A dream come true for Angela

SCOTT ZERR -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:29 AM ET

Angela Bartinovich is living out every sports fan's fantasy.

It wasn't her dream. She was focused on becoming a big name in the world of fashion. And while she was finding limited success in that field, her claim to fame is in sports, as the youngest female owner of a major franchise in North America.

Bartinovich went to a National Lacrosse League game in Denver last year and instantly recognized a great business opportunity. She wheeled and dealed her father, brother and a family friend into the proposition and, at the age of 24, is now the majority owner of the Portland LumberJax, the NLL's rival expansion franchise to the Edmonton Rush.

While she leaves the lacrosse expertise to LumberJax coach and GM Derek Keenan, Bartinovich is hands-on in every other way.

She is the face of the franchise in Portland, making the rounds to drum up support in the media and business communities. Bartinovich has been involved in everything from the design of the club's logo to game presentation at the Rose Garden.

"It's a stressful freakin' job,'' said Bartinovich. "I picked up my life and moved from L.A.

HOUSES, FERRARIS AND STOCKS

"It's hard work. A lot of people, if you gave them a million dollars, they'd go buy a house or a Ferrari or invest it in stocks. Not a lot of people would take on the responsibility of running and managing a business with the risks of losing it.

"When I'm sitting and watching us win and people are having a good time, then I'll say it's really cool that I've worked so hard for this. Right now, I'm seeing money go out the door. When it starts coming back in, that will be cool."

At the age of 12, Bartinovich's father Robert took his real estate company public and as a name-only major shareholder, she was instantly set for life. But sitting back on her padded bank account wasn't what Bartinovich wanted.

After seeing the Colorado Mammoth in action, the marketing whiz put a proposal together for her father, but his response was lukewarm.

A meeting with NLL brass turned into an apprenticeship with the Anaheim Storm and Bartinovich, on her own dime, travelled to every game and studied the feasibility of pro lacrosse. Her education proved fruitful when she was able to convince her father and brother Andy of the venture's profitability.

LIMO DRIVER SHOT

When Storm owner Jayson Williams - the former NBA star who was in heaps of legal trouble over the shooting death of his limo driver - backed out of selling the club to Bartinovich, she put a plan in action to land a $1.5-million US expansion team for Portland.

The little rich girl got exactly what she wanted.

"I'm comfortable with that label," said Bartinovich.

"I got everything I ever wanted but I understand the value of money. I don't shop all day. I'm not sitting back getting my nails done, going on yachts and being Paris Hilton all day."

Bartinovich is loaded, no question about it, but she claims not to have the slightest clue of her exact worth or her family's.

"It's strictly because I don't ever want to fall back on it or even know that I can," she said.

"I've always waived my right to know. I don't want full access to it because I'd probably wind up buying five teams."

The story of Bartinovich's rise in the sports world could soon be told to millions. A pilot for a reality show based on her inaugural season at the helm of the LumberJax has been shot, with at least three U.S. networks contemplating a full-season run.

"It won't do a thing for me selling more tickets locally, but I'll put myself out there for the good of the league. I guess it's a good story, me being a chick owner."


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