Professional Ultimate Frisbee is coming to Madison. Starting in the spring of 2013, the Madison Radicals will compete in the American Ultimate Disc League, which is in the final weeks of its inaugural season. The Radicals will be part of an eight-team expansion that will double the size of the league and allow for a conference that will also include teams in Minneapolis, Chicago and Indianapolis.
Tim DeByl, an active local Ultimate player who co-owns the east-side design firm Distillery, owns the team along with David Martin and Chad Coopmans. He couldn't resist the opportunity to get involved with professional Ultimate in Madison, one of the sport's hotbeds.
"It just takes enough to pay for the stadium, the uniforms, the cost of travel and give the players a little something," DeByl says when asked about the chances for success. "People in Madison love something to do. I brought my kids out to a farm to see some baby goats and 500 people were there paying $7. If I can't match that, then maybe I'll just invite some baby goats to the field."
There are significant differences between an AUDL game and what goes on at a game played by even the UW-Madison Hodags, one of the top college teams in the country. The most significant is the presence of referees making active calls. Self-officiating has always been a big part of Ultimate, but anyone who has seen the game played at a high level will say that it's difficult, bordering on impossible, for competitive athletes to ignore their own interests in favor of fairness.
"You can't put people in high-pressure situations and expect them to make the right calls," says DeByl, who is also tasked with recruiting and training referees for games played in Madison.
The season gets under way next April, and Madison will host eight home games. DeByl is trying to secure Breese-Stevens as the home field as he also works to line up players, design a uniform and build some excitement.