Ric Granryd, the Director of Operations for the Austin Aztex, discussed the future of the Aztex and the organization’s business goals for the coming year. The Austin-based club will likely have a women’s team in the 2013 with help from an outside investor, and the club plans to play in the USL Premier Development League next year, according to Granryd. The Aztex operations director suggested the Aztex could add a professional team in two years for the 2014 season. For the rest of the Q&A, look below for what the future holds for the Aztex and more details on a future women’s and professional team.
soccerATX.com: How did you feel the first season went for the Aztex organization?
Ric Granryd: I think we are really pleased with how things went overall. We finished in the final eight of 73 teams. We scored the most goals in our division and conference. We conceded the fewest goals in our division and conference. We had players in the PDL top ten in points, goals, and assists, several players were invited to train with MLS clubs. Three players were named to the all conference team, the most of any team in our conference, and we had the fifth highest attendance in the PDL and 38th across all soccer leagues in the USA. There is not too much to complain about.
soccerATX.com: What are the Aztex looking to improve on in the future?
RG: Now going forward, the plan is to focus on our sponsorships, here in the offseason. We want to continue to put the brand out in the market. I can safely say that our business plan for the next couple years is: (1) we will be a PDL team this coming season; (2) it is likely that we will have a women’s team for 2013; (3) 2014 is when we would launch the professional team. So that is kind of, where we are and where we are going.
soccerATX.com: In the first season there weren’t very many hiccups for the Aztex, but what are you looking to improve on for next year?
RG: I think scheduling is number 1. Prior to the season, we need to look at the configuration of our conference and schedule things so we aren’t playing one of the top teams in the league four times. To play El Paso four times, Laredo four times, and travel twice to New Orleans are scheduling issues that need to improve.
Number two, I think is to develop our organization and that means personnel from front-to-back. We are looking to do that in a variety of ways. Another thing is, developing our sponsorships. We just did not have a lot of bandwidth to develop that program this past season, so we need to really improve that. I think those three areas are where we are looking to improve.
soccerATX.com: As you alluded to early, there is likelihood that the Aztex will have a women’s team next year, so how did that come about and how will that team work within the organization?
RG: We feel that the Austin market is great for a women’s team. We are looking at outside investment for that particular team, and we do not know what level it will compete at, just in terms of a national, competitive sense. Clearly, later things will be a little bit more concrete, and I would look forward to really chatting with you when this actually is put into stone. It is exciting, and it is something that David (Markley) has been passionate about also. We wanted to put the stakes out with the PDL team first. The women’s part of the franchise has always been part of the plan.
soccerATX.com: Last week a few players went out to the new Soccer Post, but how are the Aztex going to reach out to their fan base during the offseason since the organization doesn’t really play another game until May?
RG: Given our PDL status most of out players are off to college, and they have scattered. We basically, we have a three pronged approach.
(1) Continuing to do our community service type of things. We have another event coming up this Saturday, and we will put the players that are local at those kind of activities.
(2) Our own activities. What we are working on now is, a calendar of what we would like to do. It could be a beach soccer tournament at Zilker Park, it could be a Christmas type event or it could be goalie wars. It could be those kinds of events that have our imprint on them.
(3) We want to be visible at local college games. Not only to support those programs, but because they supported us with their players. But also, scouting, and things like that. Now, we have more time, ahead of time to actually look at local players before the tryouts. Last time, we didn’t have that knowledge of the local player base. In fact what I am doing right now, is just finishing up a calendar of all the college games being hosted this fall by the men’s and women’s colleges between San Antonio, Houston, and Dallas.
soccerATX.com: Because you have a whole year, how is that going to change the organization’s standpoint of scouting players and working on sponsorship programs?
RG: That’s one of the reasons, why we wanted to be PDL one more year. We wanted to get the kind of system you are talking about and what I described as well. (We need) that preparation routine in place before we jump into a professional setup. This is our opportunity to craft what that routine is going to be in the offseason, so then we have something to watch from when we actually have the pro team. As operations director, I feel a lot more comfortable to stay the course one more year, and then, we have established ourselves as a brand, successfully on the field, and organizationally, prior to becoming pro.
soccerATX.com: As far as preparing to become a pro team in two years, how is that working? And, have there been discussions with officials from the pro leagues?
RG: Yes, there is acknowledgment that we are interested in fielding a pro team, and there is mutual interest on the part of both of the leagues. And our ownership and will make that final decision in the coming months.
Granryd also added the organization will keep the new fan page updated with events that the Austin Aztex will hold in the future. He also plans to have the master schedule of Texas college soccer going on in Austin, Houston, and Dallas on the website as well.