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Volume 21 No. 1

People and Pop Culture

Dick Balderson is retiring as Atlanta Braves special assistant to the general manager. Jeff Schugel will become special assistant to the GM and major league scout.

Lisa Riggs is stepping down as president of the independent Atlantic League’s Lancaster Barnstormers.

The Class A California League’s Stockton Ports promoted Bryan Meadows to assistant general manager.

The British Basketball Association named Matt Williams director of basketball operations. Williams was executive vice president of the former Washington Sports and Entertainment.

The Big East Conference named Tom Jernstedt senior adviser and Amber Cox associate commissioner for women’s basketball. Jernstedt was executive vice president of the NCAA, and Cox was the president and chief operating officer of the Phoenix Mercury.

Hawaii Pacific University named Vince Baldemor athletic director. Baldemor was president of Ahahui Koa Anuenue, the nonprofit fundraising partner for the University of Hawaii athletics.

Oregon State University named Kyle Pifer senior associate athletic director for compliance. Pifer was associate athletic director for compliance at the University of Washington.

The University of Central Florida named Mike Redlick director of external affairs and partnership relations for its DeVos Sport Business Management Program. Redlick was senior vice president and chief sales and marketing officer for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

University of Tennessee-Martin Athletic Director Phil Dane is retiring, effective Dec. 31.

Phoenix International Raceway hired Greg Fresquez as communications manager.

The Allen County War Memorial Coliseum promoted Clement Steigmeyer to vice president of finance and chief operating officer, Michele Remenschneider to vice president of event services, Nathan Dennison to vice president of sales, Brad Riehle to systems and technology manager, Jayne Connor to ticket office manager and April Workman to assistant ticket office manager.

HarborCenter hired Kevyn Adams as vice president and director of the HarborCenter Academy of Hockey, Don Heins as communications manager and Taylor Gahagen as digital and promotions coordinator. Adams was assistant coach for the Buffalo Sabres.

Talladega Superspeedway named Chris Sperry director of partnership sales. Sperry was director of sales and marketing for Paddock 22.

The Buffalo Bills named Michael Lyons director of analytics. Lyons was a data analytics expert at Xerox.

The NFL named Patrick Kerney vice president of player benefits and NFL Legends Operations.

The San Francisco 49ers named Brent Schoeb director of corporate partnerships. Schoeb was the director of corporate partnerships for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

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.

Executives discussed the hot trends in sports media at the 15th annual Sports Media & Technology conference last week in New York City.

Photos by Marc Bryan-Brown

Michael White, DirecTV’s chairman, president and CEO, looked out on today’s media landscape.

Twitter COO Ali Rowghani talked about his company’s continued significance in sports media.

Ted Leonsis of Monumental Sports & Entertainment provided his take on content, distribution and opportunities in a multiplatform world.

Among the panelists were Brian Rolapp (above) of NFL Media and Bill Daly (below) of the NHL, part of “Sports Media Headlines of the Day: Perspectives from the Top,” and Don Cornwell (below Daly) of Morgan Stanley, who discussed “Investing in Sports Media: What’s Hot, What’s Not and What We Can Expect Down the Road.”

Rob Temple and Sean Hanrahan of ESPN and Rob Stecklow of DirecTV

Geoff Reiss and Lauren Fraser of Twitter and Scott Turken of ESPN

Mitchell Ziets of Tipping Point Sports with the NHL’s Bill Daly

David Paro of Deep Alliance Marketing and Keith Cutler of LockerDome

Matthew Lederer and Dustin Hayes of Comcast and Art Marquez of Pac-12 Enterprises

Chris Russo of CR Media Ventures, Doug Billman of Progress Partners, Bill Moses of Red Sea and Frank Hawkins of Scalar Media Partners

Please submit photos for review of industry conferences, parties, product launches and openings showcasing the people and personalities at the event. Include the event date, location, names/titles of those featured along with credit information. The photo specifications are as follows: 300dpi, tiff, jpeg or eps color images. Submit digital photos for review at: or send color prints to: Faces & Places, c/o Street & Smith’s SportsBusiness Journal, 120 W. Morehead St., Suite 310, Charlotte, NC 28202.

Having spent 17 years at Cisco in various roles, Chris White is now the vice president and general manager of the Sports and Entertainment Solutions Group. White is searching for ways to improve the overall experience for sports fans that will also benefit the teams and venues adopting technology. “We are not selling technology for technology’s sake,” he said. “We truly believe technology can enhance that fan experience and enhance our lives.” He spoke with staff writer Stephanie Brown.

