Topham Takes Control of Borealis, Rodriguez Heir is New Commissioner

Updated: November 20, 2009

NLN - The Clear Voice of Aurora, ColoradoNLN EXCLUSIVE

Posted Wednesday, March 28, 2011 @ 2:18 PM
Ray D. Enzé reporting

It was announced this afternoon that the Aurora Borealis have been sold to Michael Topham, CEO of San Francisco-based Golden Entertainment.  John Rodriguez, Jr., son of former Aurora owner and PEBA Commissioner John Rodriguez, Sr., has been named the new Commissioner of the PEBA.  More on this story as information becomes available.

Update Posted Wednesday, March 28, 2011 @ 3:21 PM

Ray D. Enzé reporting

At a press conference held this afternoon at Northern Lights Park, Vice President of Business Ulderico Alfero announced that the Aurora Borealis have been sold to Golden Entertainment CEO Michael Topham.

mtopham_goldenTopham is largely credited with the astonishing expansion of Golden Entertainment.  From its origins in the 1840s as “Castle Cabaret”, Golden has become the nation’s most successful movie theater chain.  Under Topham’s guidance, Golden has been branching out into new ventures, including amusement parks, shopping malls and even a planned Las Vegas hotel and casino.  The movie theater business in general has shown resiliency against the ongoing economic downturn, and no chain has capitalized on Americans’ need for escape than Golden.

Now, just one week before the start of the regular season, Golden Entertainment is cashing in on their success by purchasing a majority stake in the Aurora Borealis, the PEBA’s all-time winningest team.  It’s been no secret that Topham has been interested in purchasing a sports franchise – he said as much at a press conference held last month – but the general assumption was that he was eying a club closer to Golden’s San Francisco headquarters.  Instead, Topham will be taking the reins of one of the most profitable teams in the PEBA.  Aurora ranked 3rd overall amongst PEBA teams last season in sales of team merchandise, and their private ownership of the Altitude sports television and radio network provides them with one of the largest streams of media revenue in the league.  Considering what he’s accomplished with Golden, one can imagine what the future holds for a Topham-owned Aurora Borealis franchise.

 A photo of John, Jr. from his time with the ArmyToday’s news came as a complete surprise to those in attendance.  Going into the press conference, opinions were divided as to which son of formerAuroraowner John Rodriguez, Sr. – Christopher or John, Jr. – would inherit ownership of the club.  While John, Jr.’s close ties with his father had some projecting him for the position, most felt that Christopher, who had been heavily involved in day-to-day team management since the founding of the Borealis, would be named Rodriguez’s successor.

Instead, the 66-year-old John, Jr. has been named as successor to Rodriguez’s other former role – that of Commissioner of the PEBA.  John, Jr. brings little hands-on baseball experience to his new job.  While younger brother Christopher assisted his father in running the Borealis and took an increased role after Rodriguez’s 2009 stroke, John Jr. has built his fortune outside the baseball world, running a successful private real estate investment group.  Prior to that, John, Jr. served in the U.S. Army for 33 years, achieving the rank of Lt. Colonel and earning respect for his cool demeanor and tough-but-fair attitude.  Associates of John, Jr. have previously been complimentary of his organizational and leadership skills.  How those skills will translate into this new role remains to be seen.

No word regarding what role Christopher might play in a Topham-ownedAurorabusiness hierarchy was announced.  Alfero also shed no light on his own future with the club or the future of the current front office and coaching staff.

Neither John, Jr. nor Christopher Rodriguez were in attendance at today’s press conference.  A Golden Entertainment spokesman said that the entire company is thrilled to be joining theAurorafamily and that CEO Michael Topham will be issuing a statement shortly.

Finally, Northern Lights News has learned that the sale of the Borealis to Topham and the appointment of John, Jr. to the role of PEBA Commissioner was announced at the reading of Rodriguez’s will.  Both sons were apparently in attendance at the reading.  We are looking into this and will have further details as soon as possible.