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Volume 25 No. 177

People and Pop Culture

The USL has hired COURT JESKE as its new Exec VP. Jeske, who was an SBJ/SBD "Forty Under 40" honoree in '18, was previously the CEO for USL expansion club Nashville SC, which set league records for both corporate partnership revenue and season-ticket sales in an inaugural season. He also spent more than eight years with Soccer United Marketing, where he helped oversee international events for CONCACAF, the Mexican National Team and U.S. Soccer. Jeske, who left Nashville in November, will join the league’s senior executive team, which includes CEO ALEC PAPADAKIS, President JAKE EDWARDS and COO JUSTIN PAPADAKIS. His duties will include overseeing USL’s club services department, its broadcast and media department, building out events for the league and leading its relationships and communication with other soccer entities in North America. “I saw a chance to combine the work I’d done with MLS and SUM and the experience I’ve gained at the club level, and now help across the league in various markets,” Jeske said. “There’s a tremendous growth opportunity not only for the USL and its franchises but soccer here in North America." Jeske and his family will relocate from Nashville to Tampa, where USL is based, later this spring ahead of the start of the league’s ’19 season.

Vinik will be the fund's sole investment decision-maker, with the support of three analysts to start

Lightning Owner JEFF VINIK is "planning to relaunch his hedge-fund firm" Vinik Asset Management out of Tampa in what would "mark his third return to investing clients’ money," according to Chung & Levy of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Vinik said that he "plans to run the firm for the next five to 10 years." A source said that Vinik hopes to raise $3B for the firm and "plans to launch March 1." Vinik: "I miss the markets, I miss picking stocks, I miss competing. I’ve been doing it with my family money for the last five years, but it’s not the same as being in the big leagues and competing on an institutional basis." Vinik since '13 has been "investing his own money" while being "focused on the Lightning, among other projects." He "sold his minority stake" in the Red Sox last year (, 1/10). In Tampa, Richard Danielson notes Vinik will be the fund's "sole investment decision-maker, with the support of three analysts to start." Vinik also will "bring back his fund's former leadership team." Infrastructure support will come from Vinik Asset Management co-President GERRY COUGHLIN's "institutional hedge fund services business, Oakpoint Advisors" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 1/10). Vinik said, “I've only known one way of investing for 35, 40 years, and that is good old-fashioned stock picking” ("Squawk Box," CNBC, 1/10). 

"Going Off The Grid" is a weekly survey of sports execs and personalities offering their thoughts on a handful of pressing (and trivial) issues in sports and pop culture. This week, our panelists give their Super Bowl LIII predictions and debate Bryce Harper vs. Manny Machado.

  • Intersport Exec VP/Strategic Partnerships Ryan McSpadden
    -- Re-reading “The Magic of Thinking Big” by David Schwartz.
  • Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment CRO Jake Reynolds
    -- Enjoys skiing in his home state of Utah in the "greatest snow on earth."
  • Blinder CEO Ross McConnell
    -- Believes "Grease," which he just showed to his three sons, has aged quite well.
  • Clutch Management Managing Partner Warren Vigus
    -- Is a sneakerhead. Loves signature throwbacks from the '90s.
Going Off The Grid
Super Bowl prediction? What sports movie should be rebooted? Bigger impact on new team: Harper or Machado? Favorite office snack food? Prefer traditional fantasy sports, daily fantasy or sports betting?
Chiefs over Saints
Looking forward to the next "Creed"
Bryce Harper
Raw veggies
Traditional fantasy

Chiefs over Saints
"Mighty Ducks 4" & "Talladega Nights 2"
Bryce Harper -- the only person with better hair than Scott O'Neil
Sour Patch Kids for the win
Traditional fantasy with my friends
Saints over Chiefs
Manny Machado
Potato chips
I really can't be bothered with any of it
Patriots over Saints
"Nickelodeon Guts" with pro athletes
Bryce Harper -- more personality, more to prove
Ice-cold Coke
Keep it old school with traditional fantasy

Do you want to get your thoughts in the Grid? If so, shoot an e-mail to

Download the
Going Off The Grid chart

Sabres Senior VP/Administration and HarborCenter GM MICHAEL GILBERT "has resigned" from both jobs. This "comes on the heels of the departure" of HarborCenter VP & Dir of Hockey and NWHL Buffalo Beauts GM NIK FATTEY. However, a source "insisted that the two departures are unrelated." Gilbert "served in a variety of roles" with the Sabres. He was the team's longtime PR Dir and its "most prominent media contact before transitioning" to a VP role in '11 and his most recent roles in '16 (, 1/10).

EXECS: FC Dallas promoted assistant coach MARCO FERRUZZI to Dir of Soccer Operations. Ferruzzi will step away from coaching duties (FC Dallas)....The Cubs promoted KYLE EVANS to Senior Dir of Player Personnel and JEFF GREENBERG to Dir of Pro Scouting & Baseball Operations (Cubs)....The Braves "released" Dir of Scouting BRIAN BRIDGES and Senior Adviser to Amateur Scouting ROY CLARK. Both men "assumed their posts" in '14 (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 1/10)....Fox Sports' Home Team Sports sales unit hired two new Account Executives in Group Nine Media Account Dir KATIE PARSELS and Google Senior Video Account Executive JAMIE COHEN (THE DAILY)....The National Sports Marketing Network named KRISTEN KULIGA to its National Executive Board (NSMN).

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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

LAFC President & co-Owner TOM PENN "will be the recipient" of the L.A. Sports Council's '18 Sports Executive of the Year award, to be given at the 14th Annual L.A. Sports Awards ceremony on March 25 (, 1/9).

NAMES: Capitals RW DEVANTE SMITH-PELLY and D JOHN CARLSON decided to invite 13-year-old hockey player DIVYNE APOLLON and his "entire team for a future game." Apollon, who is black, has "faced racist taunts and chants" (WASHINGTON POST, 1/10)....Penguins C EVGENI MALKIN "donated almost $60,000 to victims of a New Year's Eve apartment explosion in his hometown of Magnitogorsk, Russia" (, 1/9)....Bucks F GIANNIS ANTETOKOUNMPO, F KHRIS MIDDLETON and G MALCOLM BROGDON will appear in PSAs "encouraging mentorship through the team's new partnership" with Milwaukee Public Schools and the city of Milwaukee to "recruit mentors for 1,000 Milwaukee youth over the next two years" (, 1/9).

The Super Bowl returns to Atlanta for the first time since 2000, with the gleaming new Mercedes-Benz Stadium and Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank playing host. We examine the impact that the new stadium has had on the community and how the city will welcome the biggest of the big events in sports. We look back on how much has changed since Atlanta hosted the Super Bowl in 1994 and 2000.

Publishing Date: January 28

Ad Close: January 14

Materials Due: January 16

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