A new man at the top

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When Tod Leiweke set out to find a replacement to fill the job he would be leaving, his standards were high.

The outgoing CEO of Vulcan Sports and Entertainment wanted someone who was enthusiastic and engaging, as well as qualified. Someone like, well, Leiweke.

Leiweke has found his man. Peter McLoughlin has been named President of Seahawks, Sounders FC and First & Goal Inc. McLoughlin will be introduced during a news conference this morning at Virginia Mason Athletic Center.

And the switch comes with a triple twist. While Leiweke is leaving football and soccer to return to the National Hockey League as CEO and part owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning, McLoughlin comes to the Seahawks and Sounders FC after four seasons as CEO of St. Louis Blues Enterprises.

The Blues? It’s the team Leiweke grew up rooting for.Also, Leiweke arrived in Seattle in 2003 after working for the Minnesota Wild of the NHL.

For McLoughlin, 53, this reversal of roles is the equivalent of following someone who just turned in a not only productive, but game-altering shift on the ice.

“I think this will be one of the most-highly coveted jobs in all of sports,” Leiweke said in July, when it was announced he would be leaving – but not until overseeing the search for his replacement.

“You don’t have a reclamation project; this isn’t a turn-around project. You don’t have a stadium half-subscribed. In fact, you have a glorious stadium and a string of sellouts that will continue (for the Seahawks and Sounders FC). It is a chance to find somebody who can take it and push it to whole other level. I humbly submit I think there is somebody out there who can do an even better job that I’ve done, and I think I’ve done a good job here.”

Enter McLoughlin. Like Leiweke here, McLoughlin’s job in St. Louis related directly to, but also went beyond the on-ice product. He was in charge of all business operations of the Blues and Scottrade Center – from sales, to marketing, to finance. He has been credited with restoring the Blues’ brand in St. Louis.

Just as Leiweke did for the Seahawks during his seven-season stay that turned out to be lucky for the football fortunes of the franchise, as well as the birth of the Sounders FC – who last year put together the most successful inaugural season in MLS history.

“I love this place and I don’t want to see it miss a beat, and I don’t think it has to,” Leiweke said.

It’s now up to McLoughlin to insure that the beat does indeed go on.

Before joining the Blues, McLoughlin served in a variety of executive roles for Anheuser-Busch – including vice president of corporate media. He helped make Budweiser and Bud Light become synonymous with major sporting events because of its sponsorships that included 15 Super Bowls, five Summer Olympics, four Winter Olympics and World Cup soccer.

There’s a connection there, as well, because McLoughlin spent more than six years at NBC Sports before moving to Anheuser-Busch. In that capacity, from July 1979 to March 1984, he served as a senior unit manager, overseeing the production budgets and supervising on-site production for Major League Baseball and the World Series, the NFL, NCAA basketball and the French Open tennis tournament.

Talk about a dream job for someone who was a sportswriter for the school newspaper while attending Harvard, where he was an English Lit major. But, as it turned out, that was just the first step on a journey that would lead McLoughlin to the Seahawks and Sounders FC.

But who is this guy? McLoughlin and his wife, Kelly, have five children. He was active in the St. Louis community, where his involvement included United Way, Boy Scouts, the Regional Chamber and Growth Association and the Sports Commission.

But a 2007 Q&A with Sports Business Daily provided a deeper look at the man behind the titles.

Favorite music: Anything by James Taylor.

Favorite movie: “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.”

Personal hero: My dad.

Earliest sports memory: As a participant: pee wee hockey; as a fan, watching the Mets win the ’69 World Series. I was 12 years old. After the final game the fans stormed the field and basically tore it up.

Fictional character you identify with: Conor Larkin in “Trinity.”

Best business decision: Deciding to join NBC Sports in ’79 and then Anheuser-Busch in ’85 and the Blues in ’06.

Then there’s this one, which shows he’ll fit right in with the Paul Allen-owned enterprises he’s about to manage:

Indispensable piece of technology: I hate to say it – the Blackberry.

McLoughlin also was asked about sports business executives he admired. After naming Dave Checkettes, the Blues’ owner, he mentioned a couple of names more familiar to sports fans in the Pacific Northwest.

“I’ve gotten to be very close with Tim Leiweke and Tod Leiweke,” he said of the Leiweke brothers – Tim is president and CEO of AEG. “I find both to be very creative, high-energy executives, and I’ve learned a lot in dealing with them.”

In his latest dealings with Tod Leiweke, McLoughlin found the next challenge in his life – and a new job.

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