November 12, 2012 by Charlie Eisenhood in News with 11 comments
The countdown clock finally hit zero and more details about Major League Ultimate emerged today as the organization launched a new website, releasing information about new hires, basic rules, and more.
One of their biggest announcements is the wide availability of game video and highlights, starting immediately. All games will be uploaded in full and free to watch, along with one “premium” game each week that will be livestreamed on the MLU website. “A lot of the steps we want to take are towards this idea of storytelling…,” said Nic Darling, the Executive Vice President. “One of things is keeping very good statistics and very good game footage widely available.”
The ruleset appears to be similar to what is in place in the American Ultimate Disc League, the league that Jeff Snader and his team, the Philadelphia Spinners, left earlier this year to start the MLU.
[quote]The rule book is still undergoing revisions but the basics will be familiar to anyone who has watched refereed ultimate. Each team will field 7 players at a time and the game will be overseen by at least 5 referees. Fouls will either be yardage based or spot fouls depending on type. Travels will be turnovers and aggressive defensive strategies will be encouraged with a more basketball-like understanding of double-teams and marking rules. Games will be timed and risky strategy will be rewarded by the timeout rules.[/quote]
Despite the long countdown and splashy new website, many details have yet to be released. Team names are still being determined, the specifics of the financing of the league aren’t yet available, and a lot of concepts — like the rules — have yet to be fleshed out. As Snader said in his introductory video, “Of course comes the question, ‘well your countdown’s over, so what’s next?’ And I think the best answer is the next countdown.”
However, Ultiworld has learned more about the basic framework of the MLU.
In addition to the core team of Jeff Snader (President), Darling, and Skip Sewell (Creative Director/Brand Manager) that we reported last month, a new list of organizers was released. Marc “Doc” Stachowski will serve as the Director of IT, Billy Maroon as the director of Competition, and Ian McClellen as a Board Member and Secretary. All three were members of the Spinners’ organization: Stachowski and Maroon as assistant coaches (Maroon will now serve as head coach) and McClellen as a player.
The league’s organizational structure, as suggested in our earlier reporting, will follow the model of Major League Soccer. “It’s built on a shared revenue model,” said Darling. “We see a need, particularly because of the experience we had in the past year, to keep stability in the league.” Like in the MLS, the MLU will have centralized control of teams. The front office will secure team transportation, market the teams, manage player contracts, and, most importantly, cover all of the costs of operating the team.
“The league contracts the players, the league covers travel costs, the league covers uniforms and equipment, everything,” said Darling.
So what does it mean to be a team “owner?” How do you invest in the MLU? “You buy a share of the league,” said Darling. “That share is tied to particularly management rights. That buy-in represents the only financial investment for the people buying it. Our initial budget comes from the initial budget raise.”
Because each owner is investing in the league itself, not an individual team like in the AUDL, everyone has an incentive to help the league succeed. Seeing the other franchises do well means that yours is worth more as well, thanks to the shared revenue model. But there are also financial incentives for your own team’s success. That could mean that some cities are more valuable to manage than others. Darling explained, “In the future, city values will fluctuate. But in the initial investment, there’s an equal share buy.”
The league will also manage all of the player contracting. Players will face no expenses to play in the league and, on top of that, will be paid a stipend. Darling said it wouldn’t be “anything astronomical, but there will be a small amount of pay for each game.”
The player contracts will be standardized across the league. Whether someone like Brodie Smith, who has been in discussion with the MLU, would receive a better contract is unclear. The MLU declined comment on their conversations with Smith.
What is certain is that this will be an expensive undertaking. Video production at every game, paid players, paid staff, travel costs — this stuff adds up. It appears that the MLU is diving in headfirst.
Referring to the AUDL, Darling said, “Thankfully we have this beautiful experiment from last year. Despite their organizational problems, you have to be grateful for that.”
“The thing that drives the MLU is a belief that there is a much wider audience for Ultimate than there is currently,” he continued. “That’s why we’re doing this…We fully intend to do something that has never been done for this game before.”
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