Kansas City Current president embraces challenge of new role

(Courtesy of the Kansas City Current)

Allison Howard was announced Wednesday as the first president of the NWSL’s Kansas City Current.

A partnerships specialist with nearly two decades of experience in sports business, Howard joins the Current after 10 years with the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers. While the jump from basketball to soccer might be scary for some, Howard is ready to meet the challenge head on.

Just Women’s Sports sat down with Howard to discuss her new role and her plans for the Current.

You’ve been in L.A. for 22 years, and 10 of those years have been with the Lakers. What made you decide to join Kansas City?

So I think that really it’s the ownership group, right? It’s Angie [Long], Chris [Long] and Brittany [Mahomes], and not only the vision that they have for the future, and what to do for women’s sports in particular, but also the commitment that they’ve already shown that they’re going to take them there.

The way that I look at this is I really want to design the playbook for how to build a team, or, you know, if somebody has to rebuild a team, how to do it. And that’s by putting the players first. It’s by always listening to the fans, being in the community, and surrounding yourself with really great partners who are like-minded with the mission.

That’s been my lesson of coming from the Lakers. The Lakers always put the players first. So that’s a very easy transition to come over here, and definitely something that I stand behind.

You’re switching sports, from basketball to soccer. How are you feeling about the change?

There is definitely going to be a learning curve for me. However, I did play soccer in high school. I love this sport. And obviously, you can’t ignore this sport, anywhere. I mean, not only no matter where you are in the United States, but no matter where you are globally, and it’s such a friendly, easy game to play.

So I look forward to getting to my first game with the Current next Monday. I will be back in the market and looking forward to seeing what our players do.

Expanding upon that jump, do you see any particular opportunities or challenges in moving from a men’s league to a women’s league?

Just nothing that’s insurmountable, I’ll say that. Listen, I think, you know, the Lakers are a very established brand. And they have been strong for over 40 years. So there is definitely taking a lot of the blueprint of what Dr. Buss did there and bringing it here, because the reality is, he did a lot of things right. He was really instrumental in developing the league.

And that’s where I see Angie, Chris and Brittany. I really think the nice thing about them is they’re not just thinking about the Current, they are thinking so much bigger, right?

There’s definitely going to be a learning curve. I’m going to use muscles I have not used before, or maybe that I haven’t used in a really long time. But that’s exciting, right? And I think as long as you’re surrounded by really good people who are willing to dig in and get a little dirty for what the mission is, then I have I have confidence that we’re gonna get there.

Definitely. And it’s always fun to learn something new, even though you know you’ve been a veteran of the industry…

For sure. I mean, I definitely think that it keeps you young. And it keeps you curious. And it keeps you growing. And those are all things that are important, no matter where you are in your life.

You talked about it a bit, but you’re going from one of the most storied franchises in sports to a relatively new one. How do you think your experience is going to help you as you walk into this new role?

I learned so many lessons while being at the Lakers. And the vast majority of those are how you do business on, really, almost every level. And it’s really how you engage with the fans, and how you treat your season ticket members, and how you treat your corporate partners. It’s a very servant attitude. And that’s something that I definitely want to bring here. Because it’s authentic, and it’s genuine. And I think when you approach things from that route, everybody feels it, and they’re gonna want to not even get behind us, but walk alongside of us.

What do you hope to accomplish in Kansas City and with the Current?

My number one goal is to make sure that the players are talking to all the other players around the league and saying, ‘This is it. This is where you want to come, this is where you want to play, this is the best place in the league.’ And we’re getting there, we’re building that, literally building it.

Second, I want the fans to say, ‘This is the absolute best sporting experience that I can have.’ And I want the community to feel like they always have a supporter in us, and they can always reach us.

Lastly, selfishly because I come from a partnership background, I definitely want to be the top revenue provider in the league. Whenever it comes to corporate partners, such as corporate partnerships, ticketing, revenue, merchandise, you name it, I want to be at the top. But I want the partners to know that they can always reach us and we are always going to be flexible with them. And we are always going to design bespoke partnerships that are going to really meet what their needs are. This isn’t going to be a, choose Option A, B or C.

What are you most excited about in joining the Current, stepping into the role of president and moving to Kansas City?

I really feel like every step of my career has been to get me to this point. And I just have so many ideas of how I think a culture should be created and how people should be treated. And I’m really excited to put those plans into action.