COO Bill Ackerley Retires From Sports, Media Group

Bill Ackerley, co-president and chief operating officer of the Ackerley Group sports and communications empire, announced his retirement effective today.

Ackerley, 37, will spend time with his family and pursue other business opportunities, said his father, Barry Ackerley, the company's chief executive.

"We will continue to own a large stake in this business, but we don't always believe in family members being active members in the company," said the senior Ackerley.

The company said Bill Ackerley's responsibilities have been shared by other members of the executive team for the last three months.

In addition to Barry Ackerley, that team includes Denis Curley, chief financial officer and co-president; Ginger Ackerley, co-chairman and co-president; Randy Swain, president of AK Media/NW; and Chris Ackerley, vice president marketing and development.

Curley will continue to oversee the broadcast segment. Ginger Ackerley will oversee Full House Sports & Entertainment, which operates the ticketing and sports-franchise group.

The company also reported today that its first-quarter profit dropped 75 percent, mostly because of higher expenses, including player salaries, relating to the Seattle SuperSonics basketball team. Profit for the quarter ending March 31 was $800,000, or 3 cents a share, down from $3.2 million, or 10 cents a share, in the year-earlier period.

Ackerley Group, which owns billboards, television and radio

stations, the Sonics and the Sea Dogs professional soccer team, posted first-quarter sales of $81 million, up 13.4 percent from $71.4 million a year ago.

The company has removed tobacco advertisements from 50 percent of its billboards.

While most of the advertising space has been rented, the switch may have had an impact on the bottom line, said Ackerley.

Alex Fryer's phone message number is 206-464-8124. His e-mail address is: afryer@seattletimes.com