Being part of a Major League Soccer ownership group in Vancouver is the opportunity Steve Luczo has been patiently waiting for.
On Thursday the Whitecaps officially announced Luczo and former Yahoo! COO Jeff Mallett as part of the prospective ownership group.
Luczo, the former CEO of hard-drive giant Seagate Technology said Thursday that he's long been searching for just the right fit to wade deep into the waters of professional sports ownership.
He owns a slice of the NBA's Boston Celtics and is part owner of the National Lacrosse League's San Jose Stealth, but for past five years he has been looking for a major stake in another franchise.
When Whitecaps owner Greg Kerfoot, a longtime business partner, approached him, he didn't hesitate.
"I've pretty much scoured everything globally, I just never really found the situation that I wanted, either in terms of partners or in location," said Luczo, a native of Chicago who seriously considered becoming involved with the MLS team there. He now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.
"Greg called me up and I said, 'Yeah, are you kidding me?' There's a lot to like with the way MLS is structured and where soccer is going globally and in North America. And working with Greg, it eliminates all those concerns because we've been partners for 15 years and we see eye-to-eye."
What they see is an interesting vision, something different from the way a typical sports franchise is run said Luczo, who noted his stake would be "a big chunk."
When they worked together at Seagate, they changed the corporate culture and, like NBA star Steve Nash, another member of the ownership team, both are involved in interesting philanthropic endeavours.
That could be intriguing to MLS.
Since leaving Seagate full-time (he's still chairman) Luczo has been focussed on his company, Balance Vector. The goal was to start a for-profit business where most of the profits went back into socially-beneficial projects.
If Made in America -- a documentary on gang violence in South Central L.A. he funded along with NBA star Baron Davis -- makes a lot of money, Luczo said they'll build a community centre in the area. If it makes a little money, they'll donate it to crime-prevention programs.
"There's a balance between being a good solid business person and doing the right thing," Luczo said.
John Paulsen, president of Talking House Productions, a music company of which Luczo was co-founder, said fans here can expect a passionate owner.
"When he finds a group of people who have a vision and a challenge to get something accomplished, he feels that passion for their activity," said Paulsen.
Seven cities are vying for the next two MLS franchises and the league will announce its 17th and 18th teams between November and March.
"Vancouver would be an incredible place to have a team and it [our bid] has to be compelling to them," Luczo said.
© The Vancouver Province 2008