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Volume 20 No. 46

People and Pop Culture

The Baltimore Orioles named Ray Poitevint executive director of international baseball.

The San Diego Padres named Michael Berentson director of military affairs. Berentson was with Lockheed Martin and serves as a Marine Corps reservist.

The Round Rock (Texas) Express, Class AAA affiliate of the Texas Rangers, promoted Laura Fragoso to senior vice president of marketing, Henry Green to senior vice president of sales and Chris Almendarez to vice president of corporate sales and assistant general manager.

Georgetown University named Sharon Brummell associate athletic director for business and finance and senior woman administrator. Brummell was associate athletic director and senior woman administrator at the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore.

Penn State University-Abington named Jeff Dobbin sports information director.

Purdue University named Derick Stoulil director of fan experience and Nick O’Malley assistant ticket manager.

The University of California Santa Barbara named Chip Schaefer assistant athletic director for sports performance. Schaefer was director of athletic performance and player development for the Los Angeles Lakers.

The University of Central Florida named Todd Stansbury vice president and athletic director. Stansbury was executive associate athletic director at Oregon State University.

The University of Virginia promoted Adrien Harraway to associate athletic director for academic affairs.

The Philadelphia Eagles hired Dave Krueger in the corporate partnerships division. Krueger was a corporate sales manager with the Houston Rockets.

The U.S. Golf Association promoted Pete Kowalski to director of championship communications and Beth Murrison to director of public services and hired Brian DePasquale as manager of championship communications and Jeff Altstadter as media relations manager.

The American Hockey League’s Worcester (Mass.) Sharks promoted Kristen Moore to marketing coordinator and hired Jess Higham as administrative and events coordinator and Brett Sawin as community development coordinator.

Mobile Sports Group promoted Harry Hutt to chief sales officer.

GroupM ESP hired Jeffrey Doyle as vice president and Christopher Wallace and Genevieve Evans as account executives.

The Marketing Arm named Tom Edwards vice president of digital strategy. Edwards worked for Red Urban.

Scout Sports and Entertainment promoted Nandita Mohile to production supervisor and hired Aubrey Jones as production coordinator, Alexandra Kain as production assistant and Steven Lang as account coordinator.

Premier Partnerships hired Scott Wessels and Matt Pope as directors of corporate partnerships. Wessels was with the Houston Rockets, and Pope

was with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Txtstation/CommerceTel promoted Michael Falato to senior vice president of business development and sales.

Wasserman Media Group named Roshanna Sabaratnam to its consulting division and Jason Goldstein manager of social media in the action sports division. Sabaratnam led business development efforts for Gilt Groupe, and Goldstein was an online

marketing associate at

The Big Ten Network promoted Mike Vest to university development and social media director.

Ovation named Brad Samuels executive vice president of distribution. Samuels was media executive vice president of content distribution at MSG.


Comcast SportsNet Chicago promoted Walter Cade to general sales manager.

Golf Channel hired Tom Knapp as senior vice president of programming, Andrea Starkey as vice president of strategic partnerships and Gene Pao as vice president of marketing and promoted Will McIntosh to senior vice president of business development and strategy.

Sporting Goods and Apparel

Burton Snowboards named Sasha Dietschi-Cooper vice president of North American sales for Burton, Red and anon.

Ogio named Mark Talarico director of international sales. Talarico was vice president of baseball and softball at Baden Sports.

Sports Commissions and Tourism Boards

The Gwinnett Sports Commission named Stan Hall executive director, and the Gwinnett Convention and Visitors Bureau promoted Lisa Anders to executive director.

International Speedway Corp. subsidiary Americrown Service Corp. promoted James Morris to president and named Joe Pulido vice president of food and beverage.

PrimeSport promoted Greg Nortman to chief operating officer.

Awards and Boards
Racecourse Media Group named Simon Ellen non-executive chairman, replacing Will Wyatt.

The Bluegrass Sports Commission awarded Jerry Carroll the Jim Host Sports Business Award and former Kentucky Gov. Martha Layne Collins the Jim Host Youth Sports Award.

