Moving on up

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 28, 1999

Last year Eric Nyquist was on top of the world, basking in the glow of reaching an unbelievably high goal, the result of years of hard work and perseverance.

Saturday, August 28, 1999

Last year Eric Nyquist was on top of the world, basking in the glow of reaching an unbelievably high goal, the result of years of hard work and perseverance. He landed his dream job, an executive position with the National Football League.

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So how did Nyquist celebrate his first anniversary with the NFL?

He quit.

He’s moving up. He’s going from the big time to the even bigger time.

Nyquist, at age 27, was wooed away from the NFL by Jerry Reinsdorf, the renowned owner of the Chicago Bulls and Chicago White Sox.

A 1990 graduate of Albert Lea High School, Nyquist began his quest for fortune and fame while at Carleton College in Northfield. He started writing letters to anyone he could think of who was involved with professional sports, and figures he wrote around 400 letters in all.

The one-in-a-million story culminated last summer, when Nyquist was hired as the NFL’s Manager of Business Planning.

During the past year, Nyquist was responsible for all of the NFL’s economic issues, including projection of the aggregate salary cap. Anytime you saw figures in a newspaper relating to a team’s economics, Nyquist was responsible for compiling it.

Nyquist was also with new stadium development, working closely with the front offices of the Broncos, Lions, Seahawks, Saints, Bears, Eagles, Patriots, Steelers, Colts and Vikings.

According to Nyquist, his &uot;big baby project&uot; was the NFL’s expansion into Houston or Los Angeles for the 2002 season.

With an apartment on Madison Avenue and an office in NFL headquarters in Manhattan, Nyquist was more than perfectly happy where he was. In June, Reinsdorf and associates Howard Pizer and Steve Schanwald made him an offer he could not refuse.

In August, Nyquist officially took over as Executive Vice President of Chicago White Sox Enterprises.

Essentially, Nyquist was hired as a right-hand-man to Reinsdorf.

His first project will be securing naming rights for Comiskey Park, a deal that’s expected to be in the neighborhood of $60 to $80 million over 20 years.

Part of that money will be used for a renovation of Comiskey, another project Nyquist will oversee.

After that, Nyquist will in charge of starting a sports marketing/sports ventures firm with Reinsdorf. Nyquist will run the company and receive a percentage of it.

All it all, it was too much opportunity to pass up.

&uot;When Mr. Reinsdorf first approached me, I couldn’t have been happier with the NFL, it was truly a dream come true,&uot; said Nyquist. &uot;I told him, ‘Maybe I’m not the guy you want for this.’&uot;

After flying to Chicago for an interview, Nyquist learned he was the only person Reinsdorf considered for the position. He was offered the job. After mulling it over for a few weeks and seeking the advice of many individuals in pro sports front offices, he accepted.

&uot;It’s a huge step up financially and responsibility-wise,&uot; said Nyquist. &uot;The opportunity to run my own company at my age is just hard to fathom. Everyone I talked to – all across the board – said it was something I had to do.&uot;

Nyquist said he was extremely flattered to be pursued by Reinsdorf.

&uot;He really made me feel wanted by him and his organizations,&uot; said Nyquist. &uot;I was fortunate, early in my career, to work with a lot of high-profile projects, and I think I did pretty well. Once you make a name for yourself, it travels fast in a very small community.&uot;

While his life is in the big city, Nyquist said he truly cherishes the ties and friendships he has with his home town. And, he admits, he still has to pinch himself every once in a while to remind himself that it’s all real.

&uot;With everything, it’s truly just been an unbelievable chain of events,&uot; said Nyquist. &uot;There’s been a lot of just plain good luck, incredible chance and fortune. It is pretty crazy. When I look back at it, it’s like if one little thing had worked out differently none of this might have happened. Every day I wake up, I’m truly grateful. In my life, there’s been nothing I’ve been as passionate about as athletics. To work in this industry and have the opportunity to build a business in it is just a fantasy. I don’t know why it’s worked out this way for me, but I’m real grateful for it.&uot;

Nyquist is also thankful for his family, without whom he said none of his accomplishments would have been possible.

&uot;Everything I’ve been able to enjoy in life, everything I’ve done,&uot; said Nyquist. &uot;It’s a direct result of being the son of Gary and Kathy Nyquist and the brother of Andy Nyquist.&uot;