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                            Marc Roberts

228. MOVES.VOL 4. ISSUE 1                  photo by michael neal
    ami Worl AGENT TOOK TWO The ES PUBLI
MiLEGENDARY SPORTSdcenter On COMPANIHorizCon
THE
BEFORE SETTING HIS SIGHTS ON REAL ESTATE

P
                                                                                                                            WORDS BY dirk desouza

       erhaps one of life’s great-                                                                        all that land – it’s mine.” We’re
       est advantages is that of                                                                          standing in Marc’s sun drenched,
       perspective, the ability to                                                                        spectacularly opulent living room,
       see the forest for the trees,                                                                      towering over south Beach, eas-
       from heights one’s rivals                                                                          ily counting and discussing build-
       both envy and fear. Wilt,                                                                          ings that are six miles away. six
       Dikembe, Kareem and Dirk                                                                           miles. Marc is really starting to
       have each naturally enjoyed                                                                        get excited, reeling off stats like
       perspective, surveying vast                                                                        Bob Costas, “Four years, forty-
       hardwood landscapes if                                                                             four owners, forty-four individual




                                                                                                    photo by michael neal
only for a moment, towering                                                                               transactions, some of it ultimately
over opponents to drive the ball                                                                          totaling $26 million per acre. Most
forward, gaining ground by lit-                                                                           of the lots weren’t even for sale! I
erally leaping over the competi-                                                                          didn’t take no for an answer!”
tion. the Incans, too, understood                                                                              Marc’s controlled euphoria is
the insulated power of height, as                                                                         well deserved; he and his partner
their sacred mountain-clad city                                                                           have already spent over $300 mil-
Machu Pichu soared towards the                                                                            lion acquiring 25 acres of prime,
heavens leaving mere mortals far                                                                          Kobe beef-grade, downtown
more vulnerable on the ground.                                                                            Miami real estate. No developer
NFl team owners know a thing                                                                              has ever succeeded in assembling
or two about height, too, soak-                                                                           such a large chunk of the heart of
ing in gridiron formations from the luxurious perspectives of their    Miami. this acquisition spree has suddenly, (a relative term for the
sky box. then conventional wisdom and logic should dictate that        long-term investor), made Marc Roberts the pacesetter of what’s
some of the most exciting sporting event shots originate from the      to become the largest mixed-use, commercial / residential, urban
lofty confines of the Goodyear Blimp. they do, because there’s         planning project in the Us, Miami Worldcenter; bigger than any-
power up there.                                                        thing in New York, los angeles, or las Vegas. “Miami’s version
     If one drives across the Mcarthur Causeway, past the $20 mil-     of times square” as Marc simply puts it, plus 20 million square
lion homes on star Island (nodding to shaquille’s palatial water-      feet of restaurants, shopping, clubs and towers of glass.
front compound if only for a moment), past music producer scott              Marc, at 48, is a long way from his former self; a fledgling but
storch’s home studio, past the dozen or so cruise ships readying       scrappy 19 year-old boxing promoter who dropped out of college
the masses for the Caribbean, past former eagles patriarch Norman      as a freshman. He proudly admits now what he rarely admitted to
Braman’s spectacular yacht at the Miami Beach Marina, and to-          others then, “I had no idea what I was doing. Knew nothing about
ward the sands of south Beach, the gleaming setai condominium          boxing, but I already had a fight scheduled, so I charged forward.”
towers above virtually all else in america’s most exciting enclave.    legendary sports writer Jerry Izenberg jokes on Marc’s naiveté, “I
the setai is all about height, all about perspective.                  told him that being a boxing promoter meant one thing: after his
     Up in the penthouse, past the Bentley Continental Gt await-       autopsy it would say ‘death by suicide’!”
ing valet, past the hushed Zen lobby, stands Marc Roberts, the               Marc’s improbable journey from adolescent promoter to the
man with perspective, and he’s on a roll.                              upper echelons of world-class real estate development, from his
     “OK, do you see those four towers – one, two, three, four,”       decidedly humble familial roots in West Orange, New Jersey,
pointing out through a 10 foot high wall of glass, “just across from   is testament to an insatiable competitive drive, doggedness, and
the american airlines arena? those buildings I don’t own, but          willingness to take profound risks at the most pivotal points in
they’re like the gateway to the project. starting on the next block,   his life. “I never take no for an answer. Most people give up or
 Real estate

are afraid when they don’t know the answers to something; with                                                  Marc Roberts and legendary
me, I go figure it out, even at 19. Fearless,” Marc says matter of                                           boxing trainer Emanuel Steward
fact, feverishly fielding phone calls and emails on his Blackberry.
In repose on a gorgeous leather chaise, he can’t stop multitask-


