It doesn’t get much bigger than today’s news. Hunt Sports Group steps aside and Precourt Sports Ventures takes control. Anthony Precourt, an investment manager by trade, takes his first step into team ownership. He now runs the team and be looking at every facet.
The Crew are in uncharted territory. A Hunt has been chairman of the team for 18 years, the entire team’s existence. HSG had a style. Lamar Hunt lead with a genial ease of a well regarded family patriarch and in a way the Crew are a family organization.
Precourt comes in with little of that family history, even if he intends to run it the same, there is someone else at the head of the table. He isn’t tied to the past and Lamar’s legacy like Clark Hunt was. He’s stated that he’s going to take his time to assess the state of the team, but changes are coming.
He’s already showing some deft PR savvy with his twitter takeover this evening. He answered tough questions and joked with fans. He wants to take time to learn the supporters culture. Most tellingly he also showed that he respects tradition, but that it’s not the only factor. His response about the pressure on Robert Warzycha was the best answer I’ve seen about the former legend’s status in the organization.
First, he took the question and then answered it as honestly as he could. That level of direct openess didn't happen with HSG. It's an interesting change.
Precourt's background is in business. He holds a degree in economics and an MBA from Stanford. He will be focused on the off the field progress of the team. Efforts around ticket sales, corporate partnerships, stadium plans, and naming rights will all be assessed and change has been promised where change is needed.
The team has made strides in Goal 10K. Precourt announced that the team has 7,000 season ticket holders currently, but 10,000 remains the baseline number for financial stability. Precourt will have to decide if the current sales group is approaching the challenge right or if plans or personnel need to change.
The same questions will apply all around the team. Stadium enhancements, corporate sponsors, fan relations, and even the logo are all under scrutiny. Only the team colors and name may be safe.
Precourt isn't a soccer guy, but he does have one on his PSV team. Dave Greeley is the former president of the Chicago Fire from 2008-2010. Greeley, a former Chicago Bears marketing executive, was in attendance today, but his role wasn't defined. Precourt said that he will rely on the current staff, Mark McCullers, Brian Bliss, and Robert Warzycha to handle the soccer part of the business, but that likely will change as he finds his footing and brings in his people.
Anthony Precourt is a league outsider. He's coming to MLS and the Crew with fresh eyes and fresh ideas. There is very little that won't be shaken up when he's though.