Former Panthers Stadium LLC President JON RICHARDSON, the oldest son of NFL Panthers Owner JERRY RICHARDSON, died yesterday at the age of 53 "after a long battle with cancer," according to Jones & Person of the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER. Richardson had served as president of what is "now known as Bank of America Stadium from the team's inception until his resignation" in '09. He had "successfully battled cancer while he worked for the Panthers." But the disease "returned, and its effects required him to use a wheelchair." Funeral arrangements are pending. Jon Richardson and his brother, MARK, "resigned abruptly from high-ranking positions with the team" on Sept. 1, 2009. The brothers "remained part of the ownership group but maintained a low profile after their resignations." Jon Richardson "oversaw several stadium improvement projects," including a $5.5M "renovation of the club level in 2003, the replacement of the playing field in 2004 and the installation" of LED boards in '07. One of his "final projects was the addition of a new scoreboard and sound system" in '08 (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 7/17). In Charlotte, Scott Fowler writes, "What I liked most about Jon Richardson ... was what a normal guy he was." Jon Richardson, like his father, was "very much a down-to-earth man." Fowler: "You could tell he enjoyed literally getting in on the ground level of the stadium, where the groundskeepers took care of the field" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 7/17). ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas, a former Charlotte Observer Panthers reporter, wrote, "Much like his father, Jon Richardson was a man of the people." He "didn't flaunt his wealth or status and was well respected by the team's employees" (ESPN.com, 7/16).
People and Pop Culture
Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment President & CEO TIM LEIWEKE has "mapped a victory-parade route" for the Maple Leafs, according to Miller & Lam of BLOOMBERG NEWS. Leiweke said on Monday in his first interview since joining MLSE, "I have it planned out and it’s going to be fantastic." He added of coming to the company, "What intrigued me the most is the opportunity to have an organization here that can aspire to be much more successful and a greater brand than it currently is." Leiweke said of the Maple Leafs' Game 7 playoffs defeat after losing a three-goal lead to the Bruins, "I think they need a few ass-kickings, and that’s one that will stay with them for a long time. I think it will pay huge dividends in the long term no matter how painful it was." He said of MLSE execs, "Our owners know we’ve got to be patient and stop knee-jerking like we have in the past." In return he has "pledged to double the value of Maple Leaf Sports in the next five to seven years." Leiweke: "Winning does a lot of that, 30 percent minimum comes just from winning." He said that MLSE can "drive fresh profit" from being "more creative with live entertainment and broadcasting." He added that MLSE is "open to acquiring non-hockey-related sports franchises in Canada." Leiweke said of the Raptors, "We need to be a lot better than we are right now, because right now we’re not very good. We have 35 million people that are our audience. We own Canada, it is our home, our territory and our region and we have to act like it. I’m not even sure we deserve Toronto" (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 7/16).
TRIMMING THE FAT: In Toronto, Cathal Kelly notes Leiweke has been living in the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Toronto "since his arrival in May." His wife, BERNADETTE, has remained in L.A., "helping plan daughter FRANCESCA’s wedding in mid-August." After the wedding, the whole family "will move north." Leiweke has "lost 40 pounds since January." Leiweke is "impressive in front of a group," and one-on-one he is "Clintonian." The "key to this charisma is the apparent guilelessness of his enthusiasm, the easy confidence." Leiweke said, "I'm tired of talking to fans about '62, '63, '64 and '67. I get that it's important. I honour our history, but it ain't what we're selling any more." He has "grown bullish on the Leafs" and GM DAVE NONIS, who is "renegotiating his own deal." Leiweke: "Nonis and I are absolutely, 100 per cent on the same page. That really pleased me a lot, because it was something I wasn't sure about when I came in." Leiweke said of the Raptors, "Basketball was exactly the opposite (to the Leafs). We needed to change the view, the culture and the leadership. ... Energy, enthusiasm and work ethic are what we need to get the Raptors out of the hole they're in. I came here, and I didn't think we had it" (TORONTO STAR, 7/17). Leiweke said, "I didn't get along with the GM (BRYAN COLANGELO) ... so we brought in somebody who sees the world the same way I do" (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 7/16).
