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Volume 21 No. 1

People and Pop Culture

The Cleveland Indians hired former players Eduardo Perez and Jason Bere as special assistants to baseball operations.

The Seattle Mariners hired former player Ken Griffey Jr. as a special consultant.

The Cleveland Cavaliers hired Christopher Anderson as an account executive.

The Big Ten Conference hired Joshua Munk as associate director of football operations.

Loyola University Chicago hired Grace Calhoun as athletic director. Calhoun was associate athletic director for academic and student engagement at Indiana University.

Infineon Raceway promoted Matt Ellis to director of business development.

Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum general manager Patrick Lynch resigned.

Phil Evans resigned as president and general counsel of the SportsQuest complex in Chesterfield, Va., and general manager of the Indoor Football League’s Richmond Revolution.

USA Football hired Dan Lawrence as digital media production coordinator, Lainey Rodgers as business development coordinator, Andy Ryland as football development manager and Veronica Sander as marketing coordinator.


The Boston Bruins and Delaware North Cos.-Boston promoted Elizabeth d’Entremont to digital marketing manager, Rachael Markovitz to strategic marketing manager and Cole Parsons to creative marketing manager. Also, Bruins director of marketing Chris DiPierro will lead overall digital marketing initiatives for the team and TD Garden.

Gordon & Rees named C. Anthony Mulrain head of the firm’s sports, media and entertainment law practice.

Front Row Marketing Services promoted Eric Smallwood to senior vice president.

IMG College hired Julie Goodwyn as a national sales assistant, Amanda Windsor as director of customer service events, Dudley Commander as a sales representative for Appalachian State University and Mike Gullo as associate general manager for its UCLA property.

Jack Morton Worldwide hired Matt Pensinger as senior vice president and managing director of its Chicago office.

Big Lead Sports promoted Yussuf Khan to vice president of sales.

Learfield Sports hired Jeff Starr as account executive at Cyclone Sports Properties at Iowa State University, Lana Danko as account executive at Tiger Sports at the University of Memphis, Nick Kistler as account executive at Clemson Tiger Sports Properties at Clemson University and Frank Pucher as account executive at Aggie Sports Properties at Utah State University. Learfield also named Brad Poe general manager and Slade Larscheid an account executive for the new Jackrabbit Sports Properties at South Dakota State University.

World Fishing Network named Pete Piper senior director of advertising and sponsorship.

The NHRA named Michael Padian director of social media.

Women’s Professional Soccer hired Kat Galsim as digital manager and Web producer.

The Columbus Crew hired Leah Matthews as advertising and promotions manager.

Sporting Goods and Apparel
Mission hired Adam Geisler as executive vice president of sales and business development and Wendy Kula as vice president of marketing.

Miura Golf hired Charlie Gerber as vice president of U.S. distribution. Gerber was Sundog Eyewear Midwest sales manager.

Speedo hired Mark Wyatt as U.K. commercial director.

Sports Commissions and Tourism Boards
The Greater Columbus Sports Commission promoted Jeffrey John to senior sales manager and Ashlee McQuillan to special projects manager.

Tiffany & Co. promoted Suzanne Taddei to director of strategic partnerships.

USA Boxing named Anthony Bartkowski as executive director.

Contemporary Services Corp. promoted Jim Granger to president and Mark Glaser to senior vice president of operations.

Jeff Fannell started his own sports consulting practice. Fannell was an attorney for the MLB Players Association.

The Tim Tebow Foundation appointed Erik Dellenback executive director.

The San Jose Sharks named Jeff Cafuir to manager and Kelly Esrey to coordinator of the Sharks Foundation.

World Wrestling Entertainment hired Thomas Veit as senior vice president of live events.

Awards and Boards
Women in Sports and Events-Los Angeles added Katie Ranne, director of communications, and Lauren Decker, director of social media, to the board of directors.

