Richmond Kickers Director of Soccer Leigh Cowlishaw, Manager of Corporate Partnerships Santiago Lucio and General Manager Shelley Sowers attended the USL Winter Summit where they convened with executives from across the league in Clearwater, Florida.
The weeklong summit kicked off with a USL Board of Governors Meeting where USL President Jake Edwards commended the state of the league. U.S. Soccer Federation Executive Vice President Mike Edwards spoke about the growing fan base culture and the USL’s contributions to setting a foundation to host the upcoming 2016 Copa America Centenario, while USL Chief Marketing Officer Tom Veit introduced an initiative for a league-wide, uniform digital platform that will significantly improve game coverage while creating a number of marketing and business opportunities for individual teams and the league.
In addition, Kickers executives attended a host of ticket sales-specific programming and participated in best practices sharing throughout the week, bringing back several new ideas to continue to build upon the fan experience and authentic atmosphere at City Stadium in 2016.
From the increased number of on-site venders to a positive recap of the league’s significant 2015 USL season, the vibe among the league and its teams is at an all-time high. RichmondKickers.com discussed the event with Cowlishaw to break down the Kickers’ impression of the USL Rising:
RichmondKickers.com: What is the overall feeling heading into the 2016 season?
Cowlishaw: There is huge optimism and energy throughout the league. Clearly USL is experiencing an extremely positive time in its history. There's a unified vision, focus and commitment from all the clubs to make USL a significant soccer league not only domestically but internationally too.
RK: The league has seen a unprecedented growth in the last few years. How was this reflected in the USL Winter Summit?
Cowlishaw: In addition to the obvious increase in clubs and owners in attendance, there is a strong focus on the revenue components of the business. There is an abundance of expertise, talent and knowledge within the ownership group and I expect you will see that influence over the growth of the league in the coming years.
RK: What is the biggest take away from the USL Winter Summit?
Cowlishaw: There is exciting news regarding USL's new broadcast initiative. It will require significant investment from the league and clubs, but will no doubt be another important step in increasing the quality of the USL brand and credibility of our league.
RK: Where would you put the Kickers in relation to the direction of the USL after attending this year’s Winter Summit?
Cowlishaw: The Kickers are 100% behind the owner's and league's vision for the future of USL. It's going to provide additional challenges as competition continues to increase on and off the field. However, we are positive our fan base will continue to grow at an exciting pace and we are optimistic that the Richmond community can be the difference maker and an important competitive advantage for the club. I truly believe the days of 10,000 passionate fans supporting the Kickers in a Division 2 league are not far away.