Lee Cohen doesn’t consider the Charleston Battery a small-market team in the USL Championship.
Of course, there are clubs within the USL Championship that are surrounded by larger population centers — New York, Los Angeles, Miami and Tampa Bay being prime examples — than the Charleston Battery.
These two clubs have to compete for entertainment dollars against professional teams in leagues like the NFL, NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball.
“These clubs might be in cities with a bigger population, but look at who they’re competing against,” Cohen said. “I like to turn the script around. Charleston has a lot more sense of community, and I think the potential is there to really grow the club, which I don’t know if that’s possible in some of the other cities.
This is one of the reasons Cohen was drawn to drumming in Charleston and the Lowcountry.
The Battery announced on September 20 the hiring of Cohen as the new president of the football club. Cohen comes to the club after recently serving as president of another USL championship club, the Tampa Bay Rowdies.
“I felt like we needed someone who had experience in the USL Championship,” Battery majority owner Rob Salvatore said. “Lee has a tremendous amount of experience in the USL and I think he’s the right person to really bring the whole club to the top of the mountain. In my opinion, we were really lucky to have a guy with Lee’s resume.
Cohen joins the battery to oversee the overall operations of the club, both as general manager of the team, which will include the signing of players and coaches, and the business operations of the team, from stadium operations ticketing, marketing and sponsor development.
Since the battery’s inception in 1993, these two roles had been separated within the club’s hierarchy. Former Charleston coach Mike Anhaeuser served as general manager for more than a decade.
“The structure has been a bit different in the past,” Salvatore said. “We wanted to combine the commercial and sporting side into a single role. Lee and I both feel this was a necessary change that needed to be made.
Lee spent four years at the USL handling league operations and player development before joining the Rowdies in 2010.
There he oversaw the team’s operations, eventually becoming the club’s operations director in 2012 and then club chairman in 2020.
The Rowdies won the North American Soccer League title in 2012. Cohen also oversaw renovations to Al Lang Stadium in 2014, creating an immersive experience for fans.
“I’m not a cultural person because I think that’s a buzzword,” Cohen said. “I’m more interested in our identity. What are our values as an organization and do we adhere to these values on a daily basis? Rob is a big canoe guy, so are we all rowing in the same direction?
“Does any decision we make as a club lead the organization to profitability or does it lead us to more wins? If the answer is yes to either of these questions, then we do that. that need.
As president, Cohen led the Rowdies through the pandemic-shortened 2020 season to win the club’s first Eastern Conference title.
Cohen will oversee all club operations with two home games remaining this season at Patriots Point, starting with the Battery’s Sept. 23 game against Rio Grande Valley FC Toros.
“I feel like it’s the first day of school,” Cohen said. “I’m very excited to dive straight in, get into the trenches, talk to supporters and fans at the upcoming home games.”
Reach Andrew Miller at 843-937-5599. Follow him on Twitter @APMILLER_PandC