Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 24 No. 134

People and Pop Culture

L.A. entrepreneur and horse owner MARK VERGE “has been appointed to a senior position at the Stronach Group,” according to Matt Hegarty of the DAILY RACING FORM. Verge will “fulfill some of the duties that were handled" by former CEO GREG AVIOLI, who resigned Wednesday 11 months after being hired. The Stronach Group said that Avioli’s resignation “would be effective April 1.” Verge’s duties will “include overseeing all operations of Santa Anita.” Verge said that he “would receive equity in the company as part of his hiring.” He also called the racetrack “his passion” and said he would look to “shake things up” (, 3/15). BLOODHORSE’s Jack Shinar reported Verge is “planning to be a St. Patrick's Day celebration at his popular bar, Casey’s Irish Pub in downtown Los Angeles” (, 3/15). Avioli in a statement said he “felt it was the right time to move on to new business ventures outside the company.” DAILY RACING FORM’s Hegarty noted Avioli’s departure is “consistent with a pattern of revolving-door managers at Stronach-controlled companies that have owned the racing assets since the late 1990s.” Avioli served as Breeders’ Cup President for five years before accepting the position with the Stronach Group (, 3/14).

SARAH FISHER is gearing up for the start of the Izod IndyCar season next week and will spend her weekend in preparation mode. This season, the team owner will have a new addition to her traveling entourage, her six-month-old daughter, ZOEY. Coming off two tests, she will spend the next few days in her Indianapolis before she attempts to find a balance with work and family.

START YOUR ENGINES: Throughout the weekend, we’ll be at the race shop preparing to leave for St. Petersburg, Fla., on Tuesday for our first race of the year. It’d be nice to give the guys a day off in there somewhere, but because our season is just starting, it’s kind of like everyone on deck trying to make sure that we have everything covered because we have new cars.

NOT YOUR AVERAGE 9-5: My weekends during season are sort of like Monday and Tuesday because the weekends are the time when I’m working with the cars, being on track and racing events. So normally what’ll happen is we have practice on Friday, qualifying Saturday, the race will be on Sunday and then we travel home that night. So Monday is sort of like my Sunday -- regather myself, regroup. I’ll do laundry then, I’ll send off certain things that have been waiting over the weekend through whatever, UPS. Get a lot of the general office things done on Monday, whether that’s scheduling payroll or doing certain insurance documents. … Then we’ll either stay in town for another day to turn the cars around before traveling out again on Tuesday or Wednesday.

BABY ON BOARD: What’ll really get interesting for me is traveling with an infant and still managing to be a working mom on the road. ... I’ll have my mother-in-law travel with me, my mother will come to some events. We’re getting really creative because we’re not big enough yet as a company to just hire a nanny. We’re just trying to be creative and balance time and work and family.

TUNING IN TO TUNE OUT: I’m real big on “The Big Bang Theory.” That’s like my favorite show right now. I think a lot of it is because it’s just kind of one of those shows that you watch and it’s just funny and relaxing and it takes your mind off of always trying to learn and always trying to work and do better. I think a lot of people miss out on that little bit of relaxation, so if I can be selfish enough to take the 30 minutes of my brain power and dedicate it to something that is just funny and relaxing, while I’m multi-tasking. I’m either feeding Zoey or doing something else at the same time, as all working moms do.

DO IT YOURSELF: The thing about me that a lot of people may miss out on is that I’m a really big do-it-yourselfer. So if there’s random projects around the house or things that I can tackle on my own, you know change the oil in my car, those kinds of things. I’m not afraid to just dive in and figure it out. Whether or not it’s an appliance needs a little of work or whatever it is, I’m big on that. Before it was a little bit of just jumping in, but nowadays I don’t have a lot of time to get in, mess it up and then fix it. So I have to do a little bit of Googling to get myself ready to fix whatever it is.

Look for more than 70 nominees across 15 categories for the '12 Sports Business Awards to be revealed at 7:00am ET Monday in a video posted exclusively at To find out who makes the cut -- from “Team of the Year” to “Executive of the Year” to “Sports Sponsor of the Year” and more -- look for an email notification when our video is posted. Twitter and Facebook followers of SBJ/SBD will be alerted, as well. Winners of this year’s awards will be announced during a live ceremony on May 23 at the New York Marriott Marquis at Times Square.