The Golf Course Superintendents Association of America elected Robert Randquist president and Sanford Queen vice president.

The Orange Bowl Committee elected Luis Boué second vice chairman, Shaun Davis treasurer and Michael Chavies, Sean Pittman, Douglas Wiley and Albert Dotson Sr. at-large board members.

People news

Send information and photos to Brandon McClung at 120 W. Morehead St., Suite 310, Charlotte, NC 28202, or e-mail them to Electronic photos must be a jpg or tiff file for Macintosh, 2.25 inches wide at 300 dpi. Color only, please. News items may also be sent via fax to (704) 973-1401. If you have questions, call (704) 973-1425.

• Age: 36
New title: Executive vice president of sales, Big Lead Sports
Previous title: Director of sales, Fox Sports Digital Media
First job: Errand boy and cashier clerk at New Dollar Dry Cleaners
College education: Bachelor of Arts, political science, New York University (1996)
Resides: Stamford, Conn., with wife Carla and sons David and Drew
Grew up: Stamford, Conn.
Executive most admired: My late father, David Bick. He started out as a city planner, which evolved over time into commercial real estate investment and development.
Brand most admired: Under Armour
Favorite vacation spot: Kauai, Hawaii
Last book read: “Decision Points,” by George W. Bush
Favorite movie: “Goodfellas”

Jordan Bick has joined Big Lead Sports as executive vice president of sales, a new position for the company, after 4 1/2 years with Fox Sports Digital Media. Fantasy Sports Ventures acquired the independent blog last June and now has more than 600 sites in its network. Bick spoke with staff writer Brandon McClung.

What will be the biggest challenge in your new position?
Building a team that’s going to take a challenger brand in a very competitive market and penetrate and influence the minds of digital media buyers across the country. There’s already been a lot of great work going on by talented people on the sales and product side for the last four-plus years. It’s my job now to provide the leadership and structure needed on the sales end to get us to the next level. And when this is combined with numerous new efforts under way on the brand and product … we will win. I’m beyond excited.

What is the biggest risk you’ve taken in your career?
Leaving the comfort of a prodigious brand and the infrastructure of giant company for an entrepreneurial enterprise. So, and in every positive and committed sense, right now.

What is your biggest professional accomplishment?
It’s coming. See question No. 1 above — when that is achieved.

What career advice do you have for people wanting into the sports industry?
Have a mentor, and if you don’t have one, seek one. Rely less on the fact that sports is a cool place to spend a career, and more on the intangible character traits like work ethic, determination and trustworthiness that drive a person to succeed.

What is one story you are continuing to watch in the sports world today?
How digital sports and social media continue to evolve and intersect before our eyes. Every male-oriented brand is trying to figure out how to maximize both spaces at once; every sports publisher is trying to figure out and create a compelling and intertwining product. Nobody knows yet. It’s fun.

Mary Owen, niece of owner Ralph Wilson, has worked on the Bills’ regional efforts.
As Mary Owen recalls, she was 12, maybe 13, when she first met Ralph Wilson.
To most of the world, Wilson was the owner of the Buffalo Bills. But to Owen, Wilson became family when her aunt married him.

When she was in high school, her new uncle said to her, “You’d be great in marketing.” A few years later, in 1997, she became a college intern in the Bills’ marketing department.

She’s been part of the team since, and last month was promoted to executive vice president.

“I’ve been very fortunate that he saw that ability in me,” Owen said recently during a half-hour interview that touched on subjects ranging from one of her top duties — regionalization — to a question on the minds of most Bills fans: Would she be willing to someday take over the team for her 92-year-old uncle?

