Andy Loughnane
Ryan Schwepfinger

TRANSCRIPT: Andy Loughnane's introductory press conference

OPENING REMARKS

Anthony Precourt (AP): Good evening, good afternoon. It’s going to be a big day for the Columbus Crew. We have Landon Donovan in town, we have a sellout crowd, we have a fireworks display and we're announcing a new President of Business Operations, Andy Loughnane. The last few months as acting President, since March, has been invaluable for me and for Dave Greeley to step into the organization on a day-to-day basis and get more involved with the front office. I'm extremely proud of the progress we've made and for establishing a new purpose and new process for how we're going to accomplish our goals at the club. We've had an opportunity to assess our staff and get to know our people.

Along with the announcement today of Andy as President of Business Operations, we've made some changes to our organizational staff. We are thrilled with the announcement today to have Andy as part of our club. Stepping back over the last few months, I've had the opportunity to assess the strengths of our staff and think about how a new President of Business Operations would fit into the club and understanding what strengths we need to come in and complement our existing staff. In Andy, we have a driven entrepreneur who is going to fit in extremely well. His most recent job was with the Detroit Pistons in a corporate sponsorships role, but he has an incredible background working in the NHL with the Columbus Blue Jackets in their inaugural season, with the Red Wings and with the Detroit Pistons, as well as a background in media and real estate sales which I think are going to be very helpful in complementing our existing staff here at the club.

Andy started out his career here in Columbus, so he has ties to the region. He spent four years here working at Glimcher Realty Trust and with the Jackets. I think it's nice to have him back. Welcome back to Columbus!

In terms of our other organizational changes, I'd just like to comment quickly that we're proud to have Mike Malo step into a new, expanded role as Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, and to Clark Beacom, who will become Vice President of Ticket Sales, Services and Operations, and a new three-person team running our stadium. They will all be reporting to Andy. I also want to highlight that for the first time in the Crew's history, we have a structure where we have a leader of our soccer operations and a leader of our business operations. Gregg [Berhalter] will be reporting directly to me and is doing a fantastic job. I'm thrilled with the progress we're making in terms of our product on the field. Andy is now the final piece of the puzzle to formulating a strong partnership between soccer and business. Our philosophy, our formula for success is that good soccer is going to lead to good business, and good business is going to lead to good soccer. We now have our bookends, our team that is going to go out and make the Columbus Crew stronger and better, more attractive on the field and more successful off. With that, I'm thrilled to announce Andy Loughnane as the new President of Business Operations.

Andy Loughnane (AL): Thank you, Anthony. I want to thank Anthony and Dave Greeley for presenting me with the opportunity to help lead, alongside Gregg, the Columbus Crew into the next era. I'm incredibly honored and privileged to be a part of this storied franchise. I'm also incredibly humbled to be back in Columbus. This is a wonderful community. This is a community that represents philanthropy, hard work, success and relationships. I look forward to strengthening and building relationships in this community and ultimately contributing to a better product both on and off the pitch.

On how Andy got on the Crew's radar and the hiring process…

AP: As you know, we always like to say that we're thoughtful and thorough. In this case, we took it slowly. We were patient and strategic about how the new President would fit into our organization. We interviewed over 50 candidates to find Andy. It was through our networking process. Dave Greeley was very involved with me in conducting the overall process. I think Dave Greeley initially reached out to Andy.

On what Andy's biggest challenges are…

AL: In fairness, I haven't had a day in the office yet, so I'd rather work with the staff and even identify the things that we're doing really, really well before we think about some of the challenges. That being said, certainly my goal is to assist with revenue generation so we can help boost and enhance Gregg's ability to put a championship-caliber product on the pitch.

On how Andy's experience in other sports will translate to soccer…

AL: I think my experience both in and out of sport will help. I've been a part of launches of business units both in and out of sports – public companies, startups. I've also been a part of, most recently in Detroit, turnarounds. I would imagine that a collection of my past, again in and out of sports, will assist with the Crew. Again, in fairness, I'm not entirely sure of all of the objectives that we need to accomplish quite yet.

