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Volume 24 No. 158

People and Pop Culture

Producers FRAN KIRMSER and TONY PONTURO have “turned their attention to baseball with the commission of a new play that draws on the history of the New York Yankees, to be developed in collaboration with Major League Baseball,” according to David Rooney of the HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. Kirmser and Ponturo have previously collaborated to bring plays “Lombardi” about the Packers coach and “Magic/Bird” about the NBA rivals to Broadway. The Yankees theater project “will be the third original play from Kirmser Ponturo Group.” No playwright is “officially attached to the new baseball commission at this stage.” The producers claim that their shows have “introduced more than 100,000 new audience members to Broadway” (HOLLYWOODREPORTER.com, 11/15). Kirmser said, “It will look at the tradition of the Yankees from the 1930s to the present day.” She added that theatergoers will “see the stage filled with actors” playing BABE RUTH, LOU GEHRIG, JOE DIMAGGIO, MICKEY MANTLE and DEREK JETER. In N.Y., Richard Sandomir noted Kirmser and Ponturo “would not describe the plot, or how characters whose real-life athletic careers span nine decades would be deployed or integrated onstage.” Kirmser: “This will be along the lines of what we’ve done before: we’ll deliver authenticity” (NYTIMES.com, 11/15). In N.Y., Corky Siemaszko notes the producers “expect to debut either next year or 2014.” The Yankees are “completely on board with the project.” Yankees COO LONN TROST said, “It is a thrill that two iconic American institutions, the Yankees and Broadway theater, are joining together” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 11/16).

STAN KROENKE has "more skin in the sports game -- more asserts invested, more holdings, more major franchises -- than anyone else on the planet," according to L. Jon Wertheim of SI. Kroenke owns the Rams, Nuggets, Avalanche, EPL club Arsenal, the Pepsi Center, the MLS Rapids and their stadium, the NLL Mammoth and the RSN Altitude Sports & Entertainment. Wertheim writes, "Inasmuch as money is power, Kroenke is sport's ultimate kingpin, with holdings approaching $4 billion." Those in Kroenke's "orbit invariably have a story about how Stan ... lacks arrogance or ego or look-at-me sensibilities." Talk about him "with anyone in his circle and the words grounded and humble and normal are in heavy rotation." In both the NBA and NFL offices, he is "regarded as a solid and conscientious partner, a good corporate citizen, easy to work with and easy to find." At league board meetings he "does not seek an active role in shaping policy." Kroenke also runs his franchises like "self-sustaining businesses." His teams "carry little or no debt, while he withdraws virtually no money from them." He launched Tickethorse, which would "become the ticket vendor for all the Kroenke-owned teams and venues." He launched Altitude, then Altitude Authentics, which "sells branded jerseys and team gear." Kroenke also looked at "how his teams and properties could work together." So it was that Altitude "began producing the Rams' preseason games; the Rapids' staff makes an annual trip to visit the Arsenal coaches; Avalanche tickets are available for purchase at Nuggets games." This "kind of sensible, efficient use of resources ... doesn't get you notoriety the way calling plays and incessant tweeting do." But it "makes for good business." Kroenke "points out that he's never sold a team." What does Kroenke think "of treating a team as an expensive toy?" Kroenke: "That's not a viable long-term kind of thing. It's bad for the fans. You want to win, and that's most important, but I wouldn't do it just for a social hobby" (SI, 11/19 issue).

HOLDING HIS OWN: In Denver, Adrian Dater writes of Kroenke, "I think he's been a good owner for his teams, and that includes" the Avalanche. He seems to "treat his employees fairly." There have been "no layoffs of Avs team employees since the lockout started." He has "always been civil in my few dealings with him." Dater: "Yeah, I wish he were more accessible, but he's not, so that's the way it is" (DENVERPOST.com, 11/16).

Do not let the big stunts fool you, EDDIE GOSSAGE is a homebody. As President of Texas Motor Speedway, he has made his name as a marketing guru, crafting outrageous promotions and outlandish shenanigans to the delight of media and fans alike. But when the lights go out and he is not at the office, Gossage spends the majority of his time at his home in Ft. Worth with his wife MELINDA. He will spend this weekend biding time with Melinda in anticipation for the arrival of his first grandchild.

DATE NIGHT: On Friday nights, that’s definitely a date night. We love going to movies so we go to a place called the Movie Tavern. We just like to be quiet and alone together and watch a movie. It’s just me and my wife Melinda together, snuggling up and watching a movie. I fill my gas tank more by just being with her than anything that I can think of. We probably will go see “Skyfall,” the new Bond movie. It’s going to be in its second week. We kind of have a formula: If something is new, we won’t go to it because crowds and stuff like that. Usually it’s a little less the second or third week. One of the things we like about this particular place is you can reserve your seat and buy your ticket in advance. So we know where we like to sit and we don’t have to worry about getting a bad seat. Typically we share a bucket of popcorn and she’ll have a root beer and I’ll have a Coke.

