3.25.2009

Video: Sounders Weekly and MLS 2.0™



Maybe it's just because I am in NYC and it would never happen here, but I find the fact that Seattle have matches and a weekly show on the local NBC affiliate completely insane. How do they do it? Color me impressed (so long as the color is not rave green).

Beans from The Original Winger and I were talking expansion last night (before Brent & I went to the fine Ladyhawke show at Bowery Ballroom) about how Toronto upped the game with it's stellar attendance and reliable, vocal supporters. So while the new San Jose brought it back down to reality, Seattle has just totally torn the roof off in it's short existence with an impeccable branding, marketing and promotion campaign. And the thing is Philly, Vancouver & Portland all look poised to do the same. Call them MLS 2.0™ if you will; a repackaged, rethought, more user-friendly & more profitable update on the existing template.

As great as MLS 2.0™ is though, it has a downside in that it rapidly makes the original product look outdated, inferior and just plain bad. There are a few bug fixes & software updates that can help breath new life into old hardware though; big time players (Los Angeles), new appropriate-sized stadia (Red Bull Arena), or a championship (Columbus) are all great ways to recharge a stagnant club.

But there are some glitches that would leave even the IT guys baffled, particularly when it comes to housing; a still-new soccer-specific stadium that rarely gets filled (Dallas), a phantom stadium (San Jose) and the occupation of NFL stadiums with no apparent exit strategy (New England) are all confounding problems that to varying degrees make it difficult to compete.

I certainly don't claim to have it all figured out but the good news is that it looks like some of the old-guard recognize that they've got to evolve or die (see D.C. United's expensive new website and Houston's recent stadium progress as evidence). Hopefully this new blood will help to usher in a new era of success not based solely on a marquee name and group ticket sales to youth teams but on bold new thinking and fan-friendliness.

11 comments:

shirtees.net said...

Teams like New England already have an awesome stadium like Seattle does... they just need to get butts in the seats with the right marketing. They should hire whomever did Seattle. Learn from Toronto. If MLS really cared, they would be helping out the teams and sharing info on what works and what doesnt. The teams themselves need to go to these new teams and sit down with them and figure it all out. 18,000 here in Los Angeles for a season opener??? Its SAD really. First, Who is the idiot who planned the game midday, when potential fans are out playing in their pickup leagues? I thought we canned Lalas! Who is the LAG idiot that didnt black out the game on Telefutura here in L.A. like they do with other local sports?

L.A. Soccer fans will come to games no matter what. I dont care if it was cold and rainy. Back in the 90s I went to a double header at Anaheim stadium (before it was renovated) and 70,000+ fans showed up. I think it was some WC qualifying games, but it was pouring rain and everyone stood for both matches with rain gear on. Us LA fans love soccer, you just need the marketing behind it. Not ONCE here in Los Angeles during the off season did I see LA Galaxy advertise ANYWHERE. Bus stops, buses, billboards, taxis, newspapers... something please LAG! No, I just got like 8 emails every other day from them and several calls a week. Stop calling me.... it didnt work. Try something else like advertising where hundreds of thousands might see it. Fly an airplane with "lagalaxy.com" on the flag along the beaches here. Do something. Be creative. Seattle Sounders FC deserves the utmost respect for their efforts... The payoff? They have an incredible fan base now with 22,000 season tickets.

Anonymous said...

MLS DOES share info and resources with the teams. But many teams feel they're too proud or too stubborn to listen to "big brother". MLS cant force teams to follow the example of other they can only suggest and encourage. it is up to each team to wake up and see what actually works instead of trying the same old Marketing School tactics.

If you look at Seattle and Toronto, both teams didnt resort to gimmicks and circus atmospheres. They took the team seriously as part of the city culture and embedded themselves in.

As far as LA goes, the problem with your team is that the owners arent really serious about becoming LA's team. Theyre more busy trying to look good next to Beckham in the photo ops and having pipe dreams about being the next Real Madrid rather than building up a fanbase.

You cant really fault anyone but Tim Leweike for this, so even if you fire a GM or Marketing Director its still the owner (Phil) and Leiweike calling the shots. They really just need to go back to basics.

HomeyBoehme said...

It is also important to note the shift in MLS awarding franchises. Is it by geographic location anymore? Not so much, they just put 2 more teams in the pacific northwest. The MLS is awarding teams to USL franchises that have proved themselves with a solid fanbase, backing from local govt (a la Portland), etc. This is opposed to just seeing who has the most $$$ to put a team in a market where no fan base exists and has to be manufactured. I think that is the difference between MLS 2.0 and the rest of the league.

SF said...

^^^

Absolutely. They're "going where the food is". You don't have to convince PDX and Van that soccer is great unlike a few other markets where you would have to sell the sport instead of the team.

Anonymous said...

Amen. The Don acknowledged that Seattle's FO "worked their butts off" to make this happen. It's harder to spark interest in a club that's been lukewarm for a while (Chivas, I'm looking at you--and a few others) but it has to happen, and it has to happen on the club level. The thing that gets me about Seattle and Toronto is that they look "major league." It has almost nothing to do with the quality of play. Make some splashes and pretty soon you have a wave, and the money/players/glory will follow. If you settle for less, you'll get less.

joel es latest soccer news said...

It is great to see that MLS understands that they must be aggressive creating fan-friendly environments.

brucio said...

the quality of the sounders show on local tv is better produced then that crap espn feeds us!

HomeyBoehme said...

@brucio - lol! I couldn't agree more!

Finnegan said...

The thing with the Timbers and Whitecaps is this is going to be more like a promotion ala the rest of the world and less of an "expansion". Look at that the scale of required growth of ticket sales in Portland and you will know what I mean.

Last year the Timbers averaged 8,500 a game. This year I bet we average closer to 10K a game and in 2010 my bet would be we are closer to 11K a game. So in 2011 to reach the desired 16 avg we are talking about an additional 5K game which when you compare that to a new franchise going from 0 to 16K average or even Seattle going from a 3K a match average to 22K the rate of growth we are talking about in Portland is quite small and much more in line with what you see the world over when clubs get promoted to the next division.

If I was a betting man every game for 2011 Portland is going to be sold out, with a minimal of corporate season ticket holders as well.

To use a way overused term these days Portland and Vancouver are "shovel ready" franchises.

C. said...

Watching stuff like this makes me want to be a fan of Seattle. Am I a fan of Seattle??

Andrew said...

C. said; I should hope not.
(ok, enough shittle hate from me)

Portland
Vancouver
Seattle

This is the future of MLS.