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Volume 24 No. 158

People and Pop Culture

It’s time to make your opinion known as the 8th annual SportsBusiness Journal/SportsBusiness Daily Reader Survey is underway. The survey features more than 100 questions across leagues, teams, facilities, sponsorship, media, and more.

* Who is the most influential sports executive?
* Who is the most marketable athlete?
* What’s the biggest sports business story of the year?
* What’s the most powerful brand in sports?
* What’s the best sports event to attend?
* Who are the best play-by-play personalities and game analysts on TV?
* Who are the most admired sponsors?

Those are some of the questions you'll find in this year’s survey. Cast your votes and then see highlights of the results the week of Nov. 26. We want to hear from you.

Vote now!

Buffalo-based Delaware North Cos. named JOHN WENTZELL President of its Sportservice concessionaire division, one of several leadership changes announced yesterday. Wentzell, a veteran arena manager, was most recently DNC Boston and DNC Int’l President. For the past six years, Wentzell had been the TD Garden CEO, the arena owned by DNC whose food operation is run by Sportservice. Wentzell joined DNC in ‘96 as VP/Operations and during his tenure at TD Garden, Wentzell oversaw premium seat renovations that set a benchmark for other NBA and NHL teams planning arena retrofits. Sportservice President RICK ABRAMSON, who has been in the role since September ‘04, has been named DNC Parks & Resorts President, as well as Exec Chair of the company’s Australia and Asia operations, a new role created by DNC. In that position, Abramson will maintain a presence in sports internationally, managing DNC food operations at three sports facilities in Australia, including Melbourne Park, home of the Australian Open tennis tournament, Etihad Stadium, a soccer and rugby facility in Melbourne and the Sydney Cricket Ground. Before he took over Sportservice, Abramson was Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex President & COO, a division of DNC Parks & Resorts. He has worked at DNC for more than 40 years.

SUCCESSFUL REIGN: Under Abramson’s tenure the past eight years, Sportservice added new accounts at several venues, including MetLife Stadium, Lambeau Field, Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Target Field, Bank of America Stadium, Red Bull Arena, Livestrong Sporting Park and Camelback Ranch. Sportservice also added retail accounts with several existing food service clients. Total Sportservice revenue during Abramson's tenure was $750M in food and retail business. Considering those successes, some in the sports industry may have been surprised by the moves, according to DNC President & COO CHUCK MORAN. Moran said that truth be told, it is part of the company’s strategy to expose its execs to broader experiences within the overall hospitality industry. Moran: "We wouldn’t have made these moves if we thought it was going to break our momentum. It is a juggling of sitting executives, nobody is leaving the company. It’s all about developing the talent of our folks.”

OVERSEAS GROWTH: Abramson sees a big opportunity to expand DNC food business overseas in Australia, where he said there is a need to improve sports concessions to satisfy a growing middle class. He will also pursue opportunities in Asia, India and Singapore tied to sports facility developments.

MORE MOVES: Current DNC Parks & Resorts President KEVIN KELLY will move into the newly-created role of VP/Shared Services for Global Operations, where he will oversee the firm’s GreenPath environmental management program, among other services. Also, DNC VP/Administration JIM HOUSER will take on a new leadership role as DNC Parks & Resorts COO, reporting to Abramson. All DNC exec changes take effect Jan. 1.

Architectural design firm HOK Vice Chair CLARK DAVIS “will leave his job” with the company after 24 years. Davis beginning Nov. 1 “will be a consultant to the firm” (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 10/18)….South Carolina State Univ. SID BILL HAMILTON will retire in June. Hamilton has been SCSU’s only SID during 40 years at the school (Orangeburg TIMES & DEMOCRAT, 10/17)….Ohio State Univ. promoted LEANN PARKER to Dir of Athletics Communications and BRETT RYBAK and ALEX MORANDO to Assistant Dirs of Communications. OSU also named JULIE BROWN and BEN VONDAL Communications Assistants (OSU)….The Mountain West Conference named Colorado Springs-based KKTV-CBS sports reporter JESSE KURTZ Exec Producer for the MW Digital Network (MWC)….The Univ. of Denver promoted Associate Dir of Media Relations NICOLE BOSTEL to Dir of Media Relations (Denver)….Babson College named Wheaton College Assistant AD/Media Relations SCOTT DIETZ Associate AD/Strategic Communications (Babson)….The Rookie level Pioneer League Orem Owlz promoted Community Relations & Promotions Dir JILLIAN DINGEE to Assistant GM (Owlz).