Photo by: CISCO
Age: 50.
New title: Vice president and general manager, Sports and Entertainment  Solutions Group, Cisco.
Previous title: Vice president of global sales, Emerging Technologies  Group.
First job: Sold weighing equipment.
College education: University of London, first-class honors degree in business studies.
Resides: Southern California.
Grew up: Northern England.
Executive most admired: John Chambers, Cisco, and Richard Branson, Virgin.
Brand most admired: Virgin.
Favorite vacation spot: Sea of Cortez, Mexico.
Last book read: “Abundance,” by Peter Diamandis.
Last movie seen: “The Road to El Dorado” — I’ve got young kids, so my movie watching is somewhat filtered by the oldest child, who is 14.
Favorite movie: “The Italian Job.”
Favorite musician/band: Genesis.

What is the biggest challenge in your new role?
We’ve got some work to do to roll up our sleeves in the industry and venues and get the owners to really embrace technology to improve the fan experience and player experience. Second, we went global last year as a business unit … but you have to pick your priorities and battles so that you don’t get spread too thin too quickly. And as a technology company we have got to hide the complexity from our consumers and customers because, guess what? Your expectation is you just walk into that stadium and it works. You don’t want to know.

What is the biggest risk you’ve taken in your career?
Many years ago I thought it was moving to the USA, but then I moved to India and that was a risk all around. I was very comfortable in California, but I realized the world is changing, the world is getting flatter, there are all these emerging markets coming out. So I went to help set up our second global headquarters with my wife and two kids and we had one of the most enriching experiences of our lives.

What is your biggest professional accomplishment?
Being married for 23 years through a professional career is quite an accomplishment nowadays, so I’m thankful for my wife.  … But I guess the biggest professional accomplishment was actually going to India and helping open our globalization center.

What is your biggest professional disappointment?
Having to leave India early was probably my biggest professional disappointment. My wife was diagnosed with breast cancer and we had to come home to deal with that. The good news is she is fine now, but we both hate leaving projects unfinished.

What is the one element you would like to see changed about the sports industry?
The use of technology in a way that can improve the fan experience and improve the business model as well. Show how teams and venues can drive more revenue for a fan.

Steve LaCroix is in the midst of his 13th season as the Minnesota Vikings’ chief marketing officer/vice president of sales and marketing. LaCroix is in charge of marketing the team’s $975 million stadium project that opens in the fall of 2016 on the site of the Metrodome, the Vikings’ current stadium in downtown Minneapolis. He also is in charge of the team’s temporary relocation to the University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium for the next two seasons.

We might be the first team to play two years away from home while our new stadium is being built. It’s a very challenging process for season-ticket allocation and sponsorships, with significant conflicts in major categories.

Update on stadium development: One of the next big decisions will be picking a third-party operator, which will probably be in early 2014. We should be breaking ground in the next month, and then it’s full steam ahead to the fall of 2016. We opened a sales office across the street from the stadium site and are building a preview center that will house our new stadium offerings. It should open in January.

About the preview center: We will have two model suites and [examples of] various club-seat and general-seating products. It will be an interactive experience for our fans that we’re excited to talk about as we get a little bit closer. Every transaction related to the new stadium as well as our sponsorship offerings are all going to happen in that same facility. We will schedule thousands of appointments over the next 24 to 36 months.

On playing at TCF Bank Stadium: It’s almost like two different businesses we’re running as we wind down at the Metrodome. We’re going to a smaller venue, close to 15,000 seats less. We’re going to look to expand TCF with bleachers that may add a couple thousand seats. If every season-ticket holder renews, we would have to juggle some numbers, but I think it’s all going to work out.

About the Vikings’ game in London this season: We felt like this was a way for us to bring the Vikings brand to the international stage. For them to shut down Regent Street on the Saturday before the game and have half a million fans on their version of Fifth Avenue in New York was impressive. We won the game, which was icing on the cake of a week that took a lot of work.

Wembley takeaway: It seemed like the vast majority of fans traveled by mass transit to the game, so with our new stadium having a significant transportation hub outside the front door with our light-rail system that will be expanded over years to come, it was a good learning experience just to see how people can get in and out very smoothly via mass transit.

— By Don Muret