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Raiders owner looks to sell stake in team

Rochester Business Journal
April 23, 2010

Rochester Raiders owner Dave McCarthy is looking for investors to buy some or all of the Indoor Football League franchise, he said this week.

McCarthy is a former high school quarterback and was a car salesman for 17 years before he and a group of investors paid $250,000 for an ownership stake in the fledgling Raiders in 2006.

McCarthy owns 80 percent of the franchise, he said. Robert Bartosiewicz, president and CEO of CGI Communications Inc., and Rochester insurance representative Gregory Malley each have 10 percent shares.

"I have to diversify," said McCarthy, a sales executive at CGI. "I don't have time to do it all myself anymore. I'm with CGI, but I run the team 24 hours a day. That's my point; that's the reason. I want to diversify my time a little bit."

McCarthy is looking for investments of $120,000 per 10 percent share.

"I either want to sell it or divide it," he said. "I want to divvy pieces off, in 10 percent increments. A lot of the teams in the league are doing that."

Ownership groups of an expansion franchise must pay $100,000 to enter the IFL, McCarthy said, with an additional investment of $500,000 to put together the team, he said.

The Rochester franchise is in no danger of folding, McCarthy said. If additional investors do not come forward, he will continue as the primary owner.

The Raiders are a bargain for investors, McCarthy said. Some $2.1 million has been invested over four years, and the franchise made money last season for the first time after three years of losses, he said.

"The team is profitable," McCarthy said. "It owes nothing to anybody. We don't have one debt; it's a clean slate. The team is break-even, or maybe a $10,000 to $20,000 profit. It was a $500,000 loss for the first three years."

CGI has benefited from Bartosiewicz's investment in the Raiders, McCarthy said. A creator and distributor of online promotional and advertising videos, CGI has grown to 250 employees and occupies eight floors of the 12-story Granite Building on East Main Street.

"Contacts mean contracts," McCarthy said. "That's what we say around here. That's what this team has done for CGI. It's an automatic marketing machine. That's the beauty of this, and it's a total write-off for the company.

"As an entrepreneur you can moniker your company to (the team). It amounts to sponsorships. Some teams ask $50,000 to $100,000 for sponsors. Here, you can own the team and put your logo everywhere."

McCarthy hopes to have additional local investors by midsummer.

"I want to stay local because it's been local," he said. "It's our team. It's Rochester. We can take partners on board ASAP, depending on how they want to buy in."

Most of the IFL's 25 franchises have 10 to 12 owners, McCarthy said. The Chicago franchise has 20 owners.

"There's a lot of wisdom in what he's talking about doing," said IFL commissioner Thomas Benizio. "I don't have the exact numbers, but far more teams are owned by groups than by one individual.

"Obviously, for the sake of potential liability, diversifying and having multiple owners is helpful. But more importantly, when you put a group together-like a doctor, a lawyer, a politician, a businessman and a banker-suddenly there are a lot of circles of influence that overlap that strengthen the opportunity for a team to be successful financially."

The Raiders were launched in the Continental Indoor Football League, where they played for nearly three seasons before leaving for the American Indoor Football Association late in 2008.

They joined the IFL last season. That league was formed by incorporating four former CIFL teams with the merged Intense Football League and United Indoor Football.

The IFL expects to add eight to 10 more for 2010, Benizio said.

"It's not perfect," he said. "Some teams are doing better than others, but overall things are really good. We can add one or 40 teams next year. The question is, 'Are they quality operators?'

"The success and failure of our teams is almost exclusively based on who owns and operates them. If you have somebody good in there with business savvy, who's financially capable, who's going to operate with kindness of heart, the team is a success. If you don't, it won't be."

The Rochester franchise is one of the IFL's most successful, Benizio said.

"Dave McCarthy is one of our more colorful owners," he said. "He's great to work with. He's a real team player. He always wants to do what's best for the team. He thinks outside the box. He seems to be great at building relationships with corporate sponsors, which is a big part of our teams' success."

The Raiders are playing their home games this season at the Dome Arena in Henrietta. The ESL Sports Centre in Brighton was their home in 2006, then the Main Street Armory in 2007.

Rochester won the CIFL championship in 2007, beating the Michigan Pirates at Blue Cross Arena at the War Memorial. The team played all home games at Blue Cross Arena in 2008 and 2009. / 585-546-8303

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