"You earn fans outside of your city by winning trophies, being the best and fans respecting what you are doing with your club, the way its being built."
Welcome back to the Pyramid ladies and gentlemen! I've got an exciting interview for you to read today, but first, some catch up. Major League Soccer started this weekend, and had it's highest scoring opening ever with something like 30+ goals. The only team to get a shut out? Sporting Kansas City. That's right, my cities team still remembers how to play some defense!
This week's interview is with David Satterwhite of the Dayton Dynamo. This is an interesting guy to have talked to. To start with, Dayton may be playing it's first season, but it's not it's first year as a club, which David will explain in a little more detail. Even the lower levels aren't immune to teams moving around. The positive of the move though? They've already topped all of last year in terms of revenue. Big things should be happening in Dayton this year. Check it out.
Tell me a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you're from, what your role is with Dayton Dynamos.
I am a Financial planner by day. I started it out of college and have my own Franchise through Ameriprise Financial. I have two young kids & a very supportive wife. I am originally from the Carolina's, but grew up in a suburb outside of Cleveland called Aurora. I am the sole owner & CEO of the Dayton Dynamo, formerly known as the Cincinnati Saints.
When did you first get interested in soccer in general and helping run a soccer team in particular? Was there a certain event that got you into the sport, or have you always been into soccer?
I grew up playing soccer. I started when I was 5 years old. I lettered 4 years at Aurora High School, became an All-OAC player at Wilmington College in 2000-2003, moved to Cincinnati and played minor league indoor soccer for the Cincinnati Excite for 4 years. I retired and started the Cincinnati Saints. I owned and operated them for 6 years before moving the club to Dayton & re-branding to the Dayton Dynamo. I honestly kinda fell into it the ownership of a minor league team. I started the Cincinnati Saints to be a community outreach program to help underprivileged youth access the game of soccer. Now here I am!
Can you recap the history of Dayton Dynamos for me? I know it's not a standard story.
The Dayton Dynamo's inaugural year was 1988 as a pro indoor team. They remained in Dayton until 1995 when they moved the franchise to Cincinnati and became the Cincinnati Silverbacks. We thought since we were leaving Cincinnati that we would return to the City of Dayton what was rightfully theirs. Literally 20 years later.
What was it about Dayton that convinced you it would be a good place for a team, especially after the trouble the Dutch Lions had?
I met with city leaders, local business owners & local soccer fans in Dayton, asking them if they would be interested in a minor league soccer team coming to town and playing downtown, etc. I also asked what they felt the Dayton Dutch lions did wrong or why they would entertain the idea of another team coming to town and there were many reasons, but the main one was that they just didn't do a good job of connecting with the soccer fans in Dayton. From branding to the fan experience, it just wasn't there. I knew we could provide that so we made the move.
How has the reception for the team been in Dayton?
The reception has been unbelievable! City leaders, including the Mayor, some of the largest local corporations, local soccer fans & youth soccer organizations have all supported what we are trying to build in Dayton. We have sold more season tickets than we ever did in Cincinnati and its only been 2 months since our press conference.
Having never been to Dayton, how would you describe your city?
This is a great question as I hadn't been to Dayton for years, until October. Dayton has seen a negative population growth for around 30 years now. Even though it has great universities in University of Dayton & Wright State. It also has a very significant air force base called Wright Pat. The people in Dayton are down to earth and are fighting hard to revitalize their once great city. I saw their passion for turning Dayton back into the innovative city it once was. I thought with this kind of passion and the way they support their Single A baseball team, the Dayton Dragons (who happen to have the longest sell out streak in all professional sports franchises, I think they are running on 15 years straight) I knew I would be able to build the club of my dreams with passionate supporters and a true soccer atmosphere that fans for generations will enjoy.
Tell me a little bit about the league you're in, the National Premier Soccer League. What kind of advantages does it have over other leagues that you may have looked at when forming the team?
The NPSL was a great first step for us. They allow us to build our clubs from the ground up to grow them into something special. Every owners goal for their club is to grow their club's fanbase & win trophies. The NPSL gives us the platform to do so while having other like minded owners that we can bounce ideas off of and grow as a whole.
Does the NPSL have a long term vision for their league and your teams role in that future?
I believe so, but the landscape of US soccer, especially at the lower levels, is rapidly evolving. Clubs like DCFC & Chattanooga FC are really pushing the envelope & forcing change within the system. I think the NPSL is open to evolving with its clubs to continue to give them a platform to grow until the clubs need to move on to a different league.
Why should the average soccer fan, both in Ohio and across the US, care about a team in Dayton?
This is a great question, I really don't expect the average soccer fan in Ohio outside of Dayton, or anywhere in the US, to care about our club just yet. We haven't done anything to build a fanbase outside our city. That takes time! You earn fans outside of your city by winning trophies, being the best and fans respecting what you are doing with your club, the way its being built, etc. We are focusing on Dayton first, then we will try to expand our fan base in Ohio, the US, & then globally. Even MLS is still trying to build a fan base within most of its cities, so this is a very long process.
Cast a vision for me: Where do you see Dayton Dynamos in 5 years?
To be flat out honest I see us pushing for an NASL side. I think we could be a very successful Div 2 club, but that all depends on how well the soccer fans in the City of Dayton support the team. We have a good start but a long long way to go.
Bonus Questions: What's your favorite book, regardless of genre?
Favorite soccer player.
Ronaldo, the original.
Do you have a favorite soccer book, movie or podcast?
Book is still Soccernomics, Podcast is probably Wrong Side of the Pond, but I am biased as they work for our Club. I also like the Derby City Ultras podcast.
What's your favorite league and/or team to watch?
I like the EPL & Manchester United, although I cringe to admit it the last two years.
Where can people find out more about yourself and the team?
They can find info on our website www.daytondynamo.com. We are also on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Instagram & Youtube.
What would you like to say to the people reading this article about why they should get out and support the lower levels of American soccer? Don't wait for a billionaire to come by and try to make a ton of money from your passion. Build the club you want to have in your city. Most lower level owners are just as passionate about the game as the fans are. The quicker the fans realize no matter who the owner is, they dictate the fate of your team, the quicker it will grow. Fans buy all the merchandise, concessions, tickets, etc. Your club will grow faster the more you support it.
David, thanks again for your time and doing this interview with me. If you are enjoying the content I'm putting out, I'd encourage you to click here to Follow me on Twitter, or here to Like the page on Facebook. And if you'd like even more content coming your way on the regular, click here and sign up for the weekly newsletter, containing fun articles and videos, sometimes covering soccer, sometimes not. Make sure to spread the word. Share interviews, tell friends about the blog, those kind of things. I can't accomplish my goal of maximum exposure for all levels of the American Soccer Pyramid without YOU. Until next time, Stay Loyal, Support Local.