Silicon Valley Sports & Entertainment President and Chief Executive Officer Greg Jamison sadly announced today the passing of longtime friend and colleague, Frank Jirik. Jirik, 69, is credited with overseeing the construction, design and management of HP Pavilion at San Jose when the state-of-the-art facility first opened in September of 1993. Jirik is survived by his wife Sharon, children Becky, Scott, Chelle and their spouses and his seven grandchildren. Donations in Jirik’s memory can be made at http://caringbridge.org/visit/frankjirik.
“Frank was an outstanding individual who had a great passion for HP Pavilion and the San Jose Sharks,” said Jamison. “His legacy is forever cemented in San Jose due to his tremendous work in overseeing the building of HP Pavilion. More importantly, Frank was a tremendous family man who was surrounded by a great wife, wonderful children and many grandchildren who provided him with immense happiness. He will be sorely missed by his family and by his friends throughout the arena industry.”
Jirik’s 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 in Bloomington and during the next 24 years was promoted from the operations crew all the way up to Vice President 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, garnering recognition from industry experts and praise from colleagues throughout North America.
“Today we lost a good friend, a gem of a person,” said Sharks original owner George Gund. “He was a diamond in the rough with a tremendous sense of humor. Frank was instrumental in managing both the Met Center with the North Stars and especially in developing and managing San Jose Arena into being one of the country’s finest. He truly will be missed. My thoughts go out to Sharon and family.”
In 1990, Jirik moved to California to join the 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). Once that deal was signed, Jirik oversaw all aspects of construction and design of the Arena, considered by many to be one of the most beautiful and user-friendly venues in the country.
“Frank Jirik came to San Jose from elsewhere as so many others have, and in a very short amount of time he became one of our own,” said former Mayor of the City, San Jose Sharks minority owner and longtime friend Tom McEnery. “Frank is largely credited with putting San Jose on the map in the sports and entertainment industry. “
Jirik is also credited with putting together the management team that currently operates HP Pavilion at San Jose. Early on, Jirik served as the Chief Operating Officer of the Sharks and the Pavilion, heading up all sales and marketing efforts. From there, Jirik handled a number of responsibilities with the organization evolving into his role as Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the San Jose Sharks and HP Pavilion Management.
As part of his duties with HP Pavilion, 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. One of Jirik’s final projects was to complete a deal with the City of San Jose authorizing the Sharks to renovate, expand, and manage the Ice Centre of San Jose (now known as Sharks Ice at San Jose). This deal allowed the Sharks Ice to become the permanent training center for the Sharks.
Under Jirik’s direction, HP Pavilion hosted several prestigious national and international events, portraying the venue as the premiere entertainment facility in the Bay Area and one of the best in the world. In March of 1999, HP Pavilion captured the attention of college basketball fans throughout the country as it played host to the NCAA Women’s Basketball Final Four. The Pavilion has also hosted several events that have garnered international media attention including the U.S. Professional Figure Skating Championships, the NHL All-Star Game, the annual SAP Open tennis tournament and the NCAA Men’s Basketball Western Regional Finals.
“In addition to his contributions to the success of the Sharks and HP Pavilion, Frank created a work environment that encouraged everyone to reach their full potential,” added HP Pavilion General Manager Jim Goddard. “More importantly he was admired by his coworkers for always keeping a balance between his professional and family life and appreciated for being a genuine friend. He will be fondly remembered by everyone he worked with. “
In sixteen 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, and Reba McEntire.
Jirik was also responsible for negotiating long term agreements with all of the major touring family shows such as Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Sesame Street Live, and Disney On Ice to play in San Jose.
In December of 1999, Jirik brought one of the most spectacular shows in the world to San Jose, as the world-renowned 3 Tenors (Jose Carreras, Placido Domingo, and Luciano Pavarotti) performed together in Northern California for the first-time ever. It was also the first time that the Tenors performed together in California since 1994 (Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles) and the first time in North America that the Tenors performed at an indoor Arena.
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.