May 15, 2024

Dallas Soccer Alliance & Crossbar - Sold Out Podcast #5

Ben, the owner of Dallas Soccer Alliance and Crossbar discusses strategies for retaining players, emphasizing the importance of fostering a strong community, which has helped him create the largest adult soccer leagues in North Texas.

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Welcome to Episode #5 of the Sold Out podcast where we interview league organizers across the country for tips and tricks on how to sell out leagues.

In this podcast episode, Benjamin Bauer discusses his experience running Dallas Soccer Alliance (DSA), an adult outdoor soccer league, and Crossbar, an indoor soccer facility, in Dallas. He shares how he started his leagues, the challenges he faced, and the strategies he used to attract teams and players. Ben emphasizes the importance of providing high-quality fields, maintaining excellent organization, and ensuring good communication. He also discusses the competitive balance in the leagues, the pricing structure, and the focus on sportsmanship and managing behavior. Ben shares his plans for future growth and expansion into other cities after establishing the largest men's 11v11 soccer leagues in all of North Texas.

Key Takeaways

  • Providing high-quality fields and excellent organization is crucial for attracting and retaining teams and players.
  • Effective communication with captains and players is essential for building a strong community and addressing concerns.
  • Maintaining competitive balance in divisions helps ensure fair and enjoyable gameplay.
  • Strategic pricing and offering additional benefits, such as team jerseys and soccer balls, can enhance the value proposition for players.
  • Investing in technology and automation can streamline league operations and improve the overall experience for participants.

Below is the full transcript from this episode. The Sold Out Podcast is available on Spotify and Apple, or you can watch the entire interview on our YouTube Channel! Tune in every other week to hear AREENA interview the country's best league organizers about their success in selling out leagues consistently.


Podcast Transcript

Lance (00:00.731)
All right, today we have Ben from DSA who also runs a facility called Crossbar. Thanks for being here, Ben. Let's just start with the basics. Where are you located? What leagues are you running? We can talk about DSA and Crossbar. How many teams do you have participating in any given season?

Benjamin Bauer (00:17.64)
Yeah, so we are based out of Dallas. We have Dallas Soccer Alliance, which is a adult outdoor soccer league. We've got currently 72 teams for the spring season. So we do a spring. What? Yeah, all men's it's open. We have maybe one or two women that play with us, but pretty much all the men. So we have 72 teams this spring, which is split across 12 different divisions.

Lance (00:30.011)
It's all men's, right? It's all men's.

Benjamin Bauer (00:46.44)
We typically do a summer mini season and then fall full season. So we usually have two main seasons a year. We play all around North Texas, it's just 18 and up and then we have over 30 divisions as well. And then yeah, we have an indoor facility called Crossbar, kind of run separately from DSA, but it's mainly an adult -focused indoor facility. So we have a full bar.

We run adult leagues, we run adult pick -up, as well as outside rentals and youth stuff during the daytime.

Lance (01:23.195)
Got it, sweet. So when did you originally start, let's start with DSA I guess, when did you originally start, what were you kinda doing before, what gave you the inspiration, why did you start it, how did you find some of the initial fields and get it off the ground?

Benjamin Bauer (01:37.64)
Yeah, so I've been in Texas for about 10 years. I originally came down to work for FC Dallas as a groundskeeper. They've got two 20 field soccer complexes here in Dallas and one of them was opening as I was graduating. So my background is more in turf grass. So I was there for about five, six years. I played in soccer leagues all around the area and I was just kind of...

I'm a little frustrated with some of the other leagues I played in, just the management of the fields we played on. I took care of these beautiful, professional quality grass fields. Everywhere I played was just dirt and weeds. And so in 2019 is when we started, we're actually just about to hit our five year anniversary. I just had the idea of trying to get an adult league on some of these nicer fields because typically the nicer fields were always saved for the youth leagues.

Lance (02:34.171)

Benjamin Bauer (02:35.88)
And so, you know, I just kind of started as a small 77 lead. We had maybe 10 or 12 teams our first season. And then we...

Lance (02:42.715)
How did you get those first 10 teams?

Benjamin Bauer (02:45.704)
Mostly just word of mouth. I played in quite a few leagues around the area. I knew quite the soccer community. I mean, Dallas is a big city, but the soccer community is pretty small. So just word of mouth from talking with a few people. I had a few buddies put in teams that got us to three or four. And then I just printed out flyers. I had to go around to the leagues I already played in and said, hey guys, I'm...

