2022 CEO REPORT: WARRIORS PUT IN THE FOUNDATIONAL WORK
Dear Warriors Nation,
After having some time to review the 2022 MLR season for the Utah Warriors from just about every angle, despite the 5-11 record and some mid-season changes that were required, I’m grateful to say that the organization has made significant progress this season on and off the field and that our expectation is to begin realizing the fruits of this organization’s hard work in the very near future.
In business, we often hear that “done is better than perfect.” Speaking for the Utah Warriors, we don’t buy that approach. At the Warriors, we endeavor every day to build a foundation that will last for generations. To achieve that goal we need to strive for constant improvement. Our daily goal is the endless pursuit of perfection by doing the little things right by not taking shortcuts or doing things the easy way. This, we believe, is the only way we will achieve our goal of being best-in-class on the field and off.
To that end, we draw on our history and the work of Utah’s early Pioneers. The Salt Lake Temple has been an iconic Utah landmark for more than 130 years. However, the edifice took more than 40 years to build and owes its longevity to the uncompromising pursuit of “doing it right” from its builders.
In the late 1850s after years of laying the cornerstones and much of the foundation had been laid Pioneer leader Brigham Young directed that the foundation be buried, given the perceived threat of a possible war and persecution, in order to hide the building and protect it from damage. When the threat passed and the foundation was unearthed, cracks were discovered in the foundation’s blocks, many of which were sandstone.
Rather than continue building on an imperfect foundation the pioneers replaced the blocks with fitted granite foundation stones. No easy task, even today with our technological advancements, let alone in the mid-19th century. Yet without the unwavering pursuit of “doing it right,” the Salt Lake Temple may not be the icon it is today.
“Doing it right” is the attitude and mindset we drive for at the Utah Warriors. As we build the foundation for a multi-generational Utah brand and community staple “good enough” isn’t enough.
This season we’ve had successes and we’ve had challenges. We’ve had to fix cracks in our foundation while we’ve also seen great successes that we can build on in the years ahead. We are incredibly proud of the foundation we are building as a best-in-class sports property in the state of Utah and in Global Rugby.
Based on our 2022 review this foundational work has been taken on in a variety of lines of effort.
COMMUNITY RUGBY DEVELOPMENT
- The Utah Warriors established a first-of-its-kind youth rugby partnership with Utah Youth Rugby, the state’s governing body for youth and high school rugby.
This partnership and other Jr. Warriors programs saw 1,893 boys and girls aged 6-12 learn to love the game of rugby. And this number will grow exponentially in the years to come
- Promoted five Utah Warriors U18 Academy players as “designated protected” players in the MLR, the most by any MLR team and the expansion of the program to Southern Utah
- Graduated five players from the Selects to the Warriors this season, again, the most by any MLR team
CREATE A “MAJOR LEAGUE” GAMEDAY EXPERIENCE
- Created the MLR’s top game day experience
- Developed the MLR-leading average attendance
- Eight of the top ten MLR regular season home game crowds
LONG-TERM STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIPS
- Continued growth from cornerstone “season one” partners: Intermountain Healthcare, Silicon Slopes, Woodbury Corporation, Compass Billboards, and First Purpose Wealth
- Added new key partnerships in 2022 with Fieldstone Homes, Scheels, Siegfried & Jensen, EoS Fitness, DotVote, MyMedic, Mortenson, and Lee’s Marketplace, and secured a key Bank/Credit Union partnership with UFirst Credit Union.
- SOLD OUT our Warriors XV Premium Memberships in the 2022 Season.
