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Volume 24 No. 156

People and Pop Culture

In our continuing series, SportsBusiness Daily/SportsBusiness Journal asks top sports personalities for their thoughts, ideas, aspirations and likes. Today, PGA Tour Travelers Championship Tournament Dir NATHAN GRUBE.

What I like in an insight: People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care.

An influential person in my career: ERIC ESHLEMAN. My first real boss at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail. He trained me to serve our clients with an amazing blend of customer service, creative marketing and old fashioned blood, sweat and tears.

An out-of-the-box idea: Selling bottled water.

A timeless idea: Face to face meetings. Nothing is more important, or effective, than seeing your clients face to face. If I can get someone on the golf course, I feel I can really get to know them and understand how we can help them.

A business deal: Cowboys Stadium. The deal between Arlington, JERRY JONES, the NFL and the Cowboys fans to get that deal done was amazing.

A sports facility: If the 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale can be called a "facility," then that is it. It is an amazing marriage of PGA Tour golf, a fraternity party, a Monster Truck event, a night club, a protest rally and spring break in Cancun that somehow combine to make great theatre.

A sports event: While March Madness has its pull, I am not sure what can beat the back nine of Augusta on a Sunday afternoon in the spring.

A strategy: Toms shoes. A simple, straightforward message about giving back.


A brand: Coke. While I personally don't consume the beverage, it seems that every apocalyptic movie that is made, in the end when nothing else makes it, the Coke can is still around and no one is surprised. That, to me, is an amazing brand.

A trend: Philanthropy. Good business can be profitable and still make a difference.

An innovation: Disposable DVDs that will only play for 24 hours after opening them. I am still trying to figure out the science.

A pro league or team business initiative: Minor league baseball may be the birthplace of all new ideas. In an arena where attendance, ticket buyers and corporate support are not a given, I think you see creativity and innovation in its rawest form. While the three-pound hamburger and all-you-can-eat crawfish night may have their drawbacks, the initiative these teams show in getting fans to each and every game is inspiring.

A story that bears watching: The talks between owners and players in the NFL. We love our football in America and this will be very interesting to see (or not see) how this pans out.

An idea or invention I wish I had thought of: If 5-Hour Energy is an idea or invention, I wish it were mine.

A fantasy job: Chair of the BILL and MELINDA GATES Foundation.

What I like about my job: Variety and charity. Every day is different working in professional sports but at the end of the day I can stand up and say that 100 percent of our net profit is donated to charity. The PGA Tour model of supporting charity is unique in professional sports. We have over 130 charities that benefit from our event. At the end of the day, if I do my job well, they win.

Sports: I think sports are a microcosm of life. You learn how to interact with people, how to win, how to lose, how to work as a team -- sports are an amazing opportunity to learn about yourself and others.

Sports business: Transforming passion into business is exciting. Every fan has passion from their couch, basement, local pub or stadium. Turning that passion into business is exhilarating.

Sports media: The creativity. With the landscape changing so drastically over the last decade and everyone being able to have a blog or tweet, it has challenged the media to continue to evolve and get creative on delivering meaningful content. There are so many talented storytellers and artists in the media. It has been fun to see them apply their trade with these new tools.

Sports technology: The slow motion replay in HD. To see a golf swing, a completed pass, a jump shot -- you name the moment and frame by frame on the right TV in HD is amazing.

Competing: I think competition is one of the healthiest things for business. Whether in sports or life, I don't think you can realize your full potential unless there is competition. Eighty percent of our staff either competed in college athletics or played professionally in some sport. I believe the mentality of competition that an athlete brings to the table is an incredible advantage in business.

The future (or direction) of sports business: The sharing of ideas. I have seen more references to "best practices" across the sports landscape lately than ever before. This needs to continue. We can all learn from each other and give our consumers a better product no matter what sport we are selling.

Sports fans: Passion. The fan that is willing to cover their body in green paint on a Wednesday night in February for a game and then wash all that off, get up and go to work the next day -- that kind of passion is inspiring.

What I would like to change: On-line ticket convenience fees.

Change in what I do: Be able to have all of our volunteers (3,500-plus) know what it feels like to hand out the charity checks at the end of the tournament.

See: A pro-athlete donate 100 percent of his/her next big endorsement deal to charity.

See more of in sports: Compensation based on performance. Reduce the guarantees and increase incentive compensation. I think we would see the records begin to be broken across the board.

See more of in sports business: Fan appreciation. The stadiums, the contracts, the endorsements -- they are all generated from the fans. I think more fan appreciation events, access to athletes, signed memorabilia, giveaways, etc. would go a long way to having the fans invest even more.

See less of in sports: Fights in hockey being allowed to run their course.

See less of in sports business: Focusing on youth. It seems that in sports business, the "young guns" get a lot of attention as the inventors of new ideas. I think we should have an emphasis on the veterans who built this industry and listen more and speak less.

See different: Owners having their earnings capped.

Eliminate: Commercial breaks. With the latest technology we now have other ways to advertise. Break away from the competition less and build advertising into the broadcast.

What I don't like in general: Egos not checked at the door.

Pet peeve: People chewing with their mouths open.

In sports: The lack of acknowledgement of a genetic gift.

In business: Always trying to up-sell.

About sports fans: Booing the away team at a home game. Think if we made our stadium the most hospitable place to play. There would be no negative energy to fuel the other team and it would be so nice to come to our stadium that they may feel bad if they are winning.

What I like in people: JUSTIN ROSE. He may be the most gracious person I have ever met.

That would surprise those who know me: I cry every time I see "Les Miserables."

Above all else: My wife. I seriously think she is the coolest person I know. She still makes me nervous.

About myself: I can shoot either 68 or 86 on the golf course. That kind of diversity keeps the game fun.

Heroes: Andy Dufresne.

