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Volume 24 No. 156

People and Pop Culture

Newly released transcripts of closed-door negotiating sessions between the city of Charlotte and the NFL Panthers reveal rare comments by team Owner JERRY RICHARDSON before city leaders in the team’s pursuit for public funding for renovations at Bank of America Stadium, according to Erik Spanberg of the CHARLOTTE BUSINESS JOURNAL. During “the first meeting” in January, Richardson “reminded city leaders he had not only provided Bank of America Stadium for the finale of the 2012 Democratic National Convention, he also assured it a larger TV audience” before rain forced it to be moved to Time Warner Cable Arena. Richardson detailed how he “called in a major favor” from Commissioner ROGER GOODELL, as PRESIDENT OBAMA’s acceptance speech at the stadium was scheduled for the first Thursday in September, the same night the first nationally televised NFL game of the regular season would air on NBC. But the NFL moved the game to a day earlier and Richardson talked about that move to council members “in a brief monologue that, no doubt, had the intended effect.” Among his remarks to the council members:

* “I think it is worthwhile for you and I to reflect just a little bit on an example of us trying to go to bat for the city. You know I went to bat for you in the DNC, I think, as strongly as possible. And I think you will agree, too.”

* Convention organizers requested kickoff of the Cowboys-Giants Thursday night game be moved to 7:00pm ET from 8:30pm. Richardson said, “I have a good relationship with (the other) NFL owners, but we did a calculation and that would have cost every owner about $3 million to do that, including me. I try to get votes, that is one of the things that is real important in the NFL and that just wasn’t going to happen. So I called the (NFL) commissioner and said, ‘Just listen to me until I finish. Can you visualize Mount Everest and just moving it 100 feet to your left?’”

* Goodell laughed, and Richardson recounted: “I said, ‘Do you have that visual?’ And he said, ‘I do and that is very difficult.’ And I said, ‘My request is very difficult.’ He said, ‘What is your request?’ I said, ‘I would like for you to move the opening game of the season (to Wednesday).’ I thought he was going to have a heart attack when I asked him the question. Then he said, ‘Well, you know, we’ll have to take this to the membership.’ And I said, ‘That is my second point. I would like for us not to take it to the membership ... I was chairman of the committee that selected you as commissioner and I’m expecting you to take some leadership.'”

* Richardson said that the two continued their conversation the next morning, and Goodell said that the "only time the NFL had made a similar move was during World War II," and he called Richardson’s request a "big one." Richardson’s response: “Well, we’ve got a big problem down in Charlotte.” Goodell "reminded Richardson that 31 owners had to be considered, too." Richardson: “I said, ‘No, you don’t, don’t ask them, go ahead and make a decision.’ As you know, he did and (the Wednesday night game) is what happened” (, 4/24).

NBCUniversal Exec VP/TV Networks Distribution DANA ZIMMER is leaving the company to become Tribune Broadcasting President of Distribution. Zimmer will oversee distribution for Tribune's TV channels, including WGN America and 23 local stations. She reports to Tribune CEO PETER LIGUORI and will be based in Philadelphia. She starts May 13 (John Ourand, Staff Writer).

THE RECRUITER: Veteran sports marketing exec ANDY DOLICH has been hired by the global executive search firm Odgers Berndtson to help grow the company’s sports business practice. Dolich, who has held senior management positions in the NFL, NBA, and MLB, begins his new job as partner immediately. He reports to STEVE POTTER, managing partner of Odgers Berndtson’s U.S. operations. Dolich will be based in the S.F. area (John Lombardo, Staff Writer).

EXECS: The Golf Writers Association of America elected Golf World Exec Editor RON SIRAK as President. Golfweek's JEFF BABINEAU was elected First VP, and SI's GARY VAN SICKLE will take over Babineau's vacated spot as Second VP. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's GARY D'AMATO, Global Golf Post's RON GREEN JR., Golf World's DAVE SHEDLOSKI, the San Diego Union-Tribune's TOD LEONARD and Golfweek's BETH ANN BALDRY were named to the GWAA BOD (GWAA)....The Canadian Paralympic Committee named Field Hockey Canada CEO KAREN O'NEILL to the same position effective June 3 (CPC).

