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Red Bulls name Erik Stover managing director

The New York Red Bulls have named Erik Stover as the team’s new managing director.

Who is Stover? He was named the team’s Vice President of Operations and General Manager of Red Bull Park in March. Before that he spent three years running Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego. Before that, Stover was vice president of operations of Giants Stadium.

In short, Red Bull has just hired a man whose entire resume consists of operating stadiums to run their soccer team.

The reaction to the hire by the first source I contacted about it? "He knows absolutely nothing about soccer."

Apparently that is a pre-requisite for the Red Bulls managing director position. Who knew?

The word emerging from Red Bulls sources is that the corporate HQ felt Stover was the best in-house candidate for the job. He will definitely get a chance to learn on the job. If the Red Bulls are lucky, perhaps Stover can develop into a good executive. That still doesn’t excuse the fact that Red Bull hired someone with no experience running a pro sports team.

The only word that comes to mind is brainless. Red Bull has just made it clear that A) it has no clue how to run the Red Bulls and B) it is focused solely on the opening of Red Bull Park in 2009.

That was my initial reaction. We will see if Stover can learn on the job and be an effective conduit between the team side and the suits in Salzburg. It is hard to defend a pro sports team hiring someone with no team management experience to run a pro team, but Red Bull has done it two times with Red Bull New York now.

What do you think of the news? Share your thoughts below.


  1. Damn…maybe I should have applied for the job.

    Why me?

    I speak German and have lived in Salzburg. I understand the Salzburger arrogance and their love for schnullregen.

    I am a marketing and sales person. I know how to market on the Internets. (By the way Ives, why aren’t they running ads on your site?)

    I know soccer is played with a round ball.

    I have played soccer. I could be a back up forward when JPA isn’t getting the job done. The Roger Milla of the Red Bulls so to speak. I come on with 5 minutes, I score a goal, everybody loves me.

    Well maybe, he will improve your experience at Giants stadium.

  2. I don’t get it. Although I like his credentials with Qualcom Stadium, his connection with NJSEA does not speak of someone who understands what the fans want in their pro soccer experience. This quote from RBR, “rising to the position of Assistant Vice President of Stadium Operations of Giants Stadium” ,brings chills to my spine. I understand that the new stadium experience holds a lot of weight with the parent company and is the primary reason for their choice but obviously they have not had the same NJSEA experiences that I have.

  3. Let’s not jump to conclusions. What’s the most expensive, most eagerly awaited, most critical investment this franchise has ever made? Red Bull Park, right? So maybe, just maybe, this guy has the right qualifications for what the club needs now. And maybe it’s a good thing that Osorio and Agoos aren’t going to have somebody from Austria looking over their shoulders as they make player decisions. If Stover can hire the right people, and the corporate bigwigs give him the resources, this can work.

  4. Ives – Any idea/news/background on Diego Jiminez. Have you gotten any word on whether they did in fact offer the guy a contract?

  5. I’m always willing to give someone a shot before I condemn them. Let’s see what he can do and if he’s a failure we can start our chants during matches. We at least owe him a chance to show us what he can do, though. Red Bull may make their share of mistakes, but they didn’t become a multibillion-dollar corporation by being stupid.

  6. @northzax,

    do you seriously believe that all of the major clubs in the world are not run as serious businesses first? I think if you’re running the team well, you’re running the business well.

    Man United is loaded with debt, so I’m sure they have to run that business airtight and few could argue that they’re not the best team in the world right now.

  7. I agree with JsquaredNY , he will be hiring the vendors , leads etc.. He will be the final sign off on those type of things and he will not be do such from position of knowledge. In other industries you don’t see insurance companies bring in executives that have no insurance background.. same thing here.. running a venue is not running a team.

  8. I have to agree with Smith here. The issue will more likely be about the budget Stover gets to market the team in NY. NYC has many of the best ad agencies in the world and they know this market like the backs of their hands, its just a question paying the money to employ them.

    I don’t know that Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment had any idea how to run a soccer franchise when they started Toronto FC, and yet they have done a great job there.

    To me, de Grandpre had no idea what kind of experience a sports fan expects when he/she goes to a stadium. Stover likely does. If the managing of the stadium is good and the atmosphere there is great, I really believe all the other pieces will fall into place.