Lance (03:10.587)

Benjamin Bauer (03:14.568)
making my own league, it's on nicer fields, it's gonna cost the same and it's gonna be run better. And people kind of respected me because we played against each other. I went to teams I already knew and I kind of rapport with and that got us to our initial 10 to 12 teams and just kind of grew from there.

Lance (03:32.123)
Nice, okay. So, you said 7v7, but they're 11v11 now, so why did you start with 7v7 and did you do anything sort of different? Was it like an eight week season, 10 week season, and then how did that transition from that into 11v11?

Benjamin Bauer (03:48.744)
Yeah, so we started with 77. It was mostly just because that was the easiest way to get some field access out of MoneyGram Soccer Park, where it's probably half of our games are played out there now. They kind of have youth fields that maybe aren't quite as nice. They're still pretty good quality, but they aren't used as much. So they have more availability there. So it was kind of an easy way to get started. Originally, it was just kind of a hobby. I just wanted to have a more fun league to play in.

I wasn't really thinking of an 11v11 because there's one major 11v11 league in Dallas that had 100 plus teams. So I wasn't really looking to compete with that. And so we started with 77, I think it was an eight week season and playoffs, your typical small sided league. And after one season of that, I just got to start, I started talking with some people about wanting to do different 11v11 league or have it kind of on weeknights.

Like right now, or before, the only option was Sunday, 11 -11. So like, okay, let's try a weeknight of 11 -11. And we started that in the fall of 2019. So we kept 77 around for probably a year, maybe a year and a half. The problem we found was the small side leagues are just so competitive. There's so many around. You have...

you know, one every five miles around North Texas, whether it's indoor or outdoor. So it's always difficult. The teams don't really stick around as often. You know, you have a few teams that stick around season to season, and you'll have new teams every season, but it's just hard to compete and keep that loyalty. The 11 -11 teams, I mean, I play on one. We've been around for 25 years now, and we just play every season. And that's how a lot of the culture is around the 11 -11 here. So it made more sense once I kind of started.

Lance (05:17.275)


Benjamin Bauer (05:42.12)
1111 and just started rolling from there that people were interested in playing on the nicer fields. The organization and it just kind of snowballed.

Lance (05:51.451)
So the 11v11 was Thursdays, and you were at that moment kind of competing with this big one that was operating on Sundays. So how did you suddenly, because that league doesn't exist anymore, right? Like you kind of. Oh, there.

Benjamin Bauer (05:58.28)
Yes, we started with.

No, they're still around. Um, so yeah, we started with the Thursdays and that was, it wasn't really competition just because there wasn't another option for that. You know, if you want to place Sunday, 11, 11, there was that option. If you wanted to play 11, 11 on another night, there wasn't an option. So it was, I think we had eight teams our first season for that. Um, and we kind of capped that one at 12 teams anyways, just cause of limited field space. So that quickly became sold out and then coming the next season in the spring.

We had teams that wanted to play on these nice fields, play with, you know, better organization, but they also wanted to keep their normal days of Sundays. So that next season is kind of when we transitioned to adding Sunday as well. And a lot of the teams, like we have several players that play on both days, Thursday, Sunday. Several of the teams would play, had two different teams because they just wanted to play more soccer and there just wasn't a lot of options. So yeah, once we opened up Sundays, it just...

It just kept growing and more teams wanted to come over. So there is, you know, still other leagues that do 11 -11, but ours is by far the biggest in North Texas, probably Texas in general, especially.

Lance (07:14.779)
that we said that one had a hundred plus teams you guys have 70 teams so they must have gone way down after you

Benjamin Bauer (07:19.848)
They probably have about the same as we do now. The difference is there's are mostly over 40 and up teams. We're mostly open and over 30 teams. The big difference is the older teams typically it's the culture of just hanging out with their buddies and drinking. So that other league has their own complex where they're allowed to do that. We play all city parks or private schools that don't allow drinking.

So typically, people come play with us and then they'll go to a bar or a restaurant, whatever, to hang out. And so we just, we haven't had the ability to add more divisions because of field space. So we haven't really touched that side of the market yet.

Lance (08:05.083)
But it also sounds like the beginning, your differentiation was nicer fields. And you said better organization, nicer fields and better organization. So how does you get the nicer fields? Like you just had an N from the FC Dallas thing that lets you, like why didn't these other leagues play on nicer fields if they were available?

