SBD/July 31, 2013/People and Pop Culture

Minding My Business With AFL Arizona Rattlers CEO & Majority Owner Ron Shurts



Shurts believes the AFL's deal with CBS Sports shows positive growth
AFL Arizona Rattlers CEO & Majority Owner RON SHURTS has been loyal to the team for more than two decades, but the vast majority of that time has not been in the front office. A rabid fan and season-ticket holder since the team's inception in '92, he took over as majority owner in '11. While the Rattlers have found on-field success under Shurts, claiming their third ArenaBowl title last season, the team is hardly his only business interest. He also co-founded The Annexus Group, a Scottsdale financial firm that holds several partnerships with the Suns and U.S. Airways Center. Shurts spoke with THE DAILY ahead of the Rattlers' Sunday home game against the San Jose SaberCats in Week 1 of the AFL Playoffs. 

From fan to owner...
I've been self-employed my whole life -- I never had a job -- so being in control is not new territory for me. I just go there like I would to a football game with my buddies. I see Coach before the game and I go to the locker room after and that’s pretty much it. I’m really there as a fan.

Rebuilding the AFL brand...

Right now they’re just scrapping and trying to build marketing partnerships at the league level that will alleviate some of those costs that the individual teams have to pay. At some point in time you’re supposed to start getting checks back. I think the (CBS Sports Network) deal is a step in the right direction.

Most of my time at work is spent thinking about...
I probably only spend two percent of my time thinking (about the Rattlers). If I spent five percent of my time, I’d be really surprised. I've got multiple businesses that are profitable, and that is not a profitable entity. Even if it was in the black, it's not going to be significant enough to move the needle for me. I know if I did spend more time, we'd definitely be able to put the thing on a different scale, but it just doesn't make economic sense to do that.

What I look for in a job candidate...
People that want to come in and be able to take a risk with you. I get people that are like-minded. I refer to these guys as "intrepreneurs," where they have an entrepreneurial environment but they’re inside the walls of a company, and to let people be creative and let them go and make decisions and make mistakes, within reason.

The sports industry needs more of...
We've probably gotten away from the intimacy and making sure we remember the fan. There's no question that the NFL and NBA have consistency as far as being out in the community. But with athletes making so much money, I think maybe they've lost the touch of the common people.

Daily media diet...
Fox News in the morning. I watch three channels: Fox News, ESPN and the Golf Channel. That’s 90% of what I watch. I'll also dig into the USA Today about every day.

How I unwind...
I’m a big golfer, and belong to a few places. As busy as I am, sometimes I can slip out, go to the course at four o'clock and hit some balls, have a cocktail, and go play three or four holes. I go by myself. As much as I like to play, it’s difficult to go and play for six and seven hours.

My kind of music...
I don't own anything country -- boots, hats, belts or shirts -- but I've been a country music fan for over 30 years. That's all I listen to. When some of the big acts come out in the pop world, I have no idea who they are. I grew up in Nebraska, so that's where I got a little bit of that.

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