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SBJ Q&A: Jarrod Dillon

President of business operations: Orlando City SC, Orlando Pride, Exploria Stadium

By Mark J. Burns

Jarrod Dillon started his new role as president of business operations for Orlando City SC, the NWSL’s Orlando Pride and Exploria Stadium on Jan. 3, but it won’t be until later this year that he and his family — including his wife and their three soccer-playing, preteen daughters — relocate to the area full time. Until then, he’s making the 90-minute drive from Tampa, where he had most recently served as the chief marketing and revenue officer at Vinik Sports Group.

 

“His personal situation and connection [to the sport], everything weighs into when I talk about the general concept of high integrity, high passion, high energy, a leader people want to work with, people want to be around, an example people can emulate,” said Mark Wilf, managing partner and chairman of Orlando City and Orlando Pride and co-owner of the Minnesota Vikings. “And I think Jarrod checks all of those boxes, and then some.”

Dillon spoke to Sports Business Journal last week about his new role:

What first attracted you to the position?

Dillon: My interest really jumped quite a bit when I learned that the Wilf family was involved. Secondly, both MLS and NWSL are two leagues that I’ve paid attention to. We’ve seen the growth metrics in terms of sports marketing and how quickly they’re continuing to grow. On a personal note, being a father of three daughters, who I’ve coached personally for the last eight years in youth soccer, was really exciting to me and my family. The opportunity to be a team president and oversee the business operations was a step up in responsibility. All of those things rolled up into evolving into a very serious interest from the get-go.

Where’s the most upside for Orlando City?

Dillon: Until the stadium is sold out every single game over and over again, there’s always upside there on the ticketing side. Our job is to grow around them and give them the resources that they need to be successful. We’re going to really lean into analytics, business intelligence and strategy. Those have been areas that have maybe been spread out around the company, and we really need to focus on creating a vertical that is dedicated to that. We saw a lot of success with that in Tampa, and I’m hoping to emulate a lot of that here.

How do you assess other areas of the organization’s business?

Dillon: There’s a lot of things I saw seven years ago when I came to Tampa that I see in Orlando. The business is starting to build and now it’s getting ready to take off with incremental impact and incremental growth. As we look at Exploria Stadium, being able to operate our own venue year-round right in the heart of downtown Orlando is an amazing opportunity. We need to look at how we get more creative in terms of booking more events there. … Part of what I’m going to bring to the table I think is from a marketing, booking and sales standpoint — how do we continue to drive value for our suite holders and partners year-round? That’s another area we’ll be laser focused on.

What about the broader sponsorship portfolio?

Dillon: We’re looking at the categories across the spectrum and saying, where are there opportunities for us to really grow? What are the emerging categories? What are the partnership opportunities that we can really layer in from a business intelligence standpoint to help us get smarter with better data decision-making, but also layer that into a partnership with technology companies? One of the biggest priorities for me is getting entrenched with those [current] partners who I don’t already know and working with them on figuring out the best way to grow our partnerships. How do we make sure that we’re ahead of the curve so that our partners stay with us long term?

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