AUDL Heading In New Direction
The AUDL today announced multiple changes, defining a new direction for the 2013 season. Included in a recent release (presented below in full), the AUDL announced the stepping down of Founder and Commissioner Josh Moore, and the selling of majority interest to Ultimate Xperience Ventures, LLC lead by Robert Lloyd, current owner of the Toronto Rush and President of Cisco Systems. Steve Gordon will take on the role of Commissioner for the AUDL while holding majority ownership of the Windy City Wildfire. Both Lloyd and Gordon have agreed to step down from their team ownership positions within a year.
In discussion with Skyd Magazine on his stepping down, Josh Moore noted a need for a more “decisive” leadership as reasoning behind the new ownership and Commissioner. “I assessed the league as a whole, where we’d been and where we needed to be,” said Moore. “One of the biggest things for me in starting this venture was surrounding myself with people that would take the business to the next level. My leadership got the league to a certain place, but it was really time for the league to thrive, and with the current state of ultimate, the investment group positions the AUDL to be the decisive leader in taking professional ultimate forward.”
New Commissioner Steve Gordon concurred, seeing Moore’s leadership as an important step for the establishment of the AUDL. Asked by Moore to take on the role as Commissioner, Gordon noted his enthusiasm for the position: “When asked to be Commissioner, I accepted because I felt I could do so much more to further our goals from this role than I could as an individual team owner.” Gordon characterized his role as one of bringing the AUDL to the next level and, “resolving some of the issues [the AUDL] had at the time.
Commissioner Gordon explained his enthusiasm for the league: “The AUDL is maybe the best ‘great idea” I have come across in my career and I believe growing it at every level expands the reach of the game and provides an opportunity to bring amazing social value through the Spirit of the Game value system that sets this game apart.”
Moore went on to praise the prowess of the new leadership team. “To be frank, our leadership team would be envied by some Fortune 500 companies, and for a fairly new venture, this will be a game changer in how the AUDL operates,” said Moore. “We’ve already gotten so much progress made over the past two months that I’m very excited about the future of the AUDL and have no doubt in my mind that the league will thrive long term and find a lot of short term success as well.”
Though he will be stepping down as commissioner, Moore noted that he will continue to help the organization where he can.
Another important note from the press release is the establishment of a revenue-share program between the league and teams expected to provide teams with core stability from the league. Gordon explained the value of this new system. “The revenue-sharing program allows teams to participate in the revenue generated at the national level, which wasn’t the case in the past,” said Gordon. “While the teams continue to do the great things that will be financially beneficial in their local markets, we believe providing financial support from the national level will further enhance revenues and help to establish a positive base to grow from in future years.”
The release also hints to a “very special partnership” that is slated to be announced soon. When prompted, Commissioner Gordon was sure to only hype its release.
Below is the AUDL’s press release in full:
Today, Josh Moore, Founder and Commissioner of the American Ultimate Disc League (AUDL) announced a new and exciting direction the league is taking to expand and grow the sport of Ultimate and position itself as the pinnacle at the professional level.
Earlier this week, Mr. Moore entered into an agreement to sell the majority interest in the AUDL to Ultimate Xperience Ventures, LLC, a company recently formed for the purpose of expanding the footprint of Ultimate at every level and developing new capabilities to optimize its core model. “After months of analysis of the business models of other sports entities, we came to realize the AUDL has the right model, but needed some adjustments to maximize its opportunity for success” said Robert Lloyd, who leads the new investor group. “Josh Moore should be congratulated for his vision and passion that led to the formation of the AUDL. However, as Ultimate continues to gain momentum, it’s time to take our game to the next level. This is an exciting time for the AUDL as we make some important investments and changes to ensure our success as we move forward”.
The effects of the new AUDL ownership will be seen in many ways. First, Moore will assume a new role leading Business Development for the league. Effective January 1, 2013, Steven Gordon will fill the role of Commissioner of the AUDL. Steve is presently the majority owner of the Windy City Wildfire and has significant experience and a deep understanding of how to build a young entity into a vibrant, successful venture. Steve has an insatiable passion for the sport and all that it represents. “Ultimate is so different from other sports” said Mr. Gordon. “The physical demands, competitive nature and most importantly, the Spirit of the Game values completely set it apart. I believe every young person in this country, and beyond, should be exposed to all that this game provides and every sports fan should experience it. I have every intention of making both of those things happen”.
But Steve will not be leading the new AUDL organization alone. A second part of this new league structure is the formation of an AUDL Executive Council. This Council is made up of the Commissioner and 6 team owners and will provide much of the league’s direction to benefit players, fans, sponsors and owners. The initial Executive Council members, who were elected in October to serve a two year term, bring a rich set of skills and experience from both inside and outside of Ultimate.
One of the first orders of business for the Executive Council was to formulate a new Licensing Agreement that would provide a positive framework for a successful future. “We found that the existing Licensing Agreements included ambiguity in some important areas that needed to be addressed” said Mr. Gordon. “The new AUDL By-Laws Agreement addresses those issues and has been embraced league-wide by the team owners”.
In addition, the new agreement establishes a revenue-share program that allows every team to participate in league revenues, which was not the case previously. “This is one of the things we saw that could make a very attractive business model, even more attractive” said Mr. Gordon. “We are very proud of our committed AUDL team owners, all of which are part of their local communities and committed to delivering a premium fan experience. This new league model provides our teams with core stability while also allowing them to benefit from the unique and creative things they’re able to do in their respective markets. With this program, we’re basically saying to the owners to continue to do the great things you already have planned, compete hard to build the best team for your fans, but also know we’re here for you too”.
In the near future, the AUDL will also be announcing strategic partnerships that will expand its capabilities to procure sponsorships, provide national licensing and broadcast opportunities and build a digital marketing program comparable to the best in professional sports. “The people we are affiliating with have worked with the major TV networks, other professional sports. “The people we partnering with have worked with the major TV networks, other professional sports leagues, sports equipment and apparel companies and will bring us to a level previously unimagined in the sport of Ultimate” said Mr. Gordon.
According to Mr. Lloyd, who is presently the majority owner of the Toronto Rush, he and Mr. Gordon have agreed with the league to divest their team ownership positions within the next year to avoid any potential conflicts. Said Mr. Lloyd, “it was very difficult for both of us to even consider leaving the teams we are already so proud of. The only thing that could have pulled us away was an opportunity to bring the same passion to the AUDL and to the sport of Ultimate as a whole. That’s the opportunity we now have and we are very excited to embark on what is sure to be an incredible journey for all of us”.
Look for further announcements in the near future as this new AUDL vision continues to develop.
Skyd will present more news as it develops.