skip navigation

San Antonio’s Holt Focused, Energized Following First Season

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 12/01/16, 10:47AM EST


Former USL President is enjoying task ahead in fostering SAFC’s continued growth

Photo courtesy Darren Abate / San Antonio FC

A little less than a year after taking the plunge and becoming the Managing Director of San Antonio FC, Tim Holt is enjoying his surroundings almost as much as taking on the challenge of building a successful club.

“It is a wonderful city to live in,” Holt said by phone recently. “There’s such a strong sense of community in San Antonio. It’s a very diverse market. Obviously you’ve got sports here with the Spurs and the Rampage and the Stars and the family of franchises [operated by Spurs Sports & Entertainment] that soccer is now part of, but there’s so much to do and so much history and culture.

“The Riverwalk area downtown is a great place to go, and the theme parks, and the climate is as good as anywhere in the country. I’m just enjoying every aspect of living and working in San Antonio.”

After spending more than 15 years in Florida, first in Tampa with the USL where he rose through the ranks to become the league’s President, and then with Orlando City SC, the opportunity to take the existing infrastructure that was available in San Antonio and build a long-term success in the city was one that Holt found intriguing, and one which he launched himself into fully. Overall, it was a positive year as the club finished fourth in the USL with an average attendance of 6,170 at Toyota Field, and remained in playoff contention until the final weekend of the season.

Photo courtesy Darren Abate / San Antonio FC

While SAFC put together some memorable performances on the field, only to drop out of playoff contention with its loss in its final game of the regular season, Holt was particularly pleased with the manner in which the front office pulled together over the course of the club’s inaugural season.

“Our front office staff is fantastic,” he said. “It’s a combination of folks that have been within the Spurs Sports & Entertainment environment in different roles and different functional departments of the business over time that have shifted over and are now full-time in soccer, and people that have been involved in soccer in different cities and different leagues over time, so sort of blending those two worlds together with an end game of trying to have a staff that represents the best of both worlds and understands the San Antonio market.”

That staff, and the facilities SAFC has at its disposal, came to the fore at the second edition of the USL Operations & Sales Summit as the club played host to more than 140 staff members from across the USL front office and the league’s clubs. The opportunity to host the event put an exclamation point on the club’s first year, and Holt believes it also gave his team a lot of food for thought as it moves through its first full offseason.

“It was a real honor for us to have the league’s confidence to host the over 100-some executives from the league in San Antonio,” said Holt. “Obviously we think very highly of where we are. It’s a great city. There’s a lot to do here. Obviously our facilities are such that we can have folks in and do the stadium event we’ve done here, and while it was a real pleasure for us to host the league and all of the teams in here, the league really did the heavy lifting in terms of setting up such valuable seminars and panel discussions and best practices-sharing.

“From our standpoint, we were able to immerse our full staff on the ground in our early-stage development of the club, more so than maybe if we were in another market. It was a real pleasure to host all the teams, and I think more than anyone we were probably the beneficiaries of being able to participate to the extent that we did.”

Holt was also part of the first meeting of the USL Business Strategy Committee that met that same week in Dallas, which brought together a number of the league’s top executives to begin charting a course for the league’s commercial and marketing ventures moving into 2017 and beyond.

The creation of events such as the Operations & Sales Summit and groups such as the Business Strategy Committee are welcome additions, according to Holt, as they allow the USL to forge forward into a very bright future.

“It’s just unbelievable excitement and pride at what all these different teams and their executives are doing in their markets, and then also what the league ownership and management and staff have done to facilitate and foster that growth and make sure that the best days are still ahead for the USL,” Holt said. “It really puts into perspective how far the league has come in such a short space of time, and beyond that, it’s more forward-focused. It’s that this is going to be a very, very strong league with very high-performing franchises on and off the field for many, many years to come.”

San Antonio intends to be at the forefront of those efforts. With the club now working to build a wider season ticket base and increase its levels of corporate partnerships this offseason, SAFC is intent on using the platform provided by Spurs Sports & Entertainment as effectively as possible to make Toyota Field one of the best atmospheres in the USL.

“We have some pretty ambitious goals to increase [our season ticket membership] with an end result of having Toyota Field full or as close to full on a game-in and game-out basis and creating the best game atmosphere, game-day experience in the USL,” Holt said. “Adding additional partners, we were fortunate to have eight blue-chip partners, national or local, for our initial season, but building that roster of partners for next season is a goal, and then on the team side we’re trying to shape and reshape the roster to be playing into the postseason next year.”

With the three pillars of supporter engagement, corporate support and high-level performance on the field already being built, the final pillar of youth player development is next on the agenda for SAFC. While the club has already established a U12 Boys program, the creation of a fully-funded USSF Development Academy program is a major priority.

“I strongly believe that everything is connected to everything in a professional soccer environment,” Holt said. “The final piece for us is one of club development. [Our goal now is] applying for [Development Academy] status for next year for our academy, building out the number of teams that we operate, and then collaborating with the rest of the youth soccer community and all of the great clubs we have here to create a defined pathway for the best players in San Antonio to be developed.”

Photo courtesy Darren Abate / San Antonio FC

With the lofty goals that have been set, Holt and his team are ready to push hard to create a club that will grow alongside the rapidly expanding population in the San Antonio region and beyond.

“This corridor of I-35 between Austin and San Antonio has become one of the fastest-growing areas in our country,” Holt said. “There’s definitely a high quality of life down here, so it’s a perfect time to be building a professional soccer club that we think is going to grow with the market as it continues to grow in the future.”

Follow the USL Championship

Most Recent News

Most Read News

Latest Videos