OurResponse to Big D Soccer
Our two cents to chime in on an article by Kenny Price
By: Phil Crone
I’m glad that people are beating the FCD attendance drum again because it is foolhardy to believe the club’s premise that “if we build it (the Hall of Fame) they will come” next season. Let’s face it, the front office made a monumental mistake when they hiked ticket prices across the board going into this season under the auspices of providing a premium experience for fans. To avoid things going from bad to worse when capacity expands, it is going to take a lot more than just round numbers on single game tickets.
A good start would be providing that premium experience to season ticket holders. I believe FCD would be hard pressed to answer the question, “what is the inherent value of being a season ticket holder?”
Perhaps it’s that you are assured tickets for every game. Well, there are plenty available for most every game. Even the “sold out” July 4 match had plenty of options on flashseats.com. Maybe it’s that you get a lower price? On paper, yes, it’s cheaper than buying since game tickets directly from the club, but in reality you can find people willing to unload their tickets in the secondary market well below face value because supply vastly outpaces current demand.
One solution to the value equation employed by other MLS clubs is to add value in the form of merchandise. In FCD’s mind, this means STHs get the opportunity to buy sandals, sunglasses and a t-shirt for $10; in my mind, this means free merchandise such as a jersey, or perhaps a gift card to use at the fan store. Free gear that sports the club logo is how you turn fans into walking promoters. Unfortunately, Hunt Sports Group seems just as unwilling to invest in the fans as they are to invest in both the transfer market and stadium upgrades that go beyond the bare minimum other clubs are paying or what their CPAs dictate.
Back to the demand issue. The Kenny Price’s recent Fan Post article is correct. There are plenty of excuses for people not to go to Frisco. However, there are plenty of people already in Frisco and plenty more on the way. Frisco is the fastest growing city in the USA with more than 100,000 people for several years running. McKinney is top 5 and only a few minutes up 121.
Many of the people in Frisco and McKinney are young families that FCD sees as their target market. However, these young families are probably not going to be season ticket holders because most are just looking for inexpensive ways to entertain their kids on a Saturday night. They could learn a lot from the Roughriders in that regard. The Roughriders sell out constantly, regardless of their location a few exits south of Toyota Stadium. Frisco may be to blame for the game day atmosphere (or lack thereof), but it is not to blame for the lack of butts in seats. The blame for that resides entirely in the front office.
As the President of the Dallas Football Elite, we’ve encountered these problems firsthand. Season ticket prices more than doubled in our previous section, 103, forcing a move to section 101 in order to maintain a remotely close price point. Having worse seats for more money makes growing the group difficult, especially when each game you can look back over to our old section and see very few people sitting there. Without a revenue generating section sponsor to appease (even though we provided the Marketing Department with a prospectus for one months ago) promotional support from FCD is hard to come by.
There is a recipe to bust the bubble and get millennial Dallasites to Toyota Stadium. For the Chicago match on July 16 we bused 109 new fans to the Chicago match by partnering with a local social recreational sports league. To their credit, FCD helped with expense for the bus, allowing us to provide discounted tickets that included the bus trip. Moral of the story, “if you build the right partnerships and market strategically, they will come.”
It all comes back to marketing. What they are doing now is not working. It is past time for the Hunts to show the pride in ownership of this team that their father had. People want a reason to come to a match (and to come back for another match). That takes more than repeated phone calls from a defeated intern and a chance to buy $10 sandals.
“The biggest concern for any organization should be when their most passionate people become quiet.”