After spending a couple of years in the stands at Slugger Field, Evan Floyd now helps Louisville City FC fans as a Partnership and Community Relations Executive. | Photo courtesy EM Dash Photography / Louisville City FC
After spending most of his professional life working in supply-chain management in various manufacturing environments across the Midwest, Louisville City FC fan Evan Floyd was ready for a change.
He wanted a job where he would not only care about the product his company was putting out into the world, but to also work for an organization that he legitimately wanted to see succeed both financially and in the community.
Having played a key role in the development of LouCity supporter’s group Scouse’s House over the past few years, Floyd was able to parlay his business acumen and knowledge of the inner workings of the club into a Partnership and Community Relations Executive position this February.
We recently caught up with Floyd for a conversation about the transition from fandom to the front office, his role as a liaison between the club and its supporter’s groups and what it’s like to work for a team you support.
USL: Before transitioning to working for Louisville City FC, what was your background with its supporter’s groups?
Evan Floyd: I'm a transplant to Louisville and when I moved here about seven years ago, none of my particular sporting interests were being served by the town. And when I heard rumors that there was a possibility of bringing a [soccer] team to town, I sort of shrugged it off honestly. So, I was not a Cooper at the time and until they announced that the team was coming, I didn’t take it seriously frankly. There is a group of 15 to 20 Coopers who are still very active with the Coopers that really helped drive bringing the team here. Obviously, the business interests of it all were paramount for the owners and for the location and for the groups, but the Coopers did a lot in terms of trying to encourage the potential ownership groups that this would be a valuable place for them to have a team and they take a lot of pride in that.
When they announced that the team was coming, my wife bought me and her the 36th and 37th season tickets that had ever been sold for Louisville City FC and we showed up for that first game, had a blast. Because I didn’t know any of the Coopers, we just sort of sat in our actual seats that we had purchased, and it turned out that we were near another vocal group of fans that weren’t Coopers and we took to the patio deck that first season. We sat there all year and really enjoyed ourselves. They started selling those seats the following year as a corporate package and we thought, ‘shoot, we’re better fans to have behind the opposing goal than they are’ and we banded together and petitioned the front office about how we could get those spots because it’s important to have a rowdy bunch of loyal supporters there. And Michael Bromilow, who is the founder of Scouse’s House, really took the reins and found out how many season ticket holders we would need to provide, what kind of charter we would have to have, the offices and the charitable outreach that we would have to have and really implemented it all with the help of about five or six of us that worked tirelessly on it.
When we had our first elections, I took on the role as town crier or public relations person for Scouse’s House, started the podcast last year, had starting working on the blog and the website and drumming extra memberships the year before. And we just had a really nice time with it. It grew and grew and that gave me more and more access to the people who were making decisions and I realized that I wouldn’t be horribly out of place if they brought me on and that I had some ideas of things that they could be doing. The joke I make about it is that [Louisville City FC President] Brad Estes finally got tired of me saying ‘Hey, why aren’t you doing this?’ and finally said ‘Fine, come do it yourself’ and that’s how I ended up here. I petitioned them for a long time about letting me come on. I understood it’s probably not going to be the same level of position that I had previously held, but it would be a happier work environment for me every day and I’ve been right about that.
USL: What does being a liaison between the club and its supporter’s groups look like?
EF: Well, that’s one of my roles. I’m sure that you can understand that being a second-division soccer team, all of us wear several hats but my role in terms of being a liaison with supporter’s groups is to make sure that everybody in the supporter’s groups feel like their interests are being served, that we don’t try to take any of the autonomy away from them because basically all of the really good stuff that happens in stadiums is stuff that happens organically because the supporter’s groups drive it. Anytime the team tries to drive that sort of thing, any team, I feel like it’s never as good. The best stuff always comes from the people who are passionate about the team and not the people who have a financial interest in the team. And so, I organize monthly meetings with leadership of the official supporter’s groups and it’s just sort of a roundtable of ‘Hey, what are we doing well? What are we doing badly? What do you want to see and what do you want us to stop doing?’ And if it’s stuff that we can do, we do it. And if it’s stuff that we can’t, we try to at least be able to provide them a rationale for why we can’t do the stuff that they want us to do because that for a supporter, and I know this first-hand, is really the most frustrating part of all of it is when something is or isn’t happening that you think should or shouldn’t be, there’s frequently a lack of transparency between the club and the supporters about why that’s the case. And so, I try to bridge that gap a little bit and be able to say that there are obviously people in this front office who share the same values that you guys do in terms of what you want from a game-day experience and we’re actively working towards making that sort of thing happen.
