party scene: Club Nokia at L.A. Live hosted the AEG/CAA after party, where the 40/40 honorees in attendance included T-Mobile's Meredith Starkey, AEG's Baker, CAA's Seth Jacobs and newly appointed Miami Dolphins Chief Commercial Officer Todd Kline. One problem: The club had but one bartender for more than 100 people. Our spies, however, spotted Genesco Sports Chief John Tatum going behind the bar to help service the growing and thirsty crowd. Alas, Tatum was quickly escorted out from behind the bar by club management. … How to know when to call it a night? For us, it was when the CAA gang hit the dance floor.

    WRAPPING UP WORLD CONGRESS: Like Disney’s Bob Iger on Day 1, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner was one of the most popular speakers (at least according to people who told us how much they liked hearing him). And he didn’t even focus all of his attention on sports. Weiner closed out the event with a one-on-one interview that focused on his company’s plans, culture and way of doing business. Weiner echoed Iger’s thoughts on not being too afraid of failure, and stressed the importance of compassionate management and corporate philanthropy. He also highlighted some new features from LinkedIn that he said could “make cold calling obsolete.” Check out today’s issue of The Daily for more. 

    -- Video stars in the making: We did live streaming interviews with newsmakers throughout both days of World Congress, and got enough analytics back to tell you which ones were tops among viewers. ESPN chief John Skipper’s interview, in which he dissed FIFA’s media deal and expressed bemusement (and confusion?) over the Fake John Skipper, was the most-viewed streaming interview. Our session with the NHL’s Bill Daly wasn’t far behind, followed by a joint interview with two prominent woman CMOs, the NFL’s Dawn Hudson and the NBA’s Pam El. You can see all the archived interviews here.

    -- Go tweet yourself: ESPN’s Jason Whitlock may not like Twitter, but our attendees certainly did. We saw nearly 2,000 World Congress tweets over the day-and-a-half, almost all of them using the event hashtag, #sbjwcs. Special thanks to @agmsports and @kavithadavidson for working hard to keep the social media conversation going.

    -- Worst decision at World Congress: The one made by any attendee who left before sampling Delaware North’s tasty reception spread at the end of Day 1. Included on the menu: Taco foie gras that had people raving, rack of lamb, ahi tuna tartar and lobster medallions with caviar.  Overheard: “Delaware North is catering my wedding!”

    -- Caught In the Green Room: Adidas North America President Mark King spent decades hobnobbing and playing with the biggest names in golf, when he headed TaylorMade. More recently, as head of Adidas N.A., King has had access to top NBA athletes. But it was Fox talent Pam Oliver that got him excited in the WCOS green room before his appearance on stage yesterday. "You're my daughter's favorite," he told her. Oliver accommodated by signing a copy of the latest SBJ to King's daughter with a personalized message…That really was Jason Whitlock asking Peter King about his hair before their opening panel. It was King’s response that surprised us most. He’s had the same person cut his hair since he was a sophomore in college – his wife.

    -- Spotted: That was Scott O’Neil taking a selfie with former Wisconsin cager Frank Kaminsky, while O’Neil dined at Wolfgang Puck’s L.A. Live restaurant. Kaminsky was walking around L.A. Live with former Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenberg as part of an ESPN promotion.


    -- To tweet or not to tweet: Jason Whitlock: “I tend to treat Twitter as a joke. I don't look for serious commentary there." And Pam Oliver: “I don't really care for it. It takes away from what it is you're trying to do.”

    But, ESPN’s John Walsh: “It's too early to judge. It'll be a long time before we really figure out what social media meant to this era of American media.”

    Millennials: Love’em or hate’em?: More Whitlock: "I think too much is being made about millennials… Young people should be heard a little less and do more work."

    But, Ken Fuchs: “(Millennials) want the facts and data and the ability to customize and personalize experience, something that’s hyper-relevant to them. They’re a consumer using all of our products. What’s important to them is incredibly important to us.”

    Other comments: Adidas' Mark King on the NBA: “We’ve had a fantastic relationship. I went to my first NBA All-Star Game and when we were very serious partners of the NBA, I had good seats. I’m sure next year, I won't. But we had really good seats, so if Adam’s in here, thank you for those seats.” … LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner: "Managers tell people what to do. Leaders inspire them to do it. I try to manage compassionately."


    Top speaker: Jeff Weiner. Smooth, bright, articulate. From his advice that echoed Bob Iger - don't be afraid to fail- to a compassionate management style to philanthropy, Weiner was a fresh voice for the sports industry to hear.

    Best moment: Pam Oliver, Jason Whitlock and Peter King revealing their ages on stage. Let’s just say that they’re not millennials.

    Quickest dodge: FIFA’s Thierry Weil when pressed on FIFA moving the ’22 World Cup from June-July to November-December, saying it was because of the interests of “the players.”

    Best dressed: How could you not like the dapper hats worn by Jason Whitlock and John Walsh? It was, to our recollection, the first time that two people have worn hats on the same World Congress panel.

    That’s a wrap from this year’s World Congress of Sports and Forty Under 40. We hope to see you all there again next year!

    Tags: Forty Under 40, GE, ATT, Marriott, NFL, NFL Network, SEC, ING, IMG, MLS, ACC, Cleveland Browns, AEG, Wells Fargo
  • The Champions: Mike Trager

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    During yesterday's luncheon at the 2015 IMG World Congress of Sports, we presented video tributes to each member of the 2015 class of The Champions, Pioneers and Innovators in Sports Business.

    Here's our video for Mike Trager.

    To read our profile of Jernstedt from SportsBusiness Journal, click here.

    Tags: ING, IMG, IMG World Congress Of Sports, World Congress of Sports Dont use ever, Champion, Champions, GE
  • The Champions: Tom Jernstedt

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    During yesterday's luncheon at the 2015 IMG World Congress of Sports, we presented video tributes to each member of the 2015 class of The Champions, Pioneers and Innovators in Sports Business.

    Here's our video for Tom Jernstedt.

    To read our profile of Jernstedt from SportsBusiness Journal, click here.

    Tags: Champion, Champions, ING, IMG, IMG World Congress Of Sports, World Congress of Sports Dont use ever
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