The following is an email interview conducted with Mr. Stephen Baldwin in response to the VFTD post titled, ‘More Pros & Cons.’ In addition to the twenty questions submitted Mr. Baldwin offered an introductory statement which is included. All the questions are in bold. All of Mr. Baldwin's comments are italicized. The content of the complete interview was agreed to by both parties and will hopefully serve to resolve the debate over the original post and give some insight into the current thinking of the Millennium board with respect to the 50 caliber paintball. I have foregone one final round of emails as Mr. Baldwin pronounced himself satisfied with this latest version and because he will be out of office and unavailable for the next 10 days or so and I thought it only fair not to delay his opportunity to be heard on this matter.
I have been in the industry since 1987, firstly as a field operator but predominately as a European Distributor. Through this time I have worked with many people in order to help expand the industry worldwide, whether they were competitors or colleagues, we all could work together constructively. The likes of Jim Lively, Bud Orr, Tim Schloss, Ross Alexander, John Gregory, Marty Tripes, Richmond Italia, Adam & Billy Gardener, Gino Postorivo, Jeff Perlmutter, Laurant Hamet, Bob Long, Ledz, Dave Dehann and many more have all contributed greatly to our industry / sport and its growth. Sadly not many of them are still in the industry and that appears to be to our detriment. Up until a couple of years ago there was always a willingness to work together. Recently this seems to have changed and a much more polarised and litigious industry has emerged. For sure some of this is due to the recession but also the fact that we don't have the ground base of entrepreneurs the industry relies on for new ideas and growth. Today, people with new approaches and ideas seem to have to spend their time defending themselves against those that don't want change for whatever shortsighted reasons they may harbour. In terms of tournament players, I was around during the 12g to CA changes, the Pump / Semi issues. All of these were much bigger than what we are talking about today and the industry made its changes and grew. Right now the growth of new players is at a very low point and the industry as a whole must address this or we wont survive. This is a fact that to argue against is naive and shortsighted. Although I don't consider that my own business arrangements are particularly relevant to the industry I answer the questions posed as follows to the best of my ability.
1. Are you an owner/partner with Mr. Hazeldine in Manic Paintball?
I am one of the minority share holders of Manic Paintball Ltd so is Scott Hazeldine. This information is public knowledge. For information Manic are a trade based company selling only to paintball fields and dealers. Their main product lines are Procaps, VForce & Tippmann. With the exception of DXS Tournament Paintballs & Grill/Profiler goggles, I have never been involved with tournament level products, with a minor exception a few years ago. My business has always been field based.
2. Are you in the employ of Procaps or simply their primary European representative?
I work for Procaps looking after the major European accounts. I have worked with Procaps for over 9 years and its in my DNA.
3. Is Mr. Hazeldine an owner of Dark Sports?
Yes, However I am not. Mr Hazeldine has no interest in The Millennium and I have no interest in other companies he owns except Manic & a property company.
4. Do Manic and Dark Sports share a suite of offices?
Manic has its own warehouse and offices. Dark Sports has a different warehouse at a different location. The building in which Manic is based has offices for other businesses some non paintball, including a dentist. Scott Hazeldine is an owner of the building so has every right to maintain his own office, which of course will, I'm sure, include some Dark Sports activity. Several of the partners of Manic have other businesses that are not common to the other share holders.
5. Where are the Millennium offices in relation to the Manic / Dark Sports offices?
They are in the same suite as Manic, as previously mentioned Dark sports operates from another building some 30 miles away. For convenience I need The Millennium offices close to me as I oversee head office and I manage all Millennium financial and legal issues.
6. Are you a board member/owner of the Millennium Series?
Yes and one of its founders. There are 5 Board Members with equal voting rights. Included in the 5 are competitors of mine, however, this does not hinder us working together for the common good.
7. Did the board vote on the inclusion of 50 caliber paint for the 2010 season?
A vote was not necessary as this has been a discussion over a long period of time and we agree that it may be a good thing for paintball.
