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Volume 21 No. 2

People and Pop Culture

Sean Barror is a managing director of Raptor Accelerator, a Boston-based financial advisory company focusing on the sports, entertainment and technology industries. Barror, who previously worked in senior executive positions for Madison Square Garden Sports and the Boston Celtics, talks about the role of private equity in sports and his transition from the front office to venture capital.

The sports industry is a great validator of technology, whether it is through media, ticketing or database technology. You are seeing a lot of companies approach teams and sports properties because they feel it will accelerate their growth. We are trying to get ahead of the curve a bit and do it in a very agnostic way. We are looking to facilitate the marriage of the properties.

On Raptor Acclerator’s sports investment strategy
: Traditional venture capital and private equity will take a 10 percent to 30 percent stake in a company but not really have a say in the operations of the company. They may have a board seat, but we get a little more involved in the day-to-day operations based on our collective capabilities from a personnel standpoint. We are not just bringing in capital; we are bringing in expertise. But we have to make sure that when we are deploying capital we have expertise in that space. It is a little different than the traditional private equity, venture capital model.

About the firm’s AS Roma work: Our engagement … is driven by our in-house expertise, but it also becomes a platform to leverage a lot of the technology and other companies we have invested in.

How is investment success measured?: It is ultimately return but it is also how well we can have each of the assets of our companies in the portfolio help one another. We can make an investment in a database company, which can help our sports properties group. The idea is that each of our investments are not just one-off investments. It is about creating scale in our business, which allows us to do more with our resources.

Drawing from his sports management days: The thing I learned the most at MSG and at the Celtics was that we saw of lot of the early stage opportunities walk through the door and pitch us on how they could help us. It illuminated to us to look at new technologies and new companies. Clubs and teams carry a lot of clout in those investments. It was a great illustrator to see the power of sports in driving these entities.

The Indiana Pacers promoted Peter Dinwiddie to vice president of basketball operations.

George Washington University hired Justin Lange as director of multimedia production and broadcast services.

The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay named Megan Gossens assistant athletic director development.

The Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association named Jacqie Carpenter commissioner.

Mississippi Valley State University named Ashley Robinson athletic director. Robinson was assistant vice president of athletic compliance and academic advising at Prairie View A&M University.

The University of Utah promoted Sean Farrell to assistant director of compliance and named Katelyn Rimmel director of compliance and Nate Burk compliance coordinator.

The University of Nebraska-Omaha named Dr. Matt Beacom assistant athletic director of performance and Lindsey Stineman director of academic success.

The West Coast Conference hired Lynn Holzman as senior associate commissioner for governance and administration and Brad Hurlbut as senior associate commissioner for external relations.

The Houston Texans hired Emmett Baylor as director of security.


College Hockey named Mike Snee executive director, effective Sept. 17. Snee was executive director of Minnesota Hockey.

The CHL Mississauga Steelheads named Jason Nobili assistant general manager and associate coach.

Sunrise Sports & Entertainment hired Elisa Hernandez as vice president of human resources for the Florida Panthers and the BankAtlantic Center.


ISB Global hired Peter Renaldi as vice president of sports and entertainment.

Octagon named Erin Kane director of personalities and properties. Kane worked in sales and marketing at Gaylord Sports Management and Lagardère Unlimited.

PlayOn Sports hired Jay Sandhaus as chief technology officer. Sandhaus was senior director of content management and social media technology at Turner Broadcasting System.

Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic promoted Glendalyn Junio to marketing coordinator and hired Mike Wargo as digital media managing editor. Wargo was digital content manager at Fox Sports Florida.

CBS Sports Network named Eric Spitz director of programming.

Universal Sports Network hired Kevin Johnson as director of digital media and TV endemic sales. Johnson was East Coast account manager at

NHRA promoted Andrew Zamarripa to group sales manager and hired Michelle McCullough as media relations manager.

Multiteam Organizations

Spurs Sports & Entertainment promoted Tammy Turner to vice president of human resources and corporate administration and Tim Salier to vice president of franchise operations.

USA Fencing hired Val Belmonte as executive director and chief executive officer. Belmonte was principal partner and co-founder at Game7Seven.

Sporting Goods and Apparel
Good Sports added Tom Cove, CEO of the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association, and Chris Quinn, executive vice president of sales and retail for New Balance, to its Sporting Goods Advisory Board.


Awards and Boards
Professional Tennis Registry named Leo Alonso to its board of directors.

The Collegiate Women Sports Awards named Chris Voelz executive director.

People news
To have your personnel announcements included in the People section, please send information and photos to Brandon McClung at 120 W. Morehead St., Suite 310, Charlotte, NC 28202, or email 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.

During the Aug. 20-26 USA Pro Cycling Challenge, race CEO Shawn Hunter traded in his boardroom for Colorado’s mountain passes, and his executive wardrobe became a gray T-shirt and Bermuda shorts. Don’t let the casual clothes fool you. Hunter oversaw a rolling circus of 130 riders, 1,000 employees and 2,500 volunteers, and the race reached more than 1 million spectators during its seven-day, 683-mile route. On Sunday, Aug. 26, SportsBusiness Journal correspondent Fred Dreier shadowed Hunter during the race’s final time trial in downtown Denver, where Hunter mingled with VIPs, met with media and oversaw the race’s various moving parts.

Text by Fred Dreier. Click a photo for more details. All photos by Allen Krughoff.


