FC Dallas executive Dan Hunt: "Our Michael Jordan moment is coming"
FRISCO, Texas – Dan Hunt has always been a major part of the FC Dallas organization, both as the son of the late Lamar Hunt and as a vice president of Hunt Sports Group, the franchise’s owners. But his past appearances here have generally been limited to game days and periodic meetings.
That all changed over the offseason as Hunt joined the day-to-day operations of the club, first on an interim basis and now in becoming a full-time figurehead of FC Dallas.
“I think it’s going to be a perfect situation and I can honestly say this has been the best 100 days of my working life,” Hunt told MLSsoccer.com last Friday from his new corner office overlooking the stadium. “I graduated from SMU, went to New York to work and then I’ve worked for the family, but this is literally the best 100 days of my working life.”
Hunt quickly filled the void left by former club president Doug Quinn, becoming much more of a public figure in recent weeks than any member of HSG has in the past. During Saturday night’s season opener, Hunt could be seen roaming the concourses of FC Dallas Stadium before introducing the traditional celebrity scarfer of the Lamar Hunt trophy to the crowd. He’s even joined Twitter (@DanHuntFCD).
“My family has asked me to stay on [full-time], which I’m really excited about,” said Hunt. “It’s to be determined what that job title will be called, but they’ve asked me to focus on three areas: helping with sponsorship, helping with tickets and managing all players within the system here.”
When it comes to the player side of things, Hunt spoke glowingly about the revitalized squad that added 10 new players in the offseason, winning 1-0 over the Colorado Rapids in their first match of the season.
“I couldn’t be more pleased with the group of guys and you need that chemistry,” said Hunt. “Eric Hassli and I were talking last night and he said that only one other time in his life had he been around chemistry like this in a locker room, and that was with his Swiss team that won the championship.”
While Hunt rattled off the strengths and weaknesses of his first team as if he were the coach, it’s clear that his true passion lies in turning the vaunted FCD youth system into a program that is constantly contributing players to the first team.
“The more players we can develop here, the better for the club. I want to look up here one day and see half this roster being FC Dallas products,” he said. “We have very talented players that come from other markets that we’re associated with, but I think that will help us grow the sport and the brand in the DFW Metroplex, if people can see Texas kids and go support Texas kids.”
Hunt would even like to see FC Dallas field their own reserve team in the coming MLS partnership with USL Pro, though he notes that may not be possible right off the bat.
“We’re still working through it here, but I would love for us to have our own team,” said Hunt. “Do I think that’s going to happen right away? I’m not sure, to be honest with you. I think it would be huge for us all though. … I would love for us to do it, but I think we’ve got to sort of baby-step our way into it.”
First things first, however. His biggest priority is finding a new sponsor to take over the naming rights for FC Dallas Stadium, as well as further improving stadium attendance figures that rose every year under Quinn’s tenure to a healthy average of 14,199 in 2012.
Optimism abounds from Hunt as he embarks on the new journey and, as the son of Lamar Hunt, he always has a story from his legendary father to express himself.
“My father was an original shareholder in the Chicago Bulls,” said Hunt. “He bought [a piece of the team] in 1966 at the behest of my mother, who enjoyed basketball very much. … Every year before they drafted Michael Jordan, they would send a letter that said ‘please send money.'
Then they drafted Michael Jordan and every year since it’s been a great business. … Our Michael Jordan moment is coming. Our Jordan moment is coming, I know it is.”