November 8, 2012
READY TO ROLL
Stover's priorities: new coach, filling a front office and growing some roots, working with the grass roots
By Michael Lewis
|Cosmos COO Erik Stover says his No. 1 priority was naming a coach.
Photo courtesy of the New York Cosmos
HARRISON, N.J. -- As he begins his tenure as the chief operating officer of the New York Cosmos, Erik Stover finds himself with a full plate and then some, but nothing is a greater priority than hiring a coach.
Stover said on Thursday that an announcement should be made by the end of the month, if not sooner.
"The board has been actively pursuing and interviewing and negotiating with potential coaches for months," he said. "We can expect an announcement on that front soon. Unfortunately, some of the issues that we have been dealing with have slowed that process down. It is very important for Seamus, who made it clear we said something he will back it up. He will meet the deadline. . . . He will have an announcement of the coach by the end of the month. . . . You can count on it coming sooner."
Stover, the former managing director of the Red Bulls, said he figured the size of the Cosmos' sporting department our sporting department will be the largest in the North American Soccer League. It will be comparable to the middle-of-tier MLS clubs."
"In any organization, in any sport, you have a debate," he said. "Do you have a strong head coach-manager or do you have strong GM, scouting director, depending on what sport you are talking about. Understanding where we're going, it's the NASL and how the NASL is structured. Our head coach will likely have main say in all player personnel decisions. But one thing that we will do for sure is put together a very professional sporting department. Whoever that head coach is has a lot of support with scouts, player personnel, whatever administrative he needs, negotiating contracts."
Then comes the hard work, connecting with the community and local soccer organizations such as the Long Island Junior Soccer League and Cosmopolitan Junior Soccer League, among other leagues.
After a coach, the next priority is the front office. Stover said that he plans to bulk up a staff that has four people on it.
"We are not doing a whole lot," he said. "We have to get ourselves staffed up a little bit, to get some plans put in place to make sense for our marketing, that makes sense for season ticket sales and group sales and connecting with youth programs in Long Island and Queens and throughout the city.
"The first thing for us to do is to hire some staff and to have a real thread in everything we do being about community relations and making those connections. It is every department. It is marketing. It is communications. It's sale. It's operations. It's everything we do. We can talk and talk about that. I think a year from now you can look back and tell us if our actions were successful or not."
Because the team will call Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y. home, the Cosmos will focus their marketing on Long Island, Queens and New York City.
"We are actively recruiting for several positions," Stover said. "We're certainly looking for people from New York and Long Island. We think that will be very important to our identity and out understanding of the market. We are also getting comfortable with Hofstra and having a good working relationship with the university and making sure our game day experience at the stadium is first class."
With Major League Soccer trying to build a stadium for a 20th franchise at Flushing Meadow Corona Park, there has been plenty of speculation that the Cosmos could wind up being the team. But Stover has more immediate concerns.
"I am not at all thinking about that a little bit," he said. "Those three points I have made earlier in the near future are occupying enough of my time. At this point it is really an MLS discussion."