Benjamin Bauer (08:20.456)
It wasn't even that. I mean, that definitely helped just because I understood where they lacked or where they had field openings. But it was more that, you know, I was just asking the questions to play on nicer fields. The other league has their own fields. They've been doing the same thing for 30, 40 years now. They don't really listen to feedback because I played in their league for five plus years. You know, we played on poor fields. I had

You know, voice my concerns, never heard back from anyone. I was like, well, I know there's other fields out there. There's MoneyGram, there's several other places that we play at now. And they just weren't trying to play there because they cost a little bit more. They would rather use their own fields for free. And that way they make more money, even though it's a nonprofit, but it shouldn't matter. Um, and so we just started reaching out to these facilities. We, you know, we found a couple of connections. Um, you know, that's kind of how we built it. Originally was the idea of playing on nice fields.

Lance (09:07.739)
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Benjamin Bauer (09:18.216)
but also this other league and other leagues in the area, you know, been around for 20 plus years. You have to go stand in a line, you know, once a season to go make an ID card. You have to do handwritten paperwork. You know, you have to, every game day, you have to show up with cash for referees. You have to show up with game sheets. You have to show up with flags, with nets. So we, our premise was let's make this as easy as possible for teams.

Lance (09:39.547)

Benjamin Bauer (09:44.296)
let's make it well organized, let's play on nice fields, so all the teams have to do is show up and play. And so that was kind of our main idea behind it, is let's do all the organizing for the teams, so all they have to worry about is getting their players to the field. And so as long as we keep our captains happy, then they're just gonna keep coming back season after season to us.

Lance (10:03.291)
Got it. Yeah, that makes sense. Just reduce a lot of the friction in kind of the old school way of doing things and listen to feedback. And I know you've done, I know you've done a lot on that and like communicating and you mentioned kind of keeping your captains happy. So how do you, how do you do that now? Like how has that, has it evolved at all over time from the original like, Hey, we'll make this easy. You don't have to bring cash. How did you think about building a community of captains and continuing to listen to them and get feedback from them and make them happy so that this thing has been sustainable?

Benjamin Bauer (10:32.36)
Yeah, the biggest issue I always had was just feedback to the league and just communication. There was just never an easy way to communicate. You know, you could send an email, you may or may not get a response. You could call them, but they're usually never in the office. So it's like, you know, unless you go to their annual meeting, like there's no other way to communicate with them. Our idea was, okay, let's bring our captains together. Let's build this league for the captains. I kind of...

Lance (10:55.451)

Benjamin Bauer (11:02.28)
based on some of our rules and our initial stuff on just picking the best things from every league I played at. But I knew that I don't have all the best ideas either. Let's listen to all our captains. So we just made a Discord group. We have different groups for our different leagues and different divisions. Captains can all communicate in there. If they have any feedback, they can voice their concerns. If we had any updates, we can just quickly message that out to teams rather than...

you know, posting something on a website or just sending out an email that maybe someone will see. So our idea was let's get the quickest possible way to communicate with captains. Let's put them all in groups together. You know, that way if there's any questions, hey, what jersey color are you guys wearing today? It's so quick and easy rather than having to go through a middle man with the league, maybe get a response, maybe not. So that was kind of our initial way was let's just get everyone organized at one location.

And then kind of since then, you know, we've used different platforms for our messaging and scheduling and all that. And now we're with Arena. It's gotten easier to kind of keep everything in one place for the teams rather than having to, you know, go through a website and, you know, clicking through different links to find schedules. You know, everything's kind of all together. I play in leagues. My one employee plays in the league. So like people see us all the time.

Lance (12:28.155)
Mm -hmm.

Benjamin Bauer (12:28.296)
They can easily just come up to us. We're very approachable. You know, we're not sitting behind a computer and them not knowing who we are. So I think just having that rapport with players makes it much easier for them to just come up to us and talk to us. Pretty much every captain has my phone number so they can just call me or text me if they ever need anything. And just having that, you know, customer service, I think makes a big deal. You know, even if someone's upset about something.

The fact that they can just voice their concerns and know that they're heard makes a big difference.

Lance (12:59.131)
Yeah, are there any things that have come in from players just like the last couple years that you just thought, oh, that's, that makes a lot of sense. I know you guys offer balls, like as a part of your fees upfront. Was that like one of those kinds of things or did you think about that? Okay.

