Soccer Business Bits: SSS Concerts, the Fans & More

Time for some quick hitters from the world of soccer business.  The Sports Business Journal is reporting that the Soccer Stadium, a network of soccer specific venues (made up of a number of MLS franchises and the Rochester Rhinos), has realized some significant success though its effort to jointly book concerts.  The stadiums hit a sweet spot for outdoor concerts by offering venues that can accommodate 18-27,000 people.  Larger stadiums need to draw tens of thousands more to break even, while smaller outdoor venues cannot draw some of the bigger acts.  According to the SBJ, ” the alliance has submitted 20-plus offers to more than a dozen mainstream artists and tours, covering Kiss/Motley Crue, Def Leppard/Poison, Aerosmith and Journey. The decision is up to the individual members of the alliance whether they want to put in an offer on a tour or pass.”

Elsewhere,  the league’s website(through editor Jonah Freedman) weighs in with a great look at the league’s efforts and struggles in attracting soccer fans to MLS.  We have frequently written about the difficulty MLS faces in grabbing the millions of American soccer fans with limited interest in their domestic league.  Every weekend, millions sit on their couches watching soccer in Mexico, England, Italy in elsewhere, while live soccer is being played within an hour of their house.  Freedman says the following, “

It’s time they became MLS fans, too. Luis’ Real Madrid blanco can live side-by-side with blue and black in his veins. Pat must understand that his Toon Army cred doesn’t prevent him from cheering with the Empire Supporters Club. Allen’s Rojiblancos pride can translate directly to the Rojiblancos in his own backyard. That’s our next big project. That’s the next step in our league growing up. MLS has taken the steps it needs to take to win these fans’ affection. Now we’ve got to snap them up and prove to them we’re worth the attention.”

Finally, the San Antonio Scorpions have announced that they will break ground on February 29 on a new stadium for the team.  To take a look at the proposed stadium, click here.

Crew Get a Sponsor

The Columbus Crew have announced a five year partnership with Barbasol to serve as the team’s jersey sponsor starting in 2012.  Two years after Glidden departed front of the Columbus kit, the team managed to secure a long term partnership with a venerable American company with a long history of involvement with the sports world.  As is typical with these types of deals, the arrangement includes print, television and stadium advertisements. In addition, cans of Barbasol will be marketed around central Ohio with the Crew logo.

On the business side, the deal makes great sense for both sides.  Shaving cream is an affordable product used and bought by the majority of MLS supporters.  We have long reported on the loyalty of Major League Soccer fans to brands affiliated with the league and that loyalty will likely be rewarded when soccer fans go to the store to purchase their shaving cream.

The deal is officially between Perio, Inc., the maker of Barbasol.  Perio, Inc. was formed as Columbus Dental in 1903 and joined forces with Barbasol in 20o1.  Perio is also involved in the sponsorship of golfers and has a long history of team, player and league sponsorship.  The Crew become the 15th team in the league with a sponsorship.

The amount of deal is not yet available, other than a statement that it is worth “multi-millions”.  For reference, the recent Fire deal with Quaker (also an iconic brand), is a reported $8million over 3 years.  Here is a quote from John Wagner of Hunt Sports Group courtesy of the MLSSoccer.com story. “It’s a great day for the organization, one of those milestone days a team has in its history because of the length of the commitment, the quality of the company and local proximity,” Wagner said, ticking off the three boxes teams crave when searching for a kit sponsor. “The fans now have a sponsor they can rally behind.”

 

Footiebusiness Vault:

It is Valentine’s Day, so no new post tonight while we attend to other matters.  Back in the Summer of 2010, we interviewed Rocky Harris of the Houston Dynamo about the team’s marketing and promotional efforts.  What a difference a couple of years makes.  Back then there was no stadium, the All-Star Game against ManU was on the horizon and Superliga was still a big deal. Here is that interview from 2010.

We thought we should check in with Dynamo Senior VP Rocky Harris about efforts to capitalize on the Red Devils’ trip to Houston and on some of the other marketing initiatives.   Mr. Harris has been with the Dynamo for about one year following a six year stint in the N.F.L. with San Francisco and Houston.  Thanks to Mr. Harris.

Footiebusiness.com: Soccer has seemingly reached new heights of popularity this Summer in the United States.  What steps are the Dynamo taking to capitalize on that popularity in marketing the team?

