Forty Under 40: Jake Reid
Jake Reid concedes that when he shifted from working as an inside sales manager for the Charlotte Bobcats to become the ticket sales manager for English soccer club Derby County, it was a huge leap of faith.
“I knew nothing about soccer at the time; I was your very stereotypical ‘pay attention every four years for the World Cup kind of guy,’” Reid said. “I felt I had a huge opportunity, but that either I was going to go there and it’d work really well, or it would be an epic failure.”
Reid became a soccer fanatic — “if you’re going to learn the sport, England is not a bad place in the world to do it,” he said — but the fan relationship struck him as much different than anything he’d seen in the U.S.
“It doesn’t take long when you go to a match there to say ‘wow, this is different,’” he said. “There is a way that the clubs are just woven into the fabric and the identity of the community that is just different than anywhere else.”
Reid brought that emphasis on building a deep connection with supporters with him to MLS in 2010, joining Sporting Kansas City and rapidly ascending the executive ranks. He was named president in January 2016, and still directly manages the club’s supporter relationships, a rarity for someone in that position across the league.
Reid and those supporters have built one of MLS’s strongest community bonds and greatest stadium atmospheres, evident by its 100-plus match sellout streak entering the 2018 season. The club continues focus on improving the experience for fans, whether it’s with its MLS-first partnership with SeatGeek, its downtown Kansas City pub and entertainment space, or investments in the stadium’s point-of-sale systems.
“It’s not about managing [the supporters], it’s about working with them as partners,” Reid said. “It’s really important that the supporters feel like they have a voice in the club, because they are the ones that drive the stadium atmosphere and the passion for the brand — they’re our biggest believers.”
— Ian Thomas
President | Sporting Kansas City
Where born: Warren, Ohio
Education: Grove City College, B.S., marketing
Family: Wife, Danielle; children, Carter (5) and Caleb (4)
What gets you fired up? Bad customer service.
What do you wish you could tell yourself 10 years ago? It’s all about who you work with/for. Pick great people.
Guilty pleasure: Rocking out to anything ’80s (Journey).
Something your friends would consider “so you”: Turning everything into a competition.
Charities supported: Boys Hope Girls Hope and The Victory Project.
Person in the industry you’d most like to meet: Coach K.
I am one of the best I know at … : Beer pong (long arms).
Most thrilling/adventurous thing I’ve done: Scuba diving.
Forty Under 40 class members would be surprised to know that I … : Collapsed my right lung twice.