Can you tell me a little bit a bout yourself: Are you from Mass originally? How did you get involved with the Revolution and the MLS?
I was not originally from Massachusetts I was born in Los Angeles, CA, so I am a transplant. Through a series of family moves and some schooling I moved to Massachusetts, moved out of the state twice, but for the better part of almost three decades I've lived here, so I consider myself almost a born-again Bostonian. I love the community, I love the city, and I still have challenged because I didn't grow up in the cold winter, but it's one of the greatest cities on earth I've visited.
The Revolution phenomenon I was at the right place at the right time. I was getting involved in the game my passion with soccer and my passion for freelance efforts were helping out in getting a game at Foxborough in 1991 - Ireland vs. U.S. It was almost on a whim, but 50,000 people showed up and I realized there was a stronger market for consuming soccer. I was playing in leagues and mostly playing with ethnic groups and families, and I though soccer in the U.S. was a mostly ethnic game, but that game opened my eyes to the commercial side. I then helped assist in 1992 and '93, we put on Portugal vs. Ireland, Ireland vs. Italy, and the following year USA vs. England. Part of the whole effort was not just landing the World Cup in the U.S. but to participate in the World Cup. We staged great matches, Columbia vs. Northern Ireland was another
During the World Cup I volunteered for a booth at the games to help Major League Soccer. The booth was in the fan zone of the World Cup matches with all the sponsors. I raised my hand because I had additional time and it seemed like a great cause to try and help land a team. We were selling a team with no name just the deposits for season tickets for 15 games and the tickets were reasonable at a 10 percent discount. People gave us their $75 on faith to show we wanted a franchise and we did this every World Cup game that were being staged in Foxborough.
Then the league wasn't set to start after the World Cup because it didn't have the right economic model and instead of launching they put it off for a year.
As excited as I was about a professional soccer team I was discouraged about it ever happening. I didn't think it would happen with the World Cup gone.
Then I got a call to participate in the U.S. Nike Cup and I was the venue manager for Foxborough where we had the U.S. vs. Nigeria. It was a well-rounded education because I was handling the venue, staging an event, selling tickets, and working with the venue.
One of the great moments of that Nike Cup was when Marcello Balboa received his 100th cap during that Nigeria game, he was one of my favorite players. The challenge was we brought Nigeria - one of the host teams in Foxborough for the World Cup who had a lot of support in the area afterward. We thought there would be a lot of support for the U.S. but they had a bad time after the World Cup with one draw vs. Jamaica and eight losses and they weren't calling the European players.
It was one of the more challenging events I ever had to sell. It taught me a lot how to create an event within an event. 20,000 people came to the game, but it was up hill all the way. It taught me skills I needed to sell soccer to America and it was far different than selling the World Cup to America. I did a good enough job to get job offers and I became an early employee of the New England Revolution.
What do you see as your role as VP of Business Development and what are some of the important projects you are working on in that capacity right now?
I've held more job titles than any single person with the Revolution. A year ago they put me in charge of Business Development, which is kind of a grey area in all businesses. You need to grow, but you don't know how. You use someone that can explore those opportunities, can help creating them, which is what I do currently. Much of what I've done is to make partnerships and make relationships and try to create new ways to plant the New England Revolution in the psyche of New England and along the way that we make sure we have monetary growth.
The projects are pretty diverse. We've brought international games into the stadium and all the way to helping be a participant in helping land the World Cup in Boston in 2022 and everything in between. Also we've got Boston World Cup 2010, charitable work through the Revs, and a myriad of areas in many ways that isn't defined by itself like "hey go sell more tickets." We're finding ways to sell the organization that we haven't thought about in the past.
It's very different from ticket sales or general manager or the director of special projects or the director of international relations - you name it and I've had it.
The greatest challenge in this role is that I am not as exposed to the immediate fan. One thing I truly miss the most is I don't have the interaction as much, but I still service that fan because we are creating events like the 13th of June that will impact so many people in direct ways even though I am not the person that will be with the fan base itself. Pretty soon we will be making a big announcement about a special event for us on that day - June 13th.
