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Volume 24 No. 116

People and Pop Culture

Longtime Helios Partners CEO CHRIS WELTON and President TERRENCE BURNS left the agency last month to join Teneo, a N.Y.-based firm that advises companies, non-profits and governments. Teneo is led by DECLAN KELLY, the former U.S. Economic Envoy to Northern Ireland, and Welton and Burns are the second and third sports execs to join in the last six months. Former Breeders Cup President GREG AVIOLI was named Teneo Managing Dir last year. A Teneo exec declined to say whether or not the agency planned to launch a sports practice. Helios did not return calls seeking comment. Helios Partners’ CHRIS RENNER, who has led the agency’s European operation in Paris, has been named its CEO. Helios COO CHRIS SANDERS is still with the agency. The agency’s top clients are IOC TOP sponsor Dow and ESPN, which hired the agency to assist on its development of the Global X Games. With the departure of both Burns and Welton, Helios loses two of its most established and connected leaders. The duo had been working on the Olympics since the '96 Atlanta Games and later led Meridian Management SA, which oversaw sponsorship sales for the IOC from '96-'04. Burns left Meridian in '03 to create Helios. Welton and Renner joined the agency in '06. The Amaury Group, a French media company that organizes the Tour de France, took a controlling interest in Helios in the summer of '08. Around The Rings first reported Welton’s and Burns’ departures.

Former MSG Sports President SCOTT O’NEIL has joined the advisory board of online ticket reseller O'Neil, who resigned as MSG President last September, said, "I will advise the senior executives. I will also help with relationships in the business and hopefully wave the flag for them" (John Lombardo, Staff Writer).

UTILITY PLAYERS: The Cubs promoted VP/Strategy & Development ALEX SUGARMAN to Senior VP/Strategy & Development and VP/Ticket Sales & Service COLIN FAULKNER to VP/Sales & Partnerships. The moves follow the departure last week of Exec VP and Chief Sales & Marketing Officer WALLY HAYWARD. Both Sugarman and Faulkner have been with the Cubs since '10 (Eric Fisher, Staff Writer).

EXECS: Mandalay Sports Media named former Fox exec RICH BATTISTA CEO of its 11-month-old venture. Battista will be based in L.A. and oversee the company's day-to-day operations. One of Battista's duties will be to identify investment and acquisition opportunities (John Ourand, Staff Writer)....The MISL Milwaukee Wave named former Milwaukee County Parks Dir SUE BLACK President & CEO (, 2/6)....IHRA Entertainment named Palm Beach Int'l Raceway President & CEO JASON RITTENBERRY CEO for the Int'l Hod Rod Association, which will be rebranded IHRA Motorsports. IHRA Motorsports President & GM AARON POLBURN and VP/Race Operations SKOOTER PEACO will remain in their respective positions (IHRA)....BILL HANSTOCK has joined SB Nation as an Editor and contributor (THE DAILY)....The NFL Cardinals named NFL Management Council Labor Operations Manager MIKE DISNER Dir of Football Administration and Rams Scouting Administration Dir DEBBIE POLLOM Exec Assistant (Cardinals)....The Univ. of Memphis named Northwest Missouri State Univ. AD WREN BAKER Deputy AD/External Affairs (Memphis).

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In N.Y., Patrick Clark in a front-page piece profiles former NFLer TIKI BARBER in is role as “co-founder of a technology startup called Thuzio, an ‘online marketplace for celebrity experiences.’” Barber said, “We identified a problem that exists for former athletes. It’s the long-tail popularity of talent. Once you retire, you’re left with this fame which can’t be monetized anymore.” Barber and Gerson Lehman Group co-Founder & Chair MARK GERSON raised $1.5M in funding for the project, which launched L.A. last weekend and is signing up “about 20 new clients a week” (N.Y. OBSERVER, 2/4 issue).

GALAXY QUEST: In DC, Dan Steinberg noted every Wizards player on a recent road trip to Portland “got a Samsung Galaxy II Note, personalized with the team logo and uniform numbers.” During a trip to L.A. the team “got Beats By Dre headphones, and the Beats Pill, a Bluetooth speaker audio system.” Both giveaways were from G JOHN WALL, who said, “Samsung wanted to do a deal. They contacted my people and just set it up to get them a gift while we was in Portland. ... A lot of people switched their phone to that service” (, 2/6).

DRIVER 80, TAKE A BREAK: Pearl Street, located near the Fox River in downtown Green Bay, “will be renamed" in honor of retiring Packers WR DONALD DRIVER, while a statue of a generic Packers WR outside Titletown Brewery “will be refurbished with Driver’s name and the No. 80” (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 2/7). Driver yesterday formally announced his retirement. He plans to “co-host an episode" of KATIE COURIC's talk show "Katie," has a book "due out in September and will participate in an ‘Extreme Makeover’ series” (, 2/6).

GOLF LINKS: WAYNE GRETZKY is at this week's PGA Tour AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am "after several years away" because his daughter PAULINA's boyfriend -- golfer DUSTIN JOHNSON -- "invited him.” Wayne Gretzky said, “My wife and I are like any parents. The one thing you want to have happen is that your kids date good people, and we’re just fortunate that he’s just a really good young man” (S.F. CHRONICLE, 2/7).

AROUND THE DIAMOND: Tigers 3B MIGUEL CABRERA will be honored at a dinner benefiting the recently-established Miguel Cabrera Foundation and the Detroit Tigers Foundation, an affiliate of Ilitch Charities (Tigers)….The MLB Fan Cave was honored with the Grand Prize at Ragan’s PR Daily Digital PR and Social Media Awards for Best Digital PR & Social Media Campaign of ’12 (MLB)….A rare 148-year-old baseball card “discovered at a rural Maine yard sale has been auctioned for $92,000.” The card depicts the Brooklyn Atlantics amateur baseball club (AP, 2/6).

NAMES: Former NFLer HINES WARD accepted the Dapper Dan Lifetime Achievement Award yesterday at the 77th Annual Dapper Dan Dinner & Sports Auction in Pittsburgh. Ward was recognized with Pirates CF ANDREW MCCUTCHEN, former Penn State soccer player TAYLOR SCHRAM and former Heinz Field Exec Dir of Stadium Management JIMMIE SACCO (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 2/7)….Swimmer RYAN LOCHTE “posed underwater to recreate the iconic album art for Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind’ in a photo shoot for ESPN The Magazine’s inaugural music issue” set for Feb. 18. The issue “features sports stars recreating classic record covers,” with 13 other athletes “posing as their musical doppelgangers” (, 2/6)….Bills WR BRAD SMITH is “going to try his hand at journalism and style,” working as an intern for Men’s Health magazine to “assist covering New York Fashion Week, which opens” today (AP, 2/6)….Ravens RB RAY RICE's condo in Pikesville, Md. has “been on the market since August and recently dropped in price.” Rice “first listed the home for just under $340,000,” and last month the price “dropped by $20,000” (, 2/6).