Tag: Patrick Rishe

When St. Louis City SC takes the field for its home opener Saturday, March 4, Major League Soccer (MLS)’s newest expansion team will celebrate many firsts that will have a game-changing effect not just on soccer, but on professional sports as a whole, said Patrick Rishe, director of the sports business program at Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis.

For starters, City SC is the first female majority-owned team in the MLS. Additionally, Purina — the team’s kit (aka, jersey) partner — also is female-led.

“To get a professional sports team, you need three things: You need a wealthy ownership group, local fans and corporate partnerships, and you need a brand-new venue that will impress the league. St. Louis had all three of those things, and we also had a female-led ownership group with the Taylor family — that really set our bid apart from the dozens of other cities that wanted into Major League Soccer,” Rishe said.

Patrick Rishe headshot

“The organization should be proud of this achievement, and the city should lean into it. Who knows what kind of amplified effects this could have across the league?”

City SC is also the first in the league to have its entire operation in one physical footprint. CityPark, located at Market and 22nd streets in downtown St. Louis, is home to the club’s main pitch, three practice pitches, headquarters (coming summer 2023) and merchandise store as well as the Washington University Orthopedics High Performance Center.

“No other majority soccer team in the country can say that — it’s a real point of pride for the team. Having all of the operations on one campus will lead to a lot of efficiencies. Players can get treatment if they need it next door to where they practice. And executives can stop by the training center, check stock in the merchandising center or run over to the main stadium to check on operations quickly. Having everything in one place will make it more attractive for this club to recruit employees in the future,” Rishe said.

When it comes to game days, CityPark will deliver an experience that is second to none, Rishe said. The club promises to offer the best matchday menu in sports, featuring dozens of local restaurateurs, including Steve’s Hot Dogs and Balkan Treat Box — a level of locally based food sources that is unheard of, he said.

“Couple that with the technology that they’re planning on introducing, making the customer experience faster and more seamless with a lot of grab-and-go, automated concessions so fans do not have to waste time standing in line,” he said. “I think that’s going to be something that will be copycatted across all professional sports.”

Fans can also be proud of City SC’s commitment to sustainability, which includes a pledge to make CityPark a zero-waste stadium, Rishe added.

Breaking records before first kickoff

St. Louis is known as America’s first soccer capital, so perhaps it’s no surprise that City SC is shattering league records before they even take the field for their first game.

“St. Louis soccer fans were clearly ready to welcome a professional team to town. The team received more than 60,000 deposits for season tickets in a stadium that seats just 22,500,” Rishe said.

“And the team’s inaugural kit broke league sales records over a 30-day period before the design was even revealed,” he added. “Undoubtedly, the league will be looking for ways to copycat the team’s success and boost revenues throughout the league.”  

Boom for local economy, jobs

Industry-leading gameday experience, top-of-the-line technology and a commitment to sustainability are certainly points of pride for the team and fans. But you don’t have to be a soccer fan to be excited about what the new team has to offer for the community as a whole, Rishe said.

When sports economists talk about economic impact generated by a team or venue, they generally focus on dollars coming into the community from out of town, Rishe explained. Visitors for home games and special events — like the World Cup or youth sporting tournaments — bring new dollars to the community that are a huge boost to the local hospitality industry.

‘I think what the soccer team can take great pride in already is how they’ve changed the look and feel of the western side of downtown St. Louis. They have extended the liveliness and the economic viability of a section of downtown that was previously blighted.’

Patrick Rishe

“The St. Louis Cardinals are one of the teams nationwide that generates the most economic impact because a large percentage of their fan base comes from outside the St. Louis market,” Rishe said. “While it’s unlikely SC will bring in as many visitors as the Cardinals, the new MLS team is already having a positive economic impact on the region.

“I think what the soccer team can take great pride in already is how they’ve changed the look and feel of the western side of downtown St. Louis. They have extended the liveliness and the economic viability of a section of downtown that was previously blighted,” Rishe said.

“Over the past several decades, there has been a struggle to achieve consistent vibrancy downtown. But there’s a lot of momentum downtown, right now, especially with the new stadium.”

The new stadium also has created a ripple effect throughout the area. Already, Maggie O’Brien’s — a longtime restaurant and Irish pub across Market — has been renovated, and The Pitch Athletic Club and Tavern opened inside Union Station. And more developments in the neighborhood are likely, Rishe said.

“The trickle-down effect will have a very real economic impact in the region. The new stadium will attract more out-of-town visitors, as well as more St. Louis County residents, downtown for games and events. Together, this will certainly create additional infusion of tax dollars for the city of St. Louis.”  

