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PFL President Michael Hitchcock Sees National League with Multiple Teams in Major Cities, NBA Connection

By Tim Sheldon

"It's been a lot of fun," said Michael Hitchcock, President of the New Professional Futsal League (PFL). "We launched a week ago, and it's been an amazing response, not only here in the U.S. but also internationally."

19x4Lh.So.58.jpeg (111050 bytes)Hitchcock and PFL co-investors will be staying busy vetting potential owners and setting up divisional play as the league moves toward its launch date of November, 2016.

The plan is for the PFL to be a national league with regional divisions and multiple teams in some cities such as Dallas-Ft. Worth, New York and Los Angeles..

(Photo: Michael Hitchcock.)

"The reason for that is to establish a sustainable business model for the owners," Hitchcock said. "It will be a league where you will bus to play teams, or it will be a short flight, a Southwest Airlines type of scenario where you get inexpensive flights to play teams that are geographically close to where you are. Also, this plan has the ingredients of creating rivalries your fans will be familiar with. Colleges and high schools have similar rivalries, and youth clubs have rivalries within cities."

For the league organizers, it's important to have the right business model in place so that the league can put the right owners in the right markets and have a chance to be successful, he said.

"You look in some of the major metropolitan areas. Dallas-Ft. Worth is a fine example of that. If we feel that in a major market more than one team can be successful, then we'll have multiple teams in that market. The key is for the owners to be in the best possible position to be successful. I definitely think you'll see more than one team in some markets."

The PFL was expecting a conservative start, but the growing responses from potential owners may be changing that.

"When we originally looked at this six months ago, we thought, okay, let's launch it with one region with eight teams to get it started as a springboard, but once we started sharing the concept, once we made the official announcement a week ago, the interest has exceeded our estimates," Hitchcock said. "We won't start a region until we have enough teams. The ideal scenario would be to have four regions of eight teams."

The PFL is somewhere in between one and four regions at the moment and doesn't expect to know for the next couple of months what it's going to look like when it kicks off in November, 2016.

"The next couple of months are going to dictate what it's going to look like when it launches," Hitchcock said. "Eventually, you will want to have the West region divided into Northwest and Southwest, and you want to have obviously a Midwest region, and a South Region. The beautiful thing about this is that we have a great group of owners that are launching this league that are very committed to the game, great business minds that are very complimentary in skill sets. It's been very good sitting around the table, and we want to make sure we make the right strategic decisions every step of the way. This has the potential to be very successful and help spread the game of Futsal all over the U.S. and have a positive impact on the sport all over the world."

With Donnie Nelson, General Manager and Director of Basketball Operations for the NBA Dallas Mavericks, leading the way as principal investor, it's clear that the PFL and NBA already have a close relationship that may become more formal as the PFL develops.

"Donnie Nelson is really going to run point on building that relationship," Hitchcock said. "I think in the immediate term it will be very symbiotic in that there's not going to be an official endorsement or official partnership with the NBA, but we feel the attraction to an NBA owner or NBA D League owner is to have additional programs and to be able to invest in the world's most popular game, and to bring it into their arenas or their facilities."

Hitchcock thinks there will be some NBA teams and owners that will be interested right away.

"I think that relationship will grow, and more and more NBA and NBA D League owners will try to get involved in the PFL," he said. "Until at some point there could be more of a formal relationship. I think at this point, it is just going to be the fact that one of our lead investors is involved in the NBA with the Dallas Mavericks and also an NBA D League team. He sees the potential in this, and my experience has been that if one successful sports entrepreneur sees this, then others will, as well. So I think we will have some other NBA and NBA D League owners who will get involved with the PFL."

With the Mavericks and NBA connection, it's clear why investors would be attracted.

"Strong ownership and making sure you have the right concept at the right time" Hitchcock said. "We think we do. We think the time is now for Futsal. Two years ago probably would have been a little early for launching something at this level, and two years from now someone may have already done it or tried to do it. So for us we feel that the time is right, and we want to make sure we have the right plan in place."

The PFL is working hard every day on executing the plan to take Futsal to a level previously unseen in this country.

"So with good people, a good plan and good execution, we think we can check each one of those boxes. And that's the fun part. We get to build a new league with the fastest-growing sport in the country. We're excited. It's going to be a lot of hard work, but we're going to have a lot of fun doing it. We all believe in the game and the impact the game can have on communities all over the country. Not to mention the development of players in this country. This is a passion for all of us who are involved."


Copyright Tim Sheldon and futsalonline.com. All rights reserved.

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