Benjamin Bauer (13:09.608)
I was one of my ideas originally was just because I knew like no one else does that. The soccer balls really aren't that expensive. It's great marketing because now if you go around to a park, half the balls you see are DSA balls because they have our logo on them. So that was just kind of a way to, you know, show the teams that, you know, we're not trying to keep all their money. We're trying to help invest in the league. I'd say one of the coolest ideas we've

come up with from someone else, actually a couple of them. One, we do guest passes. So a lot of issues with adult leagues is everyone has their own commitments and personal lives. You know, so if you have a roster of 20 people, you might have 11, 12 people some games just because people are out of town. So we allow teams to do guest players. You know, they can have, they have a limit per season. They have a limit during the playoffs, but they can bring in, you know, a couple extra people, one game if they need to.

So that helps avoid forfeits, it helps avoid teams playing down players, which was a big issue in other leagues. Another one that we actually just instituted, I think last season was our first time doing it, is we have a transfer window now. So it's usually like sixth, seventh week of the season. And if a player, you know, maybe gets hurt, maybe moves away midway through the season, but they've already paid the full dues, well now that team's kind of, you know, wasting a roster space.

The players pay for 10 games, 12 games, but they're only getting to play three or four. So we allow them to transfer a limited number of people off their team and bring a couple of new people on. So that way it helps avoid them having to pay for these guest passes every single game for someone that can't even play anyways. So both those ideas came from captains that I probably wouldn't even have thought of.

Lance (15:05.819)
Yeah, that's great. Yeah. And I know another thing that you guys do is you take check -in very seriously. You talked about guest passes. I know a bunch of other leagues that they just kind of throw their hands up when it comes to roster management and having people, they're just like, if you show up, if there's a team fee that's been paid, then we don't really care. So I'm curious, why do you care? Why do you go through such intense lengths to manage these rosters and make sure that people show up, that they're either...

on the team and rostered or they have to do a check -in, like how do you, why did you do that and how do you manage it? What's the benefit of it?

Benjamin Bauer (15:40.328)
Yeah, I think with 11 -11 specifically, like it's a little different how we do it in crossbar versus our DSA league. DSA is just, it's such a high level of soccer. Like most of our players have played in college, some have played professional, some maybe never played before, but it's such a high level of soccer and competition that we want to make sure everyone's being honest and is respecting the game and playing fair.

It's not cheap league to play in, so we don't want teams faking a player as another player or trying to sneak players in because all that money does add up. But we just want to make sure that everyone is respecting the game as much as possible. So, yeah, we have our referees and coordinators check players in every game. And it's really not that much extra time to do it. It just keeps teams honest. It makes sure that the games are fair.

Especially now that we use you guys, like before we used to have to print out roster sheets every single game, which a lot of leagues used to do that anyways and you know you just go through the list. You know we would do that as a league and now that we can use arena it's just so much simpler because teams can just or referees can just scroll through their roster, check them in, you know see their face, match it up you know with an ID card. So it makes it super simple.

A lot of leagues use like ID cards and that was one hiccup that we hated with other leagues was you have to go in, you gotta go pay to make an ID card which is kind of useless because you already have a driver's license or you have a passport or you have some type of ID like why be redundant with that? So we would just, you know, we just, we still do it where teams even when they're checking in they still have to show their driver's license because it's always, you know, when you're checking in 15, 20 people, you know, per team it's easy to miss someone.

But if you're just checking their birth dates or their face with their name, it's pretty easy to catch anyone that might be trying to sneak someone in. Usually we don't have many issues with it. Usually playoffs were a little bit extra vigilant and strict with all that just to be safe. But usually we don't have too many issues with it anyways.

Lance (18:00.155)
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, you also mentioned pricing, that you're not cheaper than other leagues. How did you originally think about pricing? Did you look at your competitors' pricing? Are they doing team fees? I know you're doing individual fees, but yeah, how did you think about the amount that you were gonna charge and did that also sort of evolve over time?

Benjamin Bauer (18:19.432)
Yeah, I knew early on like if this was going to be successful it needed to, it needed to be for profit, it needed to make money, it needed to be worth my time or if I ever passed it on it needed to be worth someone else's time because if it's not worth your time you're just not going to care about it as much. You know, if you're doing it for free you're going to, eventually it's going to go by the wayside. So I needed to make sure it made enough money that I could do it full time eventually or someone could do it full time eventually.

