The Date: April 1, 2008
The Venue: The 36th floor of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel
The Crowd: A mix of old and young CEO-types in suits, and 20-somethings in cocktail dresses. Partygoers included Henrick Lundquist and Scott Gomez of the hometown Rangers; Jim Cramer, host of CNBC's Mad Money and co-founder of TheStreet.com; tennis legend John McEnroe; Donald Trump Jr.; and artist Peter Max. Cover boy Derek Jeter was supposed to be on hand, but couldn't make it (he had a, uh, work conflict).
The Food: Pasta, spring rolls and an assortment of seafood, including salmon, crab, shrimp, oysters, clam and yellowtail served on two buffet tables.
The Drinks: Waiters walked around offering glasses of champagne, while two full bars on either side of the ballroom served Kettle One and Grey Goose vodka, Johnny Walker Black and Crown Royal whisky, Don Julio tequila, red and white wine, and beer.
The Swag: A gift bag that included a Jawbone Bluetooth, a copy of the magazine, a Maybach hat, a 2008 International Travel Directory from The American Academy of Hospitality Sciences, and a pair of cufflinks and a pin with the Trump label on them.
Freeloader is still new to this kind of swanky experience (and to New York, in general), but even we know that when there's a red carpet, cameras and a few Mercedes parked outside, it's probably going to be a first-class event.
And indeed, it seems no expense was spared. While others reacquainted and mingled about, we sipped a glass of Champagne and watched the Yankees get introduced on the final Opening Day in current Yankee Stadium. There, Freeloader saw Derek Jeter take the field even as he was supposed to have arrived at the launch to celebrate his appearance on the cover, and to receive an award.
Waiters came around and offered chicken curry salad, vegetarian sashimi and, of course, mini burgers. Partygoers snacked as they paged through the 168-page glossy magazine that sat in stacks on tables throughout the room.
From Central Park view to 'The View'
Freeloader enjoyed a refreshing Grey Goose and Sprite while simultaneously taking in the scenes of the room and the views of Central Park below.
East Village restaurants Hearth and Insieme (both co-owned by Marco Canora) had tables set up next to the main stage, serving snapper (Hearth) and lasagna verde alla bolognese (Insieme).
The party really began to fill up around 7:30 or so, as Freeloader chatted up a couple of journalists from the Post and the Daily News that were petering about, and had a nice chat with a producer of "The View." One friendly Doubledown Media employee tried to set Freeloader up with her daughter for an "interesting business conversation," and we were forced to say -- though we were looking dapper in black suit, white shirt and silver tie -- we were spoken for.
The magazine will be distributed via "qualified controlled circulation," said Edward Padin, general manager of Doubledown. Advertisers will be guaranteed reach to a very specific, niche audience -- the professional sports world -- with money to spend, which is Doubledown's specialty (as a self-proclaimed "publishers of world-class luxury magazines with a financial bent").
Players Club is individually addressed to players, agents, coaches and front-office execs, a database that Lenny Dykstra, a former baseball player with the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies, built up organically. It will have an initial circulation of 20,000, is audited by PPA, and is not available on newsstands. While Doubledown puts some of its other publications on newsstands for more exposure, Players Club is exclusively designed to help pro athletes "keep living the dream" after their retirement, as the splashy proclamation says on the front cover.
Doubledown took advantage of its prior relationships to fill the first issue with advertisers like Mercedes, Porsche, Global Exec Aviation, AIG, Milus and others who pay a rate of $10,000 a page. "We already have relationships with a large percentage of the luxury advertisers," said Randall Lane, president and editor in chief of Doubledown. "We were able to leverage our relationships with [them and] hit the ground running."
As for Mr. Dykstra, "He's focused on the magazine as a marketing tool to sell other services to pro athletes," Mr. Lane said. "This magazine is meant to both educate them, and also offer financial products to help them manage their money better."
"This is about growing up," Mr. Dykstra told the crowd. "You either grow up, or you die. We're going to be part of something big."
After Mr. Dykstra thanked his family and others, he said that his personal friend Mr. Cramer was "everything I want to be -- a winner."
Ending with a bang
A loud and unintentionally humorous moment came when Mr. Dykstra backed into a heavy sign, and sent it crashing to the ground during a picture opportunity, eliciting a collective gasp from the crowd.
The most unexpected turn of the night came when Grammy Award-winning musician Miri Ben Ari, aka "The Hip Hop Violinist," jumped up on stage and jammed for about 15 minutes as Mr. Dykstra glad-handed folks. She played everything from JT to Jay-Z, even including a stirring rendition of the National Anthem. And while it wasn't quite Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock in '69, she did manage to snap a string. Freeloader took that as a sign to call it a night.