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What does "community owned" mean?

John Hall, President DKCU

At DKCU we walk a fine line between success and failure on a daily basis. We celebrate the club as being "community owned" but last week someone said it would be nice to know what that means exactly. Hopefully this will shed some light on the inner workings of DeKalb County United.

Many clubs at this level are started by someone, or a group of people, who want a club and have the means to throw in start up money to get it off the ground. Some owners are able to run it through their business as a primary donor, or they just decide to write a check. For that financial backing and their hard work, they get to call themselves an owner of a soccer club.

When we embarked on this journey nearly two and a half years ago now, we didn't have access to that type of financial backing. But equally important to me was that I didn't care about being an owner. Our goal was to unite the community through soccer, and at the point in time when the community told us they didn't want the club (or feel it was important enough to support) then our mission was over.

As the President I am involved with a lot of decisions, a lot of planing, a lot of coordination and a lot of problem solving. But my job, and the job of our entire Board of Directors, volunteers, coaches and players is to give the people what they want. Our community will dictate the long term impact of this club and will also play the key role in whether we become one of the legendary clubs in the country like the Bavarians, Croatian Eagles or RWB Adria or we disappear after a few years like hundreds of others.

Our operational expenses come from this community 100%. We see revenue from four main categories.

1. Sponsors

2. Ticket Sales

3. Merchandise

4. Youth camps and other soccer activities

Sponsorships are huge for us right now, but we've been extremely fortunate to have a number of businesses support us in our early years. In 2019 we have 24 businesses that have offered support and we do our best to show our appreciation and recognize them. (If you've been to a match you hear endless sponsor shout outs from the PA.)

Ticket Sales are also important for us. Not only do the very fairly priced $5 tickets help us cover game day expenses, but it's no fun having a game and not having anyone there to celebrate when you win. We can't bring the community together if the community doesn't show up. So we do our best as a volunteer staff to make game days fun, exciting and family friendly. We want it to be a party each game day and we want you to WANT to come back!

Merch sales are also a big part of our initiative to become self-sustainable in the next few years. Morgan Garcia is an absolute monster in organizing our swag, keeping current inventories and making sure we are doing our best to give the people the type of DKCU gear they will be proud to wear around town. We utilize a local vendor "Your Graphix" and they provide a great service by shipping web orders direct to the customer to save time and money (and headaches).

Youth camps have been a positive part of the club that I'd like to grow over the next few years. Our partnership with Switching the Field (announced a few months ago) will help push us in that direction. We have had great feedback from our events so far so we'll press on when the schedule allows.

Of all four of those areas, the community speaks to their interest in this club. We have been beside ourselves with the support early on from businesses, individuals, families and organizations that want to help us succeed in our mission. We're not perfect, and we may make mistakes but we recognize that our role, and mine specifically, is to be a liaison for the community to have a positive sports team like this that they can embrace as their own, that will inspire our local youth and hopefully we can reward them with success on the field and off of it.

This revenue funds the club. Our main expenses are facility rentals, coaching stipends, equipment, league fees, marketing, insurance and athletic trainers. In our first season these costs totaled just over $45,000 (and we weren't splurging at all.) But we want to be as professional as we can be so we try to operate that way in everything we do within reason.

I've said it a hundred times. This is your club. We will go as far as you want us to but we need your continued support and energy to keep moving forward. I'm honored to be a small part of the efforts and I thank you for your belief in us.

United Through Soccer


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