Promotions, Promtions Promotions

As we do every so often, we thought we would take a look around MLS for ticket promotions offered for upcoming games.  As always, please feel free to send us promotions that we don’t mention.  In Colorado, the Rapids are promoting a “Lads Night Out” for their upcoming match against San Jose.  The package includes two tickets, two beers and two beanies for $49.00.  The game is the last league home game for the Rapids for three weeks.

In New England, the Revs are continuing their tradition of not offering single game promotions.  Instead, the Revs are pushing a four game mini plan that includes reduced price tickets to four games, a Revs long sleeve T-shirt for$68.  The Revs are also combining the deal with in stadium food vouchers.  The Revs are offering these deals simultaneously, yet it appears that they are somewhat in conflict. The Revs have avoided single game promotions this season and instead have focused on four and six game plans.

Finally, Chivas continues its single game promotional effort by offering a Family Pack for their August 14, 2010 match.  The package includes a ticket, hat and hot dog for $15 per person.

Interview with Rapids Senior Director of Marketing and Entertainment Kieran Cain

On Sunday afternoon, the Colorado Rapids will host their second game of the new season at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.  In advance of that match, we caught up with Rapids Senior Director of Marketing and Entertainment Kieran Cain to talk about the Rapids’ marketing efforts, tickets sales and more.  Mr. Cain is a 13 year veteran of the Rapids organization and after a start in ticket sales, he has moved through roles in ticket sales, community relations and game entertainment before coming to his current position.

Thanks to Mr. Cain for answering some questions.  For our recent interview with Union VP of Marketing Cara Joftis, click here.  For our library of 2009 marketing interviews, click here.  How have the Rapids utilized online avenues such as social networking sites  to market the team?  Do you find that these efforts increase interest in the Rapids or impact attendance?

Kieran Cain:  We are very active….over the last three weeks we have had more growth online than any other MLS club in terms of how many friends we have added on face book….we have hired two new full time digital media personnel.  This year we have taken a very proactive approach in to online technology, maximizing it where we can.  Not just for the Rapids, but also for our stadium, for our youth academy teams and our adult leagues.

FB: The Rapids offer a number of benefits to season ticket holders including ticketless entry, “chalk talks”, designated parking and more.  What other advantages do season ticket holders get?  How do you promote these benefits to attract new season ticket holders?

KC: We’ve really ramped it up this year.  Everyone has seen the economy, we really wanted to bend over backwards for our season ticket holders, we’ve got a new set of benefits this season for full season ticket holders.   For instance, for the first time ever they have their own prices on the stadium menu which are significantly less than the average fan would pay.  They have their own parking lots.  We created a custom scarf for each season ticket holder. …In addition, there are several different experiences we offer on game day.

One of the big exciting things is that we really reward full season ticket holders with a kickback card.  For every dollar  they spend in the stadium they get an equal amount of points. They can redeem those for everything  from jerseys to dinner with the coach to a trip to London with the team.  They can turn them in this year, next year or let them build up.

Especially this year, there has been a big jump.  We have upgraded many partials to fulls which has been a big objective.   The only way they can get these is to be a full season ticket holder.

FB: How are your season ticket numbers as compared to prior seasons?

KC: We’re up.  We have surpassed last year.  Tickets are up.  Given the economy, this is good news. We have a long way to go.  We’d like to have a full house of season ticket holders. We are working on it every day.


FB: This is the 4th season in DSG Park and the stadium plays host to many events in addition to the Rapids.  How does DSG Park create opportunities to market the Rapids?  What does the team do to market those attending non-Rapids events at the stadium?

KC: We’ve got the building and facility year round.  We are out there doing handouts at the gates, running scoreboard messages.  There are high school games, rugby games.  The biggest concert in the State of Colorado takes place at DSG.  That is a great event to market.  There are lots of cool marketing opportunities.  Our stuff is everywhere, flyers, booths at the event. I control the scoreboard during the event to let people know what is going on and our street team is out there. In addition, we like to reward our fans because they can buy tickets to these events before the general public.  There is synergy both ways.


FB: Last year the Rapids ran a promotion in August where the first 2,000 kids through the gate got a free soccer ball.  Will the team run similar promotional events this year? How successful are these promotions in bringing fans to the stadium?  How do you balance attracting “hard-core” fans versus families?

KC: They are very successful…but the problem that we have is that they are successful, but only for certain people.  Some come for those promotions rather than focus on the game itself.  We’ve made a concerted effort to do away with the promotions on game day and make the focus on the game itself.  We are doing alot to appeal to the dedicated soccer fan.  You wont see many of those promotions this year.


One of the big things we did this year…the first MLS team to do it,  was to physically construct a family unfriendly section in our stadium.  The whole side of the stadium that we completely retrofitted to appeal to our hard core supporters.  It is something where we are encouraging adult only, drinking beer is allowed, having fun is allowed.  It is something we promote.  If you are a family, you can find where you want to sit.

FB: Although still in its infancy, Seattle is being trumpeted as a “model” franchise for purposes of marketing and fan outreach.  Are their any lessons that an established franchise like Colorado can take from Seattle’s efforts?

