SBD/November 27, 2012/Franchises

DC United President & CEO Kevin Payne Steps Down After 16 Years

Payne is expected to join another MLS club in the coming days
MLS DC United President & CEO Kevin Payne has “stepped down as club president and will join another team in the league,” according to Steven Goff of the WASHINGTON POST. Payne was “instrumental in the organization gaining a foothold in the Washington sports market and supervised the team’s dominance in the league’s early days.” United’s primary investors for years were “uninvolved and deferred to Payne to run the club and speak [on] their behalf.” He was, in “essence, the team’s unofficial owner and, for 10 years, led an unsuccessful effort to build a new stadium in the metro area.” But a new investment group “has taken a more active and visible role since the summer acquisition of the team’s operating rights and will now spearhead talks with the city and developers on a stadium project at Buzzard Point in Southwest D.C.” Payne will “join another team in the coming days,” but the identity of his new employer “was not immediately known.” A source said that despite United’s “resurgence, investors concluded the business side ‘needs a lot of work.’” The source added that the search for Payne’s replacement “is underway.” The new president is “likely to focus on business operations, granting greater autonomy to General Manager Dave Kasper and Coach Ben Olsen to handle roster decisions.” Goff notes despite the organization’s “history of success, Payne’s management style wasn’t always well-received.” Payne was a “regular visitor to the locker room, attended practices on occasion and consulted with the technical staff about personnel issues” (, 11/27). Payne said he was “excited about the next phase of my life,” but was not specific about his next opportunity (Christopher Botta, SportsBusiness Journal).

:'s Grant Wahl wrote on his Twitter feed, "Kevin Payne one of MLS's leading pioneers going back to '96 with DC United. Fiery guy. Will be strange to see him with another MLS team." Sporting News' Brian Straus wrote, "Architect of MLS' 1st dynasty, brand/culture that stood test of time. Huge accomp compared to early MLS peers." MLS Crew Senior Dir of Communications Alex Caulfield wrote, "Wherever he goes, KP will be inextricably linked to #DCU's success. Terrific guy to work for & deserves a ton of credit."
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