Sports

April 28, 2013

Trying to get on solid ground

Rampage face challenges of any small business in tough economy

When the Georgia Rampage moved to Dalton, Kacee Smith knew it would be tough.

Smith, the Rampage’s co-owner and general manager, even called the move a “risk” for the Ultimate Indoor Football League franchise.

“Everyone knew it was high unemployment, bad economy, small town and a small arena,” said Smith, who last summer announced the Rampage would call Dalton’s trade center home when the 2013 season kicked off in March.

The Rampage spent their inaugural season as a travel team, practicing in Calhoun but having no home arena and therefore no home games. Despite the potential drawbacks, when it came to the 2013 season for Smith and the team, Dalton was it.

With the season nearing completion, Smith and the Rampage are planning for what’s to come. However, he hopes for better results financially because the team hasn’t pulled in as much ticket revenue or sponsorship money as he would like. The team is spending more money than it’s making.

But considering the Rampage were in a new home this season and had to build a fan base, struggling in the first year isn’t an absolute indicator for the ones to follow. If the team can return for another season — and Smith promises the Rampage will — Smith believes there are better expectations when it comes to finances.

Increasing numbers

Because this was its first season with a home arena, the organization had some one-time expenses. The wall pads surrounding the field cost $8,000.

Then there are the per-game expenses. Smith said the payroll for the team’s four coaches is $500 per game, equaling $4,500 for the nine-game season, while the 24-player payroll is $2,400 per game.

The Rampage lease the arena at the trade center, which is under split ownership and management between the city of Dalton and Whitfield County, for home games.

For each of its six home games, the team pays $2,500 to the trade center for arena use and $800 to the league for officials.

The team got new uniforms after the second game of the season, and Smith said this cost around $3,000.

Then there are miscellaneous costs such as an on-site trainer, seven cheerleaders for home games, advertisement sales associates, website domain ownership and graphic design for the site. Smith estimated this cost at about $3,000.

The Rampage have roughly 40 people on staff.

He approximates each home game “has roughly broke even,” but the figures he gave The Daily Citizen during an interview puts the Rampage at about a $21,000 loss from the time the first game took place in late February to today. Travel costs of about $6,000 per trip — gas, food and lodging — for three away games during the regular season don’t help.

“A good break even would be, if you’re going to break even with travel mixed in, then 800 (tickets sold per home game) would be a good number,” he said. “I’m surprised we haven’t hit 1,000.”

“But the thing is, we haven’t recouped any of those expenses from before,” he said.

When the team joined the UIFL, there was a $25,000 “league territory fee,” Smith said. Each year includes about $8,000 in membership fees.

Smith admitted the team “can’t really afford too many more seasons like this” from a financial standpoint. So far, he and the team’s co-owner and Smith’s financial partner, Amer Awad, have been funding the project.

“You only have so much money on one side of the bird,” he added. “You can’t just shake it off the tree. We’re already making plans for year two.

“We certainly can’t continue to support this out of our bank accounts.”

The Missouri Monsters, who the Rampage played Saturday night in St. Charles, Mo., a suburb of St. Louis, are in their inaugural season. Their owner is Andrew Haines, who also is the UIFL’s co-founder and a good friend to Smith. Haines said his team had 1,000 season ticket holders and 60 sponsors. The Rampage didn’t reach the 100 mark for season tickets when the season began.

“We’re doing OK,” Haines told The Daily Citizen in a phone interview this past week. “I think we’ll have a loss this year, but we’ll be close to breaking even, though. In the first year, you have all the expenses, though.”

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