Profit is the main motive behind the change.
December 18, 2023 by Alex Rubin in News with 0 comments
The AUDL has plans underway to take over production of ARIA discs ahead of the 2024 season. ARIA came out as a competitor to the Discraft Ultrastar in 2017 and was started by the Titcomb siblings, longtime ultimate players who also owned Five Ultimate (an apparel company) at the time and still own the AUDL’s Seattle Cascades and the WUL’s Seattle Tempest. The deal is expected to function similarly to the AUDL’s integration of Fulcrum media for its streaming services.
In 2020, the Titcomb family merged Five Ultimate with VII Apparel Co. to create XII Brands. ARIA was included in that deal. In 2023, Disc Store purchased multiple companies from XII brands, including Five Ultimate and VII Apparel Co., but left ARIA untethered, as Disc Store has a relationship with Discraft. At the time, XII Brands’ founder Todd Curran admitted he was seeking a buyer for ARIA. The AUDL is expected to announce their purchase in early 2024.
Multiple sources with knowledge of the situation shared that a small group of people within the league, including Commissioner Steve Hall and at least one player, are part of a group working with the new disc, which is expected to be similar to the Ultrastar. Rumblings about the change have reached some players in the league not directly involved in the project as well as other elite ultimate players not directly involved with the AUDL.
The AUDL has used the Discraft Ultrastar since the league’s inception in 2012, playing with the disc favored by the majority of competitive players in the country. Discraft is also the official disc of the Premier Ultimate League and the Western Ultimate League, the other semi-professional ultimate leagues in operation today. Major League Ultimate, which played from 2013-2016, used the Innova Pulsar, a disc with a thicker rim that was unpopular with the league’s players. ARIA discs by and large are accepted in the ultimate community today.
A large motivating factor in the design of a new disc is financial. To sell any discs, the AUDL first needs to purchase them from Discraft. Taking over production of ARIA discs will allow the league stronger profit margins from the sales of team, league, and event discs. As the league looks to become more financially stable, finding additional revenue sources to ticket and merchandise sales has become paramount. Over the last few seasons, many teams and the league itself have dove into the realm of youth clinics and camps; this is another attempt to find money in the ultimate community to sustain a growing enterprise.
The AUDL is seemingly taking a lead from the sport of disc golf, which sees its players make a relative fortune from selling signature discs.
Ultiworld reached out to Discraft for comment but has yet to hear back. This is a developing story and this article will be updated as more information is revealed.