Moving Through Orlando, Thinking About Dallas

We spent yesterday in Orlando, the land of Disney, Sea World and most recently the Wide World of Sports preseason MLS tournament (won by New York).  Looking around the Disney area, there was little mention of the games, and none of the locals seemed to have any knowledge that it was happening.  However, Orlando is not an MLS city,  and most of the folks we spoke to were not from the area originally and mostly focused on their tourist industry jobs.  However, the lack of recognition about MLS and this mini-tourney got us to thinking about our Dallas interviews from last Spring.   Read our interview below and think about how this would play out in your city.

We have discussed the attendance woes in Dallas on a number of occassions.   With a fairly new stadium in Pizza Hut Park, a local population in Dallas that plays soccer en masse, premier online, independent coverage and a long history as an original team in MLS, FC Dallas would seem to be an obvious choice for success at the gate.  Yet, the team is averaging just over 9k and attendance is dropping fast.

The big question is of course, Why?  There are theories about front office ineptitude, poor performance on the field or a suburban stadium too far from downtown Dallas (does anyone actually live in downtown Dallas??).  We were in Dallas this week and performed a bit of marketing reconissance to check on efforts to promote FC Dallas  in Big D.  We asked everyone we met, from cab drivers to waitresses to business assoicates about FC Dallas and Pizza Hut Park.  The results of our anecdotal survey were pretty dramatic.

Almost everyone we met had heard of Pizza Hut Park, but nobody had every been there.  Most associated Pizza Hut Park with the Roughriders, a Double A baseball team playing at Dr. Pepper Park in Frisco, TX (same location as Pizza Hut Park).   We spoke with season ticket holders for the Mavericks, Stars and Cowboys, all of whom knew nobody that had seen an FC Dallas game, yet almost everyone knew about the team.  Everyone we spoke with was shocked that FC Dallas struggled to fill the stadium; they all mentioned how popular soccer is in Texas.  Interestingly, almost everyone we spoke with knew where the stadium is located, knew how to get there and said it was “close.”

We saw no advertising for the team, whether on signs, buses, television or newspapers.  There was no evidence of FC Dallas merchandise at Dallas-Forth Worth airport and we heard no commercials on the radio for upcoming games or events.  The team is marketing through its website; pre-game happy hour anyone?  Other marketing efforts are certainly being made (our trip was pretty quick), yet they were not apparent.

Our survey was obviously informal, yet it was instructive.  In recent trips to Kansas City, Washington and other MLS cities, we have seen evidence of the local soccer team in a number of different media.  People were aware of the local franchise and some had been to games.  In Dallas, the team’s impact on the sports consciousness was minimal.

The question is of course why.  If you have any theories, let us know.  Why is this once proud franchise struggling on the field and at the gate?

5 Responses

  1. Ok, as a Avid FC dallas fan and mls fan, i will give you the 411 on fc dallas. first off i would like to start by what seems to be a lack of marketing. FC dallas does not target anyone not even fans. ie pubs, with people gathering at pubs to grab a drink and watch some footy, fc dallas does not promote its franchise enough, I have been to CL games at Trinity Hall irish pub one of dallas finest soccer orientated places but of course the front office drops the ball on this because theres no sponsers there during big games and if there is, they suck at ther job. they just sit at a desk and hang out stickers and schedules… I personaly feel FC dallas needs to target the soccer fan. Example…. dallas parks and recreations will kick out anyone who is playing soccer at a park that has not reserved the field… i usually think its a racial thing because hispanics are the one who play and follow this sport here in dallas most of the time. fc dallas should facilitate opportunites for sunday games and different parks to promote themselfs…

    the main issue with low attendance is the big mistake to move FC dallas to Frisco Tx, pizza hut park is a good 45-60minutes away from central and south dallas. It is very inconvinient for someone to drive so far… We can always say that there isnt any FC dallas fans, but the truth is there is… recently fc dallas played a game in thier old stadium, the Cotton Bowl. it was a double header that had a third string/c team mexico vs Colombia. this game was sold out but the most eye catching thing to me was that 80% of the stadium was full during the FC Dallas game. my point being that even thought many fans were supporting mexico they were also there early to support FC dallas… That game was amazing… hearing all those fans cheer for Fc dallas. but unfortunately Frisco is too far. I usually go see a game 4-5 times during the season. i personaly hate the drive and did i forget to mention the free to get there is The great TOLL WAY=pay to use free way… another down side to having to drive 45-60 minutes. FC Dallas ruined the club by deciding to build in frisco. Hopefully we the fans get a chance to catch a few more games at the cotton bowl located near downtown dallas.

    In a nutshell FC Dallas is doing bad because of marketing, sponserships, location, and transportation…

  2. do you think that fans if CL matches would be fc dallas fans?

  3. Moving the team to Frisco didn’t kill the team. When Lamar passed away so did the passion. HSG does not invest to succeed. The Lamar Hunts have always been penny pinchers but his sons don’t have any of their father’s vision. Their fear of the NASL collapse will kill fcd.

  4. FC Dallas maybe move to Charlotte, NC

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