“It’s been a great blessing,” she said of the opportunity she has received from the man she refers to publicly as “Mr. Wilson.” “But it’s also been a lot of hard work.” Following is an edited version of that conversation:

In the news release announcing your promotion, Wilson was quoted as saying, “My vision for Mary since she first joined our organization in 1997 was for her to earn her way into a senior management position.” When you started, did he actually tell you that?
I don’t think we’ve ever had that conversation. I think he’s always believed in my ability. He saw something in me from a very young age. He provides me inspiration. He provides me motivation to do things maybe I didn’t think I could do. I walked in the door as an intern, and every step of the way, believe me, he wouldn’t have me here if I wasn’t doing my job. But every step of the way we’ve had a conversation: “I believe in your ability, I’d love for you to do more for us, but it’s up to you. What’s going to make you happy? We know you’d be great here, we know you can help this organization, but make sure it’s what you want to do.”

We’ve always had that dialogue and it’s turned out to be a great path for me. My motivation every day when I come to work is I have to prove myself; I have to be challenged. I have to be sure I’m doing what’s best for this organization. So it’s worked out, but I don’t think it was like a predestined (pauses) ... you know what I mean?

I get the sense that the key word in Wilson’s statement is “earn.”
Right. I never lost that message. (laughs)

Has the Bills Toronto Series been part of your responsibility since its inception?
Even prior to that. We’ve been trying to regionalize into the southern Ontario market since the late ’90s. I remember as an intern going up to Toronto to talk to a banquet hall about coming down to the Bills games. We’ve been trying to tap into the fan base for a very long time. As time went on, this opportunity emerged, we started talking and ultimately came the Bills Toronto Series.

What’s the overall goal in southern Ontario?
We want them to see the Bills as their team. We want them to love us. Rochester embraced us; we want southern Ontario to embrace us, as well. There’s a tremendous amount of support for the NFL in southern Ontario and the Greater Toronto area. We’ve seen that through research we’ve done and through the Bills Toronto Series. But we want to convert them to being avid Bills fans, not just NFL fans. There’s quite a percentage — over 30 percent, almost 40 percent — of NFL fans in that area who haven’t picked a favorite team, which is quite an opportunity for us.

We do have a tremendous fan base from there. On an average game day, 15 percent of our attendance is from Canada. That increased exponentially since the Bills Toronto Series started.

On a broader note, what are the objectives with the team’s regionalization effort?
We’ve been very successful with Rochester. I may be biased, but our training camp [at St. John Fisher College] is known as the best training camp in the NFL. We want to continue to regionalize to Rochester and make sure those fans stay engaged. And then southern Ontario — it’s 5 million people in the Greater Toronto area. It’s a great opportunity for us to be able to develop fans there. So continue with the Bills Toronto Series, continue to develop our fan base in Southern Ontario and bring fans down to Ralph Wilson Stadium.

Our whole regionalization effort is to be able to continue the strength of the Bills in western New York. That’s my No. 1 priority and, I think, the priority of everyone in this building.

How important is regionalization to doing whatever you can to make sure the team stays in western New York?
I think everyone comes to work every day doing everything they can to ensure the franchise stays here. It’s a testament to everyone really loving this area, and Mr. Wilson doing everything he can to keep it here.

Since [CEO] Russ Brandon got here in the late ’90s [to head the team’s marketing department], his track record speaks for itself: being able to keep the fans engaged, and being able to provide value to the fans and have a great fan experience on game day, and just being smart about our business. With the Buffalo Bills, every decision that is made, we consider: What is the return on investment? And how will this benefit our fans?

What are your long-term goals?
This is a new, big adventure for me. Right now I’m just very focused on doing my job, looking ahead at what we have going on. There is no lack of challenges, but I love challenges. We also have a lot of really great things happening. My focus right now is, let’s do the job.

Would you be willing to take over the team someday?
That is not a question I can answer. I’m really focused on doing this job now.

You presumably could have left to work elsewhere at any point. What’s kept you here?
I could have gone my own way. … but it wouldn’t mean as much. I love working for Mr. Wilson because I believe in what he’s about. Every day I walk into work hoping I can make a positive impact for him and for our fans and this company.