CHANGE WILL DO YOU GOOD? In Toronto, Joe Warmington wrote it "appears change is coming" to the Maple Leafs. The "long-suffering Leafs fans certainly won't mind at all if it means there is a Stanley Cup attached to it." Is it "sacrilegious?" It is "certainly a new way of thinking." But Leaf fans' reaction to Leiweke's comments "was mixed" (TORONTO SUN, 7/16). Also in Toronto, Steve Buffery writes Leiweke "continues to talk a big game." He is "brash and confident," and there is "nothing wrong with aiming high." But his "final statement -- the part about getting rid of pics of former Leafs greats and not living in the past -- sounds like the words of a guy who cares little for the sporting tradition of this city." Buffery: "Have some respect for the market, for tradition" (TORONTO SUN, 7/17).
ERIC WINTER is a digital media guru, currently serving as Head of Rivals.com, while also handling Yahoo Sports Radio and the company's strategic alliance with NBC Sports. Winter also had previous digital-related stints with DirecTV and the Padres. His position at Yahoo puts him at the forefront of what has become an ever-evolving industry. Winter recently discussed the changes he is seeing in media, how to thrive in the digital realm and his affinity for a particular clothing company.
On Yahoo Sports' partnership with NBC Sports...
We are ten times better of an organization and a digital property with our partners at NBC. Before the alliance, we were flying by the seat of our pants on what we like to call the one-off agreement.
On Rivals' competition in the college recruiting realm...
Our competitors aren’t limited to startups; our competition, as I continually remind the team, is search. Because every media outlet today covers the world of college football and college basketball recruiting, whereas three years ago, you couldn’t get local affiliates to cover it; you couldn’t get newspapers to cover it. Well, now everybody covers it. I’m not worried about pop-up, restaurant-like startups entering into our space. ... Our biggest competitor is: A user can now go into a Yahoo search bar and type in, "VCU basketball recruiting," and whoever is performing well digitally is going to rank the highest and the user is going to click on that link.
How companies will thrive in digital media...
The winners in digital media will be what I like to call the whole-house solution, or the whole-house provider. You can’t just be an expert at blogging; you can’t just be an expert at recruiting. You have to deliver content in a variety of media outlets and a variety of media ways.
Best advice ever received...
My mentor is a woman named JAYNE HANCOCK. She was the associate athletic director at San Diego State when I was there. She went on to become (DirecTV Dir of Sports Marketing), and I was at DirecTV Sports for seven-and-a-half years. Her No. 1 advice was, "Get out of your chair, get out of your office, stop relying on e-mail, stop relying on IM, pick up the phone, go face-to-face, have a personal relationship with everyone you’re in contact with, whether it’s colleagues or business counterparts." And No. 2 is something I’ve always lived by. It’s a phrase that comes from the founder of Taoism, LAO TZU, and I’ve lived by this phrase: "To know that you do not know is best. To pretend to know when one does not know is a disease. Only when one recognizes this disease as a disease can he be free from it."
What digital media needs more of...
To open up its door more and to be more cohesive and to give opportunities to anyone who wants to learn more. ... I have a rule at Rivals.com -- you have to reply to an e-mail or a message board post or a phone call or a tweet or a Facebook post within 24 hours. ... I don’t want us to feel -- and give the appearance -- that we’re better than other people.
Best spot for a business lunch and dinner?
Best business lunch in Santa Monica proper is called Umami Burger. Best business dinner is the best steakhouse in the country, Mastro’s Steakhouse. Only the one in Beverly Hills. I’m not joking, their customer service and how they handle their guests is phenomenal and that’s the way every business needs to act.
I love clothing, so nothing cures a rugged week more than shopping at my favorite tailor, G. Pierce Clothing. I probably have over 100 custom shirts.
USOC Managing Dir of Partnership Marketing MITCH POLL is taking over management of the organization’s entire partnership marketing division. Poll will oversee a staff of 10 responsible for supporting and approving marketing plans developed by the USOC’s 24 domestic partners. He previously split management of the division with Managing Dir of Partnership Marketing SUSAN GOLDSMITH, but she is stepping back from her managerial role in order to relocate from Colorado Springs to Park City, Utah, where she has family (Tripp Mickle, Staff Writer).
