'Rebuild, refocus, improve:' New Billings Outlaws owner Steven Titus introduced at press conference
To do that, the team’s motto is to “Rebuild, refocus and improve. That is what our three goals are for the rest of the 2022 season and moving forward into the 2023 season,” Titus told those gathered at a press conference Saturday formally introducing him as the new owner of the Outlaws.
While trying to build community support and trust for the team, he also hopes to give fans an energetic game-day experience and to bring a winner to the Magic City.
All that and more was expressed at the press conference at the Sports Plex, where the Outlaws’ new chief executive officer, Lisa Rohrich, and general manager, Kerry Locklin, were also introduced.
The Outlaws are a first-year, expansion member of the Champions Indoor Football league. The team was 6-3 and tied with two other clubs for second place in the CIF standings entering their regular-season finale later Saturday.
“I feel very lucky the CIF trusted me with this franchise,” Titus, an attorney in Gillette, Wyoming, who also operates a real estate investment company, told those gathered at the press conference Saturday.
Both Rohrich and Locklin were on the staff of the Wyoming Mustangs of the CIF, a team Titus also owns. Titus purchased the Mustangs from Pick Six Entertainment, the previous owners of the Billings Outlaws, in March.
To say, Titus, who was officially approved by the CIF as the Outlaw's new owner on Thursday, is excited about the opportunities that await him in his new role would be an understatement.
But first, Titus has been putting out fires left by the former Outlaws’ owners, Pick Six Entertainment.
“We have a lot of relationships and partnerships to mend, but are up to the challenge,” said Titus Saturday.
Titus had agreed to purchase the Outlaws in mid-May but wasn’t supposed to take over the team until this summer.
However, that was fast-tracked when news broke in the Rapid City Journal on Monday that the Rapid City Marshals of the CIF, a team recently sold by Pick Six, were asked to leave their team hotel recently due to unpaid bills charged to Pick Six. The Journal went on to report that multiple sources had detailed unpaid wages and returned checks issued by Pick Six.
Soon, many of those same allegations were also bubbling in Billings, and the CIF announced on Tuesday it was assuming day-to-day operations of the Outlaws and Marshals.
On Monday, as the Outlaws and Sioux City battled for first place and possibly home-field advantage in the upcoming league playoffs, Titus was in attendance. It became clear his group would be running the Outlaws sooner than planned.
The Outlaws’ last regular-season game against the Mustangs was to be contested later Saturday night after the press conference at First Interstate Arena at MetraPark.
“It was really difficult to do in our last season game, but it was necessary to come in early, come in and take over the team,” he explained, “and to put the right people in the right positions to make sure we could continue to win and win a 2022 championship.”
Titus said Rohrich and Locklin will be key to the success of the Billings franchise. He feels strongly about the abilities of both. Rohrich, who also worked for the Wyoming franchise under Pick Six, was the executive director of team logistics with the Mustangs and Locklin was the assistant head coach.
“I’m very lucky, I will honestly say I’m not the smartest guy in the world, but I can find people who know the right things I don’t know and I can make good decisions,” Titus said, adding he “trusts them 100% to help us fix Billings.”
Locklin, a veteran coach with stops in the collegiate and pro ranks who also played a couple of seasons in the NFL, said “I do know what needs to be fixed and my goal is to get it fixed.”
“My job here is to focus real hard on helping this team win a championship this year and make an environment that is conducive for them to win and support the team and support the staff and community and get them involved,” Locklin said. “I was impressed with the crowd and how the kids were excited and that is contagious.”
Rohrich explained part of her duties will be to make the game-day experience sizzle and leave fans wanting to come back for another game. She also hopes to spread the word about Outlaws football, making basic information like game time, promotions, and the schedule easily accessible.
“Have fun, look forward to the game and once you get there, there is nothing like going to an arena football game,” she said, “With excitement, the passion, and coming out (of the game) all excited. You are looking at the calendar looking for the next game.”
Titus said owning multiple teams in the CIF has its advantages. He’ll be able to buy more merchandise, such as football helmets and pads, in bulk. Titus also explained a lot of the sponsors of the Outlaws and Mustangs do business in both Billings and Gillette, where the Mustangs play.
“Billings is a second home to me,” Titus said. “I have a lot of families here. I can guarantee if I’m not in Gillette or on vacation somewhere I’m either in Billings or Red Lodge. Those are two of my favorite places in the world to be. I have a successful law firm and real estate company in Gillette, but Billings is absolutely my second home.”
Key to the success of the ownership of the teams is keeping a football side and a business side to operations explained Titus. He said teams such as Salina, Omaha, and Sioux City in the CIF have been able to maintain that philosophy.
Titus said interim head coach Theo Johnson will remain in position throughout the season and that Brian Schmidt, the head coach who has been on medical leave, will be back at the Metra on Saturday helping with the offensive play calling. Schmidt won’t be on the field due to his injuries, Titus said but would be calling the offensive plays from the owners’ box.
Outlaw's defensive lineman Dylan Donahue, who played high school football at Billings West, told those in attendance at the press conference the Outlaws players are now ready to play after team members were missing paychecks under Pick Six.
“We have refocused and are all looking forward to the rest of the season now and trying to win this championship,” Donahue said.
And while Titus said he’ll be torn between rooting for the Outlaws or Mustangs, he believes there is a bright future in store for Outlaws football in the Magic City.
“Our goal is simple,” he said. “Let’s win the game tonight. At the end of the day, I win the game because one of my teams is going to win, but for the sake of Billings, I’m really hoping Billings pulls this out. It will help our seeding for the playoffs. We have a lot to look forward to in Billings because, at the end of the day, it’s not impossible for Billings to win the championship. Practice harder and practice smarter and reunite as a team and I see no reason Billings can’t be wearing rings here.
“We are very excited to be in Billings. We’re sorry about what has happened in the past and want to fix it and be here for years to come.”