For the last 39 years of his life, Dave Montgomery has worked at a baseball stadium, re-creating a franchise known for futility, fleabag facilities and angst into a fan-friendly, championship organization that has once again drawn more than 3 million fans.
Yet, when the Philadelphia Sports Congress announced yesterday that the Phillies' president/CEO would serve as the chairman of its new leadership team, it was a little surprising. As Montgomery himself said, "I'm not a soccer guy" and one of the organization's key missions is to procure World Cup games in 2018 and 2022.
He also holds no influence or insight into many of the PSC's other notable accomplishments; The X Games, Gymnastics and, of course, the Army-Navy game.
Montgomery has proved to be quite the master of presentation, and that's far more important to the congress and world soccer officials than an ability to discern a direct kick from an indirect one. As Clay Armbrister, Mayor Nutter's chief of staff, said at a press conference yesterday: "The city is absolutely thrilled that you would take on this responsibility. And we are very hopeful that you will be able to spread the charm that you've managed to spread with the Phillies throughout the city."
Montgomery, 63, characteristically deflected such accolades, praising the tireless work of longtime chairman Bob Levy and alluding to his background in horse racing. He joked that he and the PSC's new vice chairman, Admiral Tom Lynch, should be looked at as a single entry.
"One and 1A," said Montgomery.
Lynch has been a key figure in keeping the Army-Navy Game in Philadelphia for 5 of the next 7 years. The Army-Navy Game generates $30 million in revenue, Lynch said. World Cup games, even early Round 1, could generate 10 times that much, he said.
"All these events are critical to the city's economic success," Armbrister said.
Montgomery was asked about All-Star Games, and particularly one in Citizens Bank Park. Montgomery noted that the Phillies hosted the 1996 All-Star Game and that there are 30 other teams and towns interested in hosting as well.
That said, he has a plan . . .
"We did it for the bicentennial," he said of baseball's 1976 All-Star Game. "We did it again in '96. There are 30 teams, so if you do 30 years from '96 - it's a special year for the city."
And a nation that will be celebrating its 250th birthday.
"We could push the envelope and move up a few years," he said. "But do we want to?"