   Legendary sports writer Jerry
      Izenberg jokes on Marc’s
   naiveté, “I told him that being
   a boxing promoter meant one
  thing: after his autopsy it would
       say ‘death by suicide’!”
ing. an autographed photo of Marc and President Bush is angled
towards him.
      But the ascendancy of Marc Roberts involves a story, and quite
a Cinderella story it is. Roberts’ sporting career began on a whim     of the gym.” In retrospect, he adds, “Unbelievable. that kid came
at american University in Washington DC, where he played bas-          from nothing, and did it all on his own.”
ketball on a scholarship. His teammate, Russell Bowers, was their           Promoting fights proved to be a hardscrabble living,
Division’s leading scorer, sending sports agents clamoring to his      Darwinian for both fighters and fightmakers, but luck and ser-
doorstep all hours of the day and night. “the school banned the        endipity finally brought Roberts, then 20, local fame and fortune
agents from campus, so I decided right there to be Russell’s agent.    via thomas “Hitman” Hearns, for whom he negotiated a multi-
Why not? I dropped out af-                                                                                  million dollar endorsement
ter three semesters.” so began                                                                              deal. that deal was a turn-
the transition from lanky boy                                                                               ing point, illustrating, far be-
athlete to sports agent busi-                                                                               yond a particular prize fight at
nessman. But things weren’t                                                                                 hand, that Roberts had a new
completely fortuitous; Bowers                                                                               perspective; he saw the bigger
blew out his knee driv-                                                                                     picture.
ing to the basket, essentially                                                                                    Other fighters followed
squashing his NBa dreams,                                                                                   on Hearns’ coattails; amateur
but Roberts, shaken but not                                                                                 fighters Ray Mercer, Charles
stirred, ultimately brokered a                                                                              Murray and al Cole all joined
deal sending Bowers to the                                                                                  Roberts’ roster of talent,
european Basketball league.                                                                                 prompting Marc to launch
Money started flowing in as                                                                                 triple threat enterprises, a
other players began knocking                                                                                management company which
on Roberts’ door – a sports                                                                                 promoted over 100 boxing
agent was born.                                                                                             events, from Madison square
      the magnetic, visceral                                                                                Garden to the casinos of las
force of boxing was too great                                                                               Vegas. two Pt Barnum-like
to ignore, and New Jersey                                                                                   years later – Marc acting as
beckoned. legendary boxer,                                                                                  ringmaster and puppeteer, ex-
trainer and HBO sports fig-                                                                                 pertly working fighters, inves-
urehead emanuel steward                                                                                     tors, media and crowds –triple
puts it this way, “Marc                                                                                     threat became the first boxing
Roberts? the Boy Wonder!                                                                                    management firm in history to
I’ll never forget the day I met                                                                             go public, netting him millions
him in Newark. all black                                                                                    and giving the impresario Don
neighborhood, and here’s a                                                                                  King serious competition.
skinny white kid, completely                                                                                NasCaR superagent Jay
crazy, selling candy and pro-                                                                               schulthess of Mercury sports
moting fights in the hallway                                                                                Management, who’s career he

230. MOVES.VOL 4. ISSUE 1
credits Roberts as kickstarting, adds insight to Roberts’ secret sauce,   lic onto NasDaQ in 1995. His client roster included fighter
“I have never met a stronger networker. I’ve seen Marc walk into          shannon Briggs, the NFl’s antonio Freeman, and the NBa’s
a room and instantly change the dynamic of the entire crowd to            Derek anderson. the securities markets wanted a piece of Roberts’
be a more positive place.” Roberts protégé, NFl player agent Joel         gold, and the intrigue of investing in hundreds of fighters, NBa
segal, who just signed andre Woodson and Glenn Dorsey and rep-            and NFl players in Worldwide’s talent roster was too sexy, too
resents Reggie Bush, Michael Vick, Jason Campbell and Muhsin              show business to resist. the offering made Roberts a very rich
Muhammad adds, “Marc is called the King for a reason.”                    man. His friend Charles Koppelman, now Chairman of Martha
     But the stamp Roberts wished to place on sports wasn’t yet           stewart Omnimedia, is succinct in his description of how Roberts
sealed. Just five years after triple threat, Roberts took his next        achieved such success, “He is incredibly smart, he has great in-
sports management venture, Worldwide entertainment, pub-                  stincts and he’s a rainmaker.”




                                                                                                            miami worldcenter project rendering
 Real estate

                            miami worldcenter project rendering




232. MOVES.VOL 4. ISSUE 1
      along the way, Roberts was smartly toiling in real estate. His     master planner extraordinaire – Boston’s elkus|Manfredi, whose
first deal? One hundred acres of prime New Jersey land that netted       work on New York’s time Warner Center, los angeles’ the
him and two partners $500,000. He was 21 years old, flush with           Grove and West Palm Beach’s CityPlace is widely renowned.
$175,000 cash, and the experience was sublime. “that was a lOt           strategically located within blocks of the intracoastal waterway
of money back then. It’s a lot of money now. But I learned two           and cruise ship turning basin, Miami Worldcenter will be within
lessons I always kept with me: it’s a great idea to have an attorney     walking distance of american airlines arena, Miami art Museum,
as a partner; and limited partnership structures are key,” he says.      Bayside Marketplace and Miami’s new $500 million Performing
Over the next 20 years came a real estate acquisition and develop-       arts Center. “We foresee, four to five years from now when the
ment spree, with Roberts initiating scores of projects coast to coast.   real estate market calms down, that we’re sitting on a $10 bil-
But those projects pale in comparison to Miami Worldcenter.              lion project.” Falcone knows the B-word; he sold his previous
      Back at the sun drenched setai (where he at one point owned        homebuilding company, the largest private residential concern
eight oceanfront units), Roberts works his home automation               of its type in the Us, for about $2 billion. What Roberts and
touchpad to adjust the window coverings. It’s also from here he          Falcone envision is unprecedented for Miami, but seems a fitting
controls his almost billion dollar empire. “Miami Worldcenter is         milestone for Roberts’ not-quite-Horatio-alger but superlative
going to be a city within a city,” he explains.” there will be           life trajectory.
high rises and low buildings just like a cityscape. Middle mar-                Does Roberts miss sports? He lights up like a kid in a candy
ket condominium housing, 5-star hotels, Class a office towers, a         store, “I made a lot of really great friends over the years. I just
World trade Center complex, shopping, nightlife and entertain-           came back from an invitation to watch the steelers play and it was
ment over multiple blocks.” leaving nothing to chance, Roberts           great – 50 yard line skybox, field passes for my kids, that’s what it’s
and his partner, art Falcone of the Falcone Group, have a hired          about…I’m still in the game.” M




                                                                                                                                             photo by michael neal

								
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