Rocky Harris: We created a marketing campaign called “The Summer of Soccer” to attempt to tie all of the soccer events together for the general market: MLS games, World Cup viewing parties, SuperLiga, US Open Cup, Dynamo Charities Cup and the 2010 AT&T MLS All-Star game featuring Manchester United. Our entire marketing plan has been built around capitalizing on the World Cup and the All-Star game. In soccer, you only have this opportunity every four years and we didn’t want to miss the chance to connect with international soccer fans and turn them into Dynamo and MLS fans. We intentionally went after major international soccer clubs for the All-Star game to maximize on the soccer buzz in the general market from the World Cup. We were lucky to land Manchester United and capitalize on the bounce from the World Cup. 

FB: The Dynamo are moving  towards the opening of a new stadium. What is the status of those efforts?  How do the efforts to open a stadium impact your marketing strategies?   How will the new location impact your fanbase?


RH: We fully expect to break ground on our downtown stadium by the end of this year and move into the new building in 2012. Our marketing strategy will definitely shift to address the opportunity to attract a few segments that have been difficult to reach by playing in an antiquated college football stadium in Houston’s 3rd Ward. Currently, MLS is known for its youth soccer fanbase and the Hispanic fanbase. We are going to focus our efforts on attracting three new segments that we think can grow exponentially: corporate community, international soccer fans and the urban 18-34 year-old male.

FB: On Footiebusiness.com we’ve written about the amigofreekick.com web page.  What can you tell us about that page?  What efforts do the Dynamo make to drive traffic to the site?  How successful is the site?
RH: Amigo Energy is on the forefront of driving the avid tribe of soccer fans to connect with their brand. They were smart to launch their brand in Houston with the Dynamo jersey sponsorship because they were an unknown entity before the launch. Since then, they have done a fantastic job activating their multimillion dollar investment by acquiring new customers at Dynamo games/events and utilizing technology to further connect with our fanbase. Amigo Energy wants to be the top electricity choice, not just among Dynamo fans, but among all soccer enthusiasts. We came up with the Amigofreekick.com concept to utilize Amigo’s sponsorship assets to better connect with Dynamo fans and reward them for visiting the site. We transferred all of our promotional touchpoints, including web/broadcast/in-game/PR, and all of Amigo’s contractual assets, to promote the contest. Amigo Energy is pleased with the results from the promotion, including: web traffic, opt-in information, and acquisition of new customers and retention of current customers.

FB: Manchester United is coming to play the MLS All Stars in Houston. What is the team doing off the field to capture some of the soccer fans who are coming to see Man U, but haven’t embraced the Dynamo/MLS?  What steps will the Dynamo take on the day of the game to bring those types of fans back to the Dynamo?

RH: I was an international soccer fan before I became an MLS fan and it took a lot for me to convert. You have to do everything you can to show international soccer fans that we are playing the same game and try to convince them that they need to support their local team, in addition to their favorite international team. I always tell international soccer fans that we aren’t trying to replace their favorite or hometown team, but instead support the growth of soccer in Houston. I also tell them to attend our games so they can celebrate the game of soccer – live – the way it is supposed to be watched. As far as the All-Star game is concerned, we have multiple ancillary events to support the match, including: 5K Run with over 1500 participants, Film Festival, All-Star Kickoff Party, Celebrity Soccer Match, Soccer Jam, Brian Ching postgame party and many charitable events. In my opinion, the most important way to connect with international soccer fans is through the play on the pitch, because the product is the most critical component of growing our fanbase. If the All-Stars are entertaining and put on a good show, we will gain new fans.
FB: Similar question  for SuperLiga.  Have you noticed any correlation between Superliga/Champions League participation and an increase in interest in the Dynamo?  What efforts has the team made to turn that interest into ticket sales during the MLS season?  What efforts have been most successful.
RH: SuperLiga has been a very successful tournament for us in the past because it gave us an opportunity to show Mexican soccer fans that the Dynamo can compete with the best teams in Mexico. Our success in that tournament has helped us build credibility in the Hispanic market and allowed us to convert fans to support the Dynamo. Our MLS business is up this year and we think the buzz around soccer is going to allow us to hit some of our biggest numbers in the second half of the season.

Soccer Stadium Update: Houston

It has been a while since we looked at stadium construction around the league, but today, Houston’s rising downtown digs is the sole edifice in our sights. Officially, the Dynamo’s new home is called BBVA Compass Stadium.  The 22,000 seat stadium will host its first Dynamo match on May 12, 2012.  The stadium will be shared with Texas Southern Football and other local events.  Total cost of the projected stadium is expected to be about $95 million with the Dynamo ownership (primarily AEG and Golden Boy Promotions) funding about $60 million.

