A St. Louis native and University of Missouri graduate is pivoting from a career in baseball to help lead professional football's return to his hometown.
Kurt Hunzeker has been named president of the St. Louis XFL team.
Hunzeker previously worked as the vice president of marketing strategy and research for Minor League Baseball. Before that, he spent half a decade as a senior director of brand marketing for St. Louis-based Rawlings, where one of his first projects was working on the relaunch of the brand's football helmets.
"Football has always been in the blood," Hunzeker said Tuesday. "From Day One, St. Louis has always been in my blood. When you are the typical sports-crazy kid from St. Louis, the opportunity to lead one of its professional teams is literally the dream come true."
Hunzeker will be responsible for the team's fan engagement and business operations. His role oversees ticket sales, corporate partnerships, marketing, communications, community relations and game-day experience. He now is making front-office employees finalize a business and marketing plan.
"This is truly going to be St. Louis' team," Hunzeker said. "We are going to be 100 percent community-centric and absolutely fan focused in everything we do. Unlike the other seven XFL teams, we are going to be the only professional football team in town. That's something we don't take lightly. We are going to be everywhere."
The St. Louis XFL team will launch in February 2020 and play its home games at The Dome at America's Center. Jonathan Hayes is the team's coach and general manager. A tryout for the team is scheduled for July 13. The team's name and logo have not yet been released.
"The challenge exists," Hunzeker said of re-introducing pro football to an area still stinging from the NFL's departure. "The recent history is the recent history. But there is one gigantic difference. This will be the first St. Louis, born and raised, modern professional football team."
Hunzeker graduated from the University of Missouri School of Journalism in May 1999. He and his family will be relocating to St. Louis from Tampa.