STAKING OUT THE STORK: The truth is my son and daughter-in-law are expecting our first grandchild. Her due date is probably about eight days away. So we decided that we wouldn’t plan anything so we could just be on standby. We’re just terribly excited about having a new grandbaby! My very first. I’ve had my order in for some time. About two weeks ago my staff gave me a granddad’s baby diaper bag and it was stuffed with all kinds of things from pacifiers to books to read to little kids to stuffed animals. Then the ladies on the staff gave my wife a big baby bag. So we’ve got all kinds of baby stuff that you need from bibs to baby spoons to assorted creams. I said I don’t know why I’m getting this. I’m not changing any diapers on the granddaughter. That’s part of the beauty of being a grandparent.

FOWL IS FOUL: We’re big on cooking out on the grill. I can’t eat chicken, turkey. Anything fowl is foul to me. I’m allergic to it all. So we eat a lot of seafood. I make the best shrimp tacos. Go out on the grill and cook up the shrimp, then toss the tortillas on the grill. Get a little char on them and that kind of thing while [Melinda is] making cabbage and lime juice and cilantro and some shredded white queso blanco.

HONEY TO DO: Saturday we’ll probably do a few chores around the house. Sleep late and wait for the phone to ring, hopefully. There’s just always something that has to be fixed or messed with. We live on a lake, so last weekend I had to winterize the boat. I know that I’ve got to figure out how to put a base for a baby car seat in the back seat of my wife’s car. I’m learning all kinds of things ‘cause it’s been 30 years since I’ve had little kids. I gotta figure that out, which means I’ll mess with it for 30, 45 minutes and then I’ll read the instructions.

TIME TO REFLECT: I’m a season-ticket holder for the Dallas Cowboys, so we’ll go see them play Sunday. The game on Sunday is a noon game, so we’ll go to one of the church services on Saturday evening. We’ll probably do dinner at home. Contrary to what people expect or think, I’m a real quiet person and we more often than not watch a movie on TV or sit there and read. I get fulfillment just by being with Melinda.

COFFEE AND A PAPER, PLEASE: My routine on Sunday is I get up and I’ve got to have some coffee and read the paper before I get ready and go to church. I drink good ole all-American Colombian coffee. I read both the Dallas Morning News and Ft. Worth Star-Telegram on Sunday. I take both papers on my iPad, which I like because when I travel I’ve always got it delivered to my doorstep no matter what city I’m in. But I really enjoy on Sunday sitting down and having the newspaper in my hand and a cup of coffee and reading those papers before I go to church.

ROUND ‘EM UP: I’m a Packers fan but I will go to the Cowboys game. We got season tickets ‘cause I love football. So I’ll go and it’s not that I’m rooting against the Cowboys, I just want to see good football. But I will wear a shirt from my alma mater -- which is Middle Tennessee State University -- because it’s blue and silver and white and they all think I’m wearing a Cowboys shirt so nobody will mess with you. I’ve got an earpiece in; I’m listening to BRAD SHAM and BABE LAUFENBERG do the game on the radio. They’re excellent.

JERRY’S WORLD: They allowed me to pick out my seats before the stadium opened and I sit on the front row of an upper deck so that nobody can stand up in front of me. It’s a beautiful stadium and the big screen is of course the attraction. I think most people that go will tell ya you have to work at not watching it because it’s so overwhelming. It may be too big for the stadium to be honest. But I make myself watch the play on the field and then I look up on the big screen and watch the replay of that play. And then by the time that’s done you look back down and they’re coming up to the line of scrimmage for the next play.

CAN’T TEACH AN OLD DOG NEW TRICKS? I have become more of a risk taker the older I get. Usually it’s the other way around: you think you’re bullet proof when you’re a teenager. I was supposed to go sky diving for the first time last weekend but it was too windy. So I’m going to do that another day. I’m going dirt bike riding next week. I haven’t been on a dirt bike since I was like 13. Now I ride a Harley all the time, but to get on a dirt bike and get out there bouncing around and jumping, I haven’t done that in 40 years. But I have to because TRAVIS PASTRANA told me I have to come up to his place and he’s going to teach me how to do a back flip on a motorcycle so I need to get a little bit used to being back on the dirt bike.

NBCUniversal promoted DAN LOVINGER to NBCUniversal Exec VP/Cable Ad Sales, MARK MILLER to NBCUniversal News Group Exec VP/Ad Sales and PETER NAYLOR to NBC News Digital Exec VP/Ad Sales. In addition, the company named TRISH FROHMAN Exec VP/Ad Sales Strategy and ALISON TARRANT Exec VP/Client Solutions. All five execs begin their new roles immediately and report to President of Ad Sales LINDA YACCARINO (NBCUniversal).

