Business professionals tackle discussion of pro sports and arena proposals Scoring Big: Bringing the Pros to Hampton Roads

May 20, 2014

What’s Happening

Tuesday, May 27, 5:30 pm, Harbor Park, Norfolk. For business and legal professionals.

It’s not time to decide the winners just yet, but big league players, in the form of two business alliances, are lining up to win the rights to build and manage a new 18,000-seat arena in Virginia Beach.

The arena proposals were submitted to the city earlier this winter; consultants hired to analyze the proposals released one report to the city council recently and another report is scheduled to be presented in June.

The fact that there are no professional sports teams linked to the proposals inspired the steering committee of the Business and Legal Society of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater to plan Scoring Big: Bringing the Pros to Hampton Roads.

The end-of-the-year event for the Society provides an opportunity for Jewish business and legal professionals to socialize, network, watch a Norfolk Tides ballgame (versus the Lehigh Valley IronPigs), and to discuss the proposals with two experienced sports business executives.

Scoring Big’s MVPs—Most Valuable Professionals—Ken Young and Jeff Cogen—will discuss the probability, viability and profitability of building an arena in Virginia Beach and attracting a major league sports team to play in it.

Young is the president of the Norfolk Tides and the Norfolk Admirals. He has been the Tides’ president since 1993, the year the team moved into Harbor Park and it was an affiliate of the New York Mets. The Tides are now the Baltimore Orioles’ Triple-A affiliate. The Norfolk Admirals are an American Hockey League team affiliated with the Anaheim Ducks.

Young has been involved in numerous Major League stadiums, arenas, national and international events, including the Super Bowl, the World Series and the Olympics.

He is also on the board of trustees of Minor League Baseball, and heads up the licensing operations for college football’s Outback Bowl in Tampa, Fla. After the 2009 season, he was named as Baseball America’s Minor League Executive of the Year.

Jeff Cogen is a Newport News native and Old Dominion University graduate. He is the chief executive officer for the Nashville Predators, a National Hockey League team based in Tennessee. He is also CEO of Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena.

Prior to working with the Predators, Cogen’s career included positions as president of both the Dallas Stars and the Texas Rangers, and chief operating officer of the Florida Panthers and the then-Office Depot Center. In many of his jobs, Cogen oversaw all business aspects of the franchises, as well as the operations of the arenas.

“Three things are coming together that make this event so great,” says Kirk Levy, co-chair of the Business and Legal Society.

“We have two Jewish people who are at the top of their professions, who are both experts at running sports teams, arenas and stadiums, who have agreed to share their opinions and expertise with us. We’re going to be filling a niche by discussing this incredibly timely subject, which doesn’t just involve sports, but all kinds of other issues, too, like light rail in Virginia Beach and public/private funding,” Levy says. “And, finally, this is a great way for Jewish professionals to meet other people in their fields, to have fun and to increase their knowledge exponentially.”

Levy says Business and Legal Society events are planned to allow participants to broaden their horizons on a variety of timely subjects, which in the past two years have ranged from briefings on Israel, to developing phone and computer apps, to music production and a tour of a local concert venue.

Scoring Big is open to all Jewish business and legal professionals, from small-business owners, salespeople, office workers and entrepreneurs, to business executives and world-renowned attorneys.

Reservations are $10 and include dinner at Hits in the Park—meat with Kosher parve options—the discussion with Young and Cogen, the baseball game, and prizes, including the opportunity to throw out the first pitch of the game.

To make reservations for Scoring Big, or for more information, visit JewishVa.org/BusinessAndLegalSociety or call 757‑965-6124.

by Laine Mednick Rutherford

Letter to the Editor