This week marked a significant moment in the rich history of FC Dallas when Douglas Quinn, president of Soccer United Marketing, was named the new president and CEO of the franchise. FCDallas.com was the first to sit down with Quinn to get his take on the new role, his plans for the future and how the legendary Lamar Hunt played a role in it all.
FCDallas.com: You’re coming to FC Dallas from MLS and Soccer United Marketing. Talk about why you’ve decided to leave your position there after six years and take on this new role.
Doug Quinn: About eight years ago Clark Hunt and I were in Kansas City in Arrowhead Stadium, and we were just chatting about what I wanted to do long-term in my career. At the time I said my dream had always been to move from a league position to a club.’
Two years later I ended up taking the position with Major League Soccer and Soccer United Marketing, and two years after that I had the honor of introducing Lamar Hunt at the opening of Pizza Hut Park. I didn’t realize that four years later I’d get the phone call from Clark Hunt actually offering me something that I’d been dreaming about for probably 20 years.
To actually work for and with one of the greatest soccer families – not even soccer families, but sports families – in the world, in one of the greatest sports cities in the world, it was a pretty easy decision.
FCDallas.com: How do
you think you can help FC Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman and the rest of
the technical staff improve the team?
Quinn: To be clear, my job is to manage the business of the organization and to provide Coach Schellas [Hyndman] and Barry [Gorman, FC Dallas technical director] whatever resources they need to succeed inside the white lines – but my focus is outside the white lines. If I do my job outside the white lines, they’ll have the resources to do what they need to do inside.
I think if you look at the hiring of coach back in 2008 and this most recent hiring of Barry, we have a great technical group that has the ability to identify, develop and deliver a winning team on the field. My job is to make sure our fans have the greatest soccer experience – authentic soccer experience – in the stands. The horn-blowing, chanting, scarf-wearing, authentic soccer experience that they deserve.
FCDallas.com: What do you envision as your top priorities in the role?
Quinn: Number one will always be the fans – working with the supporters groups, our season ticket holders and all those who are FC Dallas fans. I want to reach out to them – I look at them like members of our club. My boss is Clark Hunt, but the fans are ultimately my boss and I want to listen to what they have to say. I want to make sure that we deliver what we believe they want in terms of a product both on and off the field.
FCDallas.com: In your six years with SUM you were behind some of the most innovative initiatives in MLS history – adidas, SuperLiga – what do you think you learned in that role that you can bring to FC Dallas?
Quinn: Two things. One is the Dallas Metroplex is probably the largest corporate community that I know of other than maybe New York City. This is a group of corporations that is a dream for any commercial businessperson. We have a bunch of great partners now and I think there’s a lot of other great partners that I already know that support soccer either globally or in the Americas.
But FC Dallas is their hometown team; we’re here year in and year out, and those who right now are supporting the World Cup overseas need to support their hometown team. We need to provide them the assets, the benefits that we’ve done with all of our partners out of Major League Soccer or Soccer United Marketing so they see the value in helping them build their businesses locally and get involved in the club.
In terms of other innovations, I actually spoke with Justino Compean, the president of the Mexican [Football] Federation last night to wish him good luck today (Mexico had a World Cup match against Uruguay)…and I talked to him about some of the ideas I had for potentially bringing the Under 17 Mexican National Team up here and having this be their secondary home.
Those types of things – and having more tournaments, bringing in more international clubs like Inter Milan or AC Milan or Chivas Guadalajara – I think provide unique experiences for our players to play in and unique experiences for our fans to participate in. Those are the types of things I’m looking to build as part of Pizza Hut Park’s long-term plan.
FCDallas.com: You had long ago stated your desire to work for a team – but why now, and why FC Dallas?
Quinn: I’ve known the Hunts my entire life, and why now is because Clark called. I got the call and we talked a long time about it. But it’s also kind of the time in my life. I’ve got a 3-year-old and a 5-year-old, and I’ve been traveling anywhere from a hundred to 200 days a year my entire sports career. It’s also coming home, coming back to Texas where my father’s from, where my grandmother’s from – I went to SMU, I went to the University of Texas graduate school – it’s coming home and working for a family I’ve known and trusted my entire life. This is an opportunity for me to take this franchise to a level that I believe and the Hunts believe it should be – the number one franchise not just in Major League Soccer but in North America.
FCDallas.com: You’ve mentioned your relationship with Lamar Hunt. Talk about his impact on you and what it has meant in your career.
Quinn: I met Lamar through my father, who played football with him at SMU back in the 1940s. As part of the Kansas City Chiefs where I grew up in Kansas, there were a number of banquets and Kansas City Chiefs games I also went to.
But then as I started with the National Football League in my 20s I had a lot of exposure to him, and more importantly he had a lot of time for me. Just watching his gentle nature and his creativity and vision was just amazing to be around – it’s definitely contagious. It’s also a huge responsibility…to have someone kind of endorse you. The last person you ever want to let down is Lamar Hunt, so you put a little extra drive on yourself.
I worked very hard at the NFL and he gave me some suggestions along the way…and when I decided to make the move over to soccer he was the first person I called.…he truly believed that this game in the United States was going to be as big as any league or any game in North America. And we’re seeing that happen right now.
FCDallas.com: You won’t officially start with the club until August, just before the friendly with Inter Milan. What will the next few months be like for you as you transition to the new role?
Quinn: House hunting – moving, packing boxes and completing my responsibilities up at Soccer United Marketing and Major League Soccer. I’ve got to wrap up a few items with my team back in New York, but I have a great team…I’m leaving a group that is absolutely strong and able to carry on and do the kinds of things that we’ve all been talking about for the next 15 years of Major League Soccer.
I’ll also be working down here with Kelly (Weller, vice president of sales and marketing for FC Dallas) and Kris (Katseanes, Director of Ticket Sales) and the rest of the team to start focusing on selling out Inter Milan; hopefully selling out a few of the last games of the season; getting current season ticket holders to renew; expanding the season ticket holder base for 2011; communicating with our fans, communicating with the soccer community here; and working with our partners and making sure I listen to them and find out what it is they’re looking for from our organization to make 2011, 2012 and beyond work for them.
FCDallas.com: Lastly, to all the FC Dallas fans out there reading this – what would you like them to know about you and your approach to this position?
Quinn: You know, I’m approaching this position very similarly to how I’ve approached every business that I’ve ever been in. The basic – and I hate to use an NFL phrase, but – the blocking and tackling that you do in any business is pretty much all the same. But I think if you start with the great ownership like we have; if you have a great product on the field – and I believe in Coach Schellas and Barry that they’re going to deliver a winning team; my job is to focus on the fans. They’re my number one priority – the supporters groups, the season ticket holders and anybody that wears an FC Dallas scarf.
After that it’s working with our sponsors, our partners and our potential partners and making sure that we have a commercial community that embraces our club, because they’re our ambassadors as much as our players are, as much as our fans are. They have the ability to provide unique promotional opportunities and communications to our fans that we don’t necessarily have the ability to do.
And the last thing is reaching out to North Texas soccer. They’re unparalleled in their strength in this marketplace and they are the true ambassadors of the sport. We’re here for the long term, and I think they’ll come.