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Subject: Robert Leonard, a Creator of Ticketmaster, Dies at 70

died March 12
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Date Posted: March 24, 2003 2:14:02 EDT

Robert Anthony Leonard, whose technical expertise and marketing prowess helped create the worldwide Ticketmaster machine that opens doors to well over 150,000 events a year, died March 12 in San Diego. He was 70 and lived in La Jolla, Calif.

A frequent visitor to San Diego State University, he apparently had a heart attack on the way to a seminar at the university's Entrepreneurial Management Center, his family said.

Mr. Leonard was present at the beginning of Ticketmaster, a little more than 20 years ago in Phoenix. Offering professional computer skills and management expertise, he teamed with a handful of college students to put into practice their ideas for an advanced box office.

Together they founded Ticketmaster in 1980, with Mr. Leonard as president and chief executive. Under his guidance, the team developed the computerized phone service that defined the company and overtook an established competitor, Ticketron.

He was credited with recognizing the concept's potential and charting a course that made Ticketmaster the international leader. He spent the early years in Phoenix and helping to establish branches in Chicago, Florida, Southern California and Seattle.

Ticketmaster gained an edge by automating box offices and selling tickets to events that did not have their own outlets. It registered its first coup when it contracted with the San Diego Sports Arena in 1985. It bought Ticketron in 1990 and moved into Europe with Time Warner Music as a partner.

Mr. Leonard oversaw the company's expansion overseas with the opening of an office in London, where, in 1994, the company sold tickets for Pink Floyd concerts and the spring flower shows in Chelsea and Hampton Court.

Ticketmaster, now based in Los Angeles, went public in 1996 and was recently bought by USA Interactive. Mr. Leonard stepped down as a senior executive after it went public but was a consultant until last December. By then, Ticketmaster's annual revenue exceeded $2 billion. It sold tickets all over the Americas, Europe and Australia, to theaters, sports arenas, or just about anyplace that charged for admission.

Mr. Leonard was born in Watertown, Mass., graduated from Boston College with a degree in mathematics in 1954 and received a master's in applied mathematics and computer science at M.I.T. in 1958. He also studied at Harvard Business School.

He worked for several companies, specializing in computers and communications. They included ITT, where he was a vice president in the data services division in the early 1960's. Before he joined the new tickets venture in Phoenix, he ran his own marketing consulting firm for high-technology businesses.

Mr. Leonard is survived by his wife, Maura Breen Leonard; three daughters, Julie Leonard, of Manhattan; Margaret Leonard, of La Jolla; and Nancy Leonard-Ansell, of Seattle; two sons, Robert, of Wakefield, Mass., and John, of Las Vegas; a sister, Cynthia Breen, of Northampton, Mass.; a brother, Peter, of Framingham, Mass.; and two grandsons.

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