So I basically just came up, I'm very good with numbers. I came up with my spreadsheets of what my fields cost, what my reps cost. I did do some communication with some captains. When we were doing our original 11 -11 season, I kind of told captains, I was like, this is what I think it's going to cost. This is where I think it needs to be long -term. And we kind of talked a little bit. I think I kept a little bit.

on the lower end the first season, you know, not by much, just a little bit, just to keep get teams over there in the first place. Really new, you know what?

Lance (19:24.187)
like lower than the competition? Lower than the competition or lower than what you wanted to judge?

Benjamin Bauer (19:28.84)
I mean, it was still more expensive than the competition. It was just slightly lower than what I thought it needed to be. It was more just to attract the first round of teams in and prove that, you know, because at that point I wasn't really proven. I couldn't, I could tell teams what we were going to do, but they couldn't actually see it or talk to people that had played in it because it wasn't around. So we kept it a little on the lower end and we basically just slowly raised fees the first couple of seasons to get where I needed to be.

And then essentially since then, all we've done is raise fees when field rates have gone up or referee rates have gone up. I would say we're, you know, probably slightly more than our competition, but not by much. You know, if you go by a per game fee, we're pretty much in line with our competition and yet we're extremely better than where they're at. What they did is essentially cut out games to keep the costs the same.

We've kept the same amount of games and we just raised fees, but we've understood that, you know, talking with teams and players like they're okay paying a slightly higher price to play in more games. Um, because at the end of the day, I mean, you're paying, you know, 60, 70, $80 a season for your indoor leagues and they're playing those year round. So like, it's a little bit more because of the higher upfront cost. Um, but most people don't.

don't have too much of an issue with where our pricing's at.

Lance (21:00.763)
Yeah, no, that makes sense. Did you, so most of it was organic growth. Was it all organic or did you do any kind of advertising or social media stuff at all?

Benjamin Bauer (21:09.864)
I've probably spent like $100 on Facebook ads and that was probably just for my 77 league. 11 -11, which is all we do now, I think honestly was all word of mouth. I printed off probably a couple hundred flyers that I passed out when I first started. And since then it was just people coming to me. We started with eight teams that first 11 -11 season and I think we added in...

Lance (21:27.355)
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Benjamin Bauer (21:39.08)
18 maybe the next season. So basically every division is 16. So we try to add in, you know around 16 every time we add and so we added three more divisions on Sundays and then from there Like those were basically the top teams from other leagues and they kind of realized and they came to me I didn't even like I originally told them no several times I was like we're not ready to grow that quickly, you know, I want to make sure we do this right and they eventually Convinced me. I was like, okay, let's just try it, you know

Understand that we're growing so there might be some hiccups in our first couple seasons, but they were willing to take that risk and since then like Teams realize that they weren't there anymore So they're trying to figure out where they're playing it and then just word of mouth and it just you know We've been sold out every single season since we started basically We just have a waitlist and so when we're ready to grow we just pick our top six teams off our waitlist or a you know, a couple teams leave one season we just pick a couple off our waitlist and

Lance (22:25.819)

Benjamin Bauer (22:37.16)
It makes it easy so when we're ready to grow, we have a list of teams ready to go. But we can keep our quality high knowing that there's always teams ready to go. If we ever have an issue with a team, we can get rid of them and replace them with someone else.

Lance (22:49.979)
Yeah, yeah, that makes sense. One of my other questions is just like, what's the key to sort of retaining players? And you've kind of touched on it, like the great organization, really good fields, you're thoughtful about pricing and making sure there's balls that you're giving people at the beginning and listening to feedback, all that kind of stuff. One of the other common threads that seems really prevalent is a focus on competitive balance. So how do you think about that, like between teams, like setting divisions and making sure that...

If somebody comes off that wait list, they're not getting blown out off the bat. Or just in general, how do you think about competitive balance? Is that something you really focused on from the very beginning?

Benjamin Bauer (23:30.856)
Yeah, I mean, especially with our league, like it is a very high level. And I'd say like our top teams are the best teams in North Texas. It doesn't matter what division. Like our top team would be able to compete with some lower level professional teams because they're just that high quality. But we have teams all the way down to, you know, like I have guys on my team that, you know, never played before. It's just, it's for fun. So.

