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Volume 25 No. 177
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Eric Eisner, Zach Leonsis Talk Career Paths, Working In Family Business

Both Eric Eisner and Zach Leonsis followed their fathers into sports business. Eisner, a director of English soccer club Portsmouth since August ’17, and Leonsis, who works with his father at Monumental Sports & Entertainment, said they are glad they went into the family business. They discussed their career paths and the clubs they help run during the ‘18 SBJ Dealmakers in Sports conference in N.Y. Leonsis said that he is optimistic the Capitals’ Stanley Cup celebration in June will have as much of an impact on the future of the team’s fan base as previous championships by the city’s other teams. “During the parade, we had close to 700,000 people along Constitution Avenue and the National Mall,” Leonsis said. “When you looked into the crowd, it was filled with families, families with younger children and kids in college who are going to be sticking around Washington, DC, after graduating. This will be the moment that’s indelible in their memories the same way the Redskins parade was for the generation ahead of me.”

FOCUS ON FANS: Eisner said he hopes to share moments like that with fans of Portsmouth, which competes in League One. A string of failures by previous Portsmouth owners meant that Eisner and his father, former Disney Chair Michael Eisner, had to convince the club’s fans that they were the right group to reverse the team’s fortunes. “They were very specific that they needed someone that could take them all the way,” said the younger Eisner. “We were very up front with them about taking it step by step and gradually building this thing. They’re a very knowledgeable fan base and they didn’t want somebody to come and splash around money.”

A STABLE SHIP: Eisner and Leonsis both highlighted the importance of front-office stability. Eisner complimented the management staff that was in place when his father took over the club and said that keeping the franchise’s leadership intact is a priority. Leonsis said he and his father take pride in Monumental’s “great leadership group.” Leonsis: “We really respect and admire each other. We each bring different skillsets and understand that, too. When you have frequent turnover at the head coach position or the front office/general manager position, you will not get a lot done.”