About a dozen years ago, some friends asked David Elmore — whose many holdings include the Utah Grizzlies hockey team — if he would allow Leonardo DiCaprio to stay at his Malibu home while the young actor was filming "Titanic" and Elmore spent a month in Europe.

"I thought about it and said, 'That might be kind of a kick,"' said Elmore, who insisted that DeCaprio's mother stay at the house with him.

"The house was in perfect shape when I came back," said Elmore. "Not a bit of damage, and (he) left a lot of videos. I don't think I've gone through all of them yet.

"We got to be friends, and they bought the house next door."

Even with DiCaprio's mother staying with him, it was still a bit of a risk for Elmore to lend out his home to a rich young heartthrob.

But that's kind of the theme of Elmore's life, now 74 years long.

He's taken risks and mostly been rewarded, though he'll also easily talk about some of his failures like the Utah Freezz indoor soccer team that lasted three years in the E Center.

Elmore, with a schoolteacher for a mom in Anderson, Ind., grew up without having much money.

"It's probably the best thing that could have been my background because you just say, 'Well, I made it, and I'll make it again if something happens. I'll just get back and work real hard,'" says Elmore, who owns or co-owns so many companies he's not sure of the number.

After practicing law in Chicago for 10 years following graduation from Indiana University law school, Elmore also got into life insurance and in on the ground floor of real estate development in Vail, Colo., in the late 1960s.

"That led me to the fact that I decided I wanted to be more of an entrepreneur than be working law full-time, so I struck out on my own," said Elmore, who ventured into development in Aspen, bought a small hotel in Hawaii and started in the travel business.

"The thing about the law I didn't like," said Elmore, "I kind of felt I was a cog in the wheel, and even when you knew you were helping, other times, you just said, 'Is this all there is?' That's when I decided I wanted to be an entrepreneur. I just thought, 'I need to be an entrepreneur. I'll have my failures, but I've got to go out and take my chance."'

In the late 1970s, his companies were involved in travel to Moscow and, "It was sort of a natural to apply to the USOC to help them with the (Olympic) Games in Moscow."

Even though the boycott cut American travel to the Moscow Games by about 80 percent, Elmore's companies were the official U.S. travel agents for the 1,500 or so who went, a relationship that continued for Olympics outside the U.S. until they were finally outbid in 2004.

While not official now, Elmore's companies have still booked 2,000-2,500 packages to the Beijing Olympics.

In 1981, Elmore was spending his time in Hawaii and bought the struggling Hawaii Islanders PCL Triple-A baseball team, the first dabbling into pro sports for a man whose boyhood dream was to own a Major League Baseball club. He'd been a high school athlete but says he wasn't good enough to have planned on a college or pro sports career.

The difficulties of playing in Aloha Stadium, a distant football venue in which the team was allowed no signage and got no cut of the parking revenue, eventually forced him to move. Elmore did get to host baseball's winter meetings and hobnob with baseball executives while the Islanders were in Hawaii, paving future relations in sports.

He considered moving the Islanders to Salt Lake City, but the Pioneer League Salt Lake Trappers wouldn't budge, so he settled in Colorado Springs instead.

Elmore now owns six minor-league teams — the hockey Grizzlies and five baseball clubs — the Sky Sox, San Bernardino Inland Empire 66ers, San Antonio Missions, Eugene Emeralds and the Idaho Falls Chukars.

As for the Grizzlies, which he downsized to the AA-level ECHL three years ago, Elmore said he is pleased with the team's progress. It is targeting more corporate sales, and Elmore has said several times he expects the Grizzlies will be financially in good shape within the next two years.

The Elmore Sports Group, which includes his sons and his wife, Donna Tuttle, has also owned other hockey teams in San Antonio, Florida and Virginia, plus an Arena Football League 2 team and an indoor soccer team in Florida.

Also among the Elmore empire are Centennial Management and Diamond Creations, partnership with West Valley City in the E Center; the ballpark in Colorado Springs, Sports Mark Management Group, Pro Sports Network marketing firm, a couple of hotels in Hawaii, USA Hosts Destination Services and two Manhattan Beach, Calif., groups heavily involved in Olympic travel, Cartan Tours-Travel Agency and Global Sports Partners, which help 32 countries obtain travel for athletes' families to the Olympics.

Those entities are consulting and helping plan some big international sporting events, involved in 2009 World Cup baseball and 2010 World Cup soccer in South Africa.

"I'm really looking forward to the Vancouver Games, and I'm looking forward to South Africa for World Cup. You meet new people, and it's an interesting perspective," said Elmore.

As he's gotten older, he said the sports ventures interest him more than pure business, but with all that and his 12 grandchildren, Elmore doesn't see himself slowing down. "No, my wife asked me that, but I really enjoy what I'm doing," he said. Elmore loves "the challenge" of business, and his sports holdings give him great joy because he feels like the communities benefit. He'll just go sit in the stands and watch people have fun sometimes, he said.

"Recently I was over in Sun Valley," Elmore said, "and I said something about Idaho Falls, and this girl said, 'You know, I used to go to the games with my dad. My dad and I never spent much time together because he was always so busy. The only time we were together was when we'd go to those games.'

View Comments

"And I thought, 'Oh my gosh, that's exactly (why I do this).'

"I have story after story, people telling me how that's the relationship they remember with their parent, or maybe they didn't get along very well and that kind of provided a bridge for them to get to know the father or the child. They're great stories," Elmore said.

"I feel very fortunate that I've had the opportunity to do the things I have."

E-mail: lham@desnews.com

Join the Conversation
Looking for comments?
Find comments in their new home! Click the buttons at the top or within the article to view them — or use the button below for quick access.