Monday, March 14, 2011

Can Richmond support two professional indoor football teams? part II

Having shared my thoughts on the financial future of the Richmond Revolution, now we will look at the Richmond Raiders.

Clearly, the Richmond Raiders have a better shot at long term survial than the Richmond Revolution.  To begin with, there are two owners of the Raidres one paper, Genworth CEO Mike Fraizer and his wife Elizabeth Fraizer.  Mike being the head of a fortune 500 company means in order for the Fraizer family to pay their own bills and stay comfortable financially, he doesn't have to rely on profits from the Richmond Raiders.  His primary income is non sports related, this is a huge benefit for fans.  Elizabeth handles the day to day operations of the team and the majority of the business decisions (this is my guess and has not been confirmed).  The Richmond Raiders are a privately held company, which means as an organization they are under no legal requirement to disclose publically their financial health, like any company listed on the NYSE would have too.  So we don't really know if the Raiders turned a profit last year and chances are we will never know.  Having said that, Elizabeth Fraizer has told me personally, "Our only goal is to break even," and I believe her.  The Fraizer's motivation to own a professional sports team is not at for financial gain.  The Fraizers actually own the team for two reasons, to provide something to Richmond we didn't have before and to improve Mike's reputation and presence downtown.  I can live with those reasons.

On a non related note, I have a great deal of respect for both Mike and Elizabeth.  My personal interactions with both of them have been wonderful.  Last summer, my wife Catie and I drove to a Lady Raider car wash (fund raiser) on Broad St.  When we arrived, Mike was wearing a jogging suit and washing cars by hand with a wet towel.  That spoke volumes to me. Here is a CEO of a large corporation and owner of a football team doing the dirty work, when he could have easily passed it onto someone else. 

The Richmond Colesium is the home of the Raiders, and while it is old, the bathrooms stink and is visually unappealing on the outside, it is not a bad place for professional indoor football.  Unlike the Revolution, the Raiders are not concerned with buildling an entirely new facility which costs millions of dollars, they just lease the Colesium when they need it.  While the Colesium is far from perfect, it is a suitable venue for sports and realistically could work for another 10 years with maintenance. This is also good news for Raider fans.

However, there is one thing that could jeopardize the longevity of the Richmond Raiders:  the break even point.  As Elizabeth told me, the Fraizers goal is to break even. But what if they didn't and what if they don't?  After how many years of not breaking even or turning a small profit will the Fraizers throw in the towel? I can't answer that question as important as it is. 

My final verdict: Based on attendance at the Raider preseason game and the Revolution home opener, it is unlikely Richmond will financially support two professional indoor football teams for the long term. Of the two teams, it is my opinion the Revolution will fold. The Raiders also could fold unless more paying customers fill the seats at the Colesium.

No comments:

Post a Comment