8. Did you vote in favor of including 50 cal?
See [the answer to] 7
9. If there is anything you’d like to clarify or explain with respect to the various relationships identified in the post please do.
I feel my answers have verified my relationship with any company mentioned. My main focus has been and is primarily to assist Procaps in Europe and in some cases outside Europe. My involvement with The Millennium can sometimes work against my other interests but I have to accept this as our reason to be is to help the growth of paintball throughout Europe and at the end of the day this helps everybody.
10. Do you, in your Millennium capacity, have any documentation from GI Milsim, its principles or representatives, that demonstrate the 50 cal paintball meets all current safety standards and practices in the form that will be sold for tournament use?
Naturally as with all aspects of the Millennium events we have insured we comply with all insurance and legal requirements.
11. If not, have you, in your Millennium capacity, been given any other (verbal) (non-scientific) assurances that the 50 caliber paintball is safe in all ordinary tournament applications?
See [the answer to] 10
12. If yes, by whom, and under what circumstances.
See [the answer to] 10
13. If no, did the subject of safety ever enter into the Millennium’s deliberations with regards allowing 50 cal paint.
See [the answer to] 10
14. Does the MS have now or expect to negotiate prior to the 2010 season a sponsorship agreement with either Dark Sports or GI Milsim?
GI Milsim are hopefully about to sign for 2010 along with some other new sponsors. Obviously I cant go into further detail until contracts are signed. We will be announcing all new sponsors as they are confirmed.
15. What was the board’s thinking with respect to allowing the use of the 50 cal paintball?Nobody is forcing anyone to use 50 caliber paintballs, it is an option for teams to decide if they wish to use it. The Millennium has always been primarily interested in the growth of the sport and industry in Europe. You maybe unaware that there is no common law throughout Europe for paintball guns. In some countries paintball is illegal with 68 caliber. However with 50 caliber many of these countries will be able to play paintball legally which can only be to all our benefit. If 50 caliber brings new players from new countries and younger players due to lower joules then we can only see advantages and not disadvantages. 50 caliber is not something new it has been around for over 20 years but up until recently only 68 caliber guns were developed.
16. As the sponsorship kit is unclear will gun sponsorships carry down to the open divisions this year and possibly reduce the variety of guns the players may use at an MS event?
There are no changes to the gun sponsorship rules from 2009. With the addition of new gun sponsors this will widen the choice of guns available to those divisions effected by this rule.
17. What is the grade of netting used on the Arena fields?
We have a different net density to the type commonly used in the USA. Our netting is a much heavier density from top to bottom and complies with EU safety standards, In fact we get criticised because it obscured viewing to some extent. Again because of the lower energy of 0.50 cal it is actually much heavier than would be necessary with this caliber alone.
18. Does the MS have any ratings numbers for last year’s TV show broadcasts?
We are awaiting those final figures from Europsport one and two, as soon as they supply the figures for both Europe and South East Asia we plan to send a press release out. I do have these figures as at the end of September.
From 18/12/09 to 25/09/09: 37 Programmes were shown from 14.00 - 23.00 with the bulk being shown between 20.00 - 23.00. It was available in 32 million (46 Countries), households in Europe and 2.8 million in SE Asia and broadcast in 11 languages.
19. Has the board reconsidered the licensing fees for the locked divisions given that total team numbers are in decline?
We are looking at several aspects that relate to this issue. Most importantly is to ensure new teams enter the series and that existing teams can afford to exist. At the same time the Millennium needs to balance its books. We are currently working on some ideas that will be made public shortly.
20. In light of the volatile state of paintball in Germany right now does the MS have any concerns holding a series event there?
If you are referring to the Berlin incident some of the reports have been exaggerated to make for better reading. This incident had nothing to do with the legal issues from early this year. It is a situation that we constantly monitor and always have done. Right now we see no reason to suggest there is any potential problem on the horizon.
Thank you. That concludes the email interview with Mr. Stephen Baldwin of the Millennium Series.