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Volume 26 No. 207

People and Pop Culture

Lightning Owner JEFF VINIK has been deemed the best owner of a Tampa area pro sports team by the TAMPA BAY TIMES' John Romano, who writes it is "impossible to argue" with Vinik's results since he bought the team in '10. Vinik has "become a valuable community asset, he spends money on the team, and he doesn’t meddle in the team’s affairs on the ice." That is "pretty much the definition of a perfect owner." Romano: "You could make a strong argument that Vinik is currently the best owner in all of professional sports." Vinik is followed on the list by Rays Principal Owner STU STERNBERG (No. 2), late former Lightning Owner BILL DAVIDSON (No. 3) and the Buccaneers' GLAZER family (No. 4) (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 8/29).

Jeff Vinik
Stu Sternberg
Bill Davidson
Glazer family
Vince Naimoli
Devil Rays
Art Williams
Hugh Culverhouse
Tom McCloskey
Kokusai Green
Oren Koules & Len Barrie
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Tampa Sports Owners Chart

"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 discuss future facility trends and which chicken sandwich they prefer: Chick-fil-A or Popeyes?

  • Cogent Entertainment Marketing Founder & CEO Mark Zablow
    -- Is an award-winning pretzel chef.
  • 4Front VP/Innovation Brian Gainor
    -- Big fan of kayaking, Univ. of Florida football and "Stranger Things."
  • Varsity Brands Senior VP/Corporate Communications Nicole Lauchaire
    -- Runs the St. Jude Memphis Half Marathon every year.
  • U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Properties Head of Partnership Management & Activation Dave Mingey
    -- Is a dedicated fan of "This Is Us."
Going Off The Grid

Favorite XFL team name/logo One person you would add to Mt. Rushmore? Hottest sports facility trend in five years? Chick-fil-A or Popeyes? Favorite sports podcast
Houston Roughnecks
James Naismith
Crowdsourcing tickets (Half/Qtr)
Andrew Schulz's "Flagrant 2" with Akaash & Kaz

St. Louis BattleHawks
Warren Buffett
Integrating fans worldwide into the live gameday experience
Chick-fil-A, no question!
Guy Raz's "How I Built This"
N.Y. Guardians
Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Julie Foudy's "Laughter Permitted"

N.Y. Guardians
Susan B. Anthony
Continued reduction in the size of stadiums
Chick-fil-A all day
"The Bill Simmons Podcast"

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

Download the
Going Off The Grid chart

The Greater Columbus Sports Commission named Ohio-based HNS Sports Group President DANIEL SULLIVAN Chair. Sullivan replaces BRIAN ELLIS, who has led the commission since '05 (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 8/29)....Delaware North Sportservice named DUSTIN ANDERSON GM of Green Bay, which includes venues such as Lambeau Field, Titletown and The Turn powered by Topgolf Swing Suite. Prodigy Sports was the exclusive, retained executive search firm hired by DNS for the transaction (THE DAILY)....The NHL Kings named MATT RICHARDSON Dir of Global Partnerships (THE DAILY).

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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

Jones (c) expects to make a final decision in November after state election season
Jones (c) expects to make a final decision in November after state election season
Jones (c) expects to make a final decision in November after state election season

Kentucky-based sports media personality MATT JONES is "forming an exploratory committee for a potential U.S. Senate bid" against Senate Majority Leader MITCH MCCONNELL (R-Ky.) in '20. Jones, a Democrat, "expects to come to a final decision on such a run after the election for statewide offices this November." Jones said that he "previously had a deadline imposed on him" by WLEX-NBC to "come to a final decision on a run by the end of August but that station's move to pull him off the 'Hey Kentucky' show he hosted and fire him freed him up to slow down and make a more informed choice." Jones "recently signed a deal with publisher Simon & Schuster to co-author a book that is critical of McConnell" (Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL, 8/29).

POWER FIVE: The N.Y. POST's Braziller & Kussoy listed the "20 most powerful people in college football," and SEC Commissioner GREG SANKEY is ranked No. 1. Sankey, who also serves as NCAA Infractions Committee Chair, has been "in charge of college football’s most powerful conference for the past five years." He "began building a massive network of relationships upon joining" the conference in '02, and is "one of the sport’s most well-liked and respected officials." The SEC is "still king in college football, and Sankey is its most important voice." Sankey is followed by ESPN President JIMMY PITARO (No. 2), Alabama football coach NICK SABAN (No. 3), NCAA President MARK EMMERT (No. 4) and CFP Exec Dir BILL HANCOCK (N.Y. POST, 8/28).

NAMES: Celtics F GORDON HAYWARD and his wife, ROBYN, “organized a clinic” at the Tobin Community Center in Boston for about 50 area girls as part of the NBA’s "Her Time To Play" initiative (BOSTON GLOBE, 8/29)....Former NFLer DOUG BALDWIN is hoping for a “groundbreaking at the site” of the planned Family First Community Center in Renton, Wash., next February, and for the “doors to open in the middle” of ’21. The public-private project has “already raised” $10.5M, and includes a $1M contribution from Baldwin and $70,000 from the Seahawks (SEATTLE TIMES, 8/29)....USWNT F MEGAN RAPINOE will be on Drake Univ.’s campus on Nov. 18 at 7:00pm ET to “take part in the Martin Bucksbaum Distinguished Lecture Series” (, 8/28).

IN MEMORY: Former ESPN and Emmy Award-winning editor JAY LOVINGER died Sunday of “complications from kidney disease” at age 75. Lovinger “helped launch’s Page 2,” assuming the “role of ‘Jackpot Jay’ to chronicle his year as a pro poker player.” He “later edited national writers and dozens of longform feature stories during his 15-year career at ESPN.” He retired in December ’17. Lovinger’s “first national job” was as an editor for Inside Sports magazine before becoming a senior editor at People magazine when Inside Sports folded. Lovinger was later hired to “re-envision The Washington Post Magazine” and after worked for “many years as an assistant managing editor of Life magazine” (, 8/28).

Sports Business Daily seeks a full-time Staff Writer for our Charlotte office. The entry-level position will be responsible for compiling, writing and copy editing daily sports business news from both the U.S. and numerous international regions in a fast-paced, deadline environment. Candidate must have knowledge of -- and interest in -- sports, the business of sports, current events and pop culture. Foreign language skills are desired. Ideal candidate is a collaborative team player, as well as energetic, creative, and a self-starter. To apply for this position, send resumes and writing samples to

Meanwhile, Sports Business Journal seeks a full-time Assistant Managing Editor for our Charlotte office. This position will be responsible for coming up with story and package ideas and seeing them through to completion, as well as editing copy, managing a team of writers and planning and coordinating long-term projects, among other tasks. The candidate must have a knowledge of and interest in sports and the business of sports, be a team player, creative and a self-starter. To apply for this position, send resumes to