Editor’s Note: The following letter is from Aztex founder and co-owner David Markley.
As 2013 draws to a close, it is time to reflect briefly on a fantastic year and provide some insight into future plans for the Aztex franchise.
The year kicked off with the excitement of seeing three of our alumni drafted in the first eleven picks of the MLS SuperDraft. These former Aztex made us proud as Kekuta Manneh became the youngest player in MLS history to score a hat trick, Dillon Powers was named MLS Rookie of the Year, and Blake Smith scored a game-winning goal for his club. The Aztex hope to continue this pipeline as Kris Tyrpak, Robbie Derschang, and Michael Kafari have been invited to participate in the 2014 MLS Combine.
Our title sponsor, Emergo Group launched the season with a reception overlooking the Texas Capitol. We were proud to welcome six new corporate partners, and have forged relationships with the Long Center (as sponsors of the Austin High School Musical Awards) and the Austin Chamber of Commerce (as sponsors of the “Most Uniquely Austin” business award).
The Aztex continued our own on-field success, making the playoffs for a second year while hosting and winning both rounds of the playoffs. The Aztex won the PDL Championship while exhibiting great discipline, as we were also one of three teams recognized with the Fair Play Award. Paul Dalglish (Coach of the Year), Kris Tyrpak (PDL MVP), and Sito Seoane (Playoffs MVP) each received individual honors, four players received all-conference awards, and the franchise was recognized as the Organization of the Year – all great accomplishments in a 64 team league full of qualified candidates.
This continued success has been buoyed by steady growth in our organization, and has translated to a busy off-season. The Aztex added our second full-time staff member when Jeff Burns was added as our Director of Marketing and Communications. He and our Director of Operations, Ric Granryd, were each once again finalists for league awards for front-office staff. I also want to send special thanks to all of our interns and volunteer ambassadors who continue to provide additional arms, legs, energy, and talent to support our operations as we continue to gradually ramp up our full-time staff.
In order to accelerate our growth, we are pleased to welcome Dan Hammer as Sr. VP of Corporate Partnerships. Dan has an extensive history as a marketing and sales executive in the food industry and will leverage his experience to ensure that we are meeting the expectations of our current partners, and raise additional revenue to build the foundation for a future professional team.
I know all of you are thinking: “Finally, David is going to address the elephant in the room!”
While it is still premature to announce specific plans or timing, I can assure you that the off-season has been consumed by financial modeling and meetings with potential investors and business partners which will help us take this next step. There was a temptation to join the pro ranks for the 2014 season, but we remain committed to having the right team, with the right partners, at the right time. We believe this disciplined approach is a key to ensuring the long-term viability of professional soccer in Austin.
It did not escape the notice of our franchise or our supporters that MLS Commissioner, Don Garber, mentioned Austin as a potential market for MLS in the future. While we do not yet have a stadium that provides a viable venue for the MLS, we believe our fans and the Austin soccer community are among the best in the nation, as exemplified by the crowd which helped us make House Park “Our House” during our playoff run.
With respect to a soccer-specific stadium, the Aztex have developed a draft specification and are initiating preliminary fact-finding discussions with potential civic and community partners, land-owners, and developers. The Aztex will be engaging an experienced project manager to help guide us through this process, and we will do our best to keep our supporters informed as plans become more concrete. However, this will be a long process, and due to the dozens of candidate partners that will be engaged, most meetings will need to remain business confidential.
We hope that each of you have a wonderful holiday season with your friends and family, and want to thank you again for providing the support which has fueled our team since its inception. Please know that the Aztex truly are your team, and we literally could not do it without you!
With sincere thanks,