USL: As someone who started on the supporters’ side and is now on the business side, how does that help you to bridge the gap?
EF: I think that it helps in a lot of ways. I think for one, the real firm decision makers in the club can come to me and say, ‘How would you have responded to this four months ago?’ So whenever we’re making a decision, it’s easy to turn to somebody like me who can very quickly put my supporter hat back on and think how would I have responded to this decision or implementing this kind of sponsorship because you know it’s always that friction between wanting to be a successful business but also providing a community product. That’s where most of the problems occur with supporters and fans, and so I can generally look at an issue from either perspective of ‘Yeah, I understand why we need to do this to try to bring in more revenue, but the fans won’t like that because it affects where they like to hang their signs or because that changes when they like to do their march into the match or they don’t want us to interfere with how their drums are going to play, so if we suddenly introduce this new instrument as a giveaway, they’re going to hate that because it’s going to ruin the aesthetic of what they’re trying to accomplish’. I feel like I’m able to notice stuff that maybe a sales person who’s really just thinking in terms of we’re going to get really good money for this and it would be an easy thing to implement, maybe they aren’t taking the time to think ‘Yeah, it’ll be easy and it’ll raise money but it’s not something that is going to increase the experience for the people you’re actually putting the product on the field for.’
USL: What is the relationship like between the Coopers and Scouse's House?
EF: I think it’s one of respect and appreciation, and a little friendly rivalry. I’ve never known them to be heated with each other in any negative way, but also you know every group like that wants its own respect and appreciation. The Coopers, coming from a much larger original collection of people and also sort of the more prominent placement in terms of on the field, they are certainly the better-known supporter’s group and Scouse’s House has worked hard to try to shift that. But, I think that everybody on both sides just knows that at the end of the day everybody is there to support the team and they’re different groups with the same goal. So, generally it’s one of good-natured ribbing but a lot of respect.
USL: What is the biggest challenge in your job so far?
EF: The biggest challenge in my job so far is not spreading myself too thin. There’s just a lot of stuff that when you’re in a front office that has to get done that maybe wasn’t part of your original role and you say yes to a lot. Like, when there is a good idea and we don’t necessarily have somebody to fit that role, I’ll take it on and then I realize at the end of the week that I’ve got 11 things on my plate. I think that’s the way it is for the majority of people in the front office, there’s just a lot to be done and you can easily spread yourself too thin very quickly.
USL: What is it like to work for a team that you support?
EF: You have to learn a little bit about how to put some of it in the background, especially on gamedays. Until my gameday role was defined – it took two or three games before we knew exactly how my operations role was going to proceed – so the first couple of games I was working with sponsorship fulfillment up in the press box. You know the unwritten rule of the press box is to not cheer, so that was a new and difficult experience for me, but you can find a way to scream internally without emoting. That took a little bit of time to get used to but I finally managed it.
During Louisville City FC home games, Evan Floyd works with the gameday operations team to supervise volunteers, ensure field safety and make sure everything runs on schedule. | Photo courtesy EM Dash Photography / Louisville City FC
USL: What is your gameday role now?
EF: I’m working with gameday operations, so I help to oversee the ball kids, the walkout kids and the high-five kids. I also make sure that the timing is right on when we do the national anthem, when we’re hitting certain marks in the script, making sure the game starts on time, working with the red hat and the officials and the officials’ assistant to make sure there are no problems on the field. If the grounds crew leaves a hose out, I make sure that gets picked up. If a field board starts falling over, you go and pick that up. I’m also involved in the decision making about weather delays and stuff like that and communicating between the front office, the league and the team.
USL: What else does your day-to-day entail?
EF: I work in sponsorship fulfillment, so I make sure that what our really talented sales staff negotiates with our corporate partners gets executed. So, if you get a sign or you get a PA read or you get a video board announcement or a social media post once a week, I make sure that actually comes to fruition. That way we can let our extremely-talented sales guys focus on making good deals for our team and our partners instead of having to worry about ‘Hey, did somebody call our sign manufacturer?’ So, I do that and as it relates to the operations side, I write the PA scripts and make sure that everything is in for the video board. I work with Howie Lindsey and our PR department to make sure that all of our social media posts are accurate and that they get posted in a timely manner. And then the other part is community relations. I work with Mario Sanchez, who is our community relations director, and he has a number of commitments in terms of being out in our community, especially some underserved parts of our population, and so I assist him at camps and clinics. I also assist our sponsors have a presence at those events with signage, tenting and giveaways where the camps are taking place for the kids. So, I do a little bit of everything in my daily role. Every day is different, which is nice.