When the Cubs and Sox get together it’s something, but when the Cubs and Sox and Bulls and Bears and ‘Hawks get together, that is really something.
L&Q’s Membership Outreach Committee gave our members and invited guests a rare treat: a symposium on “The Business of Sports,” featuring a panel composed of the CFO’s of Chicago’s five major sports franchises, a unique group indeed. The panel answered sports finance questions from a large audience of largely accountants, and from the very outset, panelists and audience enjoyed every minute.
Held in the Standard Club May 5, the Business of Sports seminar featured Stu Bookman (COM 78), Controller of the Bulls; Jon Greifenkamp, Vice president and CFO for the Cubs; Karen Murphy, Senior Director of Finance and Treasurer for the Bears; T.J. Skattum, Director of Finance for the Blackhawks; and Bill Waters (COM 83), Senior Director of Finance for the White Sox.
Following a casual reception, and after brief welcomes by L&Q Membership Outreach chair Bill Razzino and panelist introductions by current L&Q President Jenny Ciszewski, DePaul Athletic Director Jean Lenti Ponsetto took to the podium and served as panel moderator.
Questions ranged widely, and were genuinely enthusiastic: the growth of social media in teams’ marketing strategies, the miseries of this Spring’s weather for Wrigley and the Cell, the concept of public financing of stadiums, and even the more casual “how many games do you get to and where do you sit?” Playoff revenue sharing, impending strikes, entertainment and recession, salary caps, coping with owners and young millionaire all-stars—the hour-long session was as lively as it was informative. As could be expected, there was a good deal of give-and-take and camaraderie across the executives in this particular line of work.
The panelists were especially pleased to be asked a general question about the teams’ charitable efforts, which are significant. Each panelist had a well-deserved opportunity to showcase their team’s efforts to give back to the community, often in ways that don’t make the marquee. (Another highlight, for some at least, was the inevitable “Showing of [and off] the Championship Ring.”)
School Director Kevin Stevens and incoming L&Q president Jim Robbs concluded the evening, but few were in a hurry to leave such a unique event and interesting speakers.
As Razzino noted in his opening comments, L&Q was delighted to provide members with so popular a program: “We’ve done outreach and listened to what members would like, and resuming the L&Q seminar series was a first response. We’re planning on continuing the seminar format as an enjoyable and informative membership benefit.”
All L&Q members will be invited to our next L&Q Seminar, set for Thursday, September 22, 2011, which will present the CEOs of mid-level accounting firms for a discussion of their firms’ insights into the challenges of and strategies for today’s market and economic environment.