Delaware North Chairman Jeremy Jacobs was recently featured in a front-page, long-form story in SportsBusiness Journal.
The piece, titled “The Chairman,” is part of a series featuring this year’s class of “The Champions: Pioneers & Innovators in Sports Business,” which includes Mr. Jacobs, Joseph Cohen, Bob Lanier, Roger Penske, Jerry Richardson and Lesley Visser – all of whom will be recognized April 13 at the CAA World Congress of Sports in Los Angeles.
SportsBusiness Journal executive editor Abraham Madkour covered a myriad of topics in the piece, including Mr. Jacobs’ early years with Delaware North and his introduction to the National Hockey League, for which he today serves as chairman of its Board of Governors.
“Jeremy Jacobs’ formative years in Buffalo shaped him – working for his father, meeting his wife, going to college, starting a family and taking over for his father at a young age after Louis’ sudden death in 1968,” the subscription-only article said. “That established a path into team and arena ownership, as he became one of the most influential leaders in the NHL. It led him to be a community steward in his home city while he continued to grow Delaware North into a $3 billion sports, food and hospitality force. But to him, it all starts with his father.”
“My dad was great at sharing things with me,” Mr. Jacobs told SportsBusiness Journal. “He pointed me in a direction, gave me basic information, but then sent me out to do it. At 21, I was in Canada running our Canada operations, which were the Woodbine Racetrack and Mohawk Raceway. I got to operate and manage that business, even though I was very young. I learned the value system of how you count and how you make things work in the concession area. I had the opportunity to lead, which I would have never had if I was working for anyone else.”
Mr. Jacobs took over as chairman and CEO of Delaware North in 1968, when he was 28 years old. After helping the Knox family with the Buffalo Sabres’ initial concession and arena deal in the early 1970s, he had his sights set on another business opportunity: owning an NHL franchise.
“It was a real intellectual experience for me during that time with the Sabres, to understand exactly how that worked,” Mr. Jacobs said in the piece. “So when I heard that the Bruins and the Boston Garden were for sale, an attorney said this was the price they wanted and I said that I would buy them. That is how long it took. I purchased them and never looked back. Even though we weren’t in the building at the time, I knew from a concession standpoint it was a great building. There were two major league franchises in the building and it was just a no-brainer for me.”
The piece also looked to the future of Delaware North, with the third generation of the Jacobs family now in leadership roles – Jerry Jr. and Lou as Co-CEOs and Charlie as CEO of Delaware North’s Boston Holdings.
“We are introducing the third generation,” Mr. Jacobs said in the story. “They will be able to do it better than I can, honestly. I always wanted them to be in the business, but I also knew that they had to really want to be here. They all worked elsewhere before they came here, to see how other businesses ran. They always, for whatever reason, wanted to come back here and play a role. Privately owned businesses have a unique place in our capital structure in this country. They all seem to have the same problems. Continuity and going forward, can they do it generation to generation? This one has done it well going forward to the next generation. We collectively seem to share the same direction.”