People news
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Cavaliers welcome Gladiators to family

The Cleveland Cavaliers and Quicken Loans Arena organization announced Jan. 17 that they had acquired the Cleveland Gladiators of the Arena Football League. From left: Gladiators coach Steve Thonn; former NFL quarterback Bernie Kosar, special adviser to the Gladiators; Cleveland Cavaliers and Quicken Loans Arena President Len Komoroski; and former Gladiators owner Jim Ferraro.

Louganis addresses tennis gathering

Jon Vegosen (left), U.S. Tennis Association chairman of the board and president, joins Olympic diving champion and closing speaker Greg Louganis at the USTA’s Community Tennis Development Workshop in New Orleans on Jan. 15. The workshop is the largest annual gathering of grassroots tennis leaders throughout the United States.

Hockey commisioner on duty

Jim Scherr, former CEO of the U.S. Olympic Committee, was named the first commissioner of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference, a new eight-school Division I conference that begins play in 2013. At a news conference at Penrose House in Colorado Springs are (from left) Ron Grahame, assistant vice chancellor and senior associate athletic director, University of Denver; Ken Ralph, athletic director, Colorado College; Scherr; and Brian Faison, athletic director, University of North Dakota. Other conference teams include Miami University (Ohio), University of Minnesota-Duluth, University of Nebraska-Omaha, St. Cloud State University, and Western Michigan University.

Cardinals rule this room

The Arizona Cardinals unveiled a team-themed apartment at the Phoenix Ronald McDonald House on Jan. 11. From left: Cardinals mascot Big Red, guard Rex Hadnot, tight end Jeff King, assistant coach Ryan Slowik, Alice Whisenhunt (wife of coach Ken Whisenhunt), Valerie Slowik, kicker Jay Feely and team President Michael Bidwill.

Hill honored with lifetime Emmy

David Hill (left), Fox Sports Media Group chairman and CEO, received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 63rd annual Technology & Engineering Emmy Awards held Jan. 12 in Las Vegas. With him are National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Chairman Malachy Wienges (center) and Stan Honey, director of technology for the America’s Cup Event Authority, who presented the award to Hill.

Jaguars new owner ‘Ready to Rise’

New Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan speaks at the Jaguars’ “Ready to Rise” event, which drew more than 6,000 fans to EverBank Field on Jan. 17. Sitting (from left) are former Jaguar Tony Boselli, general manager Gene Smith and coach Mike Mularkey.

Smith collects motorsports achievement award

Speedway Motorsports Inc. CEO  Bruton Smith received the Achievement in Motorsports Tribute Award at the North Carolina Motorsports Industry Awards on Jan. 16 in Concord, N.C. From left: Smith; Cory Newton, VP of Senn Dunn Insurance, presenting sponsor for the awards, and Andy Papathanassiou, North Carolina Motorsports Association executive director.
Photo by: SAM SHARPE

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After a 40-year career in the insurance industry, Paul Patsis, Farmers Insurance Group president of enterprise marketing, retired late last year, bringing to an end a robust marketing career that included several signature deals in sports. The most noteworthy of those was Farmers’ agreement with AEG to buy naming rights to a future NFL stadium in Los Angeles. They also include the deal, starting this year, to sponsor the Hendrick Motorsports No. 5 car driven
by Kasey Kahne. Patsis, who has relocated from Los Angeles to the Pacific Northwest, spoke to staff writer Tripp Mickle about some of the memories from his career.

How did you get started in the insurance business?
It was an accident. Most people in the insurance business start there accidentally. I had gotten out of the Army and needed to get a job. The apartment we were in was across the street from an insurance office for INA. I walked in and they sent me downtown to the main office where they hired me as an underwriter. I never intended to stay. I thought I’d go to law school, but I liked it and had a lot of fun.

What was your first exposure to marketing?
I was at INA, which merged with Connecticut General to become Cigna. Technology was starting to change the business. INA moved into the direct marketing business. I saw the direct mail thing would be a real powerful force and there would have to be more horsepower behind marketing than there had been 100 years before then.

