After being owned by the NBA for more than a year, Tom Benson, the owner of the Saints, agreed to purchase the New Orleans Hornets, ensuring the team remains in New Orleans for the foreseeable future.
The owner of both pro sports teams in New Orleans is a shrewd business man, deciding to amalgamate all the behind the scenes employees into the one organisation.
The VP of IT, Tod Caflisch is with Francis and Sean today to discuss his role, (originally with the Hornets but now incorporates both franchises), the new ownership stability of the Hornets after 16 months of being owned by the NBA, as well as discussing how the Saints and Hornets prepared for Hurricane Isaac that passed over New Orleans recently.
Here is a picture of Tod (second from left) with the SEAT Conference Steering committee in Boston at the Markley dinner.
Until Next Week
You can catch ABC Grandstand live on Saturday mornings (at 7:40am) when Sean Callanan discuss sports digital with Francis Leach. Tune into ABC Grandstand Breakfast Friday through Monday on ABC Grandstand digital radio.
FRANCIS: Hey it’s Saturday morning, Sean Callanan the Digital Sports Guru is with us from
SportsGeek HQ to talk sport in the digital world, good day mate how you going?
SEAN: I’m good thanks Francis.
FRANCIS: Excellent to see, busy week?
SEAN: Oh well it’s you know pointy end of the final season and cricket’s starting to ramp up and
getting all ready for the summer of cricket so yeah keeping busy.
FRANCIS: Of course with the Big Bash coming up and that’s going to be a fascinating campaign this
year to see how that beds in for a second year after the novelty of the first season.
SEAN: Well that’s right, I mean it’s all about you know renewing. I mean the first season was all
about telling people it was on, so at people will be ready for it this year you’d hope.
FRANCIS: Now in the States we’ve got the football season underway and it’s a huge infrastructure
that goes into putting it on television, it is – it dominates the American consciousness right
throughout the North American winter. But how is football in the American experience keeping
up with the digital world, and making the sport available to people now who are mobile, how have
access to devices and want to be fully informed and engaged the whole time?
SEAN: Um yeah I mean the NFL is such a big TV product – - -
FRANCIS: It’s incredible.
SEAN: – - – like it just completely dominates – - -
FRANCIS: It’s a beast.
SEAN: — – -you know Sunday afternoon, and you know you can be watching five games at once at
some point. So you know it’s a little bit strange in that they don’t bother you know trying to spread
out the games, they’re all – a lot of them are packed into that Sunday. So digital is becoming more
and more prevalent so you can be watching on one screen, having that second device, tuning in that
kind of thing.
FRANCIS: Like Ed Winseth having the three televisions in the one room.
SEAN: Pretty much – pretty much and that’s how you know and the thing is – where digital’s kicking
in is it’s giving you those alerts of hey change the channel; someone’s hitting the red zone. And the
red zone for those who don’t know in the NFL is when they’re just about you know 20 yards out and
you know a touch down is imminent. So you can flick from – - -
FRANCIS: So keeping each other informed about where to be watching?
SEAN: – - – yeah exactly. And so – and then the other part of it is the digital part for NFL is Fantasy
Footballers an absolutely massive business in the US so there’s a lot of ways of the NFL connecting
with their fans that way as well. You know as people are playing it, so the college mates that have
been you know doing it for 20 years or you know just taking it in and you know seeing which – which
player is playing better and that kind of thing, so there’s a lot of – lot of channel surfing. And you
know the digital devices allowing to support that.
FRANCIS: Now one man we’re going to meet now has the job of trying to make sure the New
Orleans Saints and the Hornets are across all of that and delivering to their fans.
SEAN: Yeah so Vice President of IT Tod Caflisch, is one of the SEAT Conference Steering Committee
members. Yeah and he overlooks now – now that the Hornets have recently been purchased by
the Saints, making a bit of a super club, you know it’s a unique scenario in US sports, not too many
teams that are owned –you know have – have two franchises in one of the big four leagues.
FRANCIS: Tod’s obviously a very, very busy man, he joins us here on Grandstand Breakfast this
morning. Morning Tod welcome to Grandstand Breakfast here in Australia.
TOD: Oh thanks Francis, Sean, how is everybody?
FRANCIS: Really well. How was your first weekend with the Saints and just getting that all up and
running from your perspective last weekend?
TOD: Well being a little bit new to NFL I mean I did rely a lot on the existing guys that are around, I
mean they really did a lot of the heavy lifting. I’ve been around and known them for going on about
five years now so I was already pretty familiar with kind of their operations. I mean from a staff and
broadcast you know radio/TV perspective it’s very similar to the NBA, you know just on a little bit
of a bigger physical scale because the stadiums are much larger. But you know everything actually
came off very well. I apologise for the noise …. the airport in Boston, I flew in for my college 40th
anniversary football event this weekend.
SEAN: So Tod one thing I did want to talk to you about was just a couple of weeks ago New Orleans
had to prepare for Hurricane Isaac and knowing that New Orleans went through Katrina, you know,
eight years ago now, what kind of preparations did the pro teams have to make, both from a you
know infrastructure point of view and just from a team point of view to prepare for – for Isaac?