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

In Chicago, Sean Jensen writes Jaguars Owner SHAHID KHAN has "been a rock star" since he purchased the club from WAYNE WEAVER. And not because he is "the league’s first minority owner or because he sports a brilliant mustache." Khan has been a "breath of fresh air, embracing the attention, even if it’s not entirely comfortable to him yet." Khan said, "I think it’s a duty to the Jaguar fans and the NFL to participate. It’s highly flattering, but I think it’s part of the duty. Media is a big part of the responsibilities. It’s a lot more public than I thought it was. I’ve lived a very wonderful, below-the-radar life for so many years. Then you’re in the NFL as an owner and ‘Boom!’" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 10/18).

GET OFF MY LAWN! Two companies owned by Dodgers P JOSH BECKETT on Tuesday filed federal lawsuit in Laredo, Texas, seeking a court order to "stop any further work" on a natural gas pipeline which would run through part of Beckett's 7,000-acre hunting ranch about 100 miles southwest of San Antonio. The suit also asks the pipeline's builder to "specify what the builder must do under the Endangered Species Act." Beckett in a statement for court described "two occasions when he saw what he believes were ocelots" (AP, 10/17).

BUYING & SELLING: Bulls F LUOL DENG has “placed his three-bedroom town home in a gated community in Northbrook on the market for $535,000.” Deng “paid $672,000 in 2004 for the 2,511-square-foot town home” (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 10/18)….Baseball HOFer BABE RUTH’s 1948 Lincoln Continental two-door hardtop coupe was sold to fan LONNIE SHELTON. It was the “last known car George Herman Ruth owned before his death Aug. 16, 1948.” Shelton “didn’t disclose the price he paid for the car about two months ago” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/18).

AWARDS & HONORS: TSN anchor ROD SMITH was honored Tuesday with the Excellence in Sports Broadcasting award at the Sports Media Canada awards ceremony. Smith was recognized for his aquatics play-by-play during the London Olympics. National Post columnist BRUCE ARTHUR also was recognized for his coverage of the Olympics. Edmonton Sun columnist TERRY JONES was given the career achievement award and the Edmonton Journal's ED KAISER was recognized for his photographs in London. Sports Media Canada also named NHL Jets Chair MARK CHIPMAN as its Exec of the Year (, 10/17)....Advertising and promotions association PromaxBDA yesterday announced that former NBC Sports Chair DICK EBERSOL will be honored with its Lifetime Innovator Award, while USOC CMO LISA BAIRD will be honored with the Game Changer Award at the '12 Sports Marketing Summit & Awards show in N.Y. on Nov. 13 (PromaxBDA)....The Women's Sports Foundation named U.S. gymnast GABBY DOUGLAS as its Sportswoman of the Year, beating out U.S. skier LINDSEY VONN, tennis player SERENA WILLIAMS, U.S. swimmer MISSY FRANKLIN, U.S. sprinter ALLYSON FELIX and Paralympians JESSICA LONG and TATYANA MCFADDEN (AP, 10/17).

NAMES: Former MLBer MIKE PIAZZA, USA Basketball Chair JERRY COLANGELO and UConn women's basketball coach GENO AURIEMMA attended the 37th annual National Italian-American Foundation Dinner in DC (The WASHINGTONIAN, 10/15)....The Marlins donated over $1.2M in philanthropy and over 5,000 community service hours during ’12 regular season (Marlins)….Boxer CORNELIUS BUNDRAGE has “signed a multifight promotional agreement with Golden Boy Promotions.” He was formerly with promoter DON KING (, 10/17)….Golfer DANIELA HOLMQVIST has turned pro and signed with IMG (IMG)….Men’s Health magazine named retired U.S. swimmer MICHAEL PHELPS the “fittest man of all time” (, 10/17).

KEEP FIGHTING: NBA referee GREG WILLARD is taking leave to battle pancreatic cancer (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 10/18).