At the end of the day, it's just a rec league. It's for fun. You know, it's guys that want to play for two hours a week and then go home to their families. So it was really important to keep our divisions at a manageable size where we found out that, you know, having six teams per division, you're typically not going to have too big of a span between six teams. Once you start getting above that, it starts to, you know, your top couple teams start to become a little bit too good to those bottom couple teams.

Lance (24:25.307)
Mm -hmm.

Benjamin Bauer (24:25.96)
We don't want anyone blowing out a team. We don't want anyone getting smoked by a team because it's no fun for either team. So we try to keep our divisions, you know, nice and small that way. You know, we avoid that. You're always going to have some teams that just don't fit into a division or maybe are new to the league. And it's just hard to predict exactly how good they're going to be. Um, so every season, you know, we do promotion relegation, but it's more on the basis of where we think competition will be best. Um,

So we might move up two teams, we might move down two teams, it might be one, it might be nothing. And it's all just to keep teams having as much fun as possible. So that's our main goal is to make sure teams are having fun. Like we understand at this point, people don't necessarily wanna all play in division one. They don't all wanna move up and play in the highest division. It might be a good division two team, but they're not good enough for division one. And so we try to balance that. There's always a little bit of...

Lance (25:15.995)
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Benjamin Bauer (25:24.68)
fluctuation every season once you move teams around there's always going to be a team or two that doesn't belong in a certain division. But then hopefully the next season when they come back, we find the right division for them. And usually teams understand that like, you know, if you win a division, you're typically going to move up and hopefully they add to the roster to make, get some better players or build out, you know, bigger roster. And for the most part, it works out pretty well for 95 % of the teams I'd say.

Lance (25:36.603)

Lance (25:52.155)
Yeah, and you're just using score differential, I guess, between teams, kind of monitoring that from...

Benjamin Bauer (25:58.216)
Yeah, so we do, you know, you have your regular season, you know, you'll have your top team and then you'll have your champion. So we always kind of prioritize the champion. Yeah. It's if we think they would be able to compete, you know, we'll move them up. You know, if we don't think that we'll kind of leave it up to them, like, Hey, do you guys want to try to take that step? Um, it's a lot of back and forth with our captains and everyone's always asking, you know, are we moving up or we moving down? It's like, well, what do you guys want to do? Where do we think we think you'll fit best? Um,

And so just knowing the team, seeing them play, like it helps understand them. And the fact that most of the teams have been around for multiple seasons, it makes it even easier for us to kind of gauge where we think they would fit in. When we bring in new teams, we usually try to gauge, you know, where they played before, what division they were at, how did they do, we'll tend to err on the side of caution and start them lower just because most teams don't realize how competitive.

our upper divisions are. So we usually start at lower and if they do well, then great, they get to move up and eventually will ebb and flow where they belong.

Lance (27:05.659)
Yeah, yeah, that makes sense. Do you do, I'm trying to think of like where that could go wrong, which is rewards for teams. Cause I imagine if every division has a nice reward for the playoff team, you're going to have some teams that are winning, but then they don't want to move up because they want to keep winning that prize. Like do you do prizes for every single division? Is it the same across all of them or how do you think about for, you know, the winner of the playoff?

Benjamin Bauer (27:28.648)
Yeah, so all we do is a trophy and t -shirts for the winners. It's the same across the board. What we've tried to not do is never have cash prizes, never have too much in prizes because then it makes it even more competitive. It can lead to games getting out of control. And we've stressed this to all our teams and captains, like we're a rec league, we're here for fun. You're playing for a t -shirt at the end of the day, like...

Yeah, everyone wants to win, but you're not winning anything. It's a t -shirt. Like you can just go buy one. So that helps. So, you know, the fact that, you know, you're D2 or D1, you're still playing for the same thing. It's just whether you're actually competing for it or not. And, you know, most teams know that look, if we won a couple of divisions in a row, we know we have to move up. If we don't do well, we'll just move back down. And most of the teams are, have been around for so long. I mean, I would say our average.

Lance (28:01.147)

Benjamin Bauer (28:24.648)
Length of time our teams have been together is five to 10 years at least. Some of them 20 plus. So like they understand that they're gonna have good seasons and bad seasons and if they don't fit in one division one season, they'll move back down and then they'll have more fun that next season. So.

Lance (28:42.875)
That's interesting. So you're giving them physical trophies and then you're out there handing it to them or somebody's out there to hand it to them on the championship day and they keep the trophy and then are you ordering t -shirts beforehand and then how do you get sizes? I mean some of these tactical things I've had to think about, running our own league.