Why has the insurance business gotten so invested in sports in the last few years?
I can get pretty philosophical about this. If you look at the insurance business, it’s been historically focused on the pricing models. The reason is basic economics. You have unlimited demand for auto insurance. Everyone has to have it. All the companies said that since everyone had to have the products they would focus on underwriting to get the right price. But what’s happened recently is some companies woke up one day and said the truth is it’s not an efficient market. It doesn’t necessarily matter what pricing is. The consumer goes to get two or three quotes, so companies have realized that being considered matters. Geico, State Farm, Allstate, Farmers and others realize that they need to raise unaided consideration.

Patsis now has more time for his outside pursuits: Here he’s heading off to an MG rally in Canada in his 1969 MGB GT.
Was it hard to persuade Farmers to go that route?
Farmers was more in the vein of letting its agents lead. It came later to the game. Once we were able to make the business case and I was able to show how driving unaided consideration would drive your quote volume and allow you to grow the business, the attitude was, “OK, let’s dip our toe in the waters and see if we see some results.” We had some results, and that created some believers.

Is there an end in sight for the spending spree in insurance?
Nothing is evergreen. Things will force some shifts and changes. A lot of that could revolve around technology. You might see a shift in how the Web works.

Tell me about the naming-rights opportunity. How do you persuade a company to spend money on a stadium that doesn’t exist?
When the opportunity came up to do this, I personally was very interested in jumping all over this for a couple of reasons. Farmers is a Los Angeles-based company. It’s really close to the site where AEG wants to build a stadium.
We looked at the fact that there was no stadium and no team as a plus. It gave us a chance to get our name connected to the stadium right at the get-go and not having the problems later on of having to dislodge a name already there. The other thing we looked at was: No real cash leaves the company for several years. We’ve had billions of mentions of Farmers without having to spend a penny.

What was it like to go head-to-head with Tim Leiweke on the negotiation?
Tim said some nice things about us. He said we got smart in a hurry. But it went well because Tim’s values and our values lined up from the beginning. After our first meeting with Tim, I said, “This is the perfect match for us.” When I made my pitch to the Farmers board, I said the success or failure of a venture like this depends on the partner. I spent the next 15 or 20 minutes talking about AEG. Then I went into the football stadium, how the numbers penciled out and what the analysis showed.

What would people who have never sat across from Tim be surprised to hear about?
The enormous capacity this guy has to cover so many bases with so much energy. He’s in another league. He has an incredible ability to anticipate and cover the waterfront with an energy that’s second to none.

Patsis on Hendrick: “He’s the nicest, most genuine … guy I’ve ever done business with.”
What is your favorite moment from a sports negotiation?
When I first looked under the hood of NASCAR and got to see the Hendrick organization from the inside and looked at how well-run an organization really needs to be and the amount of teamwork involved in getting the results they get, [it] surprised me. I expected to see that in Formula One. I didn’t expect to see that level of sophistication and organization. To see the breadth and scope they had to cover to field a winning team blew me away.

What was it like to negotiate with Rick Hendrick?
I flew to one of the NASCAR races, I think it was Phoenix, to have a face-to-face meeting with Rick. I talked to him for a half an hour and we never talked about a deal. During that conversation, I said to myself, “I don’t care if we do a deal or not. He’s just a cool guy to know.” He’s the nicest, most genuine, heartfelt guy I’ve ever done business with. If I was going to pick a family member, I’d pick that guy. I can’t overstate how much of an effect that had on us doing that deal.

Is the sports sponsorship market priced fairly?
The market always determines pricing. We’ve seen a shift in price as the market’s gone up or down. The issue becomes: Is the price a property is available at right for your company or not? That’s when you put the numbers down and ask, how many impressions can I drive, what’s that fan base like and can this drive business?

What sports property would you buy stock in right now?
There’s no name that comes to mind right now. There’s a lot of teams that are struggling. But if the price drops, that doesn’t necessarily make it a better buy. You still have to ask: Is the amount I’m spending going to deliver the quotes I’m looking for?

What sports property would you short?
Teams that have had trouble with union negotiations and soured their fan base, there are some issues. Early on in the year, I would have been concerned about the NBA, but they seem to have bounced back.