In the month or so during which Ted Segal was closing the transaction to acquire Houston Dynamo FC and the Houston Dash, he spoke to a number of majority owners across both leagues.
He asked them all the same two questions: As an outsider, what do you think the Dynamo and Dash are doing right? What do you think they can improve?
Segal heard the same loaded phrase many a time: Sleeping giants.
Houston have a soccer-specific stadium in the heart of downtown, an envy to some clubs and inspiration to other venues that opened after BBVA Stadium. The Dynamo are in a big market with an appetite for soccer, though they've felt a bit dormant in recent times.
After taking over as majority owner officially on Tuesday, Segal said he aims to change that three points at a time.
“It’s about building a winning side," Segal told MLSsoccer.com. "If you have winning teams, fans are going to turn out. That is priority number one, far and away from everything else."
Houston haven't been among the league's heavy spenders, far from it. The likes of Atlanta United, Inter Miami CF, LAFC, New York City FC and more have set that pace via transfer fees and wages for Designated Players.
Given that history, Segal has been asked plenty about the club's planned budget as he takes the helm.
“I intend to provide the resources necessary for us to succeed," Segal said. "I don’t think we should be amongst the very lowest ranked [in MLS] in regards to the budget. As for the specifics with the budget, that’s something that will be an evolving process with Matt Jordan and coach [Tab) Ramos.”
That work is already underway, citing a process that Segal envisions going forward. Just this week, the club acquired defender Teenage Hadebe from Turkish club Yeni Malatyaspor and inked standout defender Tim Parker to a new three-year contract. In both instances, Jordan and Ramos conveyed how and why both moves would aid in the club's goals. From there, Segal signed off.
“We want to build a winning team on the field, [and) I think the player announcements we made are consistent with that," Segal said. "We want to build and foster connections with fans to enhance their experience. Part of that is done by winning on the field, part of that is how we can make a more memorable experience for fans at the stadium.
"Bringing in someone like Jamie, who knows this city better than anybody and has operated clubs at the highest level in professional sports, as well as having deep roots in soccer, is the perfect combination to achieve that.”
Houston is Segal's first foray into sports ownership, but he's no stranger to sports business. He sits on the board of an MMA promotion and is the co-founder and chairman of Verance Capital, an investment vehicle that provides early and growth-stage capital for sports, media and live entertainment businesses.
He decided that MLS and NWSL were shrewd investments and would be more than a little bit of fun.
“I’m a complete believer in the growth of this sport in the United States, both on the men’s and women’s side," Segal said. "And part of why you do these things is having the ability to enjoy it. It’d be a heck of a lot harder to do it in Europe rather than here, not to mention keeping tabs and being involved in your operation.”