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Volume 24 No. 158

People and Pop Culture

Lightning Owner JEFF VINIK has "grand plans for his hockey team, his charitable foundation and, particularly, his considerable downtown real estate holdings" in Tampa, according to a front-page piece by Harrington & Thalji of the TAMPA BAY TIMES. Vinik on Thursday said, "We're dreaming big. I want a thriving center of energy down here in this district. We see a huge amount of potential." Vinik "declined to speculate, discuss specifics or release financial details about most topics." But he did say that he has "recruited real estate experts to help map out developing nearly 20 acres of downtown property he owns near the Tampa Bay Times Forum." He added that he is "compiling a master plan for his Channel District holdings." That project will "likely be built in phases over several years," but Vinik "offered no start date." He "didn't rule out any options: It could be a mix of residential, retail, restaurants and hotels." Vinik said that his "Tampa Live" concept -- similar to the L.A. Live complex next to Staples Center -- is "still in play." Vinik is in the process of "shuttering his hedge fund," but he "didn't rule out jumping back into a hedge fund eventually." He said, "I love the market. I love competing against the market. But I tell you, I worked until 11:30 p.m. at night for the last 25 [years]. I'm looking forward to spending more time with the Lightning." Vinik pledged to "spend more on customer service" following a "major remodeling of the Times Forum," improve food and beverage options and upgrade the locker room (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 5/10).

The F1 Grand Prix of America at Port Imperial, N.J., on Thursday named CHRIS POOK Special Assistant to Exec Chair LEO HINDERY JR. Pook founded and managed the former F1 USA Grand Prix West race in Long Beach, served as CART CEO and was a member of the Dover Motorsports BOD (GP of America). Pook said, "When you've been around as long as I have been and done as many venues as I have, you can walk into a place and know right away if it's doable or not. It's an instinct. And the first time I was shown that course, I said, 'Holy crap' -- it has some challenges, yes, but it's still unbelievable." Speed F1 analyst BOB VARSHA said that Pook's hiring is a "major credibility boost for the race" (Bergen RECORD, 5/10). In Newark, Tomás Dinges wrote Pook's appointment "drew a vote of confidence from" F1 CEO BERNIE ECCLESTONE. F1 officials this week also confirmed the departure of F1 Grand Prix of America CMO TRIP WHEELER and CFO MICHAEL CUMMINGS (, 5/9).

The Bobcats named MLS Fire VP/Corporate Partnerships DAVE BECK VP/Marketing Partnerships. He begins his new job on Monday and replaces most of the duties previously held by MICHAEL WANDELL, who left the Bobcats earlier this year to work for NBA China. Beck will report to Bobcats Senior VP/Ticket Sales & Marketing Partnerships FLAVIL HAMPSTEN (John Lombardo, Staff Writer).

EXECS: BDA Sports Management hired MSG Communications Manager ALYSON FURCH to lead all communications and publicity projects for client and marketing initiatives (THE DAILY)....The Univ. of North Dakota promoted Senior Associate AD/Internal Operations DANIELLA IRLE to Deputy AD. She will continue to serve as Senior Woman Administrator (UND)....The Steelers named PHIL KREIDLER College Scouting Coordinator. He replaces RON HUGHES, who will stay on as College Scouting Senior Assistant. The Steelers also named DAVE PETETT Pro/College Scout and MIKE BUTLER a BLESTO scout (Steelers)....The Chiefs named Falcons National Scout MARVIN ALLEN College Scouting Dir (, 5/9)....McNeese State Univ. named marketing intern DANIELLE MAYEAUX Marketing & Ticket Sales Dir (McNeese).

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Nuggets Exec VP/Basketball Operations MASAI UJIRI said of being named NBA Exec of the Year, "It's a little bittersweet for me. I would trade (this trophy) to be playing now. ... My background is scouting and the love of the game. But tons of people have given me great chances to be here." Ujiri added he is "very positive" he will sign a new contract with the Nuggets this summer (DENVER POST, 5/10).

WILD THING: Wild investor PHIL FALCONE and his firm Harbinger Capital "agreed to a settlement" with the Securities & Exchange Commission that "could end Mr. Falcone's career as a hedge-fund manager." A regulatory filing shows that Harbinger agreed to pay $18M "without admitting or denying allegations of fraud." The agreement bars Falcone "from serving as an investment adviser for two years, meaning he also cannot raise new capital or make new investments through the fund" (, 5/9). Falcone owns a 39% stake in the Wild. The team in a statement said the settlement "does not affect the Minnesota Wild in any way" (, 5/9).

CHARM CITY: In Baltimore, Jean Marbella profiles Under Armour Founder, Chair & CEO KEVIN PLANK, writing Baltimore and its "blue-collar ethos, Maryland and its horse racing tradition, College Park and the Terps ... ground and inspire him." Plank said, "I'm from Maryland. ... I can't move, because I'm from Maryland. This is our town. If we don't stay and fight for our town, who's going to stay and fight for it?" (Baltimore SUN MAGAZINE, 5/12).

COURT REPORT: Lakers G KOBE BRYANT is "demanding his mother keeps her hands off his merchandise." Bryant in a court filing on Wednesday said that he "never gave his mother permission to sell mementos from his high school days and early professional basketball career." PAMELA BRYANT earlier this year arranged to "auction it off through Berlin, N.J.-based Goldin Auctions and received a $450,000 advance" (AP, 5/9).

REAL ESTATE ROUNDUP: Atlantic City has approved an agreement with TNT's SHAQUILLE O'NEAL and his partner Boraie Development that will "bring a major redevelopment project to Atlantic City's South Inlet, highlighted by a movie theater and a supermarket." The centerpiece of the $75M project is a Shaq Cityplex-branded movie theater (, 5/9)....Late IMG Chair & CEO TED FORSTMANN's Southampton, N.Y., home sold for $24M. The 8,600-square-foot home originally was listed for $34M in March '12 (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 5/10)....Bills coach DOUG MARRONE has listed his 6,127-square-foot home in Jamesville, N.Y., complete with an indoor basketball court, salt-water pool and movie screen, for $1.19M (, 5/9).

NAMES: Former Michigan G and NBA Draft prospect TREY BURKE "will be represented" by his father, BENJI, as part of a new division of the Infinite Sports group, a "primarily NFL-based agency that was founded by" Benji Burke's cousin ALONZO SHAVERS (, 5/9)....Redskins Owner DAN SNYDER's wife, TANYA, was named the American Cancer Society's Mother of the Year (, 5/9)....Penguins co-Owner RON BURKLE is backing a new multi-faceted company called IBZ Entertainment through the Y Entertainment Group division of his private equity firm Yucaipa (, 5/7)....Former MLBer CHIPPER JONES on Thursday was a guest speaker at Emory's Class Day, a prelude to Monday's commencement exercises (N.Y. TIMES, 5/10).