What I Like …

Hall (right) talks to Diamondbacks pitcher J.J. Putz at an employee event this year.
An insight: The employee should always come first. If we respect, recognize, reward and promote our staff members, they will in turn treat our customers and fans the way we expect them to be treated.
An influential person in my career: My father, who encouraged me to chase my dreams in Major League Baseball. Our owner, Ken Kendrick, as well, who is an accomplished entrepreneur and has taught me more about business in the last few years than I have learned in a lifetime.
A timeless idea: I would like to see MLB bring back the bullpen carts with the oversized baseball caps to bring relief pitchers into games, as long as fans do not interpret the move as pampering.

A sports facility: Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. I am extremely proud of this facility that is LEED-certified and offers the finest in fan access, breathtaking views, and shade and comfort.

President and CEO,
Arizona Diamondbacks

Where I'm from: I am originally from Los Angeles and moved all over the country as a kid. Now reside in Paradise Valley, Ariz., with my wife, Amy, and our three kids, Logan (16), Hayden (14) and Kylie (11).

Where I Went to School: Arizona State University, bachelor of arts in journalism and telecommunications. Master’s in sports administration from Ohio University.

My First Job: Intern for the Los Angeles Dodgers and their spring training operations in Vero Beach, Fla., as well as for the Vero Beach Dodgers of the Florida State League. I did everything from pulling the tarp in rainstorms to stocking the concessions shelves.

A hire: Larry Scott as Pac-12 commissioner. He has done a tremendous job with conference expansion and network negotiations.
A brand: I am amazed by the branding success of Geico. That green gecko immediately translates to insurance savings. There are various games on our schedule when he makes an appearance at Chase Field, and as he walks around, all fans point to him and say, “Hey, there’s the Geico gecko.”
An idea I wish I had thought of: Cash-less parking meters. And it is one of those inventions I thought of about five to 10 years ago and was certain I would own the patent.

What I Like about …

Sports: The extreme passion that fanatics have for their teams and cities. It remains the great escape for our fans from the daily struggles and stresses in life and business. There is no greater image than a sleeping child over the shoulder of a parent on the way out of the ballpark after a victory.
Sports media: Having dabbled in the past on that side of the microphone, I have great respect for the media’s knowledge and ability to switch gears and ad lib at the drop of a hat..

What I’d Like To …

Salt River Fields at Talking Stick
Change: I would like to make infield practice mandatory before each game so that the fans can watch.

See: More owners like Jerry Reinsdorf who care about their employees and sport more than their own personal gain.
See more of in sports: Kids in the stands. With so many options and so much entertainment competition, we need to capture and constantly spark their interest.

See more of in sports business: A true sharing of ideas between organizations. We are slowly realizing that we only compete on the field.
See less of in sports business: Stress and time away from family. When my counterpart at the Rockies and dear friend Keli McGregor passed, I quickly realized this sport consumes us and we often neglect our health and family unknowingly. And he found more time for both than most of us.

Eliminate: The DH. I know it serves a purpose and prolongs careers, and for that I am grateful, but I am a National League fan and enjoy seeing the pitcher hit as well as the strategy involved in pitching around others to get to him..


What I Like …

Sandy Koufax
That would surprise those who know me: When we win games, I rush home to watch the postgame coverage as well as all highlights. When we lose, I take my time getting home and immediately turn on the Food Network. A few years ago, we lost 97 games, but I became an amazing cook. Believe me, I would much rather win 97 games and burn water.
Above all else: I want the most polite kids on the planet. Nothing makes me prouder than to hear a server at a restaurant say that our kids have the finest manners they have ever encountered. That happens frequently, so thank goodness for their mother’s direction.
About myself: My ability to do impersonations of my co-workers. Makes storytelling a little more interesting.
Heroes: My father, Sandy Koufax, Jackie Robinson, Dr. Inderbir Gill (my cancer surgeon).
Kurt Rambis
Players: Fernando Valenzuela, Kurt Rambis, Kirk Gibson, Roger Federer, Pelé, Billie Jean King.
Possession: My two black labs, Ziggy and Rudy. Ziggy is therapeutic for me. He gets me and knows how to calm me down and comfort me. There is nothing like a loyal friend lying on your feet after a long, hard day.
Memento: A list I compiled on a hotel note pad of the reasons I was not ready to die after being diagnosed with prostate cancer last September.
Author: Randy Pausch, “The Last Lecture.” He and my father both passed from pancreatic cancer, a terrible disease. Bob Nutting, owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates, bought me the book after my father was diagnosed.
Trips: I took my wife along with me and some of our executives to Japan recently. This was my third trip there, but she had never been.

Movies: “The Godfather,” “The Deer Hunter,” “Old School,” “Happy Gilmore.”
TV: “The Sopranos,” “Ed,” “Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations,” “Man v. Food.”
IPad app: Sonos, which allows our family to control different audio outlets throughout our home and yard. … Withings has been great for weight and blood pressure tracking — although it is rather depressing when your big Father’s Day gift from the family is a mobile blood pressure machine that syncs with the Withings app.
Food: Vegan comfort food.
Ballpark food: Cracker Jack and all of our healthy items, such as a veggie cup, the Sloppy Jane and vegan quesadillas.
Drink: Red wine and water. Who needs anything else?
Scent: Ferragamo.
Singer: Frank Sinatra has always been my favorite, but my iPod is completely eclectic, with Earth, Wind and Fire, the Zac Brown Band, and Andrea Bocelli.
Quote: “If you truly love what you do, you will never work a day in your life.”