the rest. When all was said and done, it would take three years and a whopping $450 million to build the arena — $200 million over budget. “But that was by design,” asserts Ussery. “It was like designing a house where you say, ‘Hey, this is going to be enough’ and your spouse comes in and says, ‘It sure would be nice if we could take that down and add this.’ Well, [when] you do enough of that over time in a building that’s almost one million square feet, it starts adding up. [However], in the end, the owners got what they wanted.” Since the team owners — both of whom were billionaires — were behind the additional costs and agreed to foot the bill, the expenses weren’t an issue.
Now with 120 people under him in the Mavericks organization, Ussery continues to juggle his responsibilities. Most recently, he assisted with hammering out a deal with Echostar/Dish Networks in which the satellite TV operator would carry HDNet, and is in talks with cable operator Comcast Corp. Current HDNet programming includes such sporting events as the Triple Crown, Winter Olympics and NBA playoffs. A sister channel, HDNet Movies, airs films in high-definition through deals with Warner Bros., Sony, MGM and Lion’s Gate, which agreed to convert a total of 750 films into high-definition format to air on the network.
For Ussery, each job has its own appeal. HDNet, the first high-definition network in the U.S., utilizes the latest technology. In addition, it has all the excitement of a startup and the deep pockets of a billionaire behind it. Running the Mavericks keeps Ussery in touch with a Dallas community that is very passionate about their team. “You can go to a Mavericks game on Tuesday and if we win, come out on top of the world,” Ussery says. “Thursday night, we lose by 30 points and you want to punch somebody — we’re selling passion. So while it’s not as intellectually stimulating in some ways as the television [business], sports are a lot more passionate.”
The Mavericks owner too waxed positive on Ussery’s business acumen. “Terdema has the amazing capacity to grasp the important elements of a seemingly unlimited number of business issues,” Cuban says. “You can throw him in any situation and he will be thorough and exact. Bottom line, he helps me get the job done and I trust him. And that is the highest compliment I can pay someone.”
STEVE MILLS: A TRIPLE THREAT
Anyone visiting Steve Mills might think him standoffish if judged by his isolated, lush executive office with its leather seats and a waiting room that’s larger than most New York City apartments. However, nothing could be further from the truth. The office is a remnant of a former executive, and its occupant is more at home in a conference room hammering out marketing plans, or on the sales staff going over new strategies.
Overseeing virtually all the day-to-day operations for the New York Knicks, Rangers, and Liberty, Mills doesn’t have the time to