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NexGen Founder Proposing New Professional Ultimate League For Top Club Teams

by in Featured, News with 72 Comments

Just weeks after the announcement of Major League Ultimate, a new professional Ultimate league has been proposed to rival both USA Ultimate’s Triple Crown Tour, the American Ultimate Disc League, and the MLU, Ultiworld has learned.

Kevin Minderhout, the founder of NexGen, has presented a proposal to top club captains to start a new 18-team professional league. The proposal suggests that nearly all of this year’s Open Division Club Championships qualifiers — the Pro Flight and Elite Flight teams from USA Ultimate’s Triple Crown Tour — with the addition of Philadelphia’s Southpaw and Pittsburgh’s Oakland (and the exclusion of Palo Alto’s Boost Mobile) start their own professional league.

Teams would be the majority owners of the league, splitting 67% of the equity equally among them. The remaining 33% percent, Minderhout suggests, would be both used to purchase NexGen and all of its assets ($40,000 in fixed assets and between $20,000 and $40,000 in cash), and to do an initial $80,000 capital raise. Minderhout would take 25% of the league’s equity, and “propose[s his] appointment as the League’s first commissioner for a 5-­year term drawing a salary of $25,000 per year deductible from any distributions [he] may receive as a result of [his] ownership share in the League.”

Minderhout wrote in the executive summary presented to the teams:

Many of you have a decision to make next season about whether you will participate in the Triple Crown, play “pro” ultimate or possibly both. I’d like to introduce a third option that I believe does a better job of making you the players and us the fans the biggest winners while at the same time addressing some of the inherent problems that arise out of profit and sponsor‐driven models for elite competition.

This proposal comes out of my dissatisfaction with the [Triple Crown Tour] and “pro” models and my belief that ultimate does not need to nor should strive to imitate today’s model of professional sport. We need true innovation that upholds the values of the community, meets the needs of players, meets the needs of fans and allows ultimate to evolve and grow without finding itself beholden to sponsors or profit as its driving motive.

“I think there’s a better way to make a product that’s more responsive to the ultimate community, to the spirit of the game that I started playing and that I really love,” Minderhout told Ultiworld. “It’s not that I’m against [USAU and the pro leagues]. If the teams don’t want to do this, that’s awesome. I’ll do what I can to be involved. I still want to film great ultimate, that’s still my goal…We don’t need to be validated by ESPN.”

The season would consist of nine regular season tournaments, each comprised of six teams and played in a round-robin format. This would give each team three games against Division rivals, two games against other Conference teams, and three games against teams from one other Division. Here is the suggested breakdown of the three Conferences and six Divisions:

West Conference North Conference South Conference
Seattle Sockeye Chicago Machine Philadelphia Southpaw
Vancouver Furious George Madison Club Washington, D.C. Truck Stop
Portland Rhino Minneapolis Sub Zero New York PoNY
San Francisco Revolver Toronto GOAT North Carolina Ring of Fire
Boulder Johnny Bravo Boston Ironside Atlanta Chain Lightning
Austin Doublewide Pittsburgh Oakland Columbus Madcow

Tournaments would be scheduled to run from Friday night through Sunday night. Three games would be played each night in stadiums, with paid admission for fans ($10 for students, $12 for adults with multi-day discounts available). Saturday and Sunday would also have morning sessions, with standard play at a multi-field tournament site.

Minderhout writes, “The transition of elite open ultimate into the stadium environment will unequivocally mark a new era in making high‐level ultimate more accessible to the public….The unlocking of new revenue sources in form of ticket sales and broadcasting will allow the League to improve the quality of its offerings across the board, pay observers, critical event staff and will eventually lead to reduced cost burden for players.”

The league’s purchase of NexGen would allow for, according to the proposal, 81 streamed and on-demand games during the regular season, all available for purchase on the NGN Network.

All games would be observed and played under USAU rules, with some modifications (available below).

The playoffs would consist of the six Divisional champions and two wild-cards, selected by the best regular-season records in the league. Each round would be a best-of-three, with the third round, if necessary, played to seven points with no overtime. No games would overlap.

The proposal also argues for the creation of its own immersive media content. “The League will invest aggressively in a quality, professional media experience for fans,” writes Minderhout. “This begins with the hiring of a full time staff member to manage media platforms and equipping him or her with a $15,000 budget to create and contract the creation of exceptional original content. The League will lead major innovations in broadcast video, roster information, stat keeping, feature‐length journalism, expert columnists, event reporting and fantasy ultimate.”

Despite Minderhout’s insistence that this model would not “imitate today’s model of professional sport” or make Ultimate “beholden to sponsors or profit as its driving motive,” this is a professional sports league proposal that seeks to make money for its stakeholders.

