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Volume 25 No. 107

People and Pop Culture

Gertz admits her change in career paths is "not your everyday Hollywood actress tale"
Photo: NBAE/GETTY IMAGES

Actress JAMI GERTZ, wife of Hawks Principal Owner & Chair TONY RESSLER, is the "public face" of the team, and the couple's "division of duties is by design," according to a profile by Seth Abramovitch of the HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. Gertz is "all smiles out front, while Ressler furiously works behind the scenes to lift the Hawks out of the cellar." Ressler said of Gertz' role, "It's fair to say that she makes a better impression on our fan base than any of us in the organization. I'm very active on the business and player personnel decision-making. But Jami steps in when it comes to so many parts of the business that I did not appreciate or have any experience in." Ressler said that one example of this was a "rousing pep talk" Gertz gave to 1,500 "new employees hired to work at the soon-to-reopen" State Farm Arena. In May, Ressler "insisted that Gertz represent the team" at the NBA Draft lottery in what was "essentially her coming out party as the face of the Hawks." Gertz being the team's ambassador at the lottery was "not popular with NBA officials, who typically want the role to be filled by a team legend." Ressler: "But I said f--- it. I'd rather go with Jami" (HOLLYWOODREPORTER.com, 10/11).

DAVID BECKHAM sold his home in Beverly Hills in an "off-market move" for just over $33.1M. The Italian villa-style mansion was built in '07. The home has more than 13,000 square feet of living space that "includes formal living and dining rooms, an elevator, a library and a media/music room." There are "six bedrooms and nine bathrooms." Covered and uncovered patios outside the house "flank a large grassy field." A swimming pool and pool deck also "sit across from the lawn" (LATIMES.com, 10/4)....Maple Leafs C JOHN TAVARES purchased a home in the "family-friendly" High Park neighborhood of Toronto for C$3.6M. The home features five bedrooms, five bathrooms, "several sizable walk-in closets, a rec room and home theatre in the basement all spread across 6,000 square feet." The finishes in the home are "high end without being gaudy" (THEGLOBEANDMAIL.com, 10/9)....Basketball HOFer SCOTTIE PIPPEN has "cut the asking price" on his Highland Park, Ill., home to $2.25M. A gym and an outdoor pool were added after Pippen bought the 10,000-square-foot home. The six-bedroom house, which sits on 2.6 acres, also has a "two-story living room, two master suites and an indoor basketball court with an oversized mockup of Pippen's Bulls jersey emblazoned on the floor" (CHICAGOBUSINESS.com, 10/5).

Lewis, a longtime sports fan, believes flag football will only grow in popularity down the line
Photo: JEFF LEWIS

American Flag Football League Founder & CEO JEFF LEWIS has been hard at work this week in the organization's N.Y. offices helping prepare for the league's second season, and this weekend he'll take some time to not only roam the sidelines for his own son's game, but also study the NFL product in an effort to increase the AFFL's popularity in the coming years. Lewis, who before taking the reins of the league spent a decade at Guggenheim Partners, took THE DAILY through the league office's immediate points of emphasis, what he takes away from the NFL model and whether he gives the referees the business in his son's games. Lewis: "This job's great because now when I’m watching the NFL on Sundays I can tell my wife I’m actually working. How many people can use that excuse?" 

INSIDE THE AFFL: We’re putting things into place for our second season, which is going to be a little different than the first. We're a sports league that doesn’t yet look exactly like a traditional one. If you buy an MLS team, you have to build a stadium. That’s part of the drill. But once you build that, your problem is finding other people to use your stadium when you’re not. As we’re tenants rather than owners, we constantly have to find good facilities for our games. So that’s been a big thing in our offices this week, finding the right venues and making sure we can set them up properly in the right parts of the country. We’re also about to start the process of signing up our teams again. The way we operate is we have a tournament that features 128 teams from all over the country. We’re setting up where those preliminary games will take place and how those teams will be selected. We’ve also been working on introducing our first four teams that will be based in cities. They’ll participate in the tournament this year and then next year they’ll play a full 10-game schedule and we’ll start to resemble a more traditional league. We’ve been working with our advisers on that and shortly we’ll have a pocket of people who’ll hopefully want to own those teams.

WEEKEND DOCKET: Usually, at the end of a week Friday isn’t a real big night for me. Our kids are in 8th and 9th grade, and in New York we’re right in the middle of bar mitzvah season. The next three Saturdays I’m at either a bar mitzvah or bat mitzvah, which will be a service in the morning then party at night. We have our son playing in a flag football game of his own on Saturday, which I'll coach, then Sunday I’m watching football. Our games are on the NFL Network, where we’ve been working together to try to create an interesting way to present our league. I look at everything differently now. How they’re being presented, the issues with referees and roughing-the-passer, keeping the flow of the game moving. I’m always thinking about how these things effect what we’re doing. 

SUPPORTING THE BIG BLUE: I’m a Giants fan, even though it’s not easy. I just believe fundamentally you can’t take a running back second overall in the draft considering the longevity of their careers and the random walks of where some of the greats have come from. So many were undrafted or late picks. SAQUON BARKLEY is clearly one of the most talented backs in the NFL, the guy's amazing. But we’re 1-4. If you look at what drives success in the league, I always come back to offensive line play.

COACH'S CORNER: Having coached my son's team over the years, I’ve had to rein myself in a little bit on the sidelines. There’s no question I’ve had some moments of which I’m not proud. It’s funny, the one thing for which I won’t apologize is there have been times where I’ve felt games got really physical. Then the other coach was encouraging his team to play that way, which really wasn’t appropriate. I don’t really care if the ref makes an honest mistake, but I’ll get a little hot under the collar about that sort of thing. 

