Sharks Leadership Sees Major Shakeup With Tortora Leaving Team
Sharks Sports & Entertainment co-President John Tortora will be "leaving the organization 'to pursue other opportunities,'" while co-President Jonathan Becher will "become sole president of the organization, effective immediately, and also serve as an alternate governor" for the Sharks with the NHL, according to Curtis Pashelka of the San Jose MERCURY NEWS. Before becoming co-President of SSE, Tortora was the organization's Exec VP & General Counsel from '11-13 and COO from '13-17. Tortora in his latest role was "specifically responsible for overseeing the company's venue operations and its financial, human resources and legal functions." During Tortora's time with the team, the Sharks extended their lease for SAP Center with the city of San Jose until at least '25, played an outdoor game at Levi's Stadium in '15 before more than 70,000 spectators, brought the team's AHL affiliate to San Jose and hosted the NHL All-Star Game last year. A "challenge for the Sharks organization going forward, though, is attendance, which has gradually declined over the last three-plus seasons." In '16-17, the season after the Sharks reached the Stanley Cup Final, average attendance was 17,508, or 99.7% of SAP Center's seating capacity of 17,562. Attendance averaged 17,366 in '17-18 and 17,266 last season, but has "dipped to 16,471 through 25 games this season, with just five games listed as sellouts" (San Jose MERCURY NEWS, 1/24).
NOT MODEL'S FAULT: In California, Jody Meacham noted Becher "went to great lengths to describe the change in terms other than as a result of a competition between he and Tortora or dissatisfaction with Tortora" Becher said, "I was trained in that (dual leadership) model. I've seen it work quite well, and it was working here." Tortora also mentioned his former company SAP's dual leadership model, but said, "These types of things have a shelf life. The business is in a better position than it had been, and I felt that it was a good time to move on." He added that the fact that he and Becher had "complementary skill sets and were able to set their egos aside made the model work" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 1/23).