Under his proposal, teams would have to agree to revenue sharing “from broadcast rights both local and national, league-­wide sponsorships and the collective licensing of team marks.” Market analyses and budgets have been built out through 2017.

Additionally, any non-team investors’ shares would be subject to the following clause:

“If a non-­team owner wishes to sell his or her shares the League has the right of first refusal to purchase shares at fair market value. If the League reaches a fair market value of $40,000,000 adjusted for inflation the League will have the option to purchase all outstanding shares from non-­team owners at fair market value. This option exists in perpetuity until all shares are sold or the value of the League drops below the aforementioned value. Shares purchased by the League must be distributed evenly amongst all member teams and all voting rights associated with outstanding shares disappear.”

Teams would also have to agree to go public if they earned more than $2,000,000 in profit, with proceeds from the offering going towards the “construction of a team specific venue.”

Minderhout writes, “The underlying philosophy is that as ultimate grows people should be rewarded for their work in growing it, but once a sufficient reward has been achieved the ownership should be transferred in a manner that eventually leads to a community rather than privately owned sport.”

Minderhout is embarking on a cross-country road trip this month to speak with team captains of each of the 18 teams. The proposal reads:

I’m told that both USAU and the MLU have requested to hear from teams and players about their intentions by January, so I suppose it makes sense that I hear a yes or no from teams by then as well. Nothing in this proposal is set in stone. A successful League will require the commitment, communication and cooperation of all teams involved so to that end I will be setting up a private forum for us to engage in dialogue related to this and other options on that table.

When asked if he thought USA Ultimate would be upset by this proposal, Minderhout said, “If USA Ultimate is our governing body, and their mission is to support ultimate players, I don’t really think it’s damaging. If their mission is to be the exclusive provider of elite ultimate competition, then maybe.”

The full proposal can be found and downloaded below. We will have much more on this new professional league, its implications, the legal issues, and the impact on the pivotal 2013 Club seasons. If you are a team captain and have thoughts to share about the league, on-the-record or on background, please get in touch with us at editor@ultiworld.com.

League Proposal

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About Charlie Eisenhood

Charlie Eisenhood is the editor-in-chief of Ultiworld. You can reach him by email (charlie@ultiworld.com) or on Twitter (@ceisenhood).

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  • Jordan

    Wow…this shakes things up a bit. Is it possible that this is a more appealing option than either of the pro leagues? As a player I like the idea of keeping current teams.

    Kevin Minderhout is one of the few people who I feel has proven himself to be able to create a product based on elite ultimate and successfully market it. Gotta give him some credit for that. At first glance I like this idea a lot but I hope it hasn’t come too late in the game as it seems like the pro leagues are already gaining momentum.

    Also as we get into the spring it would be great to seem some reporting on individual elite players or even whole teams as they make decisions on where and with whom they’ll be playing. With three (now maybe 4) viable options, it will be really interesting to see what happens, especially with pro teams in places like San Francisco, New York, Seattle, and Boston.

    • Jim

      I think its going to be particularly interesting in those cities that have up to 3 or maybe 4 teams. How many “elite” players can one city provide?

  • Mike

    Any reason why you suggest Oakland in the Northeast over PoNY?

    • http://twitter.com/RTFranz Ryan Franz

      agreed. NY has a dynasty. 6 rings, one of the biggest markets in the U.S. Though the Haiders would win the spirit award.

      • jim

        just geography for travel between Boston Toronto and Pittsburgh. NY to DC is only 4 hours and Philly is even closer

    • Kevin Minderhout

      It was mainly a consideration based on balancing conference strength in the early stages of the League. Would make sense to make this change as teams continued to develop more parity.

  • Aki

    IMO this is the best proposal of the bunch. I think the thougtfulness in creating the system and keeping the ultimate community in mind is really great…except what about the women’s ultimate community! Will this league be proposed to top women’s teams along with the top men’s teams? That could help really reinforce that this proposal is keeping the ultimate community truly in mind AND really separate it out from all other proposals (except USAU).

    • Jim

      People aren’t going to pay to see women’s teams to the extent they will a men’s team. Sad but this is how professional sports work.

      • Aki

        I knew that would be an idea that someone would bring up…but as Einsenhood writes, Minderhout insisted that this league would not “imitate
        today’s model of professional sport” or make Ultimate “beholden to
        sponsors or profit as its driving motive.” If the sentiment is true, a women’s league could fit well in this plan.

        If women’s teams are willing to buy in to the league the same way men’s teams will, why not let them? The program is NOT trying to imitate pro sports and if the women’s league breaks even that’s fine since the program is not beholden to profits as its driving motive. Just a thought.

      • Katie C

        Yes – what about the ladies? In all the discussions of all the leagues this (small but important) demographic seems to be overlooked. There are successful women’s sport models to look at – pro soccer, volleyball, surfing- and saying that “this is how professional sports work” is taking the easy way out.