On how Andy's Columbus connections will aid him in his role…

AL: That was one of the magnetic reasons to return as well, is that I do have established relationships with leaders in this community. As I highlighted earlier, this is a region that emphasizes relationships, philanthropy so strongly. I believe that some of the people and processes that I'm aware of from my first stint in Columbus will be helpful.

On how important it was to hire someone with local ties…

AP: It was extremely important. I'd say it was one of the lead criteria, was having roots, relationships or contacts to the opportunities we have in this market. It was important.

On what Anthony wants to see Andy accomplish…

AP: Well, we need to improve the resources of our club so we can be successful on the field. Our product is soccer. We talk about a continuous improvement mindset in our soccer operations. I think Andy is going to bring that mindset to our business operations. He's a hungry guy, he works hard, he's detail-oriented, he's thorough, he researches. He's going to be working really hard on a daily basis to improve our attendance. We'd like to see more sellouts. We actually have our third sellout this season tonight, so I'm excited about that. We want more sellouts, we want bigger attendance, we want to expand upon and grow our membership base and improve our relationships in the community. [We want] to foster and instill a happy and successful, productive culture in the office [and to] represent our club as an ambassador with Major League Soccer and with the local community.

On the club's brand evolution…

AL: Anybody who's in this business would want to be a part of certain core initiatives, whether it's launching a new franchise, opening a new building [or a] brand evolution. It's a huge initiative that we're about to embark on. We'll release additional details soon, but needless to say that's an important step as we move forward.

On Andy's real estate background and how that might help the Crew…

AP: Andy's background is not as a real estate developer, he worked in the real estate industry. For us, Columbus Crew Stadium is our home. We're proud to call this our home. Over the next few years, we'll obviously be working on our training facilities as it relates to having a very vibrant and successful Academy and [Crew Juniors] program, as well as a wonderful place for our first team to train. Over the next few years, our training facility is something that we'll be visiting and discussing. Long-term, if at some point Columbus Crew Stadium becomes obsolete, we need to talk about renovation or relocation within Columbus. We'll cross that bridge when we get there.

On how he will blend good business and good soccer with Gregg Berhalter…

AL: The most progressive organizations have a distinction between the sport ops, the soccer ops and the business ops. We're moving in that direction. I think the extent that we're sitting here on this podium together is representative of that new era in the way of aid. Gregg and his staff will assist me with understanding – and by way of example, a shoutout to one of our sponsors – but if some of his players are inclined to eat out at Subway, these are good things to know. When we're talking to Subway about a renewal, it might be something helpful. That's just one micro-example, but to the extent that we're able to be communicative and collaborative, it will drive our business forward.

On how Anthony's role changes with this hire…

AP: I will be involved on a very active basis, as I have been in the past. I will relinquish my acting President responsibilities and go back to thinking about how we can best support Gregg and Andy, and give them the resources to be successful. There's a lot behind being a Chairman, and I'm excited to get back to falling in line with the Chairman role.

Just to accentuate, the reason that all four of us are on stage is just to show that we have a new team in place. We have a lot of breadth and depth of experiences. We're more of a flat organization that we were in past. We're going to be collaborative and communicative across the chain of command here. It's not just about me, it's about Andy and Gregg and Dave.

On the "two-pronged" system and what it means for the Crew that Gregg Berhalter can focus on the on-field product…

Gregg Berhalter (GB): I think it's important. What we've done and what I've done in the last eight months is try to build a staff that can survive on its own. I think we put really good people in place. I'm looking forward to working with Andy and I appreciate the continued support from Anthony. When you talk about being able to do the things we do, it's all because of the support from ownership. Now that we have a President of Business Operations in place, it's a good step for the club and it's a step forward.

On what Andy thought could work for the Crew during his previous time in Columbus…

AL: I did attend games back in the day. The Crew, have always been in my mind -- as MLS' first franchise -- a formidable entity within professional sports. This is a franchise that delivered Columbus its first-ever professional championship. My thoughts have always been positive, and even back then when we were competitive, there were businesses that were spending their money with the Crew that I'm quite certain wasn't anything that made me happy. I would say that at this point, the remarkable advances that this brand has made since I've last left are a credit to those that have come before me, but also the League and the sport have made great strides.

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