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In L.A., Bill Shaikin reported an attorney for former Dodgers Owner FRANK MCCOURT argued his ex-wife, JAMIE, has “no claim to half the proceeds from the sale” of the team and “no grounds to throw out a divorce settlement never intended to provide her with that.” L.A. Superior Court Judge SCOTT GORDON yesterday “heard closing arguments in the matter,” then “indicated he would not rule before a related procedural hearing on June 5.” The Dodgers were sold for $2B last year, five months after Jamie McCourt “agreed to settle the couple’s divorce by relinquishing any claim to the team” in exchange for $131M. Frank McCourt attorney BOB SACKS said the deal was “consistent with her risk-averse approach. … She now wishes she had made a different deal” (, 4/24).

ON THE SLATE: A film called “WHEN THE GAME STANDS TALL,” based on a book of the same title by Chicago Sun-Times sports columnist NEIL HAYES, started production in New Orleans this week. The film tells the true story of high school football coach BOB LADOUCEUR, who spent 34 years as coach at De La Salle High School in Concord, Calif., before retiring after last season. The film stars JIM CAVIEZEL, LAURA DERN and MICHAEL CHIKLIS, and is scheduled for release in fall ’14 (THE DAILY).

CHARITY STRIPE: Pirates manager CLINT HURDLE and his wife, KARLA, along with Pirates Charities and in partnership with Root Sports announced the return of the “Wins for Kids” fundraising campaign this season (Pirates)….The Gene & Jerry Jones Family Charities will make a $100,000 donation to The Salvation Army to assist with the charity’s disaster relief efforts in West, Texas (Cowboys)….Rutgers football coach KYLE FLOOD yesterday was among 17 people cited as "Hurricane Sandy Champions of Change” at the White House for relief efforts by the football program “spearheaded by Flood” (, 4/24).

REAL ESTATE LISTINGS: Bruins RW JAROME IGINLA has sold his Calgary home for nearly C$4M “after being on the real estate market for just one day” (CALGARY HERALD, 4/25)….Former MLBer FRANK THOMAS put his “six-bedroom, 5,700-square-foot home” in Libertyville, Ill., on the market for $1.95M. He paid $1.8M for the home in '07 (, 4/24).

NAMES: Texans RB ARIAN FOSTER will “play the role of fictional NFL draft prospect Ray Jennings” in the film “DRAFT DAY” (, 4/24)….Hedge fund manager WARREN LICHTENSTEIN is bringing Rays investor ANDREW CADER into his “costly legal battle” with ex-girlfriend ANNABELLE BOND, “accusing Cader of conspiring to defraud him by aiding Bond to inflate her required child-support costs” (N.Y. POST, 4/25)….Falcons Owner ARTHUR BLANK will host PRESIDENT OBAMA and U.S. Sen. MICHAEL BENNET (D-Colo.) at a “special brunch reception” for the Democratic Senatorial Congressional Committee at the Arthur Blank Family Foundation HQs in Atlanta (, 4/24)….Former MLBer BRET SABERHAGEN “decided to auction off much of his personal memorabilia at an online site that also features other former athletes.” Saberhagen initially “rebuffed an offer to sell the items, but he realized that most of his collection was gathering dust in a storage unit.” Proceeds from the auction will “go to his charitable foundation and his four children” (K.C. STAR, 4/25)….Bruins D ANDREW FERENCE and his daughter STELLA were “among the locals who came out to celebrate the reopening of the Boston Public Library” (BOSTON GLOBE, 4/25).

IN MEMORY: Buffalo News sports columnist LARRY FELSER, who “chronicled Buffalo sports for more than 50 years and became an icon in the newspaper business, died Wednesday at age 80.” Felser worked for the Buffalo News for “38 years, his last 25 as the lead sports columnist for the paper” (BUFFALO NEWS, 4/25).