        This is not only a time of change for ultimate, but also a time of change for sports in America, and young girls/women are getting more and more involved and active every day. Ultimate is a sport that is accessible for everyone, regardless of financial situation or gender; let’s keep that in mind as these ideas gain momentum. Let’s make Ultimate a sport that has top level opportunities for all of its top players, regardless of gender.

        • http://www.facebook.com/tenk283 Daniel Clenton

          The split is about 80/20 in favour of men when it comes to watching Ultimate…

        • Dennis Reynolds

          Firstly, Professional Women’s Soccer has been attempted twice since the year 2000 and both times folded within 5 years. How can you call that a successful model? Secondly, across all sports men’s are more marketable than women’s. Considering the air of doubt that surrounds any form of successful pro ultimate, I find it borderline appalling that people would be calling for another expensive undertaking with almost no chance of financial stability or success. Professional Women’s Ultimate is as close as any hypothetical professional sports idea comes to a fiscal black hole. I wish that there was a way for Professional Women’s Ultimate to reach interested parties but it really just doesn’t seem realistic.

    • Kevin Minderhout

      I will not be proposing a women’s version of this. There are just enough resources right now to support this one proposal. The women’s game would require an entirely different proposal as their needs are different from that of the open division right now.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1651470518 Ben Chatham

    This is the best idea, by a considerable margin. It lets the established teams continue to exist, instead of forcing their hands. I love the emphasis on stadiums and the six team round robins should be interesting. If I had a vote, it would go to Kevin Minderhout’s idea.

  • Anonymous

    Minderhout started NexGen by running a kickstarter campaign to raise $25,000 from the ulty community to stream games. Not sure that it makes me feel really compelled that the man can run an 18 team league that he’s starting in December.

    I’ll give you my predictions which I think are obvious:

    The money he raised from all of us ultimate people, well, he did something good with it but I think that ride is over. USAU is gonna give him the boot I’d bet.

    This league is never even going to have one game played. Teams that are obviously out:

    *GOAT (AUDL Toronto Rush)
    *Southpaw (probably won’t exist and is all spinners)
    *Machine (AUDL)
    *Seattle (Skip is in the MLU, I’m guessing so is Sockeye)
    *Boston (not choosing this over USAU or MLU)
    *San Francisco (not choosing this over USAU or MLU)
    *Doublewide (champs of the USAU are not gonna jump ship now)

    And, since these guys aren’t playing neither is anyone else. Gotta love the part where he talks about what he’s gonna do after they get to $40,000,000. This will never even get to $40,000.

    Minderhout, you had something good. We’ll see if what you’ve done is genius or completely idiotic. I pretty sure those are the only two choices.

    • http://perrydavid.tumblr.com Perry-David van Dillen

      I definitely see this co-existing with USAU, just not with their proposed structure of the triple crown. I agree with Kevin Minderhout that if USAU’s goal is to promote Ultimate and its community then this is something they can support.

      Also, using existing high profile teams is a stroke of genius in my book. I hope he can get all of the teams to sign on, but you might be right about some of those teams. However, I don’t think it’s as clear cut as you make it seem.

      Just because Doublewide is the current USAU Champion doesn’t mean they won’t choose this over the Triple Crown. If this is more enticing, which I believe it is, why shouldn’t they choose this instead? It’s the same for most of the other teams. If this is the most enticing option to them, why shouldn’t they choose this over the other options?

    • Joseph Marmerstein

      Where are you getting that info? Have Machine and Goat already said that they are going to play AUDL?

      • Anonymous

        Chicago has an AUDL team. I’d be shocked if players wanted to do this instead of that.

        Remember this, and it’s really important, if you have ownership in a company then you get to share in the profit, but you also get to share in the loss. What if the money runs out? Who pays the bills then? Would sound to me like the teams would have to come up with 67% of that. Not the greatest pitch now is it? Unless you think that this idea has zero percent chance of losing money. I mean who could you lose money with an 18 team league and a slew of three day tournaments?

        Here’s another question: Who the heck owns the team and the shares? The players? One specific player? What happens if I’m on the team this year and then leave next year? Do I still have ownership? This plan is as well thought out as the TCT.

        I guarantee USAU flipped their s%^t when they heard about this though.

        • Joseph Marmerstein

          I wasn’t saying that teams like Machine or GOAT are necessarily going to jump on this. But just because suddenly the AUDL has put teams in their cities also does not mean that they will be playing in that league. I would be much more surprised to see either of those teams (especially Machine) playing the AUDL over staying with USAU.

    • JRK

      If you check out the Windy City Wildfire facebook photos, you’ll notice that only 2.5 Machine players attended the combine (Goose, KK, Jon Hatcher).

