If you're searching for signs of renewed excitement in the AUDL after their long and ugly legal battle, look no further than the Indianapolis Alleycats. When we spoke to team President Thom Held in September, he was preparing to leave the team. Now he's enthusiastic about season two and working hard to prepare for it.
November 28, 2012 by Charlie Eisenhood in News with 0 comments
If you’re searching for signs of renewed excitement in the American Ultimate Disc League after their long and ugly legal battle, look no further than the Indianapolis Alleycats franchise. When we spoke to team President Thom Held in early September, he was preparing to leave the team — and even suggested he might start a rival league (perhaps as a part of the MLU?).
At the time, the organizational structure of the league — which gave team owners no control over the direction of the league — was causing incredible tension; Held said that his “concern is not being a chump in life. If I’m just being used, it doesn’t make much sense to continue on.”
But the recent progress towards a board-controlled league run by team owners has reinvigorated Held. He praised the new system and said it was an important step to getting him back in the league.
“During the first year, I was the most vocal person about changing [the structure],” he said. “Maybe when [Philadelphia Spinners’ owners] Jeff [Snader] left, that was the final straw, and they saw that I was right.”
Indianapolis has been busy getting ready for next season. They have a new, dedicated 5200-seat stadium to play in with a permanent locker room and facilities.
They will have medical personnel at both home and away games, who will also be available for help with rehab and will set “preseason baselines” to monitor concussions. “It’s a major upgrade,” said Held. “As far as A team coverage, we’ll have the best in the AUDL.”
They are looking to improve their game day productions by hiring a DJ and enhancing the entertainment. ” “We thought that was an area we did well in, but we think we can improve and go from good to great,” he said. “We want to make it more of a roller derby style – you know, intensity for fans.”
Held also said that they will dramatically improve their media availability, particularly with “much better video production than last year.” He explained that last season they “relied heavily” on Brodie Smith — their marquee player — to handle their media (it was part of his contract).
But there’s a chance — perhaps a strong chance — that they won’t have Smith back this year. He has been in discussions with Major League Ultimate, even appearing in one of their first promotional videos released earlier this month. He has also been traveling quite a bit, just finishing up a long trip to India and China.
Held emphasized his good relationship with Smith and said that, because he has so many options, it’s hard to say what he’ll do next. “Everyone’s talking about, ‘Is he gonna go back to the Alleycats or is he going to go to the MLU?’ Well what if he does neither?” Held said, citing Smith’s desire to continue traveling.
“If we get him back, we’re going to love that,” he continued. “If we don’t get him back, well, teams lose good players all the time.”
Held seemed curious about the MLU and how it will handle its first season. “[MLU President] Jeff [Snader]’s a capable and smart guy,” he said. “I see some things they’re doing good and I see some other things that are a little misguided.”
Held was a bit surprised by the MLU’s $125,000 share price, since he finds it tough to believe they’ll find ten investors. However, he stressed that professional ultimate isn’t about the money. He explained that a love for the game and a drive to develop the sport really come first in both the AUDL and the MLU.
For now, he is just staying focused on running his franchise. He is excited about the local community events and charity work they have planned, and was enthusiastic about one of their home games set to be played in South Bend, Indiana, at the request of the South Bend government.
Held’s optimism is tempered by lingering concerns about the AUDL. “I do feel that there’s a long way to go, but we can get there,” he said. “There’s still opportunity here in the AUDL, but we’ve got to work hard not to have another fiasco.”