To Vancouver Riptide Supporters and the BC Ultimate Community
The Vancouver Riptide began operations in 2014 to fill out the new West Division in the AUDL. We had to really hustle to get ready for our first season but the lower mainland had all the ingredients required to launch a competitive new team in the AUDL; a large pool of elite level club players, an active Ultimate Association, a demographic that embraces the values that Ultimate stands for and some great venues to showcase our sport to new fans and potential partners.
Under the same ownership group, Toronto Rush had proven the year earlier that Canadian teams could draw crowds in the high hundreds and sometimes thousands of fans per game, attract new sponsors and even won the Championship in their undefeated inaugural AUDL season. Since then the Montreal Royal and Ottawa Outlaws have followed suit fielding competitive Canadian teams, creating new and exciting game day experiences and partnering with the local ultimate community and sponsors to help develop our sport.
The West Division has gone on to win three of the last four AUDL Championships, proof that that some of North America’s most talented players live and play on the west coast. So, our instincts about the future of professional ultimate in Vancouver seemed pretty accurate.
From our opening pull, the Vancouver Riptide embraced the foundational principles of the AUDL, to build a professional league that brings our sport to a new set of fans, not change the game already played and loved by millions of players around the world. We wanted to provide our elite level players the opportunity to showcase their skills in stadiums in front of a broader audience. The decision to introduce some rules that made the pace of play faster and allowed new fans to better understand the game have worked. This past year the AUDL attracted 100,000 fans to its regular season and playoff games and this seasons Championship Weekend played in Montreal was a thriller enjoyed by over 7,000 fans.
We are proud of the clinics we have run, the high school exhibitions held at half time but nothing is more satisfying than when parents bring their children onto the field after the game and our players – win or lose – hang out to sign their caps or Frisbees and some young kids get the thrill of meeting a star player who they can aspire to emulate.
The AUDL also set out to make our games more accessible to online viewers and in 2014 signed a three-year contract with ESPN3, built a partnership with Fulcrum Media to develop a professionally produced game of the week, then increased distribution with several linear broadcast outlets. The league also developed AUDL.tv for streaming of games and highlight reels, partnered with Ultiworld to increase the number of league games streamed and this fall entered into a game changing multi-year agreement with an exciting new media partner that expands live coverage of our national games on cable and for the first time, will make the games available worldwide through Twitter Live. More will come with the official announcement next month.
As a result of this focus on developing compelling digital content, the AUDL teams and league have a combined social media audience of almost half a million engaged followers, with its top plays appearing 17 times on Sports Center TOP 10 this past season and our fans enjoying over 18 million video minutes of our top plays viewed on Facebook in 2017.
Most importantly, we were attracted by the values of sportsmanship and inclusiveness that ultimate represents. Who can forget the “Integrity rule” invoked by a Seattle player in the classic Championship Weekend nail-biter played in Madison in 2016. The AUDL is open to players of all race, sexual orientation and gender. The AUDL has committed to invest heavily in 2018 to actively promote the fact that ultimate is played at a high level by both men and woman and will use its youth development clinics, social media and broadcast assets to promote this more clearly than ever in a sustainable, multi-year effort.
However, this winning formula never seemed to quite catch on with the Riptide. Late this fall we anticipated that introducing a new local partner to the business would bring greater support from players, the ultimate community and the many volunteers who help every team deliver a great product. Unfortunately, that has not happened. This is both a business and a passion and the Riptide owners have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars to make the team a success, but it now seems clear we have a product that the BC market does not fully embrace.
After careful consideration of all options and after in-depth discussions with the AUDL, L2 Sports Management has obtained approval to transfer its territory agreement from Vancouver to Portland, Oregon to begin play in the 2019 season. We are excited to bring our brand of action packed ultimate to a strong market like Portland and look forward to collaborating with the ultimate community to plan for a successful team launch in 2019.
Therefore, the Vancouver Riptide will cease operation on December 31st 2017 and we would like to thank all of our players, volunteers, sponsors and supporters for their past efforts to make the Vancouver Riptide a success. We would also like to thank the 23 other AUDL team owners who have put their passion, financial investment and time into building a very special sports venture. See you again in the West in 2019!
L2 Sports Management