      • JRK

        Jon “Wego” Hatcher, excuse me.

    • cel phone

      Actually i think NexGen already existed before the Kickstarter campaign. The money from Kickstarter went to help forming the NexGen Network

  • http://perrydavid.tumblr.com Perry-David van Dillen

    I’m really hoping this happens. I really like the format for both players and fans and I love the philosophy Kevin Minderhout has woven into this proposal. The fact that it will feature the high quality NGN coverage is icing on the cake. This one has my vote!

  • Krishna

    So the league sells 8% equity in this league for $80,000 and then using 25% of the equity to buy NexGen from Kevin Minderhout Effectively, he is selling NexGen, a company with less than $80,000 in assets for $250,000. Sounds like a reasonable price to me…

    It’s a good deal for the teams though, since they don’t have to put up any cash.

    Why not invite Boost Mobile?

    • Anonymous

      And he get’s a salary for all of his sacrifice. Fine job.

    • Kevin Minderhout

      This is a complicated question and is similar to why didn’t you invite the Condors or Street Gang or Cash Crop or Florida United. I think most strongly it brings up a discussion of promotion and relegation, which is not included in this proposal. I’m having trouble getting this answer down to a concise paragraph so I’m going to have to get back to you. I’m setting up a forum for questions and hopefully I can get it answered there for you sometime this week.

      • Krishna

        I can sympathize how hard it is to draw a line and decide how large to make any group. You will always leave some teams out. My comment about Boost is that given where you drew the line, they seem obviously above it. I assumed they were excluded for geographic considerations (who wants two teams right next to each other…) rather than based on results.

        But I was more interested in having you respond to your proposed valuation of your company NexGen. Where did it come from?

        • David

          If Instagram can sell for $1 billion…

          But seriously a company’s value isn’t all about their current assets. If Nexgen has a good brand, and the possibility for future profits then I don’t think its necessarily a crazy price tag.

          • Shawn McCarthy

            NexGen’s “good” brand is known by like 1000 people. Yes, NexGen has done a solid job in the Ultimate community with a relatively grassroots operation, but in the context of the general “Production Industry,” it not only isn’t a good brand, it’s a relatively amateur operation. This is not an insult, as I love NexGen as much as everybody else, but it’s true.

            Also, I’m not sure when this country got completely deluded about business valuations. It might be attributable to crazy start-up and tech companies, or people might never have known really, I’m not sure…

        • Kevin Minderhout

          Responded to the question more fully above and I think you are correct that the Boost decision has a lot to do with geography.

          As for the valuation of NexGen it’s heavily based on current revenue, profits and intangibles. It will be accounting for nearly half the revenue of the League in its early years and comes with the knowledge and experience of a company that knows how to broadcast ultimate.

    • Kevin Minderhout

      My longer response to the subject of promotion and relegation:

      The full authority for promotion and relegation of new teams to the
      League would be in the hands of the Board of Governors. It’d require an
      unanimous vote -1 for the removing a team and unanimous adding a team
      from the League. A reminder that the Board is made up for 18 votes from
      teams and 3 votes from the outstanding 33% equity.
      Personally, I
      don’t think kicking teams out for poor performance on the field is
      enough reason to relegate a team. Teams go through peaks and troughs and
      the reason I think these 18 teams are the right choice for the League
      is their long-term success. There will likely be termination clauses
      built into the bylaws to deal with events such as teams no longer fielding full rosters or failing to attend regular season events

      I don’t have a great
      answer for people who believe that promotion is a philosophical
      imperative. The first think I’d say is that the set 18 team structure
      allows for a significant increase in regularity. Fans can get to know
      the same teams, the travel schedule is set through 2017, the consistent
      hosting of 6-team events in the same city all are huge leaps forward in
      digestibility for fans. Since this is not a 100% player focused proposal
      this is one of the tradeoff. Again I think the benefits for players and
      fans here outweigh this tradeoff.

      I think the best argument that
      I can make is that the 18 teams in this proposal currently represent
      the 18 best organized ultimate cities in the US and Canada. By best
      organized I’m referring to combination of a long tenured club team,
      organized league play and growing youth scene. I’d bet the
      vast majority of all interested and capable talent should be within a
      2-4 hour drive of a league team. I can definitely foresee a future where
      ultimate has grown, adding teams as new hubs of ultimate build.

      don’t think this proposal kills new teams. I think there might
      actually be the potential for a strong clue series if top teams stopped
      participating in the USAU series (not a requirement of this proposal). I
      think there’s a real chance for a more vibrant club season where the
      upcoming teams have something to play for. The motivation would be to
      win the club series or hone your skills enough to tryout for a league
      team rather than gunning for the last bid out of regionals. If a team is
      consistently winning the club championship and they seem to be more
      than just a one-off organization then they should be strongly considered
      for inclusion in the league.