Players: TONY GWYNN. Stay true to your team and don't chase the money.

Teams: Toronto Blue Jays. Any team that played on that field for so many years deserves our respect.

City: Aspen and a hike around the Maroon Belles.

Possession: My first set of Mizuno T-Zoid irons.

Memento: My dad's intramural football championship pin from Ohio State in '62.

Time of year (because): Fall in New England -- just come once and you will know.

Music: U2. Who can't love a band that has stayed on top for five decades?

Books: "Devil in the White City."


Gadgets: Microsoft Sync on my Ford Explorer.

iPad app: Angry Birds -- when I can pull it away from my son.

Chores: Washing the dog.

Hobbies: Playing catch with my son and tea parties with my daughter.

Trips: A three-day hike around the Tetons.

Movies: "Shawshank Redemption."

TV: "The Daily Show."

Concerts: U2 in Memphis in '97.

Food: Mongolian Chicken from PF Chang's (make sure they caramelize the sauce).

Dessert: Chocolate chip banana bread.

Drink: Venti Peppermint Mocha.

Scent: Eucalyptus.

Vacation spots: Nantucket.

Cars: Chevy Tahoe Z71.

Aftershave: Coppertone lotion?


Quote: Whatever you are, be a good one.

MLS Columbus Crew President & GM MARK MCCULLERS has agreed to terms on a four-year contract extension (Crew). McCullers said that the Crew have "three core business goals" that they hope to "reach in the next three seasons: secure naming rights for the stadium, get a sponsor for the jerseys and roughly double season-ticket sales to 10,000" (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 4/14).

EXECS: AFL Commissioner JERRY KURZ has reached an agreement on a multiyear extension through the '13 season (AFL)....Nike has hired Levi Strauss & Co. Exec VP & President of Dockers JIM CALHOUN as VP & CEO of Hurley Int'l LLC. Calhoun had been with Levi since '08. Previously, he spent "nine years in various roles" with The Walt Disney Co., including serving as Exec VP & GM for Disney Consumer Products for North and Latin America (, 4/13)....NBC Universal Exec VP & Chief Diversity Officer PAULA MADISON and Telemundo President DON BROWNE are the "latest executives to leave the company in the wake of Comcast's takeover." NBC said that a successor for Browne, "who worked for the company for more than 30 years and turns 68 next month, will be named soon." Browne's last day will be June 3, the "eighth anniversary of his starting at Telemundo" as COO (, 4/12)....Learfield Sports has appointed a four-member team to lead its new Northwestern Sports Properties entity. GM BOB WELCH will lead the team, which also includes Business Development Managers AMY POTTER and STEVE MCNELLEY and Account Exec RYAN CONNORS (Learfield).

Do you have an executive announcement? If so, please send to

In Phoenix, Ginger Rough reports Arizona lawmakers who took cross-country trips and accepted free game tickets at the Fiesta Bowl's expense "will receive invoices in the coming weeks asking them to fully reimburse the bowl for those costs." Fiesta Bowl attorneys yesterday confirmed that they are "conducting an investigation to determine the bowl's total outlay on lawmaker gifts and travel so that it can seek reimbursement for those expenses." In some cases, invoices "could be in the thousands of dollars" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 4/14).

COURT REPORT: Yankees fan PORTIA WALTON has hired attorneys MATTHEW BLIT and LES LEVINE, who plan to file a $2M suit against the Yankees and Hard Rock Cafe over an April 4 incident at Yankee Stadium. Walton said that she was "in an outdoor dining area outside the Stadium's Hard Rock Cafe when she put her foot on a metal hatch that had a power cord sticking out of it." She was "jolted by so much electricity, she had to be hospitalized" (N.Y. POST, 4/14)....Former NFLer BILL ROMANOWSKI is "alleging in a new federal lawsuit that he was blindsided by a tax scam." Romanowski said that the setup "involved investing millions of dollars into thoroughbred racehorse breeding in order to collect millions more in tax write-offs." But he alleges that when the operation "crumbled," he discovered that the "law firm that advised him in the investment was secretly on the scheme's payroll" (DENVER POST, 4/13).

CHARITY STRIPE: Cowboys Owner JERRY JONES and his wife, GENE, on Sunday "attended an event at Tony's in Houston to raise money for the ESCAPE Family Resource Center." Jones contributed a total of $220,000 to the cause (, 4/13)....The Carol Mann LPGA Players Invitational Monday raised a "record $204,000 for The Women's Home" at Champions Golf Club in Houston (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 4/13).

NAMES: MLB Exec VP/Baseball Operations JOE TORRE was honored yesterday at the Ellis Island Family Heritage Awards, held in the Great Hall at the Ellis Island Immigration Museum (MLB)....Former NFLer JAMAL LEWIS and his business partner "have offered to buy" the closed Maui Sands water park in Sandusky, Ohio, for $3M. Erie County Common Pleas Court Judge ROGER BINETTE "must approve the sale before it's finalized" (SANDUSKY REGISTER, 4/13)....ESPN received 28 Gold Medals and 69 overall medals at the N.Y. Festivals Int'l Television & Film Awards ceremony Tuesday. For a fourth straight year, ESPN's total topped all entrants, giving the network the honor as Broadcaster of the Year (ESPN)....Tennis player ANDY RODDICK and his wife, supermodel BROOKLYN DECKER, are "moving into a new home this week in Austin, Texas" (N.Y. POST, 4/14).

IN MEMORY: Arsenal investor DANNY FISZMAN passed away yesterday at the age of 66 after a battle with cancer. Fiszman, who joined the Arsenal BOD in '92, recently agreed to allow fellow Arsenal investor STAN KROENKE to buy his shares in the team within 20 days of his death, paving the way for Kroenke's takeover of the EPL club (THE DAILY).