Benjamin Bauer (28:51.976)
Thank you.

Benjamin Bauer (29:00.136)
Yeah, we use the same trophies every season just because I like the idea of teams collecting trophies and they can see on their mantle that all those ones are DSA trophies. We kind of rotated the first few seasons until we found the ones we liked. And they're not like anything special, like they're probably $30, $40, $50 trophies. They're not your 10 foot tall trophies like some of these places do. It's cool to see, but at the end of the day, what are you going to do with it?

We like having the t -shirts because people wear those around so it's great marketing. It took a couple seasons to kind of figure out the logistics but now it's like okay we have playoffs in a month let's get our trophies ordered. We have our templates we just send it into the same company. Our t -shirts we have one company for them we know our sizes so we typically have about 22 shirts for the winning teams. We kind of know our general size breakdown.

order a few extras, usually we give some to our refs and our staff members after the teams go through them. We do a different design, which me or my staff member will come up with. They're pretty basic t -shirts, but people love them. They wear them around all the time, so it's great marketing for us, and it's good for them because they get to wear their trophy around.

Lance (30:06.715)
Got it.

Lance (30:15.323)

Lance (30:23.611)
Nice, yeah, that makes sense. One thing you also just mentioned was things getting out of control whenever there's too much money on the line. So in my experience, things get out of control sometimes no matter what is on the line. So how do you think about that, like sportsmanship and keeping things fun, managing these kind of people who take it a little bit too serious and get in fights?

Benjamin Bauer (30:48.072)
Yeah, so like with crossbar indoor, like we do cash prize tournaments and I've just, I've always steered away from that as much as possible because yeah, the more money that's on the line, the more competitive it gets and you're always going to have, you know, some type of fight if there's cash on the line. And so for like our indoor place, we always make sure we have refs that know how to control situations. It's, you know, there's not a lot of games going on so we can have extra staff members just there like ready to go if anything does break out.

We tell our rest for those types of games to don't be afraid to use your cards, like stop those things from happening earlier on. For outdoor, you know, yeah, not having big prizes helps a lot, but yeah, you always have some type of interactions and games still get heated, especially come playoff time. And they're just like, we have 2000 members in our league. So there's a lot of different personalities like...

Eventually someone's gonna get into it with someone else The benefit that we have is we're sold out every season and teams know this that we're sold out and we have a wait list so Captains know that if they're not behaved We'll just get rid of them and bring in another team because we don't want to be known as the league that has fights all the time We don't want to be known as a league that Yeah, don't worry about if you're coming home, you know from your game injured or not. So

We stress that to captains a lot, like, look, this is for fun. If you guys have players that get out of line, that's on you. You gotta build and control your players. So there's always gonna be red cards. There's always gonna be situations, but just making teams know that you're easily replaceable because I have a sold out league. That helps a lot. Like we've had to kick out a couple of teams. And usually it comes down to like, look, we're gonna give you a warning.

We're gonna say this is your last chance. And so it's not like one incident happens and they're gone. We'll try to work with teams to get to the point where we need them to be in the league. And if for whatever reason they can't get to that point, then we'll move on from them. But we try to be as approachable as we can with captains and just try to make it so they're having fun, because they don't want their teams getting into fights either.

Benjamin Bauer (33:05.064)
You know, so we tell teams like, look, you need to control your players, who's coming onto your roster, if they're going to be an issue, that's on you, not on us as a league. So the more you can do to prevent these guys from being on your team in the first place, you know, the longer you guys can play in this league.

Lance (33:19.899)
Yeah, that makes sense. So that kind of leads into my next, maybe last question, which is around staffing. So in order to execute that kind of community guideline or standards, you got to have people out there who are handling these situations. So how do you think about that? How do you think about, you know, referees, coordinators, you have Corey, I know who you've hired, who runs a lot of like, how did you think about finding these people? And.

you know, ensuring that they're sort of a good fit. Did you ever have, you know, a situation where you hired somebody and that just didn't really work out and you had some kind of learnings from that? And how do you think about kind of the whole thing, getting them out there, paying them the amount, all that kind of stuff in terms of having a building and kind of managing a good team.

