Long-Term Goal Achieved: Silverbacks Introduce Local Ownership Group
The list of North American Soccer League (NASL) teams with local ownership groups has been growing in recent years, and as of Friday, the Atlanta Silverbacks can be added to that list. The Silverbacks have introduced a new ownership group consisting of longtime chairman Boris Jerkunica, longtime vice chairman John Latham and brothers Henry and John Hardin, who run SCI Companies, which specializes in human resource outsourcing.
“The introduction of a new local ownership group is tremendously exciting for both the Atlanta Silverbacks organization and the local soccer community as a whole,” Jerkunica said. “Finding local ownership has been a long-term goal of ours. I couldn’t feel more honored to be a part of such a passionate and committed group of investors, which we’ll be actively looking to add to in the future.”
Since joining the NASL in 2011, the Atlanta Silverbacks have been owned and operated by Traffic Sports, along with Jerkunica and Latham, who each held minority interests. With Traffic owning other clubs in the NASL, it was always a goal to find local ownership in Atlanta.
“We congratulate Boris Jerkunica, John Latham and Henry and John Hardin on their partnership and the exciting prospect of taking the club forward on the strength of committed local ownership,” said NASL Commissioner Bill Peterson. “These are exciting times for the NASL and North American soccer in general and the Silverbacks are perfectly positioned to further grow their brand in Atlanta and beyond.
“The Silverbacks have long had an incredible impact on the Atlanta soccer scene. This year they have reached a new level. They won the NASL Spring Season Championship, hosted the New York Cosmos in the Soccer Bowl, and now have fortified their ownership group. The future of professional soccer is in good hands in Atlanta.”
Jerkunica is a household name in the Atlanta soccer community. He is the sole proprietor of Atlanta Silverbacks Park, a multi-million dollar soccer complex that is home to the largest adult amateur leagues in Georgia and the stadium that houses the Atlanta Silverbacks men’s professional team, women’s semi-professional team, and men’s reserve team. A member of the Emory University Sports Hall of Fame after a standout soccer career, Jerkunica is a technology entrepreneur who has founded several companies including Vocalocity, Inc., Netzip, Inc., and Software Builders International.
Latham, who has served as the club’s vice chairman for several years, also joins the new ownership group. A partner at Alston & Bird, LLP, Latham is an experienced trial lawyer that has invested in professional soccer in Atlanta for nearly 20 years.
Henry Hardin, a pioneer in the field of human resource outsourcing, founded SCI Companies, a Lawrenceville-based firm that also has offices in Chicago, Ill., Orlando, Fla., Tampa, Fla., and Delhi, India. Hardin maintains an active role in the company, currently serving as its CEO & President.
“What we’re really talking about here is offering a fun, exciting, and entertaining product for local soccer fans to enjoy,” Henry Hardin said. “We don’t want to be like the others. We want the Silverbacks to be something fun and different, and I look forward to helping the club fulfill that vision.”
Joining his brother, Henry, as an investor is John Hardin, who also fills an executive role with SCI Companies in the Lawrenceville office. In addition to working with SCI Companies, the Hardin brothers own a host of other companies in the areas of technology, outsourcing, and insurance. The two have been working in the Atlanta area for nearly 20 years, and share a deep passion for soccer. Besides playing in an adult soccer league during the week, Henry is a coach at Hebron Christian Academy in Dacula.
As part of the club’s new chapter, the Silverbacks staff will operate out of the same office as SCI Companies in Lawrenceville, allowing its employees to work closely with the local ownership group. The Silverbacks have also increased their sales staff, adding three more account executives to continue the momentum gained over the last several seasons.
The Silverbacks, who hosted the league’s championship game, NASL Soccer Bowl 2013, in November sold out nine of their 15 home games last year. Overall, the club has increased its paid attendance 39% since 2012 and 101% since its inaugural NASL season in 2011.
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