i9 Sports is Rapidly Growing and Focusing on Expansion With Strong Business Opportunities in Chicago
i9 Sports® is expanding across the country, with nearly 30 new territories open in just the past year. Now, we’re focused on opening business opportunities in Chicago, where Joe Becker and Mike Taormina are two of the franchise owners building the brand. This has been a great Chicago business opportunity for them.
We asked Mike and Joe to share their experiences owning an i9 Sports in Chicagoland.
How did you discover i9 Sports?
Mike: When I signed up my son to play flag football. I was already aware of i9 Sports – I’d seen roadside signs, and some friends had mentioned it to me, but this was my first involvement with the franchise.
My son was 3½ at the time. The level of play at i9 Sports was a perfect introduction to football at his age. He still plays football now that he’s in high school.
Joe: A friend of mine, Brian Watkins, started an i9 Sports franchise and had a venue near where I lived, so I’d drop by to say “hi.” Then I started coaching in his leagues. Later on, Brian offered me an opportunity to partner because he was moving away.
I thought i9 Sports was a great organization – I love sports. I was a teacher at the time, and I was ready to do something else. I started teaching to make a difference, and it’s the same mission with i9 Sports.
The Chicago market
In your experience, what’s the Chicago market like?
Joe: We’re one of the i9 Sports territories that are urban. The benefit is that it’s a very dense population. At one venue, we may have 800 kids within a five-mile radius playing with us.
Also, Chicago is a sports city. People love their Chicago teams – the Cubs, Sox, and Bears – and want their kids involved in that as well.
Mike: We have a rich community of sports in Chicago, with lots of opportunities for kids to play competitively and recreationally.
We have a lot of access to sports programming. Maybe that’s why Chicago is a strong environment for i9 Sports. We have lots of facilities, and parents here like seeing their kids active because of the emphasis on sports.
What kind of support is available from other franchisees in Chicago? Has anyone been particularly helpful?
Joe: We all do our own thing, but we’re willing to help and support each other. The franchise network in general is very supportive. I can ask someone who’s been doing this longer than me for help. Everyone has been willing, but Brian has been my biggest helper.
Everett Holmes started his own i9 Sports franchise nearby in northwest Indiana about a year ago. We know each other because his son was in one of my leagues. We talk regularly since he opened his business.
Mike: There are lots of ways we work together. These relationships are really important. I got help from Brian (Watkins) on a regular basis when I started.
Chad Croley is a new franchisee in Chicago. I provide Chad with support in his business, like Brian did with me. We’re in the same market, doing the same thing. Knowledge-sharing helps us as a team.
Do you think Chicago is a strong market?
Mike: Yes, it’s proved itself by the growth of my franchise since I bought it. This market continues to grow.
Joe: Yes, we’ve really grown in the six years that I’ve taken over. We have a lot of families with disposable incomes in the area. We also have a lot of coaches. Many of them are professionals that work Monday through Friday, and coaching is a chance to spend time with their kids.
I’m reaching above and beyond what my goals were. I didn’t expect it to get as big as it did financially. I’ve hired a director, and I didn’t expect that to be a need.
To find out more about i9 Sports and our available franchise opportunities, complete the form to download our free franchise report.