Brian Murphy: Allen & Co. conference where money, power, sports meet

Sports bosses at home in Sun Valley with the nation's biggest powerbrokers.

bmurphy@idahostatesman.comJuly 7, 2013 

  • SPORTS FLAVOR AT THE ALLEN & COMPANY CONFERENCE

    In addition to the four commissioners, the guest list includes many other sports-connected individuals, owners and executives, according to Variety:

    • Jeanie Buss, L.A. Lakers (NBA)

    • John DeGioia, Georgetown (NCAA)

    • William DeWitt Jr., St. Louis Cardinals (MLB)

    • John Henry, Boston Red Sox (MLB)

    • Peter Karmanos, Carolina Hurricanes (NHL)

    • Phil Knight, Nike

    • Robert Kraft, New England Patriots (NFL)

    • Stan Kroenke, Denver Nuggets (NBA), Colorado Avalanche (NHL), St. Louis Rams (NFL)

    • Ted Leonsis, Washington Wizards (NBA), Washington Capitals (NHL)

    • Larry Probst, U.S. Olympic Committee chairman

    • Jerry Reinsdorf, Chicago Bulls (NBA), Chicago White Sox (MLB)

    • Peter Ueberroth, former MLB commissioner, former chairman of the U.S. Olympic Committee

    • Jeffrey Wilpon, New York Mets (MLB)

    • Jed York, San Francisco 49ers (NFL)

Forget Major League Baseball's All-Star Game on July 16 in New York. The real mid-summer classic - the All-$tar Game, if you will - is taking place this week in Sun Valley.

The annual Allen & Company conference attracts millionaires and billionaires, moguls and movers, the most powerful of the most powerful in business, media and sports.

Executives from the brand-namiest of companies (Twitter, Facebook, Google, Apple, Microsoft, McDonald's, Wal-Mart, Walt Disney Company, Hewlett-Packard, just to name a few) and the biggest media companies will be in attendance, according to the guest list obtained by Variety.

The next president of the United States could be in attendance, as both New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg will be at the conference.

What goes on behind the very secluded, very closed doors, we'll likely only learn later. Or never at all. But the guest list does offer a clue as to one major area of discussion - sports.

It is only fitting, given sports' place in the American culture, that the commissioners of the country's four major professional leagues are on the invite list for a week of mingling.

Gary Bettman (NHL), Roger Goodell (NFL), Bud Selig (MLB) and David Stern (NBA) belong in meetings with the other executives, given the size of the businesses they run and the enormous influence they peddle.

Even if Idaho doesn't have a team in any of the four major sports and likely never will, given its low population.

The commissioners will be joined by more than a dozen others with heavy sports ties at the gathering, representing some of the most popular and most successful franchises in the country, including the Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Red Sox, New England Patriots and Chicago Bulls.

This is the place where the mere hint of an idea can turn into talk, talk can turn into action and the world can be changed.

It was at previous Allen & Company conferences that Comcast's purchase of NBC Universal, Disney's decision to buy ABC and Mark Zuckerberg's $100 million donation to Newark, N.J., schools came about.

What could it mean for sports? Given the media and business power-brokers in Sun Valley, could someone strike a deal that vastly changes the way we watch and consume our sports? Or the way they are run?

Or maybe the four commissioners are going to treat the Sun Valley retreat like many locals do, as an excuse to get away from everything for a little while. Do a little hiking and biking. Drink some wine and beer. Relax.

Whatever their desires - big or small, earth-shattering or just ripple-making - the commissioners' inclusion on the exclusive guest list is further proof that sports is now firmly entrenched as one of America's big businesses, deserving of a seat alongside business and media and politics and technology as a shaper of popular opinion and culture.

Enjoy your stay, commissioners.

And if the NFL or NHL is looking for a small city to become obsessed with a new franchise, to fall in love with a team - a new-era Green Bay Packers or a counterpart of the Oklahoma City Thunder - might I suggest Boise? I'm sure Gov. Butch Otter, another attendee, would love to show you around.

Brian Murphy: 377-6444; Twitter: @MurphsTurph

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