In Indianapolis, Phil Richards cited a source as saying that former Colts Dir of Football Operations DENNIS POLIAN's departure from the club was initially described as a “parting of ways,” but Colts GM RYAN GRIGSON “fired him over the phone” when Polian was in Nashville for an interview with the Titans. The source said that permission for Polian to interview for the position was “denied, then granted.” Polian had originally been retained by the Colts after his father, former Vice Chair BILL POLIAN, and his brother, former VP & GM CHRIS POLIAN, were let go on Jan. 2. The Titans did end up hiring Dennis Polian as Personal Assistant to head coach MIKE MUNCHAK (, 3/15).

EXECS: Mexican IOC Exec BOD member MARIO VAZQUEZ RANA resigned from his position Thursday. Vazquez Rana, who would have been “required by IOC age rules to give up his executive seat in July,” will also “relinquish control of the 204-member Association of National Olympic Committees, which he has led since founding it in 1979.” PATRICK HICKEY of Ireland will replace him on the IOC Exec BOD (AP, 3/15)….NHRA VP/Sales & Business Development TONY DRISCOLL left the organization last week. He is currently looking for other opportunities in and outside of sports (Tripp Mickle, SportsBusiness Journal)....NFL Media Dir of Communications DENNIS JOHNSON is leaving the league after four years (THE DAILY)….The D’Backs promoted the following: GRAHAM ROSSINI to VP/Special Projects & Fan Experience, RYAN HOLMSTEDT to Dir of Sales and ANDRE LUCK and TRAVIS BAKER to Senior Account Exec Team Lead (THE DAILY)….Bright House Sports Net named FS South Senior Producer/Original Programming RAY GOODRICH Managing Editor (CABLEFAX DAILY, 3/16).

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

In Minneapolis, Kaszuba & Helgeson note more than 50 days after Republican House Speaker KURT ZELLERS "gaveled the Minnesota House into session," he remains a "puzzle to those who want a new stadium" for the Vikings. No one person "at the State Capitol is likely to have more to say about what happens to the stadium this year." Unless the plan passes a legislative committee Friday, it will "need a procedural exemption in the House and Senate to stay alive this session." While State Senate Majority Leader DAVID SENJEM has indicated that he "will grant the exemption," Zellers has "refused to say what he will do" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 3/16).

HALL PASS: In N.Y., Keith Kelly reports SI Group Editor TERRY MCDONELL "has been elected to the magazine editors’ Hall of Fame." McDonell will be honored by the American Society of Magazine Editors during the National Magazine Awards at the N.Y. Marriott Marquis on May 3. McDonell, hired as SI's Managing Editor in '02, is "rare in that most writers who have worked for him over the years sing his praises" (N.Y. POST, 3/16).

BOX SEATS: In Baltimore, Luke Broadwater cites public records as indicating that Maryland Gov. MARTIN O'MALLEY's guests in the state's private skybox at Ravens games this past season "included key politicians, campaign donors, and the family and friends of government officials." The records show that O'Malley "uses his box at the Orioles' stadium in a different manner" -- tickets for nearly 40% of those games "were given to charities, schools, hospitals and nonprofit institutions last season." The Orioles' 81-game home schedule "makes it easier to include charitable institutions" (Baltimore SUN, 3/16).

PLAY THERAPY: In Jacksonville, Beth Cravey notes Broncos QB TIM TEBOW Thursday was at the opening of his foundation's "first Timmy's Playroom for children with life-threatening illnesses." The playroom is located at the Jacksonville HQs of Dreams Come True, a national nonprofit that fulfills the dreams of ill children. Designed to "look like a mini-locker room, the playroom has its own mini stadium tunnel, comfy chairs in the shape of footballs, a play area and lots of toys, art tables and a large TV equipped with an Xbox." The playroom will be "used as a model for at least 18 more at hospitals around the world" (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 3/16).

NAMES: Former Fiesta Bowl COO NATALIE WISNESKI pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court on Thursday to one count of conspiracy for her role in the Fiesta Bowl campaign-contribution scandal. Under the terms of her plea agreement, Wisneski must cooperate with prosecutors and the IRS in ongoing investigations into the conduct of the bowl and its lobbyists. She will also be sentenced to probation or a prison term no longer than 12 months (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 3/16)....Rays manager JOE MADDON along with 36 players and coaches had their heads shaved Thursday in a fundraiser for the Pediatric Cancer Foundation. They were joined by 34 team execs and staff, including Owner STUART STERNBERG, President MATT SILVERMAN and, "after some coaxing," Exec VP/Baseball Operations ANDREW FRIEDMAN. The event raised $5,000 (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 3/16)....Bayer and the Penguins Thursday announced a dual-internship program open to college students in the Greater Pittsburgh region. The new media internship will have the student assisting Penguins Dir of New Media JEREMY ZIMMER from June-August and then working with Bayer's social media team lead from September-November (Bayer).