Baltimore Ownership Update

by Joey Phillips

The Baltimore Constellation were one of few teams to undergo an ownership transition during a season with Luke Swiatek initially taking the helm as interim owner. In an official league statement, the GSB offices outlined the plans for future ownership of this franchise - Luke will remain as interim owner of the team for season 3, but it is not a long term goal of his. Milton-Francis Heinkel will take over as permanent owner of the team beginning in season 4. He will continue to fulfill his duties as a player in Portland until both teams are eliminated from contention in season 3. Both parties of the ownership plan have been exclusively interviewed to discuss their goals for the team, plans going forward, and potential rebranding. 

Luke Swiatek Interview

Joey Phillips: What led you to taking the helm at Baltimore in the first place? Was this something you had always wanted to be a part of? 

Luke Swiatek: There was a power vacancy when Ty stepped down, and the role was thrust upon me unexpectedly. It wasn’t a position I ever saw myself in, which is part of the reason I wanted to transition out of it. I think I might be one of - if not THE - best GMs in the GSB, but I’m far from the best owner.

JP: What has your experience been like in Baltimore since taking over as owner? What are your goals for season 3? 

LS: It’s been better than expected. I had always taken a very proactive role with talking to our players regularly, helping them progress, helping them pick tendencies, and working the trade market. Now I had to take over as head coach, scouting other teams, and ownership responsibilities. It’s a lot of hats to wear, but I’ve endeavored to fill out the staff around me to help out, and I anticipate they’ll be a great help. We expect to have a new coach shortly (or already, depending on when this article is released), and I think he’ll be a huge benefit to myself and the whole organization since that’s not my strong suit. JT Dulany has been helping me scout the upcoming prospects, and Jamal Davis does a little bit of everything for us in the front office as well. Again, the timing of this release may affect how some folks will react to this… but I see us as a team that at minimum will make the playoffs, and ideally a deep run next year.

JP: With the transition to a permanent owner in s4, is your intention to remain a part of the front office? 

LS: Absolutely. The guys in this locker room ride or die for me, and I will ride or die for them. The day I leave this family is the day I leave GSB… so let’s pray Mr. Francis-Heinkel never decides to fire me!

JP: What differentiates this team from the others? Do you plan to continue to build with this team?

LS: What differentiates us from other teams is our strong culture, and our willingness to enact it. I felt quite vindicated when the news of illegal upgrades came out to see that none of the 30+ players who were out of compliance were from Baltimore; we ran a tight ship around here (pun intended). 

In so many words, we have very high standards we hold our players to internally, but I hold myself to that standard as well. I’ve always told my players that I will never trade them so long as they want to be here in Baltimore, but in return I expect them to be active, talking with us about upgrades, putting the team first, etc. There have been some players that haven’t fit that culture, and we’ve been more than happy to accommodate them and place them in a situation that does fit what they’re looking for better. But for the folks that DO decide to stay and buy-in? That two-way street of trust is an unbreakable bond, and I love that I get to have that relationship with every Constellation member. 

It’s no surprise that even in a league with heavy turnover, not a single member of the team wanted to leave in free agency. That just says to me that I’m doing my job right and creating a locker room, a culture, and really a top-to-bottom organization that people believe in and want to be a part of. In return, I believe in each of my players, and have faith that they’re going to help us take a big leap this year.

JP: Any final thoughts? 

LS: I really am thrilled to be having Joe join us next year, and have someone to split some of the duties of running a team with even more cleanliness than we do already. However, my focus is on THIS year, and the guys we already have in the locker room (or who may soon be added), and how we can win a lot of games this year. And as things stand right now… it’s looking like we’re going full steam ahead.

Milton-Francis Heinkel Interview

Joey Phillips: With the recent announcement that you will be taking over the Baltimore franchise in season 4, what is your plan until the takeover? 

MFH: My goal is preparation. Obviously there are a lot of factors that go into starting a successful franchise. Having this extra time really helps to get things ironed out before they go into effect after the end of Season 3. I’m looking forward to ensuring as smooth a transition as possible for my eventual takeover.

JP: What are your goals for the team aside from winning? What separates this front office from the rest? 

MFH: Those that know me can speak to the fact that winning is not my overall focus. There are so many parts to a team beyond the win-loss record. The aim is to create a strong, long lasting brand built on being player focused and team oriented. I believe the staff we have assembled have the experience, ability, and eagerness to match the challenge.

JP: Are there any plans to rebrand or relocate the team at this time? 

MFH: The league office and I have definitely had conversations about potential relocation and rebranding options. Nothing is set in stone or finalized but I do believe the team will experience some change prior to opening day Season 4. With the former owner remaining in control of the media rights to the current franchise branding, I believe it will be in the best interest moving forward to start anew. Where and what that will be is still being determined.

JP: What are your expectations of Luke for the upcoming season and beyond when you takeover? 

MFH: I have already had some pretty extensive discussions with Luke. He has an outstanding level of trust with the players and I believe he has done a great job of heading operations in Baltimore as Interim Owner and GM. I fully intend for him to remain on as GM, and to support his hiring of Riggins as HC.

JP: Any final thoughts?

MFH: Even though we still have all of Season 3, I do wish to thank Ktown and BMillz for teaching me the ropes and showing me how to run a successful franchise. I will be forever grateful for the opportunity to represent Portland and learn from the best. To all the Baltimore staff and players, know that I am excited to get into the office and meet you all.