Benjamin Bauer (34:03.208)
Yeah, um, I mean, originally I ran this by myself for the first couple of years. I hadn't known Corey for quite a while. We just played together since I've been Dallas and he would have always kind of approached me like, Hey, if you're ever at the point where you're looking to hire someone, like I'd be interested. Eventually I got to that point and it just worked out well that I could bring him on as a full -time staff member. And I've kind of let him handle a lot of our staffing. So he handles all of our coordinators. Um,

He kind of does all the communication with our ref assigner. But like, we don't have a huge amount of staffing. We have five, six coordinators a season. They really don't have to do too much work. They're out there to make sure nothing happens. And if something happens, they're there to represent the league and write reports down for us, help check in. So we've had some people that maybe...

only worked a couple of weekends for us just because whatever reason they weren't being proactive enough or not showing up. We don't pay minimum wage. We don't pay a huge amount. It's enough that it's worth someone's time to come out there. So we've had success with having same coordinators multiple seasons just because they know it's relatively easy work, we're easy to work with, and they're going to get paid enough for their time.

So that helps with our referees. That took a little bit of work early on, just finding the right connections to the referee world because it's a very tight knit group as well. And so once we kind of built a rapport with who now is Javier, who's our ref coordinator, you know, he just, he loved everything that we were doing. He loves having his reps on quality fields, playing with reffing quality competition.

Like they enjoy that, so they want to be around leagues like ours. And originally we paid them a little bit more than what other leagues were paying them. So that way they were eager to jump over and then we could kind of show them what we're doing. And now we're able to keep, you know, we still pay them either a premium or in line with other leagues, but we know that they're not going to leave if another league pays them, you know, extra few bucks a game because they enjoy playing or roughing with us. Um.

Benjamin Bauer (36:27.88)
So it's a combination of making sure you're paying the right amount that they're worth, but also just creating a product that they want to be around. So that's kind of what I've always built this around is just create a good product and the money will come. So like I wasn't worried about making the most money from day one. It's just let's build something that I would want to play in and I would want to be around. And I know that will just attract the right people. And eventually, you know,

the money side will all work itself out.

Lance (36:59.291)
Yeah, that makes sense. Okay, so I think this is my last question. It's kind of open -ended, but where do you see this going in the next, you've been around since 2019, so five years, just about, so what's the next five years look like for you, and do you see kind of any, I guess, changes with the way you do things, operation, or the way technology's sort of involved? There's obviously been a lot of changes in that as well, so how do you kind of see the next few years? What's your sort of ambition?

Benjamin Bauer (37:29.288)
Um, I think the biggest thing is one, we want to, you know, just keep growing in Dallas. We want to build. It's difficult, you know, just finding field space, but you know, every season we try to find a little bit more. And I think, so we're pretty close to where we want to be in Dallas. I think we could get a little bit bigger. Um, but we definitely want to explore other cities. We'd love to do, you know, Fort Worth, Austin and San Antonio, Houston, something, you know, where they're still not too far away and we can do other tournaments, you know, amongst different teams.

And then eventually, yeah, maybe other cities that just don't have the quality leaks that we know we could run. I think with like arena and having the technology side that makes it much easier for us where we can open up another city, but we can manage it all from Dallas. So like before we were just, it was a lot of hands on the ground. It was a lot of paperwork. It was, you know, we, we tried to be as technology.

savvy as we could, because the other leagues just didn't have any whatsoever. But it was still a little bit difficult. Now I think with Arena and a lot of the things that you guys have in the pipeline, I just see our job becoming easier from actually running the day -to -day of a league, where we can focus more on, okay, let's go find fields, let's go find a staff member to run another city, let's go find the teams in that city, and we can really focus on other things.

other than just having to work on our schedule, work on different things around actually running the league. So I don't know where we'll be in five years. I'd love to keep growing. I'm happy with the size we're at and the quality that we have. So that's not something we want to take away from. But I think there'll definitely be opportunities for other areas to grow. I know for our indoor facility, we're looking to grow.

Lance (39:06.203)

Benjamin Bauer (39:28.456)
to 5, 10 facilities around Texas and eventually other cities as well. So I think there'll be a lot of growth for both of our companies. I just, we'll just see what happens.

Lance (39:39.227)
Yeah, awesome. Well, I'd certainly love to hear the bit about how we can help. That's a big part of our goal. Okay, I think that's all I got. Thanks again for your time. Appreciate it, Ben.

Benjamin Bauer (39:51.272)
Thanks a lot.


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