TOD: Well we – we had a little bit of a practice run three years ago with Hurricane Gustav, but when
I came to the Hornets five years ago that was kind of my first priority because it was a – storm was
not just devastating for the city but it also drove the Hornets off to Oklahoma City where they played
for two years with all the damage to the arena, and so you know my first goal was to really set up
a solid you know disaster recovery and business plan that you know with Gustav and some tropical
storms since we’ve been able to test, it’s worked very well. You know with the Saints owner you
know acquiring the Hornets this summer, you know we’re actually in the process of setting up the
same type of system for them because they – they were really lacking anything very proactive as
far as the disaster recovery plan you know to that scope. So I mean we kind of got caught a little
bit with Isaac and we weren’t quite ready but luckily you know the worst of it for us really is – was
power outages and a lot of flooding, I mean there was more you know personal loss you know as
far as you know staff members and the teams than there was to any of our facilities, luckily, but
you know it did – it did make the Saints have to change their – their plans prior to their pre-season
game back east when a storm blew through they were playing actually against the Tennessee Titans
in Nashville and you know they usually fly out the day before for out of town games, but they
actually flew to Cincinnati that Monday, and they were playing Thursday night after, they flew up to
Cincinnati on Monday and then they practiced at the Cincinnati Bengals facilities that whole week
and then on Wednesday night they flew into Nashville for the game Thursday.
FRANCIS: It must be difficult to know that or you must be aware that that’s the season that you’re
in that’s always a possibility, you have to have that contingency always ready to go because of the
climatic conditions in which you live?
TOD: Absolutely it is yeah. I mean – you know I mean the nice thing about it is that you know you
kind of see them coming, and you have a little bit you know I mean you have some time to prepare
but you know this was – this was kind of a – this was my third hurricane actually and this is kind
of you know they’re all different, this one was weird in that you know it – it kept tracking west
while it was in the Gulf so we thought you know I mean by the time that it – it you know would get
anywhere close it would you know kind of bypass us and maybe hit Texas, and but it really took kind
of a weird turn at the late and then once it made land fall on the coast it really just kind of stalled
and just dumped, there was so much water, there have been significant flooding. A lot of areas
around you know south east Louisiana a lot of homes were lost, you know and then the storm kind
of tracked north very slowly dumping a lot of rain which then in turn flowed back down south, you
know via the Mississippi and a lot of the tributaries there and you know it actually at one point
was threatening an old earthen dam, you know that they were in fear that it was going to give and
they evacuated a town and yeah I mean honestly you know I – I don’t – I don’t like the whole storm
situation it’s pretty common you know around here, but you know I think I might actually prefer a
hurricane situation to you know living in the mid west again where we had to worry about tornados
and that kind of thing which you know can kind of hit you without a lot of warning.
FRANCIS: Tod one thing just with the merge of the Hornets and the Saints, what do you think’s going
to be the big key benefit from the Hornets point of view merging with the Saints operations?
TOD: You know I mean we’ve been owned by the NBA for the last couple of years, so I mean you
know ownership stability is kind of the biggest thing, I think that was the big goal. You know there
was some risk that you know the Hornets were going to be purchased by a new owner that was
going to potentially move the team out of town which you know was – was not desirable, so and I
think the financial and ownership stability is – is certainly a benefit you know coming from the Saints
to the Hornets, you know the Saints are a very, very successful organisation, very profitable, I mean
they do great business you know I mean they’re very smart with what they do, they get you know
really good people on the business side, they’ve got really good on the football side and you know
we have Mickey Loomis their General Manager who is now overseeing you know the operations at
the Hornets you know as far as the basketball operations, you know, with Dell Demps actually still
as the GM. But you know there’s – it’s – it’s a great merger and you know like I said it’s kind of one
of those rare you know keeper team situations. I don’t know in the United States how many other
ones there may be like that. I know Seattle and the Seahawks and the Sounders are one like that but
I don’t know if there are many others.
FRANCIS: No it seems a fairly unique arrangement in American sport, but one with all the synergies
there to make it work and lots of people in New Orleans and Hornets Saints here in Australia as well.
We’ll let you get onto your reunion, hope everyone is still telling tall stories about their great feats
40 years ago and they’ve no doubt gotten better and bigger as the years have gone on.
TOD: Oh yeah. Oh yeah the older we get the greater the stories become.
FRANCIS: Good on you Tod.
SEAN: Thanks Tod.
FRANCIS: Have a great time there in Boston.
TOD: Wonderful, thanks guys, appreciate the opportunity.
FRANCIS: Tod Caflisch there from the New Orleans Saints and Hornets, he’s in charge of the IT for
SEAN: For both organisations. I look forward to the Hornets having monobrow promotions because
they’ve got the number one pick Anthony Davis who’s famous for the one eyebrow.
FRANICS: Has he got the Gallagher look?
SEAN: He does have the Gallagher look so yeah it will be interesting to see if they go with the
FRANCIS: We can only hope.
SEAN: Yeah definitely.
FRANCIS: They need to put a monobrow on the front of their webpage.
SEAN: And I’m assuming monobrow might be a hash tag that’s thrown out during the Hornets’
season no doubt.
FRANCIS: I think you should get on to it first. Where can people find you?
SEAN: SportsgeekHQ.com or sportsgeek or seancallanan on Twitter.