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Volume 20 No. 42
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Putting a father’s lessons to the test

For Dan Hunt, there was no better teacher for the realities of team ownership and operations than his father, the late Lamar Hunt.

“One of my dad’s life lessons was that these things don’t run themselves, you have to be there to run them every day; and that was something he always said to me and my brother [Kansas City Chiefs Chairman and CEO Clark Hunt],” he said.

It was with that lesson in mind that Hunt, vice president of Hunt Sports Group, agreed to assume day-to-day operations of FC Dallas at the urging of his family in November 2012, officially being named president of the club in January 2014. The family acquired the team in 2003, Lamar Hunt being one of the original founding investors of Major League Soccer and also at one point owning the Columbus and Kansas City franchises.

“I’d boil day-to-day operations down to one simple thing — you have to balance,” Dan Hunt said. “You have to balance the personalities within an organization, you have to balance everyone working together, and you have to balance your emotions in that, too. If any of those things gets out of balance, that can cause real problems because one side can end up consuming the other.”

Hunt feels his approach — another thing he learned from his father and family — helps to maintain that.

Photo by: FC Dallas

“Every day I try to be the leading assist getter at FC Dallas,” he said. “I want to lead our team in assists because that means our people are scoring goals, having success not only as an organization but personal success as well.”

The team has made strides on the field in recent years, finishing the 2015 season in first place in the Western Conference with its highest goal total ever. Hunt said that by just about every metric, whether it’s ticket sales or sponsorships, it was the club’s best year yet. Toyota Stadium also is undergoing a $40 million renovation that includes upgraded premium seats and a private club, and the creation of the National Soccer Hall of Fame Museum.

“One thing I remember my dad saying over and over is take care of your stadium and it’ll take care of you, and that’s something he hammered home with both me and my brother,” he said. “We are bottom-line focused, but you also have to recognize when you need to invest.”

Akin to his father, Hunt says he’s a bit of a big-picture dreamer when it comes to his outlook and plans for the future, and he has to keep that in balance. On his office desk he keeps the plans his father had to buy and redevelop Alcatraz Island into a housing and shopping destination in the 1970s.

“We can’t do everything well, and while I think I excel in some areas of the business like sponsorships, I recognize there are other areas where I’m not as great, so I make sure that can be balanced out by someone who is great at that,” he said.

“Looking at that Alcatraz plan, I guess you can say my father was a dreamer, and I guess you could say I’m a dreamer, too. The good news is I’ve got people here who can keep an eye on me, too,” he said with a laugh.