First, I want to thank everyone who submitted a question. We have tried to keep the lines of communication open between the fans and the front office, and we try to do this a few times a year in various formats, either in person at Season Ticket Holder events, at games or through the web site.
There were many questions that had similar themes, so I’ve grouped answers together in terms of the topic of the questions. I’m happy to give follow-up answers. Also look for answers from Michael Burns on personnel/team questions sometime this week.
There were a number of questions about the stadium, and I’m happy to say there has been some progress since the last round of public questions on the topic.
Getting the team into a soccer stadium of its own remains a top priority for our organization. With the decision regarding the MBTA’s Green Line maintenance facility in Somerville in place, we have re-launched the process of examining that area as a stadium site. We were in a holding pattern for a bit while the city and MBTA worked out the details of the facility. During the next few months our architects and engineers will be studying the area to determine if it is possible to build a soccer stadium on that site given the footprint of the maintenance facility and other existing structures.
In the last few months, we have also begun studying three additional sites around Boston’s metro core. These sites may not have been available to us in the past, but have recently shown potential interest in having our stadium.
To date, we have invested more than $1 million dollars in exploring new soccer stadium options, in addition to the efforts of multiple people in our organization, so we’re pressing the issue. We’ve seen the impact that an urban soccer stadium has made and we are committed to creating that environment here in New England.
We did look at moving Superliga into Boston this year. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find a suitable venue in the region. Two facilities we looked at have fields that are too narrow to play these matches. Another stadium’s surface wasn’t sufficient. We also briefly considered looking at other stadiums outside of Boston, but we ran into similar problems as we did in Boston in terms of acceptable facilities.
The tournament is still important to us, so while we tried to re-locate the games into the city, when we exhausted our options we decided to keep it here at Gillette Stadium.
New Crest and Branding
Fans are very passionate about this issue, either one way or another. We have been very focused on our marketing and branding efforts the last few years and introducing new imaging and team marks have been considered. However, until we make a determination on a stadium and location of that stadium, we are holding off on making any significant changes to our current marks.
To date, when you look at like games (meaning pulling out the weeknight game against Chivas USA on May 5, and the doubleheader events from last year) our attendance is essentially flat year-to-year. Ticket sales for those six matches are up about five percent. We had a fairly strong year for season ticket renewals, finishing tied for fourth in the league in renewal percentage. We’ve already sold more four-game packages this year than we did in all of 2009, so we’ve seen some incremental progress on the sales front. However, that said, we’re still not pleased with where our overall sales and attendance numbers stand and we’re continuing to push in areas where we see growth potential, such as college programs, multiple-game packages and group sales.
I’m not sure if buses from a local commuter rail stop will drive attendance for us given the overall time it would require. Considering the time it would take to get to North or South Station, take the train, get on a shuttle and arrive at the stadium, that’s a significant increase in travel time.
In terms of busing, it makes more sense to provide direct bus transportation to Gillette Stadium from locations in the region. We did this from a few bars and colleges for the first game with some mixed results. We’re in the process of developing a college program that will include a transportation component, which we anticipate to roll out this fall.
In terms of rail, the state has been working in conjunction with the town of Foxborough, to study a permanent commuter rail stop placed here at Patriot Place. I think that would provide a rail transportation solution that fans would find convenient and use on a regular basis. There is a state study currently ongoing and we’re expecting to see those results within a few months.
This year our media coverage is probably stronger that it has been in a long time. Our new partnership with Comcast SportsNet has been good for us and they are promoting us fairly consistently on their network. They’ve also added more online coverage for us, which we did not have in the past. Recently they brought Taylor Twellman on to cover the World Cup, further building on their relationship with the Revolution.
Frank Dell’Apa has returned to the Revolution beat at the Boston Globe, and Kyle McCarthy has been picked up by the Boston Herald to cover the team, with additional writers filling in from time to time, both online and in print.
We’ve added a position for our in-house reporter/online host, moving Jeff Lemieux into that role from his previous work in our communications group. Initial feedback from fans has been very positive and, internally we’re very pleased to be able to provide more in-depth coverage of the team.
On radio, we’ve formed a fairly deep relationship with Damon “DA” Amendolara from 98.5 The Sports Hub, who is now providing sideline reporting for us during home games. DA even played for our America SCORES Cup office team on Sunday here at Gillette Stadium and held his own on the field! Taylor has also appeared on 98.5 recently to talk soccer, as well as call-ins from Frank Dell’apa and Greg Lalas, too.
With the Bruins and Celtics both making strong late runs into the playoffs, there certainly wasn’t a ton of open media coverage to go around this spring. But given that, we’ve held our own fairly well this year.
At the end of the day media coverage comes with demand. The more fans need coverage, the more coverage will be provided.
In the meantime we’ll continue to seek out partnerships like CSNNE and 98.5 where we feel that the Revolution will get better promotional and news exposure while supplementing that with our own coverage via revolutonsoccer.net.