The XFL’s New York Guardians entered their inaugural season with a tough task on their plate. In a market like New York City, it’s difficult for fledgeling professional sports teams to stand out from the competition.
The organization’s president, Janet Duch, sits down with Ian Thomas in the latest episode of Shot Callers to discuss the team’s launch and give her own perspective on taking over a new franchise.
Edited highlights appear below:
On important aspects of creating the team’s identity (2:05)
Duch: “We want to make sure that we are doing this the right way. We want to make sure that our story is coming out. We get a chance to co-create with our fans, with our players, with our partners and do this together. And I think that’s what’s been most exciting for us.”
“The way fans consume sports now, the way fans connect with teams on social and digital platforms, that maybe in a way it is easier to launch a team in 2020 than it would be in even 2000 just because of the way you can access and tell your story that way.”
“I think our social media has been a way for us to tell our story directly to our fans and really to the coaching staff, football operations has been just wonderful. We’re on the field, we’re behind the scenes, we’re on the bus with the players and I think fans get to see what it’s like a day in the life of building a football team.”
On the team’s approach to filling seats (3:10)
Duch: “We are focused on the lower bowl at MetLife stadium. We know it’s a world-class building. We know that there are two football teams there. And for us, the way I look at it is we have a ticket experience for every fan. We have affordable pricing so you can bring the whole family out. Clearly we have really affordable group pricing if you want that social experience. We have club seats that will have some indoor hospitality access.”
“I think what I’m most excited about is we are putting seats on the field. So there’ll be a product where you’re right behind the home team, to start. Eventually we’ll open that up to the visiting side, but fans will have an experience of being on the field and up close and personal. And I don’t think it gets better than seeing that action that close.”
On challenges of the launch process (7:47)
Duch: “We’ve been fortunate. Time and resources have been on our side, but at the same time it really is from the ground up. So whether it’s operations, facilities, hiring a staff, all of that has been coming together. Being in this marketplace, I think we’re the 15th or 16th professional sports team, making sure that we’re breaking through just making sure that fans are aware that we are here in-market and making sure that they are aware of sort of the differential and the point of view that we’re offering.”
On setting an example for female aspiring sports executives (8:36)
Duch: “I’ve been a sports executive now for 20 years and certainly for me, I’m proud and humbled to be in this role and certainly breaking down barriers for pro sports and in the industry. I’ve been fortunate. I’ve had a lot of mentors throughout my career both men and female who’ve opened doors. It helped grow my career and you know, I would love to see more women at the table and have those roles. But for me right now, I’m focused giving back.”
“So what’s been important to me is speaking on a lot of panels and making sure that I can share my story and my career path with other young women who are striving to be in sports so that they know that they can continue to follow their dreams.”