The 76ers have hired veteran team marketer TOM WARD as their new Senior VP/Corporate Partnerships & Broadcasting. Ward, currently the Senior VP/Corporate Sponsorships with the Hornets, will begin with the Sixers July 9, reporting directly to CEO ADAM ARON. “We’ve already been successful in raising the team’s profile and we are number one in attendance increase and season-ticket sales increase for next year. Now that we have the city emotionally connected again, the sponsorship opportunity here is enormous. We think it's possible to double or triple our sponsorship dollars," Aron said. “We had more than 400 resumes and Tom Ward stood out as a guy who was immensely successful in a smaller market where he was producing considerably larger revenue than we were here." Ward will also head broadcast sales, which includes radio and joint TV ad sales with Comcast, which has a long-term deal under which it controls the team's TV rights. Ward will add a handful of new staffers to the team’s sales side, Aron said. The 76ers are still in a bit of a relaunch, as new management took over in October following 16 years of ownership by Comcast-Spectacor, which also owns the Wells Fargo Center, where the Sixers play. Ward has previously served as Bobcats Exec VP/Business Operations and CMO, Nationals Senior VP/Marketing, Predators Exec VP/Business Operations and the Charlotte Hornets VP/Marketing. Ward started with the Bullets as Marketing Manager in '79. Filling the senior sales slot comes at an important time for the 76ers, as the team will control much of its marketing inventory in July. “We’re basically building a sponsorship department from scratch and I’ve been part of three expansion teams, so that’s something I like to do," said Ward. “Having people dedicated to the Sixers when there is so much potential in the market is something I’m really excited about. And we’ve got an ownership group willing to open doors and close business for it, so I see nothing but upside.”
People and Pop Culture
Longtime Exec Producer JEFF BEHNKE is leaving Turner Sports after 27 years as part of a production department shakeup that will see CRAIG BARRY be promoted to Senior VP/Production & Exec Creative Dir. Barry will be based in Atlanta and will report to Exec VP and COO LENNY DANIELS. Turner Sports also promoted TIM KIELY to VP & Exec Producer of Production and ALBERT VERTINO to VP & Exec Producer of Content. Both execs will report to Barry. Barry has been with Turner for 23 years, and will now oversee all production, editorial content and creative direction for Turner Sports' TV and digital businesses. He will continue to lead the group's Creative Service Sports Unit as well. Kiely, who has been with Turner since '95, will manage remote and studio production operations. Vertino, who has been with Turner Sports for 17 years, will oversee content across the division's linear, digital and mobile properties. He will continue to manage NBA Digital content as well.
Longtime New Orleans Times-Picayune sports columnist PETER FINNEY is among the 201 employees who will be let go by Sept. 30 as part of a 32% cut to staff. However, Times-Picayune Editor JIM AMOSS said that Finney “has been asked to write a sports column on a freelance basis.” Finney joined the paper in ’45 (NOLA.com, 6/12). Times-Picayune writer MIKE TRIPLETT wrote on his Twitter feed, “One way or another I know it's a priority for Peter Finney to be a part of the T-P and nola sports coverage for as long as possible" (TWITTER.com, 6/12).
EXECS: Paciolan has named STEVE DEMOTS Senior VP/Sales. Demots previously served as Paciolan VP/Professional Sports, Arenas & Partnerships from '03-08 (Paciolan)....The Univ. of South Florida Foundation named Lightning CEO & Minority Owner TOD LEIWEKE to its BOD (USF)....Northeastern State Univ. hired Univ. of Tulsa Media Relations Assistant CEDRIQUE FLEMMING as Assistant AD/Media Relations, effective July 1. Flemming replaces Assistant AD/External Operations SCOTT PETTUS, who will resume athletic development and broadcasting responsibilities for the school this fall (NSU)....Towson Univ. has named Florida Gulf Coast Univ. Associate AD/Business Operations COLLEEN SOREM Associate AD/Business & Finance (Towson)....Turnkey Intelligence has hired Red Sox Senior Operations Analyst CURRAN RACLIN as VP/Prospector. Raclin will report directly to Turnkey President HAYNES HENDRICKSON (Turnkey).
