Two of the people who helped the Memphis Redbirds and AutoZone Park get off the ground and become such a success are leaving to go out on their own.
President and General Manager Allie Prescott and Jason Macaulay, who holds the same titles at the Plaza Club, announced their plans last week, although the timing is apparently coincidental. Macaulay said he learned about Prescott's pending September departure when he read about it in the newspaper.
Prescott plans to go into business for himself, possibly in partnership with his wife Barbara, a member of the Memphis City Schools Board of Education. Macaulay, who came to the Redbirds from The Racquet Club in 1997, plans to start his own firm "to help people doing what I'm doing."
What he does, among other things, is work long hours and weekends, and he looks forward to getting away from that part of the job.
"I like the project side of things," said Macaulay.
He intends to remain with the Redbirds at least through the summer and continue to live in Memphis after that. Cofounders Kristi and Dean Jernigan, he said, have been "enormously supportive."
Dean Jernigan said Prescott and Macaulay both played their roles well.
"Both are builders and creators of things. It's just a personality type. There are creators and sustainers. And both Allie and Jason are wonderful creators of things."
Rita Sparks and Dan Madden will take over Prescott's duties. Rita and Willard Sparks, who helped Jernigan start Storage USA, have been involved with the Redbirds for about a month. Jernigan said they would have come aboard sooner "but I wanted to get the whole IRS thing behind us first," referring to the tax-exempt financing of the stadium.
Madden has been a baseball man for 17 years and with the Jernigans for four years running the ballpark on a daily basis.
n On a related note, Dean Jernigan acknowledged that he is in danger of spreading himself thin between his CEO duties at Storage USA and his civic activities and plans to cut back on the latter. He has been nominated for the Public Building Authority (PBA) for the NBA arena and has led the corporate season-ticket sales effort.
"I'm definitely scaling back," he said. "That is part of the reorganization of the Redbirds and the Plaza Club. I want to play a role on the front end with the Public Building Authority just because I think it is my duty. I don't want the PBA to make the same mistakes I did. I wish we had done better with minority business participation. We did about 28 percent with minority firms but could have done better. I want to make sure the PBA doesn't come out of the box being the developer. We need to hire a strong company and keep this thing out of the ditch."
He said the authority's first priority should be gaining public trust by being "organized so there is complete visibility with the public."
He strongly favors the Union Avenue site for the arena over the Linden site, which he thinks would force arena patrons to navigate Beale Street "which is a wonderful adult gathering place but it is an adult gathering place." Most of the current parking lots are north of Beale Street and Union.