The stadium includes 33 suites in close proximity to the field and 2 party suites.  Construction is moving along nicely.  Those standing on the grass field will have the opportunity to look at 75 foot canopies hanging over the stands.  The downtown stadium is part of a stadium district that includes facilities for a number of Houston’s sports teams.

The team recently started the process of installing orange clad seats in the new stadium.  For those interested in following the pace of construction, there is a great stadium webcam that fans can follow here.  Season tickets start at $250 per seat in the team Supporter’s Section.  The VIP Club seats start at $1825 for the season.  The team is offering 10 different price points for season tickets with highest number of seats going for $400 per ticket.  The pricing list can be found here. The team is also offering partial season ticket plans for 5 or 10 games.

Finally, the Dynamo are the latest team to offer the virtual venue feature that allows fans to view their seats and the field view.  To examine that feature, click here.

The Monday After

The big soccer game on American soil over the weekend involved the Women’s National Team, which packed more than 20,000 people into FC Dallas Stadium as part of a 2-1 victory over New Zealand.  That is a big number for a friendly game against a non-big name opponent, especially given the fairly cold temperatures in the Dallas area.    The two American goals were scored by Alex Morgan, both in the last few minutes.  Morgan has been in the headlines over the last couple of days after it was announced that she would appear in the upcoming Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue as one of three female athletes.  Any publicity is good publicity, especially in the women’s game, which has suffered a significant setback withe loss of the WPS.  Morgan’s appearance in SI will certainly generate conversation about the player/sport.

Elsewhere, there are reports that the Crew are off to a good start selling sponsorships for 2012.  Although the team still lacks a jersey sponsor (now for the second straight year), the team is reportedly 20% ahead of last year’s sponsorship pace.  The linked story provides some great detail about some of the business aspects of the Crew, including efforts to find a sponsor for the seemingly perpetually named Crew Stadium.

Finally, it was another strong weekend for the Americans on loan to the English Premier League.  Thierry Henry played his last EPL match of the year and finished in style by scoring the game winner in extra time in Arsenal’s 2-1 victory over Sunderland.  Landon Donovan continued his hot run of form, contributing an assist in Everton’s 2-1 win.

Soccer Busines: Colorado Creative, Legal Trouble & More

Time for some quick hitters from around the soccer business world.  We’ll start in Colorado, where the Rapids have taken a unique step to promote season tickets and reward their best customers. The team’s 2013 jerseys will include the names of its 2012 season ticket holders woven into the shirts.  The campaign, titled, “Be Part of the Fabric of the Team” is part of the team’s “One Club” theme.  According to a quote in the press release attributed to the team president, Tim Hinchey “this is a unique and special opportunity to have our loyal supporters on the pitch with our players in seasons ahead.”

The Houston Dynamo are all over the news thanks to a weekend dust-up at a local club that involved multiple members of the team.  Because of racial undertones involving the incident and because of prior issues involving the same establishment, the event has generated more interest than the typical late night kerfuffle.  In addition, the Dynamo are one of the teams that have managed to infiltrate the mainstream sports culture in their town.  The toxic combination of race, sports, celebrity and the alleged assault of a police officers guarantees that this story will stay in the public eye. For more, click here.

Finally, the Columbus Business First is reporting that the Crew is pitching local businesses by stating that the team has “generated more than $384 million in direct spending in the region since the Crew started play in 1996 and produced $23.2 million in tax revenue for Columbus, Franklin County and Ohio.”  The team is rolling out these stats as part of an aggressive corporate sales/season ticket sames drive.

Happy Anniversary….to Us!

Amazingly enough, Footiebusiness is about to start its 4th year of covering the business of American soccer.    It has been a great ride and one that I hope to continue to enjoy and improve. When I started the site, I had no idea how long it would last, whether there was any interest in the business aspects of American soccer or whether anyone would read what I wrote.  Three years later,  I couldn’t be more pleased with how things have evolved.

Year three was far and away the best for Footiebusiness. Since I started writing, the business developments in American soccer have come fast and furious.  New television deals, jersey sponsorships, expansion, stadium construction and an array of additional items continue to alter the business landscape of soccer in the United States.

I am amazed at the multitudes that come here every day for information about the business of the beautiful game and then keep coming back for more. It has been more fun and more challenging to bring fresh content on a daily basis than I ever could have imagined and it has been the feedback from readers that have motivated the site to continue to move forward.   So to our readers, we offer a big THANK YOU.

I am looking forward to a bigger and better fourth year and invite you to let me know what stories you want Footiebusiness to cover.  As always, if you have an interest in guest posting or just want to discuss the business of the game, feel free to drop a line to Footiebusiness@gmail.com

Thanks again for reading.

Ben

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