Friday, February 22, 2008

Advisory Board Notes

Following are notes from our first Advisory Board Meeting earlier this week:

Women’s Professional Soccer-Chicago
Advisory Board Meeting
In attendance: Anton Maksimov, Peter Glon, Bobby McAuliff, Charlie Dyson, Flo Dyson, Mark Boyle, Ben Burton, Tom Stutesman, Bob Armendariz, Wells Frice, Rob Lepley, Josh Niemi, Lisa Buczkowski, Dan Garnett, Jim Willett, Gary Weaver, Jack Cummins, Peter Wilt, Marcia McDermott.

League Update -- Peter Wilt
• Importance of strong relationship with Toyota Park and Chicago Fire
• Status of all 7 teams
• Possible expansion markets
• Strength of business model
• Expenses based on realistic attendance numbers
• Synergies with youth soccer and grassroots
• Soccer specific stadiums
• MLS relationship
• Soccer United Marketing for sponsorships
• League approach at grassroots, direct approach, social networking, etc
Player Update -- Gary Weaver
• U.S. players updated on status
• Expanded base of domestic players available
• International players
Sponsorship update -- Bobby McAuliff—ticket sales foundation to sponsorship sales; looking for foundational partner as anchor for multiple sponsorship sales
Team Update -- Marcia McDermott
• Actively seeking front office staff to begin between April and July of this year—jobs are posted on website
• Seeking locations and dates for town halls and other promotional events
• Will be launching a Name the Team competition in March

Topic #1: What is our brand?
Ideas discussed:
Should represent the area of Chicago and appeal to the whole family (male and female)—this was echoed by many in attendance, that it should appeal to the whole family, not just the girls
Appeal to youth coaches
Wholesome, highest level, integrity
Role models, aspirational element for youth soccer—there is somewhere to go
Section 8 also has a more expansive membership and interest—there will be crossover between the Fire and WPS games, but must appeal to them—first and foremost—soccer fans, the atmosphere that goes with soccer—drums and flags. There is crossover appeal for Section 8—appeal to the 20 something women. Love of soccer brings Section 8 together
The key to success is playing soccer with passion. Product on the field needs to be passionate and then can reach out to a wider fan base.
Name and colors will be important for brand-Should represent community and be unique to this team versus any other in the league. The team should be immediately identifiable by colors and uniform. No animated/cartoon like logo. The colors of the Chicago flag were mentioned, and red as a color identified with Chicago sports.
Not many specific names were identified or discussed.
Promotion was discussed:
Importance of promotion of team via internet to reach the 20+ age group and older youth. It’s an inexpensive way to reach a lot of people.
Need to start to build databases now—need “good names” as we build the base. Events are great place to collect them.
Meet up as a site online that women/young adults use to gather for soccer events i.e. windy city wanderers

Topic #2: Community Relations
Ideas for town hall locations:
Mention of major tournaments and facilities for indoor/outdoor tournament, but some thought that it would be best for town halls to be stand-alone events not tagged on to other events. Use it to sell your own product—bring in people specifically interested in what we are doing.
Volunteers—Consensus that we need to directly state on our website that we are looking for volunteers. We need to make volunteers feel a part of the team.
Post it everywhere, just like we are with our interns.

Topic#3: Stadium Experience:
A comparison was made to minor league baseball, but entertainment is different. The focus for soccer fans is on the game.
Important to have all the events like face painting, circus feel, prior to game—bring people to the stadium early
A dissenting opinion was expressed about in-game entertainment. A comparison was made to the Bulls game. The music, applause etc appeals to the one person in each group who feels he or she was made to come to the event. Need something for them to make the game fun.
Caution about credibility for the women’s pro league—don’t be hokey, let the quality of the game stand on its own. Keep the game pure.
Get community involved on the field—playing at half-time, ball girls, boys, walk out with players, etc.
Supporters Section—where is the logical place. The key, place them in the spot where they can impact what happens on field—players see them, inspire players, and make other fans get involved.
Discussed briefly groups on stage end.
Game days & times—agreed sat night ideal, but realistically with number of stadium tenants have to look at other options. Will be very few double headers with Fire.
After 3rd week in June youth games break—Sunday afternoon becomes a better time slot then with no competition with games.
Will youth work schedule around us—not practical idea even if we tell them schedule far enough in advance. Groups do not plan that far out.
Discussed Friday nights at 8 pm versus Sunday at 7 pm and relative merits of each.

Topic #4: Revenue streams
Ticket prices: 25% less expensive than Fire games.
10 games --12 with exhibitions—in a season. The least expensive season ticket $99-most expensive in club with all amenities around $400.
Parking at $15 is OK.
Mid-range seats with group $20, single $25.
Prices seemed to be in the correct range to the group.

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