What a fuck of cluster.
Howard Eskin and John Gonzalez are both reporting that Adam Aron is, in fact, out as Sixers CEO. He will remain with the team as a part owner [UPDATE: Apparently, he increased his ownership stake.] and assist Joshua Harris in a role that is TBD (presumably, he won’t be the social media coordinator… that job was given to a kid the Sixers threatened to sue).
His replacement – and I’m still confused as to why the Sixers are so hell-bent on using the more businessy term, CEO, as opposed to the more common sports term, President – will be Scott O’Neil, who was the President of MSG Sports and the Knicks until last September. A Villanova grad (swoon), O’Neil had also served as the Eagles’ VP of Ticket Sales a few years back.
This isn’t surprising, even though news of Aron’s demise had previously been exaggerated. The Sixers, however, have done a very poor job of handling it. They first kept quiet and then denied reports that Aron was fired. Aron did the same. Then there was some confusion as to whether he was fired, just out as CEO, or remaining in his position altogether. Now we learn – barring some sort of weird denial from the team – that he’ll still be a part owner and, apparently, have some token role. But it looks like he’ll no longer be making any more important decisions about mascots, confetti, lights, cats and bunnies. And that’s probably a good thing.
UPDATE: Aron will remain on the team’s board of directors, but he will now become the CEO of a new investment fund backed by some of the really rich people who own the Sixers: [AP]
Aron will become chairman and CEO of a new investment fund backed my some members of the Sixers ownership group.
“I could have remained in position as CEO of the 76ers, but this is what I wanted to do,” he said. “It was always in my mind to see what I could be doing next with the owners of the Sixers from Day 1. If anything, I accelerated the timetable to move on when the opportunity became real to move on in this new investment role.”
I don’t believe that statement for a second.
This is amazing. Despite reports (from Howard Eskin, Dei Lynam and the Inquirer) to the contrary, and despite the team refusing to comment earlier today, the Sixers have NOT fired Adam Aron, according to Bob Cooney of the Daily News, who had just written a rather long article about Aron reportedly being fired.
Cooney now says: “76ers spokesperson Michael Preston has confirmed to the Daily News that, despite reports, CEO Adam Aron has not been fired. Adam, who has been associated in the business world with majority owner Josh Harris for over 20 years, also is a minority owner of the team.”
That makes the initial report, from Eskin, and these confirmations, from the Inquirer and Lynam, look quite bad (and yes, I cited the Inquirer’s confirmation earlier):
Now, this may be a matter of semantics. Both the Inquirer and Lynam confirmed that Aron was fired or out as CEO. It’s possible that he is, in fact, out as CEO, but still, as a minority owner or otherwise, with the team. Cooney wrote that his role may change.
Regardless, this is a clusterfuck for the Sixers. These reports came out hours ago and the team initially declined comment. Their PR man, Mike Preston, looks like a dope right about now.
This comment is looking more and more prophetic.
The Inquirer has confirmed Howard Eskin’s report that Adam Aron is out as Sixers CEO. It’s still unclear whether Aron will retain his minority ownership stake in the team.
Meanwhile, the Sixers are reportedly close to hiring former Madison Square Garden President and Knicks exec Scott O’Neil: [NJ.com]
According to Frank Isola of the New York Daily News, the Sixers are close to hiring Scott O’Neil. O’Neil, who last worked for the New York Knicks, would hold an executive position within the team.
The report has not been yet confirmed by the team.
O’Neil unexpectedly stepped down as President of Madison Square Garden in September, with many speculating his decision came down to the Knick’s continued relationship with Isiah Thomas. O’Neil started with the Knicks in more of a marketing role, but became more and more involved in the basketball operations.
He also spent some times with the Eagles, apparently: [Tech Zulu]
Scott O’Neil, is a former president of the Madison Square Garden. O’Neil was senior executive for pre-eminent sports and entertainment brands such as Madison Square Garden (the New York Knicks, New York Rangers and New York Liberty), the Philadelphia Eagles, and the National Basketball Association.
Cool, I guess.
Adam Aron hasn’t tweeted in two weeks. Perhaps for good reason.
Howard Eskin, who a few weeks ago said that Aron had lost some of his power with the Sixers, is reporting that Aron is out– as CEO or altogether, is unclear.
Eskin’s had a spotty record of being, um, right in 2013, and I’m currently in the process of writing a post about him trolling Charlie Manuel… so we’ll wait for some sort of confirmation from the team or corroborating report before taking this as absolute fact.
UPDATE: The Sixers have no-comment, which pretty much says it all.
Adam Aron fired out this series of (seemingly tone-deaf) Tweets:
Ballsy move to Tweet about arena lighting when your team isn’t in the playoffs, when your coach would rather have euthanized himself than deal with his collection of misfits again, and when your $17 million (insured) investment is Flamenco dancing in Spain and playing Roulette in Las Vegas. Huge balls, actually. And though I hate just about everything Aron does, his quest to improve arena lighting is not one of them.
Aron’s Tweets are referring to the possibility that the Sixers install darker, more dramatic lighting – the kind seen in New York for Knicks and Nets (Brooklyn) games, and in LA for Lakers games (but not Clippers) – at the Wells Fargo Center. It’s a good idea. Yeah, I know, it’s not about winning. But this one I like. Unlike streamers, stupid t-shirt cannons, a failed mascot re-launch and that hokey song, a darkened arena is actually cool, and it truly would impact the in-game experience. Sixers home games look like they’re being played in an operating room– it’s bright, cold, mostly empty… and the starting center is usually having his knees worked on. It echoes, too. Fans see that on TV and don’t want to come to games… players see that on TV and don’t want to play here… and TV producers cringe at the thought of airing such snoozefests. It’s not got for anyone. And besides looking cooler, darker arena lighting would actually be cool. Kids see right through shit– they know streamers aren’t cool, but they know Jay-Z is cool… and so is the court at the Barclays Center. They know Lakers games look like an event. Ditto for events at MSG. Darker lighting would, as weird as it sounds, give Sixers game a bit more street cred. Sure, you have win, but this is one upgrade that would be worth investing in. Everything Aron has done thus far has been about embracing a past that relatively few care about. So why not be modern and hip for once?
Two years ago, Aron talked about upgrading the lighting at the Well, but noted that it couldn’t be done immediately because the cost is in the millions. That’s why he’s asking your opinion– this isn’t a simple flip of the switch, it’s a whole new lighting system. I have no idea if it would or could be used for Flyers games, but perhaps there’s an opportunity to split the cost with Uncle Ed here. All events at the Wells Fargo Center, besides concerts, are immediately zapped of their energy by the lights are on in the bedroom while we’re trying to do it dirty style lighting. No one wants that. We want to be seduced by sports, want a little intrigue,
want to be able to get a hand job from a four. We want mood lighting, if you will. The Spectrum had this by default, as did many older arenas. But most of the new ones are lit up like a Christmas tree, and I have no problem with Aron wanting to fix that problem.