    If I could throw in another 2 cents, get rid of the crap food and cheap beer from Giant Stadium (and all the other local stadiums). Have a better menu (like Toronto FC) with European-influenced and Latin American-influenced food and premium beers like Carlsberg, Heineken or even microbrews and I think the experience will be MUCH MUCH better.

  9. I second what Matt says. From an ESC perspective, this is a horrible hiring. This guy worked with NJSEA for 9 years.

    Ives, is there anyway you can find out how he’s going to treat us? His track record is less than stellar with the way his yellow shirted honchos have treated us for the past 14 years.

  10. Re: “Just because he is not doing the job himself does not mean that he is capable of hiring someone who can do it successfully.”

    It also doesn’t mean he can’t.

    All I’m saying is that we should give the guy more than 20 minutes before we bury him.

    Also, I’m used to my fellow fans being whiners, that I think it’s Metro reflex.

    I swear, if we signed Christiano Ronaldo tomorrow, someone would post, “he’s already peaked. Terrible move!”

  11. Smith:

    see, here’s the major difference. you are thinking about NYRB as what it really is, a small arm of a large transnational business. Just like AEG, RB Corporate wants the revenue from a stadium, that’s it. So you appoint a businessman. and you make money.

    the only problem is, few teams run like businesses are successful as teams. as a fan, you don’t want your beloved team to be a profit center, you want it to be a successful team, the two do not always go together.

  12. Smith – Having no experience on what it is needed to successfully run operations for a team how do you expect him to make the adequate decisions necessary in hiring capable staff/vendors? Sure he’s not going to be the one drafting up campaigns, but this should be a guy who knows what it takes. A guy with some sort of background. Just because he is not doing the job himself does not mean that he is capable of hiring someone who can do it successfully

  13. Ives, one of the most troubling aspects of the RBNY organization has been its lack of communication with supporters. I hope you do everything in your power to get an interview with this guy and find out what his vision for the club is.

    I’ll withhold judgment, but it does seem like a strange appointment.

  14. I don’t think this is a bad hire on the face of it. The guy is a sports guy who has experience managing stadiums, which will probably be one of the largest revenue sources for the franchise.

    Getting the stadium right entails getting the marketing and team right. Its a soccer-specific stadium built in a European mold, so I think this fear of him being hostile to soccer is irrational. He’s there to manage a soccer stadium, not a football stadium.

    Stover is also an American and apparently has local ties (couldn’t confirm though). Here’s an article on him from San Diego:

    All in all, I’d say reserve your judgements, this guy could be really good.

  15. Ives, I love ya, but I think you’re overreacting. We’ll see in a year where we’re at.

    Just remember that it was the great Soccer Guy, Charlie Stillitano , who landed us in the Meadowlands in the first place and brought us such luminaries as Matt Knowles & Damian Silvera.

  16. I’m going to defend Ives here. I think the issue isnt that he’ll be scouting players but more about what does he know about marketing and selling tickets for a soccer team. You know like grassroots type marketing to connect with the adult soccer fan, the ethnic fan. DeGrandpre had no idea. This hire strikes me like it could be the same result.

  17. Re: “Call me crazy, but won’t this guy also be in charge of marketing the product and growing the brand? A guy who runs a stadium I’m not sure has any of that sort of expierence. ”

    Actually, he would probably hire an advertising agency.

    That’s what people aren’t getting. It’s not like he’s going to be painting signs saying, “Red Bulls today at 3pm…$20..come on in.” His job is basically to manage task-specific vendors.

    Haven’t any of you guys ever worked in the real world?

    Does al this really need explaining?

  18. Smith,

    Is it the end of the world (for the Red Bulls)? Maybe not, but it’s a bad move. Nobody is saying a word about the team failing to hire a “soccer guy” but how about somebody with some sort of experience running and marketing a sports team? Or even operating a sports business. There is a BIG difference between stadium operations and running a sports team.

    From what I hear Stover is a good person, and I know there were some other potential in-house hires that had people cringing. Stover is going to get his chance and, who knows, maybe Red Bull gets lucky, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that the club essentially handed the keys to a sports team to someone with nothing close to experience running a sports team.

  19. This was exactly what I thought it was going to be….sad and pathetic!!!!

    I agree, the Queens NYC team cannot come soon enough!!

  20. Call me crazy, but won’t this guy also be in charge of marketing the product and growing the brand? A guy who runs a stadium I’m not sure has any of that sort of expierence.

