In a private meeting with members of the Boston Armada supporters group before their game against the Orlando Pride on Sunday, Breakers general manager Lee Billiard and head coach Matt Beard laid out some of the thinking that has gone into the organization for 2016 and gave members a preview of 2017.
Here are some of the highlights of that meeting:
- The Breakers currently have a “small group” of investors, as opposed to a larger group who were onboard during WPS.
- During WPS the Breakers were losing “millions per year”; the team currently loses significantly less than that and is “closer than we have ever been” to breakeven, using what Billiard called “a clear pathway to profitability.”
- The team expects to reach breakeven or profitable status in 2018.
- The team wants to sign a few more “big sponsors” like Bud Light and get at least another 1000-1500 people in the stands short term.
- The Breakers want to look at different stadium options as the current stadium cannot handle the 5000 the front office is looking to hit; this may mean once again expanding Harvard’s seating, if it’s financially and operationally feasible for the team.
- The team has “briefly” spoken to the Krafts about possibly becoming tenants at whatever soccer-specific stadium they might build for the Revolution.
- They had a verbal deal with NESN to broadcast games that fell through when the team couldn’t promise national broadcast rights, only local rights.
- The Bud Light deal came about through a suggestion from the owner of the Breakers’ partner bar, The Rising, rather than through USSF’s pre-existing relationship with Anheuser Busch. This is a truly local deal that also ties the Breakers into promotions with Boston Ski and Sports Club.
- Boston is making an effort to market to the 20-30 demographic in addition to their youth market.
- The team is planning on a College night on August 31 when they play the Houston Dash.
- The team did want to have a Pride Night this year, but there was a holdup with their pride scarves, and they didn’t want to do a theme night without a key merchandise item like that.
- The Breakers have essentially been in start-up mode since the league launched and are “now just transitioning out of that model into bigger-scale business.”
- Boston has been pushing the league for the past two years for a homegrown player rule since they have a strong academy system (see also: Samantha Mewis was a part of the Breakers college academy team) and they believe that rule will eventually happen.
- Breakers have about 1300 kids in their youth academy which is a lot of eyeballs for sponsors and can help with sponsorship revenue.
- Breakres have approximately 1800+ season ticket holders.
- There is a possibility of league expansion in 2017 but Billiard couldn’t say 100% if it would happen, only that he knew there were some teams on the table that felt ready to go.
- International roster spots are supposed to return to 3/team in 2017.
- Matt Beard has a definite idea of the core players he has in mind to carry over to 2017, which will include Abby Smith.
- Beard wants 2017’s roster to be a “strong competitive 11” that can compete with anyone, three or four impact players if someone needs to come off or there’s injury, and five or six “top young players” to develop over the season.
- Beard on roster turnover in general: “It’s ruthless, to be honest with you.”
- Beard also thinks the club may have been “too loyal to players” in the past in terms of wanting to keep them.
- Called Boston “hands down the best city I’ve ever lived in” and says that adds to the appeal of trying to get players to come to Boston.
There’s a lot to digest here, from possible stadium moves to sponsor deals and roster turnover. The main takeaways seem to be that the team has improved financially from season to season and has a plan in place at least through 2018. Beard also sounds as though after a full season in NWSL, he’ll have a much stronger hand in directing the roster’s makeup. All of that spells change, which as we can see now is just starting to pay off for Boston after stagnant years in 2015 and 2014. Should Boston manage to close out the 2016 season on a strong note, that’s a vote of confidence for the direction they’re headed now.