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Jun
28

The COO’s response

brian_bilelloFirst, 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.

Soccer Stadium

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.

SuperLiga
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.

Attendance
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.

Buses/Public Transportation
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.

Media Coverage
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.

65 comments

  1. Brian Bilello says:

    @Bystander: Yes. Since this is my blog piece, all responses get emailed directly to me.

  2. Boston Fan says:

    One more potential plus/option for a South Boston location would be for Bob Kraft to team up with Steve Wynn on his recently disclosed interest in a South Boston Waterfront resort casino and hotel bid.

    Steve Wynn, arguably one the most successful hotel/casino builders could team up with Kraft, one of the most successful team owner/stadium and retail developers out there. Wynn pays for the casino and hotel, Kraft pays for (or guarantees the lease on) an attached 25,000-30,000 seat stadium (retractable roof anyone?). Build the stadium luxury suites into the hotel…amazing 5-star service and amenities for the suites and a constant source of tourist traffic. Great concert/show venue right in the city. Wynn and Kraft can both build out an amazing street-level retail experience (which they’re both great at) around the casino/hotel/stadium complex. Who knows, this may be a little “pie in the sky”, but thought I’d put it out there.

  3. Bystander says:

    Wow. I’m impressed. A corporate suit NEVER reads this kind of stuff. Thanks, Mr. Biello. Maybe we all want the same thing, a great place to go to support a great team playing a great game. I actually have some restored faith in this slow boat.

  4. Well-Grounded says:

    Keep the city stadium between 15-20, no larger in the true Boston tradition! AND NO STAGE NO STAGE NO STAGE! If Boston wants to stay more sophisticated and traditional than NY, we Bostonians have to do this right!

  5. Not Portuguese, Not Irish says:

    The original game would have been a blockbuster: Celtic-Rangers. The town elders know the right ticket brings the right fans through the gate. Imagine how hard it would be to get summer tix for any international friendly in Boston at their new stadium? Imagine how fun it would be to fill one half with Red Bulls and the other with Revs? The dream is amazing. You won’t see a sell-out at Fenway, but I agree that it’s an interesting experiment to see how many people show up to the city stadium to watch two teams the neutrals don’t care about on a weekday. If they sell 30k, that should tell Kraft SOMETHING.

  6. Parallel Development says:

    BostonFan said it: “I lost count of how many times I heard people at work and in bars say I’ve never been to a Revs game, I just wish they had a stadium in the city!’”

    I’ve heard at least half dozen people say this too! I work at a Five Star Hotel in downtown Boston and many of my co-workers are foreign-born. (I am a German American). EVERY LAST ONE OF THEM have said, “they need a stadium near the train, then I would go.”

    We book alot of the big clubs when they do visit.

    BUILD ON THE WATERFRONT!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    BUILD ON THE WATERFRONT!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. Worcester Rocks says:

    What about Worcester? One million people (including Boston, Providence, Springfield, and Hartford) within an hour’s drive with existing (and expanding) commuter rail service to downtown Boston. All of New England is within a stone’s throw (or a penalty kick). Ole!

  8. Jon says:

    Bringing the team to Worcester is a horrible idea. Boston has a stable economy and has the potential to allow the Revolution to turn into a model team for MLS. The attendance would increase, thus creating more revenue and allowing for some big name signings. Bring the Revs to Boston!

  9. Boston Fan says:

    @Not Portuguese, Not Irish: “You won’t see a sell-out at Fenway, but I agree that it’s an interesting experiment to see how many people show up to the city stadium to watch two teams the neutrals don’t care about on a weekday. If they sell 30k, that should tell Kraft SOMETHING.”

    ***************

    32,162. Not a sell-out, but I’d argue that 86% capacity for a night game at Fenway was impressive, and puts up a fantastic arguement for putting a soccer stadium right in Boston’s core. To borrow from “Parallel Development”:

    BUILD ON THE WATERFRONT!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    BUILD ON THE WATERFRONT!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. Scoop says:

    Care to comment on the validity of this rumor? haha.. i feel like an investigative reporter!

    “Here’s a rumor for you. Don’t ask me how I know this, let’s just say I heard it from a little fish in the sea.

    There are some land parcels being bandied about regarding “additional locations” for the New England Revolution new soccer stadium. While Somerville is the most highly publicized, not much is known about the other locations being considered. These MAY be the waterfront locations they are talking about:

    North Jetty
    FID Kennedy Avenue at 1 Seafood Way
    Boston

    A 470,000 square foot industrial build-to-suit very near the Bank of America Pavilion. Next door is the giant Cruiseport Cell Phone Waiting Lot.

    A few blocks down is a large warehouse next to Au Bon Pain, still on FID Kennedy Avenue.

    At the corner of Northern Avenue and Tide Street (same neigborhood) there is another large abandoned warehouse. This is located next to B&M Fish Company, 312 Northern Avenue.

    I can’t confirm these locations, but it seems viable. The only down side is no public transit other than bus, but close to the slowly creeping development of the Word Trade Center, etc. Restaurants and hotels nearby, etc. The only other locations would be in South Boston but I have no information on that.”

  11. City Planner says:

    From Populous, the firm that designed KC’s new stadium: “In addition to hosting soccer, the stadium features a retractable seating section in the seating bowl’s south end that, when retracted, will reveal a stage that can be used for end-stage concerts.”

    So any new stadium that the Revs build can double as a concert venue but STILL Have a retractable stage that is NOT FIXED and ugly like Columbus or when Gillette has a big concert planned. A stage that can be hidden during games and brought out for concerts is brilliant.

    I hope whoever builds the Revs stadium will consider this architectural practice of a hidden stage.

  12. Paul Aamaral says:

    I hate seeing the situation the Revs are in very low attendance to a team that was one of the highest averages in the league need new soccer stadium the logo must go diferent design,a sponser , and of course players that can play, Perovike, Joseph, Nyassi can’t do it all alone.

  13. Paul Amaral says:

    There is nothing worse than watching a soccer game with american football lines and #’s it’s horrible doenst even look real, that was my take saturday watching the revs game on tv, that + another sub par performance we need a soccer specific stadium if not the revolution will be the only team in mls playing in an enourmous nfl stadium, and also i think it’s time for a new coach.

  14. Boston or Bust says:

    They need to make a change ASAP. A rep from the Revs calls me every three weeks or so to ask me why I stopped going to games. Im sure everyone tells him the same thing…1)New Stadium,2)New Blood ASAP!!

    I live in Metro west and going down to Foxboro sucks (so does going into boston), but at least if they move the stadium to boston I can sit in a right-sized stadium and not be depressed about how many people are not in attendance.

  15. David says:

    The best option for a stadium would be in Providence, RI, right on the waterfront. There are several advantages:
    1) Providence is the second largest city in the region. We don’t have a major league sports team, and this will create a culture of pride around the Revs.
    2) A large percentage of the population is hispanic, a demographic that already has soccer embedded into the culture.
    3) Providence is on the edge of a huge boom in development. With the 195 relocation there is 40 developable acres to develop. While the focus is on the knowledge economy, there is and will be even more people with expendable income.

    Kraft should bring it there himself or put it up for sale to someone who is interested in relocating. You won’t regret it!

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