There’s something in sports. You have a passion. It’s beyond a job. Especially in this job, it’s a lifestyle; you have a mission. I couldn’t see myself doing anything else, and I’ve always enjoyed what I do.

Tim O’Shei writes for Business First of Buffalo, an affiliated publication.

Pair of aces in Vegas

Former UNLV men’s basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian (left) and HBO Sports President Ross Greenburg attended the premiere of the new HBO Sports documentary, “Runnin’ Rebels of UNLV,” on Feb. 18 in Las Vegas.

Daytona takes it to the (food) bank

Food donation
Executives from International Speedway Corp. and its concessions and merchandise subsidiary, Americrown Service Corp., donated an estimated 7,500 pounds of food after the Daytona 500 to Second Harvest Food Bank on Feb. 21. From left: Americrown executive chef Brian Lee, Daytona International Speedway President Joie Chitwood III, Americrown production sous chef Paul Miller and Americrown catering general manager Jim Crowl.

Romney checks out Daytona

At the Daytona 500 on Feb. 20, from left: Johnny Morris, Bass Pro Shops founder and CEO; Chip Ganassi, owner of Earnhardt Ganassi Racing With Felix Sabates; former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney; and Rob Keck, former head of the National Wild Turkey Federation.

Brunch with Bobby

Before the Daytona 500 on Feb. 20 at the NASCAR Industry Business and Brunch sponsored by Bank of America, Jeff Elliott, SVP of global sponsorship marketing for BofA, met NASCAR hall of famer Bobby Allison.

NBA has a fan at Fox

News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch was among the fans taking in the NBA All-Star Game on Feb. 20 at Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Hot list hosts

Golf Digest
Golf Digest hosted a party celebrating the 2011 Golf Digest Hot List Feb. 17 at Chelsea Piers Golf Club sponsored by Glenmorangie and MasterCard. From left: Michael Robichaud, MasterCard VP of global sponsorships; Glenmorangie VP Brian Cox; and Tom Bair, VP and publishing director, the Golf Digest Properties.

Tiffany salutes USA Basketball

Tiffany and CO
Tiffany & Co. celebrated its partnership with USA Basketball at a “breakfast at Tiffany’s reception” Feb. 20 in Beverly Hills, Calif. From left: Tom O’Rourke, Tiffany & Co. VP of business sales; USA Basketball Chairman Jerry Colangelo; Chris Heck, SVP of NBA and USA Basketball; and Jeff Marks, Premier Partnerships managing director.

IMG College has formalized several high-ranking personnel moves, including the promotion of Tony Crispino to chief operating officer.

Crispino, formerly IMG’s senior vice president for operations and finance in the Cleveland office, is moving into IMG College’s headquarters in Winston-Salem, N.C., to assist President Ben Sutton with the day-to-day operations, while also working on business development, financial management and strategic growth.

Crispino will oversee several key senior staff positions, including Mark Dyer as senior vice president/chief innovation officer; Kelli Hilliard as senior vice president/chief people officer; and Lou Doherty as  senior vice president/general and managing counsel. A chief financial officer has not yet been hired.

Hilliard, a 15-year veteran of ISP Sports, moved over to IMG College when the company bought ISP last year.

Dyer will run IMG College’s business ventures group, which includes events and hospitality, stadium and arena, seating solutions and ticket solutions.

Doherty will oversee IMG College’s legal team.


John Rowady, President & CEO, rEvolution
What I Like …

An insight: In the people business, culture wins. You can use all the technology you want to run your business, but relationships will always be king.

An out-of-the-box idea: Brands should share more information with each other about their sports marketing deals so that they can balance the pricing scale with properties and media rights holders. Sport is too expensive, as a marketing tool, without proper intelligence.

A timeless idea: Any competition that uses a bracket format is always exciting.

A business deal: Groupon not taking the Google offer. Of course, their Super Bowl spot may not help their impending IPO.