  • http://www.facebook.com/josh.hamilton.71619 Josh Hamilton

    I really don’t like this idea for a couple of reasons.
    1) I don’t like the timing, at this point everything in Ultimate is changing, and if his goal really is to do what is best for the sport then I think waiting a year or two to do this would be much better. For whatever we think about the TCT or the MLU we haven’t actually seen either one in action, and neither has been around for long enough to have had a fair chance to see if they can bring in money, be it from sponsors, or a TV deal, or wherever. Also I think that the AUDL will likely be much better next year than it was this year, they seem to be cleaning up at least a little bit from the mess they made. For all that has been talked about with these ideas we still haven’t had time to see if they would work. Waiting a year or two would make his dissatisfaction with the current options much more reasonable. I want to see at least one of the current ideas fail before labelling them all failures. Adding another choice won’t help us see if any of those models were viable, and might serve to kill all of them.

    2)I don’t see where this solves the issues of the TCT. One of the major knocks on the TCT is the cost for teams, and I am not convinced that this model will do that much better. Especially with Kevin saying that we don’t need ESPN. Maybe he is right, but this really sounds to me like something that is going to be really similar to the TCT, except with more tournaments. More tournaments means more travel, more expenses, and more time off of whatever other jobs people have. I don’t think that many of the current teams would lose some members under the new load of competition.
    Also if you want to talk about the teams who are selected in having a huge advantage over the teams that aren’t (pro and elite/ everybody else, in the league/ not selected) The teams that are in the league would have an abundance of chances to compete against each other, while the other teams would be completely locked out. Even if you had some sort of system where other teams could conceivably play their way in they would have a really hard time developing their talent to that level of the teams in the league.

    3)Going to the outside world, or at least trying to, is the next natural step for ultimate. The proposal sounds to me like Kevin started with the assumption that the world isn’t ready for ultimate as a spectator sport. To me this proposal is significantly less ambitious than the MLU or the AUDL as far as getting the sport to a point where it is even acknowledged as a minor sport like lacrosse. Ultimate is a great participant sport right now. I would love to see it as a spectator sport, because I watch sportcenter or highlight reels on Youtube and realize that I see stuff that is at least as cool as any of that on any tournament I go to.

    The bottom line is I think this is a cool idea, but this isn’t the right time or place for it. I think a lot of this could be used to reshape the TCT into something that is more exciting, spectator friendly, and able to showcase high level ultimate. I would have really liked to see this idea wait a year or two, or possibly integrated into the TCT, or have the AUDL or MLU incorporate tournaments in season like basketball does. Kevin has to be high on the list of people to listen to for the business side of ultimate after what he has done with NexGen, but I don’t like this idea.

    • Jerry Walman

      I think now is the perfect time. In the elite club world, the Triple Crown is widely regarded as a very flawed idea. At this point I am not convinced that USAU truly has any idea HOW to advance this sport, while Kevin does. USAU could never have pulled off something like Nexgen, they lack that vision. I think the time is perfect, this will happen.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tenk283 Daniel Clenton

    Four pro leagues, christ… With each pro league that gets floated, the chances increase that they all fall flat on their collective faces.

    The TCT, whilst flawed is the best option for a coherent USA Ultimate scene. It allows EVERYONE (not just 18 or whatever teams) a chance at absolute glory. It also has the backing of the 800 pound gorrilla that is USA Ultimate. All this BS about $125k shares or $40mil profit, USAU already makes millions and has for years… Track record counts.

    Regarding cost for the teams competiting in the TCT, they need to start acting like Semi-pro teams and looking at additional revenue streams. Either charging gate admittance to their games or selling jerseys or something.

    • Jim

      Nice thing is that he is more transparent with the plan and proposal than AUDL / MLU have ever been.

    • Concerned Citizen

      “Four pro leagues, christ… With each pro league that gets floated, the chances increase that they all fall flat on their collective faces.”

      This quote is almost identical to my initial (and continuing) reaction. I agree with most people in the fact that this sounds like potentially the best idea. However, I think this is poorly timed. There is almost certainly no way that all the top teams will choose the same option. Some will play in the AUDL, some in the MLU, some in the TCT and heck, maybe some in this idea if it goes through. In some cities, teams may be split up between multiple leagues, even.

      Overall, every league is going to have a less-than-optimal pool of players. This sport can definitely turn into a successful spectator sport. But to do that, we need to have all the best players playing in the SAME league, at least to start. If a more established sport like lacrosse can hardly operate with one league, ultimate has no chance operating with 3 or 4. I think 1 league will be tough enough, based on what we saw in the AUDL last year.

      I’ll admit that I don’t typically like change, but I do recognize the need for it to progress. However, I think we need to slow down a bit here. If we’re not careful, I think there’s a chance we see regression rather than progression, at the elite level, with the situation that is at hand.

