18 Aug Interview with Gabby Roe, Founder of Maestroe Sports and Entertainment and TeamTrak’s Newest Partner
From the gritty lacrosse pitch as a pro player for the Philadelphia Wings of the National Lacrosse League to his cousin Prince Albert’s palace in Monte Carlo, Gabby Roe has taken a no-fear mentality into his business career as a torch bearer for up-and-coming and emerging sports properties…or what he calls “High Growth Sports”.
His background in the sports business spans over three decades. Beginning as a national champion wrestler for his prep school outside of Philadelphia, Roe turned his lacrosse talent into a scholarship at University of Virginia followed by a four-year pro contract with the Wings.
In business, Roe was instrumental in forming and developing the sport of Beach Soccer, launching Beach Soccer Company and the European Beach Soccer League as start-up ventures in 1994. He bought out the league from his partners in 1997 and sold it two years later to Octagon, all part of a transaction with FIFA to create Beach Soccer World Wide (BSWW), the entity that now runs the sport globally, and the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup. He was then hired by Jake Steinfeld of “Body by Jake” fame to be the executive director of Major League Lacrosse where he created a single-entity league model, similar to MLS, and secured all venue deals, brought in all Owner-Operators, sponsors, broadcast partners and players. During Roe’s subsequent six-year tenure with the AVP, he helped to lead the Pro Beach Volleyball Tour out of bankruptcy and eventually took the AVP public while increasing domestic outdoor events to 18 and adding an AVP Indoor Tour and an AVP Australian Tour.
These experiences and more evolved into the business strategy for Maestroe Sports & Entertainment, the company he formed in 2012. Maestroe uses proven methodologies, Roe’s experience and a dedicated and talented staff to help define, grow and monetize High Growth Sports properties. As WCL’s newest partner, Maestroe sees TeamTrak as the ideal format to create the first league structure for track cycling.
Here are excerpts from a recent interview he did for the TeamTrak Newsletter from his office in Wayne, PA.
Q: How did you first get involved with TeamTrak?
I initially got involved with TeamTrak when I heard about the new velodrome project- the National Velodrome Sports and Events Center that’s coming to the greater Philadelphia area. Not only did it sound cool, but it was right up Maestroe’s alley in dealing with High Growth Sports. I tracked down WCL CEO Dave Chauner and we had a few zoom calls and lunch with his main partner, Rick Mayer that went very well. Everything I learned about TeamTrak was “checking the boxes” for what we know is important to having real future growth and financial success….so now the Maestroe team and I are working with David, Rick and the WCL team on developing a plan to grow TeamTrak at a global level while progress on the velodrome continues here.
Q: Maestroe’s niche is helping to develop non-mainstream sports. Why?
I think it all started for me during my experiences playing in the NLL (Professional Indoor Lacrosse League) for the Philadelphia Wings. Playing in a league that was more of a niche sport at the time, I began to see how you could take a sport and, by putting a different spin on it, target a different audience. Even though the game itself may not be that different, it’s about filling a void that’s missing for the fans. The void in Philadelphia back when I was playing was a more affordable version of hockey that attracted a younger and very avid fan base and the NLL & the Philadelphia Wings were able to sell tickets and sponsorships to satisfy that market segment.
I began to realize that you can take a sport and make some moderate alterations to it and appeal to a whole new audience. Beach Soccer, which we were developing while I was playing indoor lacrosse, was the ultimate catalyst for what I’m doing today with Maestroe. My business partner and I started Beach Soccer Company when we were 22 after we saw the sport being played – recreationally – on the beach in Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. We built a professional version and structure of the sport from there, making many mistakes along the way as well as few great decisions, and it took off. Then, when I was 27, I bought out my partner and moved the company to Europe (where the sport was the most profitable) and settled down in Monte-Carlo. That was a huge risk that paid off a few years later when when I was able to sell the business to Octagon while simultaneously forming a partnership with FIFA to create the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup. Beach Soccer has since evolved into a billion dollar global business that really cemented my belief and my passion for the potential for high-growth sports. High growth sports are not only fun and cool but they can also be terrific investments….where relatively small investments can pay off in a big way. UFC is a great example of that (more recently) along with many others examples. Personally, it’s exciting to be able to be a part of creating something finding success and being able to say “Wow, we helped make that happen, and had fun along the way”.
