The Sioux Falls Storm will be under new ownership as Todd Tryon has elected to sell the team.
The announcement was made on Wednesday (October 2) afternoon. Three local families have pooled together to purchase the team from Tryon. The new ownership group is comprised of:
Jason Headlee - President/Owner
Valerie Headlee - Owner
Stephanie Richter - Vice President/Owner
David Richter - Owner
Amber Garry - Owner
Patrick Garry - Owner
Tryon announced as part of the press conference that Kurtiss Riggs will remain as the head coach of the team.
Riggs also talked about the impact that Tryon had on the franchise but noted how excited he is about the future of the team.
The Sioux Falls Storm will begin its 20th season in February 2020 as members of the Indoor Football League.
Matt Zimmer Argus Leaders Sports
Todd Tryon saved the Sioux Falls Storm. Ten years later, he’s ready to hand off the Indoor Football League champions to new owners.
The Storm announced at a press conference Wednesday at the Premier Center that Tryon has sold the team to a new local ownership group, one that has deep ties to the Storm, to football and to each other.
Jason and Valerie Headlee, and Valerie’s sisters and their husbands, Amber and Patrick Garry and Stephanie and David Richter, take over as owners of the 11-time national champions, with Jason Headlee to serve as team president.
The owners are longtime Storm season ticketholders and business owners in the community. The Headlees have two sons who play football for the University of South Dakota – Jacob and Hunter – who starred at Harrisburg High School.
“There was a lot of pressure to find the right group,” said Tryon, who made up his mind after this summer’s championship that it was time to sell. “I probably had my best chance in 2017 to get out and sell but that was during a tough time (the Storm briefly left the IFL for the CIFL, only to return weeks later) for the league and I didn’t feel comfortable. I felt I needed to lead our franchise on to stable ground first. Now our league is booming. We’re going to be at 14-16 teams this year. That’s a far cry from two years ago. This thing is headed in the right direction, and this is the right group. They’re a football family with very successful business acumen in Sioux Falls. There’s six people here that can do the one job I did.”
As fans, the new owners have seen firsthand how the IFL has rebounded in the last couple years. After playing with just six teams in 2018, the IFL expects to play with between 14 and 16 teams in 2020.
“Our first question was, ‘Is the league strong?’,” said Jason Headlee, who attended the last league owner’s meetings. “We were very impressed with everything that’s going on. The right decisions are being made.”
The new ownership group had one stipulation to taking over: Kurtiss Riggs had to remain as head coach. That got Riggs involved in the process, and he was sold on the Headlee group right away.
“They’re gonna work very hard to not only continue the tradition we have but make it better,” said Riggs, who will enter his 17th year as coach in 2020 with a 240-44 record. “The Storm had kind of become just about winning, and even that had gotten stale in some respects. That’s where this group comes in. They’re gonna see things in a different light when it comes to entertainment, tailgating, pregame, the postgame party. They see it as a show, not just a football game.”
Will the new owners continue to give Riggs the support and resources he needs to make the Storm an annual contender?
“Oh yeah,” the coach said. “They pretty much said to just keep doing what I do.”
When Tryon bought the team in 2010, it was in turmoil, still reeling from the insurance violations committed by then-owner Kent Vucurevich, which resulted in forfeited games in 2009 that kept the Storm out of the playoffs. Tryon was a former Storm player and assistant coach just starting to make his mark in the local business community when he took over, and he told his wife, Wendy, he just needed three years to get the team on track before he planned to sell. He ended up lasting a decade, and there’s no doubt he’s leaving the franchise in far better shape than he found it.
“We wouldn’t be here without him,” Riggs said. “He inherited the team in the worst spot it could be in. We’d just forfeited a bunch of games, hadn’t been paying bills – he had to go in and mend some relationships in the community. And he really went a couple years there where he didn’t make any money as he worked to get things back to being functional. He saved us.”
Still, Tryon was fairly unemotional about selling. The uncertain nature of minor league sports can take its toll, and the Tryon children are reaching the age where Todd didn’t want to miss their games anymore. He admitted that if new ownership hadn’t been found the team would’ve been in trouble, as his mind was made up about getting out.
But with the new owners in place, Tryon gets to go out on top, with the Storm having won their seventh championship during his ownership in his final season.
“That’s the only way to go out,” Tryon said. “(The 2019 championship) was the best sporting event I’ve ever been a part of. I’m gonna miss it, because you get to meet so many great people and have so many memories, but the time is right.”