  • Henry Thorne

    This is the most realistic and well conceived pro league proposal I’ve seen. If I’m not elected to the USAU board I’d have to spend a bunch of time considering this investment.

  • Shawn McCarthy

    There are definitely some aspects of this proposal that are more coherent and viable than any of the proposals heretofore.

    With this said, as others who have commented have noted, some of the team choices are questionable. I also question this guy’s knowledge of basic geography, but that is another topic entirely.

    Lastly, the dude that commented saying that he “definitely thinks this can co-exist with USAU” needs to check himself ‘fore he wrecks himself. TCT is a reality, so my dude’s point is automatically relegated to, at best, the same ontological status as that which Carnap ascribes to metaphysics. The calendar of this league is also in direct conflict with the USAU season, so that is an issue.

    In light of these newly proposed leagues, can we further elucidate the “banned from the series” dictate of USAU? Did Tommy Crawfish have some foresight in codifying TCT in terms of this stipulation? Perhaps this infamous stipulation was conceived to help USAU maintain its premiere status relative to all of these new leagues. The NexGen league runs July through September, but AUDL and MLU run from the Spring into the earlyish/mid summer. If MLU’s championship game is scheduled for the middle of July, and USAU “decides it best” to schedule the US Open on the same date, what’s Revolver or Sockeye, or whomever going to do?

    I might actually give Crawford some credit for something other than bilking as much cash as possible from the job that has the least oversight of any position in the whole damn country…

    • http://perrydavid.tumblr.com Perry-David van Dillen

      Are you suggesting that if all 18 teams decided to join this league and leave USAU competition altogether, USAU would cease to exist? Obviously the Triple Crown would somehow need to be re-worked in that case, but USAU serves a much larger segment of the Ultimate community than just these elite teams and I have no doubt it can still function without them. I was not suggesting these teams would be able to do both this and TCT. I think they have some tough choices to make in the upcoming weeks.

  • Keith

    One thing that I haven’t seen mentioned is this is a World Club Championship Qualification Year. It seems to me that USAU still holds the cards in determining how bids to that event are doled out. If USAU deems that teams will qualify for WUCC by USAU Club Championships or some combination of TCT winner and USAUCC top finishers, then I would suspect teams/players will not bypass the opportunity to go to Italy to play in any pro league assuming that teams/players would only be able to play in one of TCT, MLU, AUDL, NG. If this were a win USAUCC and you represent USA at Worlds year it might be different but there could be 5-6 bids to Italy opening up the chances to qualify to many more teams. I think that most teams/players feel that having an opportunity to go to WUCC is as close to a once in a lifetime opportunity as it gets in Ultimate and USAU holds the bid allocation to that event in their hands.

    • Jordan

      Yes but last I heard USAU was seriously considering changing how the Team USA players are selected..moving more to an all-star team after Revolver’s close shave in Japan. So if that is the case then USAU would be giving up their last big reason for the best players to play in the Triple Crown tour.

      • Keith

        Jordan, Generally I agree with you, however, what I am referring to is the World Ultimate Club Championships where you represent USA but also your club team. There are bids allocated by WFDF to USAU (say 4 for the sake of this example). The “top” four teams get a bid to WUCC and will represent their club team at the tournament so had this year been a WUCC qualification year Doublewide, Revolver, Ironside, and Ring would have recieved bids to play as Doublewide, Revolver, Ironside, and Ring at WUCC. This brings up a secondary question not related to NexGen but in 2014 if WUCC is over July 4th weekend will there be a US Open and even if it isn’t will the WUCC teams be required to play the US Open even if they travel to Italy, talk about increased cost.

  • Intern

    I think that people are drastically underestimating Minderhout’s networking capabilities. For the last two years he has traveled across the country with the NexGen Tour and made crucial relationships with players, captains, coaches, and community leaders. I guarantee that he or someone on his crew knows every captain on every team on that list of 18. He has given club teams, with the help of the Ultimate community, experiences that were and still are unparalleled. Stadiums, lights, crowds, live streaming, the best athletes the sport has the offer. Who else has done that? I know the AUDL hasn’t, MLU won’t, and USAU is still trying to catch up.

  • Anonymous

    I like the idea that the teams own the league. But who owns these club teams? Is it the original founders? The current players? Everyone who has ever worn a jersey?

    As much as I would love to see the current teams live on it would be impossible to sort that out.