Q: Track cycling is best known as an Olympic sport but it also has an entertainment history through Six Day racing and the now defunct Revolution Series that attempted to capitalize on a more modern format. How will TeamTrak be different?
There are multiple ways that TeamTrak will be different, several of which, in my personal opinion, are elements that have been holding back the growth of more traditional track cycling. TeamTrak will provide constant excitement with head-to-head racing (e.g. “banging elbows”), which is much more exciting for both current cycling fans and non-current cycling fans – a key element for growth. Plus, the competitions feature a league with teams and a point system that is much easier to follow (even for new cycling fans). And, perhaps most importantly today, the teams are co-ed with equal pay for the male and female athletes, both of which are long overdue in cycling. From a format perspective, TeamTrak is a league with teams representing their cities – akin to most other leagues in the world – so fans can get behind their team and follow them as they would for their local football club.
Q: How do you see TeamTrak developing and what will be the keys to its success?
The first step to drive the development TeamTrak is establishing it as the next evolution of track cycling in the cycling hotbed of Europe. With events taking place in Europe’s best velodromes, with consistent teams representing their cities during globally televised / streamed meets, it will provide continuity and a league season format not previously seen in cycling. With a new, global, exciting version of track cycling emanating from the sports epicenter in Europe, we will supercharge TeamTrak’s development. One of the other keys to success will be the fan-friendly infusion of technology as we are developing new and innovative tech platforms that will allow fans to experience cycling like never before. Once TeamTrak is established and successful in Europe, that will optimize and drive the global growth of TeamTrak throughout the world.
Q: What aspect or aspects of TeamTrak do you believe will most help it become appealing to investors and audiences?
TeamTrak has three primary elements that smart investors are looking for – a proven management team, a great product and a low investment price point relative to its global growth potential. With David Chauner at the helm, TeamTrak’s innovative competition format and a burgeoning global sports property market, TeamTrak has the foundational elements that will allow it to join the list of global sports properties that have the ability to deliver a fast and dramatic rise in value and popularity. Take the UFC, for example. It was a marginalized property at first with limited upside based on regulatory issues but with some minor tweaks to the product, a dedicated management team, it just sold for over $4 billion. I’m not saying TeamTrak will necessarily have that type of meteoric rise, but TeamTrak delivers many of the same primary elements allowing it to have the potential to do so.
Q: Most of the league sports you have developed have benefitted from existing venues that are easily adaptable to host new events. Do you see the lack of quality indoor velodromes, particularly in the U.S., as a major roadblock in developing TeamTrak?
It’s a challenge, for sure, but it’s also an opportunity. Our research tells us that there are more than eighty permanent indoor velodromes in over a dozen countries around the world, many of which are underutilized. But, as I said previously, our plan is to introduce TeamTrak in a handful of carefully selected velodromes in Europe with meets and teams that are marketed and televised globally. We believe this will create new demand and interest from other existing velodromes in hosting TeamTrak league events. Ultimately, we see TeamTrak as a very popular “new” American sport that will drive interest in building indoor velodromes here, not only to host TeamTrak league events, but also to provide year round facilities that can stage all kinds of events and youth development programs, things that the sport really needs to capitalize on the new interest in cycling as we emerge from the pandemic. WCL is smart to partner with Sports Facilities Advisory (I know them well) to create an indoor velodrome design that fits into the multi-use sports tourism model that is their stock in trade. There is good progress on securing sites in both the Philadelphia and New Haven areas. Think of it, in an ideal scenario, the first world class indoor velodrome in the East would open just in time to host the first TeamTrak World Championship!