Know of someone you'd like to see featured in Weekend Plans? Shoot an email to tleary@sportsbusinessdaily.com.

MGM Resorts Int'l named GEORGE KLIAVKOFF President of Entertainment & Sports. Kliavkoff, who had been CEO of VR outfit Jaunt, will drive entertainment and sports operations while developing and maintaining partnerships within the industry. He will be responsible for the operations, finance, strategy, booking, marketing, sponsorships and ticketing for MGM Resorts' more than 30 theaters, including T-Mobile Arena, MGM Grand Garden and Mandalay Bay Events Center (MGM Resorts).

EXECS: The Univ. of Minnesota Board of Regents voted to approve a "three-year contract extension" for AD MARK COYLE, who has held the job since May '16. Financial terms of the extension are "largely the same" -- Coyle could earn over $1M each year, "with incentives" (STARTRIBUNE.com, 10/11)....PCL Construction named CATHY ORQUIOLA VP & District Manger for its California Buildings Division. She is the first woman to hold a VP post for the construction firm. PCL's California office has done work on Dodger Stadium renovations and LAFC's new Banc of California Stadium (Mike Sunnucks, THE DAILY)....Oak View Group named L.A. City Council member MITCHELL ENGLANDER Exec VP/Government Affairs. Englander will start Jan. 1 (DAILYNEWS.com, 11/11)....The PGA of America elected Bank of America Chief Administration Officer ANDREA SMITH to its BOD as an Independent Dir. She replaces SETH WAUGH, who was named PGA CEO in August (PGA)....THINK450, the NBPA's licensing and marketing subsidiary, promoted Associate Counsel JOI GARNER to General Counsel (NBPA)....Learfield shifted Cyclone Sports Properties Manager of Business Development BRENDAN FALVEY to GM of its Mountain West Sports Properties team. Learfield also named Univ. of San Diego Dir of Baseball Operations & Marketing Manager DREW POMEROY Coordinator of its Mountain West Properties team (Learfield)....The NBA G League Delaware Blue Coats named Dir of Basketball Operations & Scouting MATT LILLY interim GM. Lilly replaces ELTON BRAND, who was promoted to 76ers GM. The Blue Coats also named BRADY GRABER Manager of Basketball Operations (Blue Coats).

Do you have an executive announcement? If so, please send to editorial@sportsbusinessdaily.com.

Create your own Executive Transaction

Ready to make your next great hire? Or take the next step in your career? Connect with the industry’s top employers and job seekers on the Sports Business Career Link. For more information, contact Megi Beqiraj at 212-500-0705, or mbeqiraj@sportsbusinessjournal.com.

Quibi, which is in talks with Timberlake, plans to produce more than 70 programs in its first year
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Sources said that JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE and KOBE BRYANT are "in talks to create programs for a new online service called Quibi," and the two would produce and appear in original series. The new video service, "whose name is short for quick bites," is led by former DreamWorks CEO JEFFREY KATZENBERG and former HP and eBay CEO MEG WHITMAN. Sources said that the service "plans to produce more than 70 programs in its first year, about half of which will be original series." The other half "will be a mix of short news clips, sports and lifestyle videos" (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 10/10).

THE GOOD STUFF: Children in outer southeast Portland on Thursday gathered at the city's Parklane Park with Nike, the Trail Blazers and other guests to celebrate the beginning of the '18 Portland Basketball Courts Revitalization Project. The three-year effort, announced in June, will renovate courts in up to 30 Portland Parks & Recreation sites, thanks to a more than $1M donation by Nike and the Trail Blazers (Trail Blazers)....Pro Football HOFer ANTHONY MUNOZ is traveling across Mexico "hosting football camps designed to teach Hispanic youths not only the sport but also character development and team building." He said that he started the camps "through his non-profit foundation 18 years ago and since has partnered" with the NFL and Pro Football HOF (USA TODAY, 10/12).

NAMES: Lakers investor PATRICK SOON-SHIONG, who owns the L.A. Times, has "cut ties” with the investor conference in Saudi Arabia over the disappearance of Washington Post journalist JAMAL KHASHOGGI (CNBC.com, 10/12)....RENEE BENSON, the estranged daughter of late Saints and Pelicans Owner TOM BENSON, is "selling the last three" of her father's San Antonio car dealerships (THEADVOCATE.com, 10/11)....Mexico President-elect ANDRES MANUEL LOPEZ OBRADOR has "turned down an invitation" to a future Astros game from club President of Baseball Operations JEFF LUHNOW due to prior commitments (AP, 10/11)....Reebok President MATT O’TOOLE on Monday “joined more than 200 colleagues at the Reebok Boston 10k for Women” (BOSTON GLOBE 10/9)....CBS sideline reporter JENNY DELL and her husband, Phillies 3B WILL MIDDLEBROOKS, have “welcomed their first child,” MADISON (BOSTONGLOBE.com, 10/11)....ESPN’s JAY WILLIAMS and wife NIKKI BONACORSI gave birth to a baby girl, AMELIA BROOKLYN-ROSE WILLIAMS (TWITTER.com, 10/11).

SBJ In-Depth: Sponsorship and Marketing

Activation strategies available to sports markets are abundant, from traditional approaches to digital platforms. Finding the right formula is crucial if sponsors want to exceed their goals. We’ll talk with marketers to identify trends worth watching and strategies that will help brands hit their mark. From grassroots to global, on-site to online, we identify strategies and how they drive awareness and deliver results.

Publishing Date: October 29
Ad Close: October 15
Materials Due: October 17

For more information, contact Julie Tuttle, National Director of Advertising at (212) 500-0711 or jtuttle@sportsbusinessjournal.com