The addition of City SC and the Battlehawks XFL team downtown also creates more job opportunities in the service sector — jobs that were hard hit during the pandemic. More visitors to the region will fuel an increase in job opportunities at neighboring businesses, too, Rishe said.

Following the expiration of Major League Baseball’s collective bargaining agreement at 11:59 p.m. ET Wednesday, Dec. 1, team owners announced a lockout of the players. It is the league’s first work stoppage in nearly three decades.

What does that mean for the 2022 season? What do team owners and players stand to lose?


“It is hard to imagine a scenario where the current standoff between baseball owners and players would lead to lost games in 2022,” said Patrick Rishe, director of the Sports Business Program at Washington University’s Olin Business School and professor of practice in sports business.

According to Rishe, the pandemic-induced economic losses sustained by MLB teams during the 2020 and 2021 seasons add incentive to reach an agreement before the start of the 2022 season.

“Of course, that’s assuming that acrimony and egos don’t get in the way, which at times in baseball’s history would be deemed a heroic assumption,” Rishe said.

Baseball in December?

According to Rishe, to initiate a lockout with over three months before the start of the 2022 season is, in some respects, “much ado about nothing.”

“In any type of negotiation, real deadlines spur action. The recent settlement between the City of St. Louis and the Rams/NFL are evidence of this, as is the 2011 NFL season where players were locked out from March until August without regular-season games lost,” he said.

“As such, I suspect this lockout will get resolved between late February and mid-March.”

However, Rishe noted that the NBA lockout of 2011 and the NHL lockout of 2012 did cost those leagues games. “But those standoffs didn’t occur in the immediate aftermath of a global pandemic, giving me confidence smarter minds and cooler heads will prevail in MLB before games are lost in 2022,” he said.

No-win situation

From a public relations perspective, however, baseball has already lost.  

“Baseball has fallen from being America’s pastime to a sport that feels past its time with younger generations of fans,” Rishe said. “It is now only the third most popular sports league in America behind the NFL and NBA.

“Games are too long, the style of play too dull and slow. Players and teams still lag behind their NFL and NBA peers in encouraging individualism through social media to help market the sport among younger fans.”

Rishe offered the following advice to team owners and players:

“It is crucial during these labor negotiations that both sides show discipline to not get the media involved to sway public sentiment, because if both sides spew the same public vitriol toward each other as they did when trying to return to play during the 2020 pandemic, this would only further amplify fan resentment and reticence to re-engage in 2022.”

Joe Lacob, the owner of the NBA franchise Golden State Warriors, whose $1 million donation led to the creation of Olin’s minor in the business of sports, offered some leadership lessons during a 17-minute video interview with program director Patrick Rishe, published recently on YouTube.

As Rishe, professor of practice-sports business, writes on the YouTube page: “On the Warriors first day of practice to kick off the 2017-18 campaign, I had the good fortune to interview Mr. Lacob, owner and CEO of the Golden State Warriors. Mr. Lacob has been a champion for Washington University, and he was generous to spend time with me on such a busy morning.”

The interview starts Lacob’s recollection of the day in 2012 when, as a relatively new owner of the franchise, he went to center court to retire the jersey number of star Chris Mullins. Fans greeted him with a chorus of boos, apparently in response to a controversial trade.

Five years later, the team has three NBA championships under its collective belt — in 2015, again in 2017, and finally, a third just a few days ago when the team defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers. He made his comments to Rishe before the third championship.

“We stayed on our plan and obviously, it’s worked out,” Lacob told Rishe. “Five straight playoff appearances, three finals appearances, two championships. And more importantly and things I’m perhaps things I’m even more proud of, is the way our organization has performed as a whole, the business side as well as the basketball side.”

Lacob noted that leaders make sure the entire organization is watching the little things as well as the big things: “What makes an organization successful is constantly being aware that you have to do everything well,” he said. “You have to pay attention all the time. Every little thing counts.”

Lacob’s donation in 2014 led to the creation of the minor in the business of sports program, which is available to undergraduates across the WashU campus.

Rishe’s interview with Lacob is one of 50 that will be featured in his upcoming e-book, They Shoot, They Score…Lessons in Leadership, Innovation, and Strategy from the Business of Sports. The book will feature several national sports executives, including Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks; Kerry Bubolz, president of the Vegas Golden Knights; Tom Penn, president and co-owner of LAFC; and several St. Louis-based sports executives, including Chris Zimmerman, president of business operations, St. Louis Blues; Dan Farrell, senior vice president of sales and marketing for the St. Louis Cardinals. The book is expected to be available Aug. 1, 2018.