A sports facility: Wrigley Field, “The Big House,” Keeneland, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Laguna Seca.

A sports event: The Masters, Monaco F1, Indy 500, America’s Cup, FIFA World Cup.

A hire: Jim Harbaugh. He’s going to make more money than when he was a pro.

An innovation: The search engine. All human information can be found on your PDA in a matter of minutes. Incomprehensible, actually.

A pro league or team business initiative: Verizon’s sponsorship vision with the NFL. And ESPN’s pre-announcement of a new “Monday Night Football” deal.

A fantasy job: My job or being Sir Richard Branson for a few months.

What I Like About …

Sports: There are two things people can’t do without: their dentist and sports. Immeasurable impact on society.

Sports business: How the profession continues to advance in credibility. Once, we stood outside the boardroom door. Now, we stand shoulder-to-shoulder in the boardroom to impact business.

Sports media: The sports experience is so exceptional with multichannel information, HD, 3-D, LCD, DirecTV, that many times I’d rather sit home instead of going to the game — except for hockey.

Sports technology: 3-D. We need more production investment and better glasses. Do you hear me, Oakley?

The direction of sports business: Smarter, creative, technical: the best business-building platform on the planet.

What I’d Like To …

Change in what I do: Spend more time with my wife and kids.

See: The United States be more respected by the world for all we have done and continue to do for the Olympic movement.

See more of in sports: The World Cup and the growth of soccer in the United States.

See more of in sports business: Better negotiating via data intelligence so there’s more money retained by brands to activate rights.

See less of in sports: Labor disputes.

See less of in sports business: Shock media/TMZ athlete destruction.

What I Don’t Like …

In general: The amount of time spent to commute. Time travel would be nice. And real estate appraisers.

In sports: How the “play under review” continues to creep into the human element of every game — and still does not help my Lions.

In business: The costs associated with hiring people. The new Illinois tax increase. Not understanding the new health care law. Let’s find better solutions to help our fellow small businesses grow.

About sports fans: That they can be dismissive to new fans as their sport grows and more brands get involved (e.g., NASCAR). Isn’t growth and popularity the point?


What I Like …

Heroes: My mom, for the dedication to raise a bunch of boys; and my wife, for “kicking me into the water” to build a business from scratch.

Players: Steve Yzerman, Barry Sanders, “The Bird” Fidrych, Keith Smart, Emerson Fittipaldi, Pelé and Muhammad Ali.

Teams: Detroit Red Wings, Indiana Hoosiers, Michigan football, McLaren Mercedes F1, Arsenal.

Wrigley Field
City: Chicago.

Possession: My Emerson Fittipaldi Penske Indy car that sits in the office reception area.

Memento: An Omega Seamaster watch from my dad when he traveled to Switzerland when I was a kid.

Good to Great
Books: “Good to Great,” by Jim Collins; “Greatest of All Time,” by Taschen.

Magazines: Rolling Stone, Esquire, Road & Track.

Gadgets: Control4 Home Automation.

Hobbies: Sailing, American bulldogs, cars, scuba, fishing, Polaris off-road, watches, barbecue.

Trips: Going to Alaska to fly-fish the Kenai Peninsula during the spring sockeye red salmon run. It’s America, everyone needs to go. And the salmon chowder at Gwin’s Lodge is a treat.

Movies: “Inception.”

Concerts: The Grammys, live.

Artist: Chip Foose: he brings back raw emotion in car design; Sir Roy Strong: his mastery of landscape architecture.

Food: Alaskan halibut (from Homer Spit) with wasabi and soy; Detroit coney dog from National Coney Island; my ribs with hoisin sauce (turn for two hours).

Dessert: Mom’s pumpkin pie. What to do with your pumpkin before it ends up on the street.

Drink: Brunello di Montalcino, Maker’s Mark.

Cars: ’65 Shelby Cobra, Ferrari 599.

Quote: “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.” — Walt Disney.