Business Bits: Bigger BMO?

tfcMultiple sources are reporting that Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment is strongly considering a significant expansion of BMO Field. The current stadium seats about 20k, and could be expanded by an additional 8k seats.  TFC has repeatedly capped season tickets at 16,500, boasts a waitingt list 14k long and sells out every game.  According to the Toronto Star, only 700 folks were moved from the wait list to ticket holders in 2009.

Given the level of interest, it certainly appears that there is revenue to be had in Toronto.  An additional 8,000 seats would fill MLSE coffers and add even more noise to the Leagu’s most intimidating venue.  Club officials have been careful to point out that an expansion is not yet definite, but it seems like a no-brainer.  BMO is owned by the City but expansion would be at MLSE’s cost.  However, if interest remains high after year three in Toronto, expect TFC to move ahead with an expanded stadium.

As we reported yesterday, Vancouver is in for 2011, but interestingly, the $40 million expansion fee is not.  According to reports, the Whitecaps will pay $35 million to enter the League in 2011.  While $5 million more than Seattle in 2009, the fee is still shy of the expected $40 million.   In an interview with local media, League Commissioner Don Garber cited the economic situation as the reason for dropping the price.

Mr. Garber also dropped hints that the next expansion announcement is coming soon.  One more team is expected to be added for 2011.  Portland remains the leader coming into the home stretch.

Finally, we reported some time ago about the MLS partnership with Brand Thunder.  A bit later than expected, it looks like the roll out is starting.  Kansas City appears to be up first.  The rest of the clubs should follow.  If you try it out, drop us a line and let us know what you think.  The partnership is part of the League’s ongoing efforts to increase its digital content.


MLS announces deal with Brand Thunder

mlsMajor League Soccer recently announced a new relationship with Brand Thunder to provide fans with a customized a browsing experience, “tailored specifically to them.”   The high tech browsing “booms” will allow MLS fans to access video, news, blogs and more for whatever team or teams they choose. Patrick Murphy, the founder and CEO of Brand Thunder was kind enough to take a few minutes to chat with prior to the scheduled launch of the first MLS team site at the end of this month.

According to Mr. Murphy, the “beauty”  of Brand Thunder, “is that you are always connected… you can create a feed that is always updated, driving traffic back to the site.”  Traditionally, once a web user leaves or a team site, they must click back to the site to view more content. Mr. Murphy said that when using Brand Thunder, the teams/League, “become part of the browser; who cares where your fan goes…you are always connected.”

Mr. Murphy would not disclose the terms of the deal between Brand Thunder and MLS, however  when asked about individual team readiness for the Brand Thunder experience,  he stated that “because some teams are more advanced than others, you are a going to see a mix.”  As of now, Brand Thunder works only with Firefox, but according to Mr. Murphy, “we are working on an IE solution.”  However, he feels that the target demographic for Brand Thunder and MLS, “is a higher percentage Firefox user.”

Over the next couple of weeks, will be taking a look at the League’s efforts to connect with hardcore supporters.  The relationship with Brand Thunder seems like an important step in that direction.  In recent years the League has made a push towards younger demographics (and away from families), and this is typically a tech savvy group.  Moreover, because soccer struggles for coverage from mainstream media outlets, a fully integrated web experience provides a a nice opportunity for the League to connect with its fans.  computer