Although Tim McFerran says he doesn’t have an official title, his role with the Maloof Money Cup would probably be best described as president of operations. McFerran has been involved since the beginning and is keeps his attention focused on maintaining close relationships between the Maloofs and core skate brands. But his top priority is creating a competition that truly represents what skateboarding should be, he says. TransWorld stopped McFerran after the competition wrapped up to discuss the future of the contest, endemic vs. non-endemic sponsorship and building skateparks.
As president, what are you chief duties and responsibilities?
Well, I deal with everything from Joe [Maloof] on down. I have about eleven employees that work for me full-time, but I am responsible for sponsorships, marketing, website management – everything.
How long does it take to prep the course and tear it down?
We do it pretty fast now. We started pouring cement a week ago and the vert ramp takes about four days. You know, we never seem to be completely ready however; we are always doing something last minute.
How do you plan to continue growing Maloof and allow it to stand out against other skateboard competitions?
We are expanding to have four events in the U.S. and two outside the U.S. in 2011. We have had twenty-nine cities, two of which were today, contacting us from all over the world wanting us to do a Maloof Cup there. When you bring all the best skaters from across the world to skate together on one course, it is like watching the Lakers inside the Staples Center. Everybody wants to come and see them skate and then skate it themselves afterward.
Our New York skatepark is so busy right now, it may need to be refurbished in a couple of weeks because of how much skateboarding has been going on since we left.
Is that something you plan to do with each skatepark, keep them maintained?
Every skatepark we build from now on is going to be left there and we may be going back to the New York one to do some repairs.
Will next year’s Orange County Skatepark be kept?
We are planning on one in Southern California. We would really like to be here in the Orange County area and have been talking to some people, but we are also talking to people in several cities.
What is your take on endemic vs. non-endemic partners and advertisers?
It is very important for us to have sponsors like Volcom and Vans, and we have about twenty-five other skateboarding brands involved with the events. When we first started doing this and researching it, I realized there was a huge disconnect between those large skateboarding contests and the endemic skateboarding brands. Staying close to [endemic brands] is very important to us, and I personally make sure that we maintain a close relationship with everybody.
We are going to have partners that are not endemic, but as long as we keep our business straight on the street course and with the vert ramp I think things will take care of themselves.
The X Games partnered this year with America’s Navy, is that something you would consider?
I think America’s Navy liked the opportunity gear their advertising toward young men and our contest holds that demographic. We have strongest ratings in ages 18 to 34 than anybody else. We look at all things, because number one we have to be able to pay for this, but how you integrate them in a way that makes sense is most important.
We did a sponsorship last year that was very disconcerting, probably made a mistake, but it is about integration. I don’t want to have a sponsor that has nothing to do with skateboarding in a powerful position. Vans is great, Volcom is great, and we have been very lucky to have Sole Technology involved originally. You can’t ask for anything more.
About how many people are staffed during this event?
We have about eleven staffed from Maloof, but we have several hundred people here that are outside vendors between the TV crew and security.
How do you measure success?
You measure it in the crowd. You measure it in the skaters. You measure it by what Chris Cole said to me a few minutes ago: That it is the best contest he has ever been involved in, with the best atmosphere, and the best group of skaters he has ever competed against.
How does the revenue break down between sponsors, partnerships, and ticket sales?
Well, in New York we didn’t sell tickets, we just gave them away.
Is that something you are going to do in Kimberly?
I don’t know yet. Our plan is, right now, to give the tickets away for free. The greatest part about working with Joe and Gavin is they are not typical billionaires, they are so compassionate. It is so important for us to go into Kimberly and give away two thousand skateboards, teach the kids how to skate the week prior, and then leave the skatepark there. I don’t think we are going to charge anything. I just can’t imagine it.
To circle back, how does the revenue breakdown here in Orange County between ticket sales and sponsorships?
This event has to pay for itself through sponsorships. Ticket sales are a small part of it. Our goal is to make sure as many people can afford to come out and enjoy it as possible. That is why we were able to work out a deal at the Orange County Fair to come out and enjoy the fair and see our event at a low price.
How are the judges selected? What are the criteria and their backgrounds?
Judging is so important. There is a contest out there worried about the percentage of tricks landed. From my basketball world, the guy who is worried about his shooting percentage is not the guy taking the last shot in the game, and we look to create an atmosphere of last shot takers. I want these guys to go for the hardest trick possible. It’s about guys skating together and feeding off each other’s energy, and you can’t get that if you try to score per trick.
To get back to the judging part of it, we have the World Cup judges doing our vert and they do a great job on vert. They all know the skaters very well. The guys at spotlight, they are the Tampa Pro guys and we allow them to pick their own judges, and they do an unbelievable job on the street and I am so proud of them. They are extremely professional. In New York we had a couple of guys local to the area, because we felt it was important to their culture of skateboarding. Here, we have a few southern California judges selected.
What about in Kimberly?
We will probably have to bring in guys from the U.S. It is so important to be fair and honest – to have integrity when you judge – and I think that is where we are. They are judging skateboarding on the overall impression.
What about as far as course formats, does that have plans to change or do you feel you have hit that right on?
We’re always pushing progression. We started out looking at what everyone else did, figuring out what they did wrong, and doing our own thing. We know we are the leaders. Joe was wearing a shirt today with a target on it because we are the targets; everyone is after us and trying to knock us off. We are the ones driving progression in the vert contests and we are the ones driving progression in the street contests. I also think people are going to start leaving the street courses they build for their contests. They aren’t doing it now but they will start to feel pressured.