Hockey Hall of Fame - Stanley Cup Journals: 2011, 06

The Stanley Cup was brought to The Steak House in Minneapolis, where the Boston Bruins were holding their scouts dinner and celebration.
Jeremy Jacobs has owned
the Boston Bruins since 1975.
(Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)
It is almost beyond comprehension that the path that led to this year's Stanley Cup championship started with bags of popcorn.

In 1915, three bothers named Jacobs created a small concessions business in Buffalo, New York. Year round, they bagged popcorn and peanuts, selling them to baseball parks in the summer and movie theatres the rest of the year. No one had conceived that this could be a worthwhile enterprise, but the brothers did, and, in effect, initiated the sporting concession business.

The Detroit Tigers of Major League Baseball approached the Jacobs' company, Delaware North, about operating the concessions at their ballpark, Navin Field. It wasn't long before Delaware North had purchased and began operating horserace tracks. In the 1940s, the company also moved into the travel and hospitality industries. By 1960, Delaware North was a global provider of concessions, hospitality, gaming and travel services.

In 1968, Louis Jacobs died, and bequeathed Delaware North to his enterprising 28-year-old son, Jeremy. "My Dad died at work," Jeremy told Success Magazine. "He died doing what he liked to do."

Jeremy Jacobs, born January 21, 1940, legitimately came by his business acumen. He is an alumnus of the University of Buffalo's School of Management and the Harvard School of Business Advanced Management Program. Since then, Mr. Jacobs has received honorary doctorates from the University at Buffalo, Canisius College and Johnson and Wales University.

Jacobs has overseen the exponential growth of Delaware North, slowly expanding the width and breadth of the company as its chairman and CEO. Today, the company exceeds revenues of $2.3 billion operating concessions at various sports venues, including the TD Garden in Boston and London's Wembley Stadium, airports and entertainment complexes around the world, including the Kennedy Space Center and NASA's visitor complex. Delaware North also has an interest in the New England Sports Network (NESN), owns and manages Tenaya Lodge near Yosemite National Park, the Harrison Hot Springs and Spa in British Columbia and other resorts in Australia and New Zealand. Delaware North Companies is considered one of the largest and most admired privately-held companies in North America.

The Stanley Cup was brought to The Steak House in Minneapolis, where the Boston Bruins were holding their scouts dinner and celebration.
Members of the Jacobs family following his Bruins’ Stanley Cup win over Vancouver. (Craig Campbell/Hockey Hall of Fame)
And, of course, Jeremy Jacobs owns the Boston Bruins, buying the franchise for $10 million in 1975. Forbes Magazine recently estimated the worth of the franchise at $302 million, fifth highest in the National Hockey League. Jacobs represents the Bruins on the NHL's Board of Governors and serves on the league's Executive Committee. In June 2007, he replaced Harley Hotchkiss of the Calgary Flames as Chairman of the Board.

Jacobs has frequently been named as one of Sports Business Journal's Most Influential People in Sports. In 2006, he was inducted into the Sports Hall of Fame in Western New York.

It took thirty-six years under Mr. Jacobs before the Bruins won the elusive Stanley Cup. During the 2011 Stanley Cup Final, Jacobs took the opportunity to speak to the Bruins. "I was happy that he did take the time to speak to our team. We don't see him much during the regular season," mentioned Boston coach Claude Julien. "He comes and watches games, but he certainly is not one of those owners that will interfere and then come down much. That's his personality and his style, and we respect that. When he does come in and address the team, everybody is happy to hear from him."

A father of six, Mr. Jacobs looks at a succession plan that includes his three sons, all intrinsically involved in the management of Delaware North. "This is not a one-man design anymore," he stated. "It's a collection of very gifted people."

Jeremy Jacobs is extensively involved in charitable efforts, recently donating $1 million to Roswell Park, one of the most respected cancer institutes in the United States. He gave a record $10 million to establish the Jacobs Institute at the University of Buffalo. The Jacobs Institute is a collaborative partnership between the university, Kaleida Health and a new medical and teaching district in downtown Buffalo that Mr. Jacobs hopes will revitalize the area as much as it leads the way in research and teaching.

So, for a man that, quite literally works for peanuts, Jeremy Jacobs has enjoyed extraordinary success as he enters his eighth decade. Yet, we suspect that nothing held as much satisfaction for Jacobs as finally lifting the Stanley Cup over his head in triumph.

* * *

On Friday, we'll discover how Jeremy Jacobs celebrated with that same Stanley Cup. Hold onto your seats — it's a whirlwind of a trip!

Kevin Shea is the Editor of Publications and Online Features for the Hockey Hall of Fame.

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