Jawad Yatim had played two seasons of arena football after college and knew that this was the career he wanted to pursue. Although founding his own indoor arena football team, the Massachusetts Pirates, out of the DCU Center in Worcester, Massachusetts, was his first ever endeavor, Jawad used his connections and experience, as well as his natural knack for learning on the go, and has already seen massive success since founding and starting the organization in 2017. Jawad was only 27 when he founded it, making him the youngest owner and operator in professional football, and still is to this day.
Being local and familiar with both arena football and the market in which the Pirates call home helped Jawad feel very comfortable within the business. Jawad also noted the exclusivity of the product within the market which was also something that inspired him to take the plunge, as the Pirates are the only arena football organization in New England. Since 2019, the team has tripled their multi-game ticket accounts, something that typically doesn’t happen until teams have been around for considerably longer. As previously noted they compete out of DCU Center, a 14,000-seat arena, and Jawad has secured a TV deal with NESN, one of the largest sports networks in the country. Since the Pirates have begun play, they’ve also had numerous former NFL players join their organization, and have had the most players sign NFL, CFL, or XFL contracts in the entire country, including former Pirates DL Willie Yarbary, who just recently signed with the Los Angeles Chargers. Additionally their head coach is a three-time Superbowl champion in Patrick Pass, and 98% of their players have signed NFL contract’s or participated in an NFL camp, including players like Martavis Bryant, Dexter McCluster, Terrance Williams, Mardy Gilyard, Martrell Spaight, TJ Barnes, and Tre Jackson. In 2019, they also won a number of awards, including the league’s Community Service Award and Media Relations Award, and Jawad was also named League Executive of the Year by the publication, Last Word on Sports. Their short film, Now or Never, is a documentary-style look at the creation and development of the 2019 edition of the Massachusetts Pirates, which has been available on Amazon Prime since 2020. They partnered with Moody Street Productions, and Jawad himself also served as one of the producers. “We wanted to educate people on who we are and what we do, so we made a documentary that would live on a platform as opposed to showing on television a couple times,” he says. “We’re currently looking at doing another edition sometime in the near future.”
But it’s not just the football aspect of organization that Jawad handles; he’s also responsible for the business side of things, too. When he first started, Jawad was the only full-time employee until the actual season had commenced and his coaches and players arrived in town. He formed the LLC, and handled all the logo development and trademarking, arena lease negotiations, insurance, corporate partnerships, ticket pricing and seating map, seating assignments, merchandise orders, social media, website development, marketing and media partnerships, print orders, hiring front office staff and recruiting players as well as coaches. “The couple years or so was straight ‘grind mode’,” he remembers. “All-nighters, energy drinks, and constantly being on the phone or looking at computer screen, or sitting in a meeting. He relied on plenty of internal motivation as he states “I was thrown directly in the fire and had no choice but to come out of it. There was a lot of people counting on me and letting them and family down was never an option.” The hard work has seemed to pay off however for Yatim and the Pirates, “We’ve certainly grown as an organization on and off the field and it’s nice to see your vision, and hard work come to fruition.”
During the off-seasons, which are hectic but quieter part of the year, the organization boasts roughly 10 full-time employees, while during the season, which runs from April to September, the number swells to roughly 55 full and part-time employees, including athletic trainers, coaches, players, gameday staff and more. In addition, the Pirates have seen major growth in corporate partnerships, landing their first title sponsor in, Phoenix Communications, as well as landing partnerships with brands such as CITGO, Berkshire Bank, Bud Light and Michelob Ultra, Cornerstone Bank, BODYARMOR, Cintron Energy, and Steward Health among others. One of their partnerships is particularly unique as it is with the company named Resinate, a cannabis dispensary. This is the first ever partnership of this kind in professional football and only the second ever in all professional sports. They also have a partnership with 98.5 The Sports Hub, the largest sports talk radio station in New England.
And while Jawad is excited for the further growth of his organization, he has shifted part of his focus on some other projects as well. He is currently developing an app scheduled to be complete later in 2021, which will help streamline visits to gas stations and convenience stores for consumers. In addition to this project, Jawad and his team are heavily involved in their community for one simple reason: “It’s where I’m from, I care about my hometown, and I’ll be around regardless of how my team is doing.”
Founder, Co-Owner, President, GM, Director of Corporate Partnerships — Massachusetts Pirates, LLC
LinkedIn: Jawad Yatim
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