I'm also on the World Cup 2010 Boston committee, which is a diverse group that is trying to show Boston and all the people around the area the value of the World Cup as a world sport. There are 32 new countries competing for a championship that will get the attention of 2 billion people and when you can start to use the sport of soccer you can affect the community and social change. The World Cup is different than club soccer where you have Yankee/Red Sox like games at the club level, the World Cup is a festival and a celebration, it opens up new cultures, and it is a great opportunity for New England to share those diverse cultures here. We're doing a series of projects that are going to expose the values of the World Cup and the values of social programs to the greater Boston area because there will be 100,000 people in the city watching the World Cup final.
We are also working on the revitalization of Franklin Field in Dorchester, having a huge viewing party at the House of Blues on June 12th, and ethnic media diversity breakfast, and a lot of other initiatives. You can find out more at http://www.worldcupboston2010.org/
You had an incredibly successful stint as GM with the Revolution as the team earned its first hardware/trophies and made three straight trips to the MLS Cup final – what are you most proud of during that time?
Some of the great moments were we won the Super Liga title in 2008. So far it was the first time and only time a U.S. club team won that tournament. We won $1 million, so we had a lot of pride.
We also won the U.S. Open title in 2007, which was great to deliver the fans trophies while running a responsible business. Fans dream about winning trophies and it's why we play the game. As a professional organization we want to bring trophies to the community.
The team wasn't good in the first 5-6 years. I was in a very supportive position when we made it to the finals four times in seven years. It was a great accomplishment and not easy. It require a certain amount of luck, but requires people working together.
The area that meant the most to me as the General Manager was the relationship I had with the fans. I think by and large they accepted me and my leadership role as a figure head. Steve Nichol is a great coach and we have a great staff from all the people that do work to sell tickets through the people that write copy for ads.
Were you responsible for drafting Clint Dempsey?
I was a witness of the Dempsey draft. I remember the collaboration with our staff and I'll give a lot of accolades to Steve Nichol as the ultimate person. John Murphy did a great job of tracking (Clint) and putting him on people's radars, so I was there and saw it.
I remember when he started early in training and hearing the coaches collaborating to find a place for him and that's where I commend Steve again because he recognized we had a player we needed to be on the pitch at all times. Steve went to a five-man midfield to accommodate Clint, and made sure Clint was one of the players we had on the field. The club was rewarded by it.
I remember telling Jay Heaps, who was one of my favorite people and a great person and player for the Revs, I said, 'A lot of athletes I've seen in the states that were great as youth players just got older. You see that they do the same things when they are 12 and 14 that they do at 20 and 22.'
Clint looks like an international player. He comes with the mindset that he's going to try things and experiments with things. He's a genuine creative athlete and has showed it. The sort of things you would expect from Messi and the best players of the world, Clint shows those types of tendencies. He's willing to do those things because it's part of his DNA. Yet too often we coach those things out of player.
So I was able to witness Clint at the draft table, but I'm not taking credit from the coaching staff and John Murphy. Clint early on showed he was the real deal, and I commend Steve for developing that talent and giving him the space to develop into the player he is today.
There's still upside for Clint and I can’t wait to see him on 12th of June against England.
What were some of the other important moves you were responsible for making in the front office?
There's not one move I can cite. Personally I was responsible for an open door philosophy that the staff could come in all the time. I wanted the people around me to feel comfortable that you can work around a high stress, long season, which is not a sprint it's a long marathon that can wear on the staff as a grueling grind - that if I've been able to offer anything it's that I was able to be a security blanket and a voice of reason that when things become challenging I could try to keep people to stay on course.
The achievements we received or made was not my responsibility, we've been really really very fortunate to have great people in the front office driving that forward.
I've been opening up ethnic markets partly because I've spent time in Costa Rica because I can communicate and understand the culture, I was able to relate where other people in our organization have not. Of course opening doors for initiatives and developing them are two different things and that's where the staff has been top rate and top shelf.
When we had things like 62,000 people in the stadium there is no shortage of people to take credit, and I was thrilled to be a part of that, and I was thrilled to be a part of the Brazil sellout.
I was also a part of bringing Fiorentina to play the Revolution, which was the first club inter nation in 1996. It was a great time and a great moment because we took them to the North End and then the Reebok store, and people went bonkers trying to meet them and be around them. That led to Inter Milan vs. AC Milan last year. It was also a turn key event because it was eye opening to watch players like Gabriel Batistuta train.
I was also there to watch Venezuela beat Brazil, but there have been so many great moments and I was blessed to be a part of them all. The fan base had driven those events.