  • Kevin Minderhout

    Created a forum to answer peoples questions and a place for community discussion if you’re into that kind of thing. http://nexgen.forumatic.com/

  • Jacob Janin

    I think this is by far the best option for elite club teams. What is most attractive to me about this proposal is that we get to keep our teams, keep our rules, and make decisions for ourselves. MLU and AUDL rules make ultimate a completely different sport, and seem to cater to people who don’t know a single thing about ultimate. Why should we let our future be shaped by what we think those people want? Is our inferiority complex really that bad? As for the USAU model, while a lot better than the “pro” leagues, I still think it is a step in the wrong direction. I haven’t spoken to a single club player who thinks the TCT is a good idea, and in that regard, it seems more like a USAU consolidation of power than a move for what is best for our sport. Kevin is the only one who is actually interested in what WE want. All his terms are negotiable, and everything would be controlled by us—the players. What more can you ask for?

  • EastCoast

    i would love to know how many folks who have commented are actually on one of the teams in this league? maybe people could start posting and then write what team they play for next to it. i would be interested to hear what players who are actually on these teams have to say about the matter…everyone else…eh.

  • Craig

    I think it’s obvious “a best league” will include all the top club teams, so how does that happen, with USAU’s TCT or Kevin’s proposal?

    Do you think Kevin may have already made a proposal to USAU to cover the TCT and they didn’t accept?
    Could this be a negotiation tactic to get the USAU to work with him?

  • Joel

    For anyone that actually read the proposal did the “innovation alerts” comes across as conceited and condescending?

    • Kevin Minderhout

      Perhaps not the best way to draw attention to them. Probably if I were to redo it I’d put them in little boxes with just the title that comes after ‘innovation alert’. Had planned on doing that actually but wanted to get this out and it was style and not content so I just went with it.

      • Vested Interest

        Innovation alert: I think it’s super cool that you are on here responding to all of this. Please don’t go away.

  • John Korber

    Sports for the benefit of the participants and sports for the benefit of spectators are fundamentally different. Although they often resemble each other on the field, their motivations, management, and funding all work in different ways.

    Fundamentally, participant focused sports are funded by the participants, and utilize structures which deliver value to the participants. The USAU, since its inception, has operated in this way.

    In contrast, spectator focused sports are primarily funded by the spectators (although often initially funded by investors seeking to earn a return from eventual spectator revenues) and are managed to deliver value to the spectators.

    There is no doubt which of these two models has greater reach and ultimate profitability. There are countless examples throughout mainstream sports of spectator focused operations managing toward its desired end. A particularly recent one is the NBA fining the San Antonio Spurs $250,000 for resting some of their most marketable players in a nationally televised game. The message from management is loud and clear; delivering value to our fans, tv viewers, and in turn corporate sponsors and broadcast providers is more important than the competitive interests of the participants. Its awkward, but the mission is clear. Deliver value to the spectators.

    Ultimate is in a tricky place. Everyone within the community (and some outside it) can tell that its an exciting game to watch, and that interest will grow as more people are exposed to it. The USAU, via the Triple Crown Tour and other initiatives, is hoping to increase participation in the sport by providing access, as spectators, to a larger audience. The AUDL and MLU are seeking to deliver financial returns to investors by capitalizing on the unprecedented mass exposure to local sports markets. The NEXGen plan, in Kevin’s words, comes from his dissatisfaction with these two models. As he describes, he goal is to provide a better venue for showing the sport within the community, and to serve the players better than the Triple Crown Tour does.

    These initiatives cause an uproar in our community because they seem to move away from some of the core ways that ultimate delivers value for us. By their own admission, the MLU and AUDL products are not designed to serve the players first. The USAU, an organization which prides itself in serving the players, is now trying to incorporate a spectator serving component of their offering. Kevin’s NEXGen proposal also introduces a spectator serving component, although targets the offering primarily at the existing ultimate community and fanbase.

    The MLU and AUDL models draw capital from outside investors in hopes of producing a product that new spectators will pay for. That’s a bet those investors have chosen to make. In Kevin and the USAU’s model, the investments come from the participants. In the former, the elite teams’ ownership and management costs could ultimately produce a monetarily valuable product. In the latter, players across all flights will pay dues and travel expenses to facilitate a mechanism for showcasing ultimate to fans outside the existing community. In my opinion, the fundamental change here is that these two models are asking the existing ultimate community, a highly participation-centric group, to invest time and money in the pursuit of an interest that is not directly their own. This is a real change, and it changes what ultimate means and requires of players.

    Its a fundamental distinction, and one that needs to be understood. The real professional leagues are making no secret that they’re taking outsiders’ money, and our game, and trying to make something which unsuspecting fans will pay for. The models which leverage the existing ultimate community are taking the community’s resources and trying to serve a smaller, but equally spectator-centric audience.

  • Kurt Knoess

    Well done and well thought out. I think it is likely the aforementioned teams will want to this. Not to mention it will be the best competition!

  • Chris

    My only fear is that if this does not go through and USAU were to retain most of the top talent, that Kevin has now completely burned that bridge. He runs the premier operation in ultimate broadcasting and I would hate to see that go away.

