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Volume 24 No. 115

People and Pop Culture

As Monumental Sports & Entertainment Founder, Chair & CEO TED LEONSIS "approaches the 15th anniversary of his foray into professional sports ownership next May," he "likes much of what he sees when he surveys his ... dominion," according to a profile by Ben Fischer of the WASHINGTON BUSINESS JOURNAL. Leonsis owns a Capitals team that has "nearly tripled in value under his watch, a growing roster" of Wizards season-ticket holders, an "emerging new media powerhouse and a vibrant, busy downtown arena." Leonsis "firmly rejects the notion that a window of goodwill for the team or himself might be closing among frustrated Capitals fans in particular as seasons keep ending prematurely." In a "sharp turn in strategy compared with his early days, he's embraced the long game, shunned quick-fix moves and knows he has to keep tinkering and hope for a bit of luck." Leonsis said, "If we don't win the Stanley Cup, we do what? Will people cancel their season tickets? Will sponsors stop supporting us? Will Verizon say, 'No, we don't want to be on the Verizon Center anymore?' No, I don't live in fear of that." Leonsis' own "patience may be the defining story of his tenure at the top," as he has "transformed into a different kind of owner, a more resolute, sanguine leader who keeps an eye on the big picture." Leonsis knows the "difference between disappointment and alienation," but he "sees zero evidence of the latter among fans." Capitals season-ticket renewals "are approaching 100 percent, and merchandise sales [are] near tops in the league." He gets the "benefit of the doubt, in large part because people just like him."

MASTER OF ILLUSION? George Washington Univ. sports management professor MARK HYMAN said that Leonsis "bought himself years of goodwill through his superior marketing and understanding of what matters to consumers." Hyman said, "That's the secret to successfully selling anything, creating the impression -- and sometimes the illusion -- of that personal touch. And he's done that pretty well." The Wizards and Capitals "are still both losing money, which actually may help Leonsis among his followers." But the Capitals "are close, narrowing" their losses to $1M in '12, down from $9.1M in '10. Leonsis said that the Wizards "are losing much more," though he declined to provide a figure. He said that if the Wizards improve, he will "raise ticket prices and cut the team's losses." But a "major point is still coming for Leonsis: The expiration of Monumental's TV contract with Comcast Sports Net to produce Capitals games comes in three years, Wizards games in seven." Leonsis said that a bigger payment to Monumental "under that contract would immediately put the entire enterprise in the black." Or, he "may create a joint venture with Comcast Sports Net or abandon it altogether and do it in-house" (WASHINGTON BUSINESS JOURNAL, 11/22 issue).

The American Athletic Conference named former IndyCar VP/PR JOHN GRIFFIN Associate Commissioner for Communications & Brand Marketing. Griffin had been running his own consultancy (AAC)....The CFL Winnipeg Blue Bombers promoted acting GM KYLE WALTERS to GM. He had been handling those duties since Aug. 13. Walters previously was Assistant GM and Dir of Canadian Scouting with the team (Blue Bombers)....Learfield Sports named Associate GM of the Univ. of Miami's Hurricane Sports Properties JIM MCIVER GM for MVC Sports Properties, the marketing partner of the Missouri Valley Conference (Learfield).

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MSG Exec Chair JAMES DOLAN has "shown some success in promoting" his band, JD & THE STRAIGHT SHOT, and has "appeared willing to flex his corporate muscle to boost" the group. One of the band's songs, "CAN'T MAKE TEARS," has been "used on the show, 'HELL ON WHEELS,' which airs on AMC." AMC is controlled by Cablevision. Show creator JOE GAYTON said that Dolan "is a huge fan of the show and let it be known he wanted one of his songs featured on it." Dolan's band has also opened for WILLIE NELSON and THE EAGLES. Additionally, Dolan on Saturday announced that one of the band's songs would be "featured in an upcoming JULIA ROBERTS movie, 'AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY'" (N.Y. TIMES, 11/27).

ON THE ROCKS: Sources said that "numerous claims of inappropriate behavior were brought" against former Stony Brook Univ. AD JIM FIORE "prior to his dismissal by the school on Nov. 19." Sources said that Fiore is "accused of discriminating against employees based on gender, age and sexual orientation." The sources added that Stony Brook's Office of Diversity and Affirmative Action "received several complaints about Fiore and had knowledge of his misconduct for at least two years but failed to act." Among the complaints against Fiore are "sexual harassment and retaliation, misappropriation of university resources, and that he interrogated people about their sexuality" (, 11/26).

NAMES: Baseball America named Triple-A PCL Omaha Storm Chasers President & GM MARTIE CORDARO MiLB Exec of the Year (Baseball America)....MLS named Revolution G MATT REIS the MLS Works Humanitarian of the Year (MLS)....Trail Blazers and Seahawks Owner PAUL ALLEN has purchased an 8-bedroom, 8-bath mansion in Atherton, Calif., for $27M (, 11/26).