AROUND THE HOOP: The WNBA Dream named SARAH RYAN Sponsorship Sales Consultant. Ryan is the wife of Falcons QB MATT RYAN (Dream)….Sources said that the Bobcats have promoted LARRY JORDAN to Dir of Player Personnel. Jordan, who is the brother of Bobcats Owner MICHAEL JORDAN, will report to President of Basketball Operations ROD HIGGINS and GM RICH CHO. He “fills a position that was vacant for three years” following the departure of BUZZ PETERSON (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 7/16).
EXECS: RSE-owned Insignia Sports & Entertainment named Discovery Communications Account Exec BRETT EHRLICH VP/Corporate Partnerships & Media Sales. Ehrlich also had previous stints with CAA Sports, SportsNet N.Y., Turner Sports and the NBA (THE DAILY)….Virginia Tech named ROB HARRIS Dir of Men’s Basketball Operations (DAILYPRESS.com, 7/16)….Florida Int’l Univ. named Florida Atlantic Univ. Dir of Football Operations SEAN TODD to the same position (MIAMI HERALD, 7/17)….Northern Illinois Univ. named Univ. of Wisconsin Deputy AD SEAN FRAZIER Associate VP & AD (CHICAGOTRIBUNE.com, 7/16)….F1 team Williams named PAT SYMONDS Chief Technical Officer (REUTERS, 7/16).Do you have an executive announcement? If so, please send to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In Cleveland, Alison Grant reported Browns Owner JIMMY HASLAM III's Pilot Flying J "reached a settlement agreement" yesterday with eight trucking companies that sued Pilot "over claims of fuel rebate fraud -- a tentative deal that could halt a nationwide string of lawsuits against the family business." Haslam agreed to "pay firms that were shorted by his truck stop chain everything they're due, plus six percent annual interest." The agreement "doesn't spell out exactly what the settlement will cost" Pilot Flying J, but it "could total tens of millions of dollars" (CLEVELAND.com, 7/16). In Nashville, Walter Roche Jr. notes even with the settlement, there still are "13 other suits pending in state and federal courts" (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 7/17).
LENDING A HAND: Billabong yesterday said that it will "replace its chief executive and announced that it had secured a financing package" from Altamont Capital Partners worth US$364M to help with "its working capital needs and to pay down debt." Billabong said that former Oakley CEO SCOTT OLIVET "would succeed" CEO LAUNA INMAN (NYTIMES.com, 7/16).
MAKING THINGS RIGHT: UFL Sacramento Mountain Lions Owner PAUL PELOSI yesterday said that he will "make good on the debts" he has to former coaches. Pelosi added that he "hopes the Mountain Lions can resume play, possibly next spring -- along with the other members of the moribund" UFL. He acknowledged that reviving the franchise "requires paying off old debts first" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 7/17)....Nets coach JASON KIDD yesterday pleaded “guilty to DWI in a crash that destroyed his SUV and a light pole last summer.” Kidd agreed to give “two lectures about the dangers of drunken driving at a pair of unidentified Suffolk County high schools as part of his plea deal.” If he “fulfills those obligations by Sept. 30, Kidd will see his current misdemeanor drunken-driving conviction knocked down to driving while ability impaired” (N.Y. POST, 7/17).
NAMES: Tennis player AGNIESZKA RADWANSKA has been "dropped from her role as ambassador for a Catholic youth movement after she posed nude in ESPN The Magazine's Body Issue" (ESPN.com, 7/16)....Boxing HOFer MIKE TYSON’s Iron Mike Productions will “put on a pair of title bouts at the Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, N.Y., on Aug. 23 as the ESPN2 'Friday Night Fights' season, due to end Aug. 16, is being extended by one week to accommodate the card.” Tyson plans to “attend the card and is expected to appear on the telecast” (ESPN.com, 7/16)….The Mets and MLB “donated $300,000 to renovate an interior courtyard for tots and elementary school kids at Public School 41 in Brownsville, Brooklyn” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/17)….Univ. of Kentucky men’s basketball coach JOHN CALIPARI has written a book, “PLAYERS FIRST: SUCCESS FROM THE INSIDE OUT.” The book, to be published by Penguin Press, tells the “story of just how Calipari built his national championship program at UK, as well as how he reloads each year.” N.Y. Times contributing writer MICHAEL SOKOLOVE “helped Calipari write the book” (Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL, 7/17).