Influential sports and entertainment executive Frank J. Jirik died on April 30 from lymphona in Lakeville, Minn. He was 69.
Jirik spent 40 years in the sports and entertainment industry, including stints with the Minnesota Twins, the Minnesota North Stars, the Met Center in Bloomington, Minn., the San Jose Sharks, the Minnesota Wild and the Excel Energy Center in St. Paul, among many others. His career began as a member of the grounds crew at the outdoor stadium in Bloomington for the Minnesota Twins. In 1967, Jirik helped to open the new Met Center, and during the next 24 years was promoted from the operations crew all the way up to VP of marketing and building operations for the Met Center and the Minnesota North Stars. During his tenure at the Met Center, Jirik set building and industry records in gross sales, attendance and profit.
In 1990, Jirik moved to California to join the NHL expansion San Jose Sharks. With the Sharks, Jirik became the chief negotiator in all business transactions with the City of San Jose, including the deal that led to the construction of Spectacular San Jose Arena (now called HP Pavilion at San Jose) in September of 1993. Once that deal was signed, Jirik oversaw all aspects of construction and design of the Arena.
Jirik is also credited with putting together the management team that currently operates HP Pavilion at San Jose. At HP Pavillion, Jirik oversaw all areas of operation at HP Pavilion including negotiating major contracts with the City of San Jose as well as concert and family show promoters and other professional sports franchises. Frequently ranked among the top-grossing buildings of its size by Billboard Boxscore, in 16 years HP Pavilion has played host to more than 2,800 events with more than 25 million people coming through its doors. Jirik is responsible for bringing the top names in the entertainment industry to HP Pavilion, including Elton John, the Rolling Stones, Pavarotti, Garth Brooks, Barbra Streisand, Janet Jackson, Reba McEntire, and the 3 Tenors’ first-ever Northern California appearance.
Jirik was a member of the International Association of Auditorium Managers and the Major Arena Managers Association. He served on the board of directors of the San Jose Sports Authority, Public Television KTEH and the San Jose Symphony. He was also on KTEH’s Executive Committee and served on the San Jose Sports Hall of Fame Committee.
He is survived by his wife Sharon, children Becky, Scott, Chelle and their spouses and his seven grandchildren. Services are set for Tuesday at the Church of the Risen Savior, 1501 CR 42 East, Burnsville, Minn. Interment is Wednesday at St. Isidores Catholic Cemetery, Sturgeon Lake, Minn.