EXECS: Intrust Bank Arena named CHRISTINE PILECKAS Dir of Sales & Marketing (THE DAILY)....USA TODAY Sports named CHRIS STRAUSS Sports Writer for the NFL and blogger for the publication's general sports blog "Game On!" (THE DAILY)....The National Steeplechase Association BOD named the following as members of the newly formed Steeplechase Safety Task Force: NSA President & Far Hills Races co-Chair GUY TORSILIERI, NSA Stewards Advisory Committee Chair & Iroquois Steeplechase Chair DWIGHT HALL, Blue Ridge Equine Clinic Founder R. REYNOLDS COWLES JR., NSA Dir of Racing BILL GALLO JR., NSA Safety Advisor R. BARRY WATSON, Steeplechase Owners and Trainers Association President KATE DALTON, former steeplechase jockey SEAN CLANCY and National Steeplechase Foundation BOD member RICHARD VALENTINE. NSA Communications Dir DON CLIPPINGER will serve as Task Force Secretary (BLOODHORSE.com, 11/14).

Do you have an executive announcement? If so, please send to editorial@sportsbusinessdaily.com.

DEADLINE.com's Mike Fleming Jr. reported MLB free agent JOSH HAMILTON’s life story “has been acquired and will be turned into a feature film by Relativity Media.” Relativity also has closed a deal “for rights to the book” that Hamilton co-authored, “Beyond Belief: Finding The Strength To Come Back” (DEADLINE.com, 11/15).

GARDEN VARIETY: Thursday night’s episode of NBC’s “30 Rock” featured network exec Jack Donaghy, played by ALEC BALDWIN, arriving to work and being laughed at by all the black people he runs into after they learn his name is “Jack Donaghy.” Jack says to a black female postal worker, “Why am I suddenly an object of derision in your community? I’ve championed diversity on NBC. I mean, we’ve got football. That’s pretty black, right?” The postal worker tells Jack that the name “Jack Donaghy” is the “bad guy from Tracy Jordan’s ‘Aunt Phatso’ movie.” As Jack is watching clips from Tracy’s movie, he asks Liz Lemon, played by TINA FEY, “Lemon, do you think I’m a villain?” Liz replied, “I have heard you say, ‘Guards, seize him.’” Jack said, “I was at a Knicks game. They needed to stop the clock” (“30 Rock,” NBC, 11/15).

FALL FROM GRACE: In Boston, Bob Hobler notes former tennis player BOB HEWITT was “suspended indefinitely” from the Int’l Tennis Hall of Fame on Thursday “following a lengthy investigation into allegations that he sexually abused underage girls he coached.” HOF CEO MARK STENNING said, “As of today, his plaque will be removed from the Hall of Fame” (BOSTON GLOBE, 11/16).

CHARITY STRIPE
: Patriots DT VINCE WILFORK teamed with Eastern Bank to launch and promote a holiday Toys for Tots campaign. It is in partnership with the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve’s Toys for Tots program (BOSTON HERALD, 11/16)….Players from the NHL Rangers and Flyers will play in a charity exhibition game to benefit victims of Hurricane Sandy. The event, called “Operation Hat Trick,” will be played at Caesars Atlantic City at Boardwalk Hall Nov. 24 at 7:00pm ET. All proceeds from the event will go to the Empire State Relief Fund, the N.J. Relief Fund and the American Red Cross (N.Y. POST, 11/16).

NAMES: USA Track & Field Thursday awarded Olympic distance runner LOPEZ LOMONG its Humanitarian of the Year Award (OREGONLIVE.com, 11/15)....U.S. women's Olympic gymnastics team members GABBY DOUGLAS, MCKAYLA MARONEY, ALY RAISMAN, JORDYN WIEBER, and KYLA ROSS on Thursday got a "personal audience with President BARACK OBAMA" while on tour in DC (AP, 11/15)....The National Football Foundation Thursday announced ESPN commentator RECE DAVIS will emcee the 55th NFF Annual Awards Dinner at the Waldorf-Astoria in N.Y. on Dec. 4 (NFF)....A 700-acre campus “being developed for a Charlotte area Girl Scouts council has been named” in honor of the late DALE EARNHARDT after the Dale Earnhardt Foundation awarded the council $2M for the project (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 11/15)….The Nevada Athletic Commission on Thursday “approved a promoter’s license” for entertainer 50 CENT pending final paperwork that includes two years’ worth of tax returns (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 11/16)….Former WNBAer CHAMIQUE HOLDSCLAW is "in jail" after being "charged with aggravated assault, criminal damage to property and reckless conduct." Holdsclaw allegedly fired a gun into the car of her ex-girlfriend, WNBA Shock F JENNIFER LACY, after bashing its windows in with a baseball bat (AJC.com, 11/16).