BEST IN CLASS MARKETING & MEDIA
- First-of-its-kind NIL partnership with BYU & University of Utah football players
Largest media broadcast plan in the MLR with local live broadcasts on KMYU & KJZZ, rebroadcasts on ATTSN, online via KSLSports.com and The Rugby Network
- MLR’s only weekly team-magazine show in “W Nation” w/ Jarom Jordan & Jared Banksy
- Curated a 2022 social media engagement rate of 2.89% (for reference the Utah Jazz are 1.09%)
- Utah Warriors’ overall impressions are up 20%+ across all platforms
- The Warriors’ local TV, Radio, and OTT broadcasts saw a bump in viewership of 27% across all platforms
HIRE & RETAIN TOP PLAYERS & STAFF
- After an ACL tear sidelined Joe Mano in 2021, he came back from his injury in 2022 to play in 7 games scoring 7 tries. Only one other MLR player (Louritz van der Schyff) had a similar per-game strike rate in 2022, but only Mano did so after coming back from an ACL tear.
- Warriors’ captain Bailey Wilson continues to lead from the front finishing in the top-three of total minutes played in the MLR, in the top-five in total tackles made, while also being in the top-five of the least-penalized players in the league. The local kid keeps leading by example!
- Veteran lock and backrower Juriee Van Vuuren was a workhouse in 2022 finishing 2nd in defensive ruck arrivals and was short of the top spot by only two ruck arrivals, while also finishing eleven ruck arrivals short of the league leader on the attack side of the ball. That’s a heavy work rate for the Warriors’ big man!
- Utah Warriors had four players, the most of any MLR team, receive their 50thCap during the 2022 season with Warriors’ prop Angus MacClellan being the first in the MLR to reach this lofty benchmark followed in subsequent weeks by Lance Williams, Mika Kruse and Saia Uhila.
- Inclusive of all lines of effort the Utah Warriors have grown from two full-time staff and seven part-time or contract staff members in 2018 to 17 full-time and 28 part-time or contract staff members in 2022
- More news on this front to come very soon!
BUILDING A HOME
- Added office space for front office and coaching staff at Zions Bank Real Academy campus
- Private-use gym and player rehab area at Zions Bank Real Academy campus
- Other facility development plans are being reviewed and discussed including the Warriors’ stadium conversations
This kind of “foundational” work is key to the successful establishment of a professional sports and entertainment business for its long-term growth. We won’t see the generational success of the Warriors’ vision to build North America’s epicenter of rugby if we don’t ensure that the foundation is prepared with precision and sustainability.
While the 2022 results on the field haven’t been what we hoped, the hard work to ensure the Utah Warriors will be able to win on and off the field for decades has been the focus for this staff and the players.
The Utah Warriors are one of the lucky teams in the MLR to have the combination of a strong ownership group and a committed staff focused on this long-term perspective. Regardless of this “big picture” perspective, the Utah Warriors are fully committed to ensuring the dedication and perseverance of these players, staff, and especially the fans over these last five years are rewarded.
As such, we are excited to make some announcements in the coming days, weeks, and months ahead that will demonstrate how the Utah Warriors will look to build on the “foundational” work that has been done over the last five years. Stay tuned for some exciting news and updates as the Warriors staff and players have already begun building towards the 2023 MLR season!
In the meantime, I’d like to thank Warriors Nation for your continued support and commitment to the vision and purpose of the Utah Warriors. We’re building this for you and for your kids and we hope you’ll stay as committed to the work we all need to do in order to realize the vision of building North America’s epicenter of rugby.
As part of our ongoing effort to provide you and our growing Warriors Nation family with the best experience on and off the field, we’d welcome your feedback on how we can continue to improve your Warriors Nation experience. CLICK HERE to take this survey.
I’d also like to thank our amazing staff and players that work unbelievably hard to build the Utah Warriors into the MLR’s premier organization and one of the best professional sports staff in the state of Utah. I consider myself lucky to work alongside such a committed group of professionals.
Like Utah’s early Pioneers who took the time to establish the right foundation that would carry the load for one of Utah’s most iconic landmarks, the Utah Warriors, our staff and above all, the players, are similarly committed to “doing it right” by laying the foundation for a long-lasting legacy on and off the field.
Thank you again! I can’t wait for the 2023 season to be here!
Co-Founder & CEO
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