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Where Showbiz Meets Sports

Where Showbiz Meets SportsAs chairman and executive vice president of the New York Giants, Steven Tisch (A'71), a veteran Hollywood producer, is focused on the fan experience and making the stadium a hot spot in town.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [10.22.07] On any given Sunday when the New York Giants have a home game, chances are you'll see the team's chairman and executive vice president Steven Tisch on the sidelines. He wouldn't have it any other way.

"When I go out on that field before a game, it is such a rush," he said in a recent interview with The New York Times. "I say to myself, What could be better than this?"

As a co-owner of the National Football League team, Tisch's goal is to engender that same feeling in fans. The 1971 Tufts graduate recently told the newspaper that he wants Giants games to be thought of as "a cool place to be." And the 58-year-old Hollywood producer who has brought films like "Risky Business,""Forrest Gump" and "The Pursuit of Happyness" to the big screen is more than happy to supply the cool.

At a recent game, his guests included high-powered celebrities Demi Moore, Ashton Kutcher and Cameron Diaz. Tisch's counterpart, co-owner John Mara, admitted that meeting the actors at the game was a bit surreal.

"That's something that is completely foreign to me," he told the Times.

What Mara knows well, according to the newspaper, is the football team his family has owned and operated for more than 80 years. The Tisch family became part of the equation in 1991 when Preston Robert Tisch, Steve's father, purchased half of the team from John's father, Wellington Mara. The men ran the Giants together for nearly 15 years, the Times reported. Their eldest sons took over after their deaths.

"I can't overstate how well the relationship between my family and the Mara family has developed," Tisch told the Times. Along with three Mara family members, Tisch and his siblings Laurie and Jonathan (A '76) comprise the team's board of directors.

Jonathan Tisch (A'76) serves as chairman and chief executive officer of Loews Hotels. Like other members of his family, the younger Tisch is a generous supporter of Tufts, having provided a $40 million gift to Tufts in 2006 to endow the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service. In September, his older brother announced that he will commit $10 million to the university to support a planned expansion and renovation of Tufts' athletics and fitness facilities, to be named the Steve Tisch Sports and Fitness Center.

When asked about the different ingredients the Tisch and Mara families bring to the Giants partnership, he joked that the relationship is like a bowl of soup.

"I think the Maras bring the beef, the vegetables," he explained to the newspaper. "I think I bring the spices, the taste, the flavor, what makes our soup tastier, a soup you want to have again, what makes you want to come back for seconds."

With the Giants recently breaking ground on a new stadium that they will share with the New York Jets, Tisch intends the team's new digs to be a big draw for fans. From the beginning, he has taken an active role in the project.

"He now thinks of the stadium as a fan experience, from lighting to sight lines, video boards to luxury boxes," the Times reported. As Tisch explained to the newspaper, "I think I have a real sensitivity to the fan."

But Tisch, a partner in the production company Escape Artists, also has a wealth of experience in the film and television industry. He seeks to apply lessons learned in Hollywood to his role on the opposite coast.

"A movie producer has to be able to manage - manage talent, manage the studio, manage creative people, manage the business end of it," he told the Times. "I can honestly say that I have done that very well. The results creatively are some very good movies. The results from the business side are movies that come in on budget and are supervised by very committed businessmen who are also very passionate dreamers and storytellers. That's what's great about the movie business, and I don't think there's enough of that in pro football."

Tisch hopes his contributions to the Giants will generate a buzz around the team and its new home, which is slated to open in 2010.

"It's an exciting sport, the most exciting sport in the world," he told the Times. "I want our team, and even the Jets, to be part of what's so exciting."

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