FRISCO, Texas – On June 21, a new era began for FC Dallas under the leadership of a new team president. Doug Quinn took the reins in early August after six years as president of Soccer United Marketing, MLS' marketing arm. He spoke with MLSsoccer.com about his first days on the job, the highly successful international friendly with Inter Milan and the fans' role at FC Dallas.
MLSsoccer.com: How have your first 30 days been?
Quinn: It’s exciting. I was fortunate enough to have spent six years in the league office. Obviously, the league is only as strong as its clubs. We actively worked with all of our clubs and at the time when I started, there were only 10. My 30 days here, I had the benefit of having full knowledge of knowing that this organization’s all about and having full relationships with the Hunt family, whom I’ve known from birth. So, there was no trying to figure out what that dynamic was all about.
I had the benefit of having family from Dallas, living in Dallas, being in Dallas and doing work in Dallas as recently as opening Cowboys Stadium with the Gold Cup game [in 2009]. That game, we sold out Cowboys Stadium. We were only at 20,000 tickets sold with 10 days out. We did a lot of work really fast and it just really caught on fire. Similar to what happened toward the end with Inter Milan, it happened too late to get the full sellout that I would have liked, to have but it was a great environment.
MLSsoccer.com: One of your first events as FCD president was that friendly with Inter on Aug. 5, which was a near sellout. How did that make you feel?
Quinn: I had been here two or three days, but had been working on it from New York for a month. From the day I made my announcement, I had a daily call with my entire executive team on Inter Milan. After my press conference, I stayed that entire week and realized that we needed to get to work. There was a lot of structural and basic fundamental stuff that had to be fixed to ensure we had success. It turned out to be a great event. I think it was a great stake in the ground to talk about the new era, and point the direction to what you can expect to see in years to come.
MLSsoccer.com: So can FC Dallas fans expect friendlies with other big international clubs in the future?
Quinn: We’re going to have big international matches on a regular basis. Maybe not here, maybe we’re going to have to play in [Cowboys Stadium] to get someone like Barcelona. I know they’re coming back. They’re coming back on a tour next summer. Since I managed them for the past six years at SUM, hopefully they’ll give one back to the guy that brought them here.
I think they’d love to play Jerry’s World [Cowboys Stadium]. It’s not perfect soccer. It’s a little tight, but it’s a beautiful building. The Barcelona folks like to play in iconic events and they like to sell out 90,000 in the Rose Bowl or the Coliseum. They like to be in big cities like New York and be sold out at Giants Stadium. This would be a natural. And they like to play MLS teams when they’re here. They don’t want to play other international clubs that they could play somewhere else. They want to play the domestic sides.
MLSsoccer.com: When you were hired, you were cited as the third piece of the puzzle with FCD. Can you explain that idea?
Quinn: When Clark [Hunt] introduced me, he articulated that I’m the third piece in a management puzzle he’s been working on for two years. It started with Schellas [Hyndman], then Barry [Gorman] as technical director and me as business officer. The three of us are very tight. Schellas is pure sport. Barry is a balance of both and I’m pure business. The three of us make sure it’s a perfect balance. I ensure they have the resources they need to keep the players they want and get the players they want.
MLSsoccer.com: Where does the FCD youth system fit into your vision for the club?
Quinn: The youth development system is second to none. It’s going to be our defining point of difference for this league, and frankly, North America. Our vision is to be the No. 1 club in Major League Soccer on and off the field. In our top 10, the FC Dallas Youth is my fourth priority.
We have seven players on our team from Texas. We have four homegrown Hispanic players and one from Mexico with Ruben [Luna]. Our captain [Daniel Hernandez] is Hispanic. Seventy-eight percent of our youth academy teams are Hispanic. The personality of our club is going to be different than the personality of any other clubs in the league. We are going to be about Dallas, North Texas and homegrown players. A lot of that stuff was in place and on its way.
MLSsoccer.com: How do you see the fans in this equation?
Quinn: My whole focus is, it’s all about the fans. It’s the game first, the money second and the fans third. My business focus is all about the fans. I increased concession staffing [last weekend vs. Toronto FC] by 20 percent. I don’t care what the number is or isn’t. I want to make sure they’re doubled up in the club so people can get beer.
Our 1,000 most important fans, they should never wait in line for anything. They were not ready for Inter Milan and the last game, we ran out of programs at the front gate. It’s blocking and tackling stuff but someone has to provide direction.
MLSsoccer.com: Talk about how you see FCD fitting in a market with teams owned by such high-profile guys like Mark Cuban and Jerry Jones.
Quinn: I’m in a market with Jerry Jones and Mark Cuban. You’ve got Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus on the end. I don’t think I’ll be able to compete with the Dallas Cowboys or even the Mavericks with Mark Cuban. I’m not a billionaire and both of them are.