"We had a budget, we had a time frame, and we knew what kind of players we wanted," says Gibbons. "We really handled it like a front office of a major sport."

Last season, the Empire lost in the conference finals to the Toronto Rush, the team that would go on to win the AUDL championship. Lack of a home stadium (the Empire bounced around between Randall's Island and fields in Brooklyn) kept attendance modest for New York, with highs of roughly 400 fans and lows of just 100. This year, the Empire hope that new blood, growing interest in the sport, and season tickets starting at just $50 will help change all that.

"There are 5 million people that play Ultimate in this country," says the team's general manager, Cullen Shaw. "We want this sport to be accessible to the masses."

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