Say you owned a professional sports franchise — or, like MASL Florida Tropics, Andrew Haines, owned 30 of them (NOTE: If you ever meet the man, Haines will eagerly crow that he owned most before his 29th birthday. Do the math, and you might question that supposed success rate).
Haines apparently collects fringe-sport franchises like some old ladies collect porcelain kitties. You can never have too many.
In 2004-2005-ish, another St. Lou indoor legend, Wally Smerconish, signed a steaming paper of potential pro-pooh, and found that there was a lot to consider. Team logo. Team colors. Team name. Team breakfast menu. And, maybe, who knows, a team boat?
As if to say, “Ah, f#*k that. What does a Steamer have to do with a boat anyway? And powder blue? Balls to that. We’re going with orange. Nothing says Gateway City like the color of a traffic cone.”
Under a microscope
The pressure of the launch required that Wally surround himself with a high-ranking committee of shrewd advisors. A team cabinet that could guide him properly through difficult waters. He needed a marketing director with grit. An operations director with guile. A facility director that didn’t smell like an Arabian horse. And interns. Lots and lots of desperate college interns. Willing to do anything for no cash…and…a free t-shirt.
As the experience soon illustrated, owning a successful pro indoor soccer club demanded a great deal of ‘bid’ness accumen and stressful, bothersome homework. Each decision was critical.
Even for the most savvy of businessmen, the sports game can be tricky, tricky, tricky. Just ask Robert Kraft of the Patriots, Mark Cuban of the Dallas Mavericks or Teddy Fivebellies of the defunct Double-X-FFL Etna Scorpions, who have all stated that they learned a thing or two in their early years as owners. Like — “just coz a guy’s got a whistle, that don’t make him a head coach.”
Owners will testify — success in the boardroom doesn’t guarantee wins on the field. Being an owner isn’t all fun and games and late-night showers with the towel boy.
What made a man like Smerconish so jazzed to own the Out-of-Steamers? Why was he willing to pay a millions, perhaps even thousands, of dollars for the once-proud Checkerdomers?
Answering why anyone would buy a team in the first place turns out to be a bit of a poser. One can’t unlock the complexities of pro franchise ownership. We can only guess.
As the video link below reveals, once owners like Wally indulge their childhood fantasy of buying a team, they have to switch to adult mode and start viewing the team as a serious business.
And if they really get in a twist?
No probs — they just ask their cute kids.
Here now is Chapter 2 of St. Louis Steamers, Red Card — the sad beginning toward the tragic end of indoor soccer (ROLL TAPE).