Swartz Delivers $7.5 Million, And More, For Extension of MSHSL TV Contract

Swartz Tames Media For Wild

Swartz Inks Largest High School Deal in History

Swartz Scores for KSHSAA

Three New States in League with Swartz

Seahawks Flying With Swartz

Business Journal Profile:
Sports Negotiator

Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal - March 24, 2006
by Andrew Tellijohn
Contributing Writer

It was October 2001 and Stuart Swartz was in Rancho Mirage, Calif., playing a lot of golf. He had just left KMSP-TV UPN 9, a Twin Cities station which had been bought by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. Swartz started his career at KMSP in sales in 1962 and worked his way up to general manager, helping make it one of the country's most successful unaffiliated stations. "It was time for me to move on," Swartz said. But golf "wasn't enough to keep me going."

Swartz teamed up with potential business partners and backers. They kicked the tires on several television stations and even a newspaper, but nothing came together. Then, an old contact showed up out of the blue, and that led to Stu Swartz Sports Media Consulting.

Swartz heard from Dave Stead, executive director of the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL). Stead and Swartz had worked together over the years when KMSP aired several high-school league tournaments. Stead wondered if Swartz's knowledge of the industry could help the league with its television negotiations.

The result was a stunning, first-of-its-kind contract worth more than $20 million in cash and in-kind advertising, activities and promotion for the league. Swartz, who met with the stations interested in bidding on the contract, has a combination of insight about the industry and the ability to see benefits for both sides.

"There were things beyond just the cash that would benefit not only the stations, but the high schools," Stead said. "There is no other state in the country that has the kind of television contract we have. Stu orchestrated the whole thing."

Shortly after, the Minnesota Wild called Swartz to help work on the hockey team's radio and broadcast television deals. Bill Robertson, vice president of broadcasting and communication with the team, said Swartz helped plot the team's strategy and was involved at every level of negotiations. "We're very, very happy with our current agreements" with KSTC-TV and WCCO radio, Robertson said.

Swartz, who gets an upfront fee and a percentage of revenue gained or money saved from contracts, is helping the Seattle Seahawks analyze their media contracts. That job grew from his relationship with Tod Leiweke, former president and chief operating officer with the Wild. Leiweke is now CEO of the Seattle Seahawks. He, Stead and Robertson all said they will help Swartz in any way they can.

"The biggest compliment I can give Stu is that he gets it," Leiweke said. Meanwhile, Swartz' company, with headquarters in both Plymouth and Rancho Mirage, hired Bloomington-based Cuneo Advertising to establish a Web site and collateral materials. Swartz has had preliminary conversations with three high-school leagues around the country as well as another NHL team and two television stations.

"It's been fun. I'm actually having a blast," he said.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
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