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NBA.com's John Denton noted Magic CEO ALEX MARTINS tops Orlando Magazine's "50 Most Powerful People In Orlando" list. Martins is the "first private person ever to rank at the top of the list." As the day-to-day leader of the Magic and a person who "serves on 10 different Board of Directors in the community, Martins is a man of action who specializes in getting things accomplished" (NBA.com, 6/12).
GRANTING A WISH: In Baltimore, Pat van den Beemt notes Under Armour Dir of Brand Content JED JECELIN agreed to create a basketball shoe "to pay tribute" to RILEY DAVIS, who "died in December at age 13, after four years of fighting leukemia." Jecelin received a letter from Davis' friend, DAVID SERRA, which said that Davis "had always dreamed of creating a basketball shoe." UA produced two pairs of Davis' shoe and presented one pair to Serra and the other to Davis' parents "at a May 17 company celebration." Jecelin said, "Our purpose was never to commercialize [the shoes]." Serra brought the shoes to school and said, "Everybody said they wanted to buy a pair. I think Under Armour would sell a lot of these if they wanted to" (Baltimore SUN, 6/13).
LUCK O' THE IRISH: Golfer RORY MCILROY threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Astros-Giants game last night (DAILYMAIL.co.uk, 6/13). In S.F., Gwen Knapp writes McIlroy appeared for the Giants' Irish Heritage Night and "earned the ultimate honor from the team -- a bobblehead doll." McIlroy was greeted in the office of Clubhouse Manager MIKE MURPHY by Baseball HOFer WILLIE MAYS and said, "I don't know a lot about baseball, but I know who he is" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 6/13).
NAMES: Former NBA referee TIM DONAGHY is suing the publisher of his book, "PERSONAL FOUL," claiming that SHAWNA VERCHER "failed to turn over any of the estimated $200,000 in sales revenue" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 6/13)....Bills QB VINCE YOUNG on Monday sued his former agent MAJOR ADAMS II as well as financial advisor RONNIE PEOPLES and his company, Peoples Financial Services, for "fraud, unjust enrichment, conversion, breach of fiduciary duty, usury and breach of contract among other allegations" (CHRON.com, 6/12)....Cowboys Owner JERRY JONES said yesterday that he will appear in an episode of TNT's reboot of "DALLAS," which debuts tonight. Jones said, "I did enjoy having it shot out at the stadium, having it shot there in the suite" (FOXSPORTSSOUTHWEST.com, 6/12)....Patriots QB TOM BRADY, WR WES WELKER and several teammates and coaches on Monday attended the annual Executive Combine at Gillette Stadium, which raises money for the team's charitable foundation. Meanwhile, Sporting News President & Publisher JEFF PRICE and Red Sox Senior Advisor Dr. CHARLES STEINBERG dined at Boston's McGreevy's restaurant, where the publication donated team images from the Charles Conlon Red Sox Heritage Collection to the club and the Jimmy Fund (BOSTON HERALD, 6/13)....Browns Coach PAT SHURMUR, QB BRANDON WEEDEN, RB TRENT RICHARDSON, CB JOE HADEN and OL JOE THOMAS Monday played in the 13th annual Browns Foundation Golf Tournament (CLEVELAND.com, 6/12).
IN MEMORY: Former Mariners VP & Special Assistant to the GM ROGER JONGEWAARD, 76, passed away Monday of a heart attack. Jongewaard presided over the drafting of former MLBer KEN GRIFFEY JR. and Yankees 3B ALEX RODRIGUEZ, and received Baseball America's Roland Hemond Award for lifetime achievement in '04 (SEATTLE TIMES, 6/13)....Olympic Gold Medalist boxer TEOFILO STEVENSON died on Monday at the age of 60 from a heart attack (N.Y. TIMES, 6/13).