back­room

THE CANA­DIAN HEAVY­WEIGHT EX­EC­U­TIVE HOP­ING TO BRING THE REAL MADRID MAGIC TO NORTH AMER­ICA.

National Post (National Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - By Joe O’Con­nor

Dave Hop­kin­son re­mem­bers Nov. 1, 1994, quite well: it was his 24th birth­day and his first day hawk­ing sea­son tick­ets for the Toronto Rap­tors, then a pro­fes­sional bas­ket­ball ex­pan­sion fran­chise in a diehard hockey town.

Hop­kin­son and 23 com­mis­sion-hun­gry re­cruits sat in a room on the 14th floor of a build­ing over­look­ing an arena con­struc­tion site. Each was armed with a phone, desk and chair, and all com­peted to make a sale and ring the six-inch brass ship bell that their boss, Rap­tors founder, John Bi­tove, had mounted on the wall as a mo­ti­va­tional tool.

The top four sell­ers were promised full-time jobs. The rest would be let go.

“Dave was de­ter­mined, fear­less and fun,” Bi­tove re­cently re­called. “And he was just a kid, in his early 20s, but he would never give up, which is one of the things I loved about him. He would cold call any­one. He would work the phone. He would work his per­son­al­ity.”

Hop­kin­son would keep ring­ing the bell and look over at Bi­tove’s desk after­wards with a big, aw­shucks-boss-I-did-it-again grin on his face, which drove ev­ery­body else in the room half­way nuts, but earned him a full-time sales po­si­tion.

SO­CIAL ME­DIA FOL­LOW­ERS

The en­try-level job was a toe­hold on the sports busi­ness lad­der that he has kept climb­ing: from sell­ing the Rap­tors to sell­ing just about ev­ery­thing for Maple Leaf Sports & En­ter­tain­ment Ltd. — owners of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Rap­tors, FC, Arg­onauts and more — in­clud­ing a 20-year, $800-mil­lion deal with Bank of Nova Sco­tia to re­name the rink for­merly known as the Air Canada Cen­tre.

The deal — the largest of its kind in North Amer­i­can ma­jor pro­fes­sional sports his­tory — re­ver­ber­ated in­ter­na­tion­ally. Hop­kin­son, long sought af­ter by NHL and NBA teams but never sold on a move, be­came a hot in­ter­na­tional com­mod­ity.

An ex­ec­u­tive re­cruiter in Los An­ge­les called and, this past June, Hop­kin­son left

FOL­LOW­ERS LIV­ING IN SPAIN

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