    • http://www.facebook.com/jim.heneghan.33 Jim Heneghan

      This is just business. If this doesn’t work out USAU would be petty to not continue a relationship with NexGen.

      • Shawn McCarthy

        That isn’t necessarily true. It’s entirely possible that there are other viable alternatives to NexGen. Also, regardless of whether you think it is petty (or if it is even), USAU still might cut ties.

        • John Korber

          It’s possible that such a tie was already cut. Reading between the lines, it sounds like the USAU is shopping exclusive broadcast rights to their product to major networks. I presume such a deal would require online broadcast opportunities as well.

          If that’s the case, I wouldn’t be surprised if the USAU told NexGen (prematurely, in my opinion) that they won’t be doing business in 2013. If that actually happened, it would explain both Kevin’s haste in promoting such an idea as well as the way in which (if it succeeds) it will gut the Triple Crown.

          • Space Tank

            USAU mentioned at the nationals captain’s meeting that the goal was getting the triple crown broadcast by an established tv entity. They are looking to ditch nexgen as soon as they can judging by Dr. Tom’s words. Of course he is a horrible public speaker, and says “wicked” every third word, and totally forgot his main point and had to interrupt Deaver to come back to the podium to say that he had been talking “to wicked cool” broadcast partners. So maybe I missed his real point.

            I honestly trust a kid called Freshy K to do what’s best for this sport over an inarticulate speaker like Crawford.

          • Shawn McCarthy

            Haha. Wiked awesome post!

  • Titus Tradewell

    This looks solid, and has a lot of things going for it. In particular, keeping the established clubs puts it near the top, and having 81 (!) games covered immediately takes care of packages to sell if they want, gives us coverage now and keeps high quality archived footage for down the road.

    After a cursory read, it looks like the big difference between this and TCT is that the money spent by players goes towards a product they have a say in, rather than one that subsidizes USAU’s plan. There are a lot of things that could go wrong, but this has a lot of potential.

  • Lopsided

    If this happens they need to take a look at how they determine playoffs. The Western Conference is by far the strongest conference and the Southwest Division is by far the strongest division. Besides Ironside the “North Conference” is a joke by comparison. I’m not sure the Atlantic division even had a team in pre-quarters of Nationals last year.

    You’d be leaving out some of the best teams with the current playoff bid system. To present the best product and to ensure a fair playoff system you’d have to balance the conferences/divisions somehow.

    Again, this is a small concern and doesn’t come into play unless all of this happens. Looks great though.

  • Cowmoporo

    I have so many issues with this that I can’t begin to explain them all, but I’ll list a few. Why are people in the ultimate community so stubborn about this game? I constantly hear “we want to grow ultimate,” but then it’s followed by “we aren’t changing anything about this game to appeal to the masses.” If you want to appeal to more people, you have to change the game. People that aren’t ultimate fans already are not going to want to watch a self-reffed game where crappy and more importantly biased calls are made on a regular basis. Every sport in history has made significant changes to rules in order to better the game and become more marketable. It seems that much of the ultimate community doesn’t want to change the rules for no other reason than “we shouldn’t have to change.” There seems to be very little consideration for what would actually better the sport.
    I think a lot of this proposal has some good ideas, but saying that the sport doesn’t have to change completely baffles me. I really like the structure of reaching out to high level teams, but then there’s the problem of leaving out elite players that play for other teams (maybe they will reach out to others themselves?)
    I’ve played ultimate for about 6 years now competitively and I love the sport, but I also LOVED playing with refs in the AUDL. In fact, I don’t know anyone that didn’t like it (I’m sure there are a few that didn’t) I would offer this: don’t say the changes are terrible until you experience it for yourself. Maybe some of you wouldn’t like the changes. I personally loved them. They could still use some tweaks, but I think it’s a great step in the right direction. Change can be scary, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. At the end of the day everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but with all these different leagues popping up, the talent will be split and nobody will be truly putting the best product out there. We are all competing with each other, which could help us find the best format or destroy the chances of any of these leagues being successful.

    • Cody

      From what I remember, isnt there going to be active travel, up/down and in/out calls from the observers? Isnt that a step towards the AUDL rules?

      There is also going to be fewer games, so spectators can watch every game rather than walking around a tournament trying to pick one.

      I think Kevin knows what he is doing. Look what he did with the Nexgen tour and how successful it was / is.

  • Colin

    Looking at this in terms of flexibility and travel burdens. It seems to me that the proposed tournament format (Friday afternoon, games through Sunday evening) now requires traveling players to take off of work Monday and Friday of tournaments. 4-6 extra days off work is a major burden. Value that as an extra $500 plus hassle for most folks, easily. Lots of uncertainty. Love the things NexGen has done. Not as high on this.

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