  21. Ives – RB wants someone to market the stadium & run the “$$$ & cents” end of the show. That’s what they hired.

    Agoos & Osorio are essentially running the “team” (i.e. the sporting entity that steps on the field).

    I never doubted it would go this way & I can’t beleive anyone expected otherwise. I would have preferred Tom Neale, mind you, but this isn’t the end of the world. If he can run a business, he’s fine in this job. I don’t know the full extent of his job skills & wasn’t sitting in on the interview, so I’m gonna give him more than 10 minutes before I judge him.

    It’s not like he’s going to Aregentina to scout talent, for godness sake. If anything, there’s a PLUS to having a non-soccer guy in there. At least he doesn’t THINK his opinion is better than the coach or the GM (Agoos).

    Would you rather have Blanco or Giorgio or Diego Maradonna running the team? WHY NOT? They’re SOCCER GUYS!!!!!! How about letting Paul Gasciogne run the team? He’s a SOCCER GUY TOO!!!!!! What about my nephew? He’s SIX YEARS OLD, BUT HE PLAYS SOCCER!!!!!!!

    Ives, I think you’re the best soccerwriter in North America, but I think you’ve sort of lost it here.

    That said, I love the blog & think it’s anawesome fourm.

  22. Irish, the guy has NO business experience at all. He’s never run a team or even come close to running a team. it’s a joke of a hire. No other way to say it.

  23. I don’t think that the managing director is supposed to have anything to do with the team on the field. That’s Agoos and Osorio’s job. If Stover can handle the business end, that’s fine with me. Who cares.

  24. My initial reaction is No … way. I’ll withhold judgement until I meet him but …

    Anyone who can spend NINE years at NJSEA …. Yikes … I’m worried about what’s going to carry over to the new stadium.

  25. Smith, the man they hired has NO experience running anything close to a sports franchise. NONE. What some, including me, were expecting was that Red Bull would hire someone with some sort of experience running a sports team, or at least some real experience in the world of soccer.

  26. Also, for all the people wanting a “soccer guy” let’s not forget that Charlie Stillitano was a very knowledgable soccer man & the worst GM in history. Agoos & Osorio are the soccer guys. This guy is here to run the business, especially getting the stadium done.

    Please stp whining.

  27. As Smith said: “Why did anyone expect anything different?”

    I am concerned that someone who once worked at Giants Stadium (a venue that is incredibly hostile to soccer, or perhaps to everyone) has been hired. And here I was hoping they were to announce a Barcelona friendly!

  28. He’s there to handle the business end. Agoos & Osorio are there to handle the player personnel. Why did anyone expect anything different?

  29. So much for a better run facility than Giants Stadium. Guess we have more poor service, in-game promotions and long-winded announcements to look forward to: “LADIES AND GENTELEMEN, YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE. A YELLOW CAUTION CARD HAS BEEN AWARDED TO NUMBER 17, JOZY ALTIDORE, IN THE THIRTY-FOURTH MINUTE. (now en espanol)”

  30. On a side note, Red Bulls have reportedly offered a contract to Mexican U-21 Defender Diego Jiminez? Anyone know who this is?

  31. I’ll be positive and say that at least this may help get the stadium built at some point in 2009. I hear that Marc had pissed off everyone involved to the point that RBNY was getting resistance from other involved.

    And once the stadium is done, they should just give the job to a soccer guy on opening day. Give it to Franz as part of the halftime show.

  32. It makes perfect sense from a corporate standpoint. RB money is spending their money on & in the stadium to show off all of their products/events (RBNY, X-games, etc.) which ultimately generate their own revenue streams. On top of that, they continue to expand their drink sales.

    As for a pure soccer move, this is ridiculous. I’m done with them. Bring on the new NYC team ASAP. Mr. Wilpon, buy the Cosmos name – consider it a marketing expense that is well-worth the $10 million or so it would cost – build the new stadium and bring NYC a team they can cheer for.

    RIP – Metrostars….we miss ya

  33. I guess it shows the only priority of the club to get thier own place so they can start making all the parking and concession revenue!

  34. Further proof Red Bull is a horrible owner. It’s not about the soccer, it never has been. HORRIBLE HIRING.

    I want my Metros back..NOW.

  35. Let Osorio and Goos take care of the player personel, and Stover successfully launch the stadium. Very short sighted. It is clear what there objectives are. Maybe this ensures that RBP opens in 2009.


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