KC: Sure.  All the teams in the league have heard that success story.  There are certain elements to their success.  They set their club up right from the get go.  They are very involved in their supporters group.  They also have some of the benefits that we may not be directly benefiting from like a stadium directly downtown.  They have bars that you can walk to which is something we would kill for. I think we talk regularly with those guys.  We trade off going to each others games.  There are lessons to be learned, but on the other hand they ask us for advice as well.  It’s a two way street.  Everybody is still learning.

FB: Finally, with the season about to being, are there any other marketing/branding efforts (either inside or outside the stadium) that Rapids’ fans should be on the lookout for?

KC: Our objective this year is that it is the year of the soccer fan. If you are living in Denver, we are your gateway to the World’s most passionate activity, whether you are a youth player, an adult player…we are going to be a conduit to that. We’ve already done a few things leading up to the season, some grassroots marketing events….I think we are the first team to have our games over the air and in HD all season.  It is definitely trying to appeal to that soccer fan, if the club was appealing to the families in past years, they are going to see a difference this year.


Thanks to Mr. Cain for answering some questions.


Promotions, Promotions, Promotions

With First Kick on the horizon, we thought we would offer our first look around the world of MLS promotions for the new season.  But first, a quick criticism of the league.  We know that the transition to is underway, but the league has seriously ignored  Last year’s standings are still featured and no schedule of opening weekend is on the front page (in fact the front page still features the 2009 championship). The fantasy game hasn’t been updated and last season’s goal scorers are still on the front page.

On to the promotions!  Chivas is promoting its Friday night opener by offering mini-soccer balls to the first 7,500 fans through the gate.  Perhaps more impressively, Chivas is offering a 4 ticket pack to the opener that includes 4 hot dogs, 4 hats and 4 tickets to the second home game of the season…all for $58.  Chivas was one of the most aggressive teams with respect to promotions last year and it appears they are moving in the same direction in 2010.

In Colorado, the Rapids are promoting their annual Rapids week, a 10 day series of public events leading to the home opener.  The events include an extremely creative idea, “a weeklong city-wide scavenger hunt, as the Rapids hide adidas Jabulani Rapids soccer balls in secret locations around the Denver metro area. Fans will be given clues to the balls’ location through the Rapids’ social media sites as to where to find them. Fans who discover the balls will not only get to keep their Jabulani but also find a note attached with a secret code to be able to redeem online for the chance to win tickets to Opening Day and have their ball signed by the Man of the Match down on the field!”

In Columbus, the Crew are promoting a first kick package that includes opening day tickets and a free scarf.

Soccer Business Bits: Seats in Seattle, Union at the Linc & More

soundersRunning around a bit, so just some quick notes…Already smashing attendance records in their inagural season, Seattle seems close to opening up even more seats in 2010.  Seattle is reporting a waiting list of at least 6,000 in addition to their 30,700 average.  According to team president Adrian Hanauer, existing season ticket holders are renewal at an extremely high rate and requesting additional tickets.  According to the article, the team is again considering offering an 18 game plan for its fans that will include 15 MLS matches and other high profile matches like the Barca game this year.  The article also touches on some interesting topics, including grass at Qwest, World Cup Break and more.

Today is the day MLS announces its schedule of home openers for 2010.  In advance of that announcement, multiple sources are reporting that Philadelphia will indeed open its season at the Linc.  As we have repeatedly said, we think this is a bad idea for the League and Union. Better to wait for the stadium in Chester to be ready, rather than have a mediocre opening at a football stadium.

One final note; the Rapids’ Wednesday night game against San Jose is the annual Oktoberfest. The event includes beer, music, dancing and more events in the two hours prior to the game.  During the game, hot dogs are only $1.

Soccer Business Bits: Soccer Stimulus in Colorado, President Obama’s World Cup Appeal and More

rapidsThe Colorado Rapids Offical Blog announced a marketing effort between the Team and the City of Denver to increase tourism in the Rocky Mountain Region.  Through a joint announcement between the Rapids and Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, the City will be promoting discount packages for a variety of events including Rapids Games, cultural attractions and restaurants.  The deal includes 2 free tickets to a Rapids game in return for booking a hotel room for a summer night in Denver.  The Rapids are the only Denver area sports franchise participating in the campaign.  Importantly, the “free tickets” are only vouchers that must be redeemed at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.  There will not be stacks of Rapids’ tickets sitting in hotel lobbies.  More information is available at

FIFA announced some time ago that World Cup host countries for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups will be announced in December 2010.  It is no secret that the United States has long been interested in capturing one of those bids.  According to the New York Times, President Barack Obama is lending his support to the bid with a direct appeal to Sepp Blatter.

In the letter, President Obama relates his personal history with the sport as both a player and a fan.  Given the President’s worldwide popularity, his assist with the bid could be an enormous lift.  The benefits of a U.S. World Cup have been apparent ever since the success of the 1994 Cup.  No country can bring bigger crowds to the tournament than the United States. FIFA works in weird ways and Sepp Blatter runs something of a fiefdom.   However, given the President’s unique popularity, even Sepp might feel compelled to give the U.S. a long look.

Finally, Commissioner Don Garber has taken great pains to deny a rumor that the Red Bulls are close to being sold.  Denials come in many forms, but this denial certainly falls in the “strong” category.  The denial comes at the same time that the Red Bulls announced their “topping off” ceremony for Red Bull Arena.  As we have previously discussed, Red Bull Arena is set to open in 2010.