What a difference a few months makes for Marc de Grandpre, general manager of the New York Red Bulls. Fans wanted him run out of town, tar-and-feathered and forever purged from the organization.
Now he is overseeing one of the most successful seasons in franchise history, dating back to the team's inception as the MetroStars in 1996. And while he isn't responsible for the club's success on the field he did hire Ali Curtis this offseason, the team's sporting director who has pieced together a group of players who are near the top of the league's standings. It was an unpopular move then.
Then again, most of his moves have been.
He hired Curtis from the league office, a move that many fans didn't like at first and had doomed from the start. Brought back to the Red Bulls last spring, de Grandpre was the man who fired Bruce Arena in 2007, an unpopular move at the time and even more so as Arena has gone on to win three MLS Cups and two Supporter Shields with the Los Angeles Galaxy. But that decision to get ride of Arena, a former national team head coach who won three MLS titles with D.C. United, was a move that came from team ownership in Salzburg and de Grandpre was just the one who carried it out.
On Tuesday, de Grandpre was at Red Bulls training to introduce a new member of the team's technical staff. He was warmly received by a number of players who stopped by to shake hands with him.
"I try to encourage Marc to come out here as much as possible. It shows the players and the connection between what is going on here and the front office. More importantly, Marc is a great guy and a great leader," head coach Jesse Marsch told Metro. "I think any impact he can have on our group on a daily basis is always going to be a positive one. I always like seeing him here. I think he's a fantastic leader for this organization and a great guy to have around."
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Around the team's office at Red Bull Arena, he is hailed as being hands-on and proactive. One employee said it isn't uncommon to see their general manager stop by and make cold calls to prospective ticket buyers.
Now in his second stint with the organization, his focus is purely on the business side of things...and business is booming. Season ticket renewals are up 44 percent over this time last year and there are more season ticket holder now just through this “Phase 1”renewal than the organization had at the end of the renewal phases combined last year.
Attendance, even without any stars to replace Thierry Henry and Tim Cahill, is up eight percent over last year and the number of season ticket holders in 2015 increased by 12 percent. Television numbers are up – way up – and the club has also added sponsors such as Audi and Bayer.