FC Cincinnati has yet to play in its first match, but that has not stopped the Queen City’s newest professional soccer team from experiencing some success. That success has come at the box office, where the club is selling season tickets at solid rate. According to Jeff Smith, Vice President of Sales and Ticketing at FC Cincinnati, the USL franchise has already sold more than 3,000 season tickets, and the club plans to continue those sales in the months leading up to the start of the season.
Congrats to @fccincinnati who have already sold more season tickets than any 1st year team in league history!
— Cardiac Cats (@CardiacCatsUC) December 30, 2015
No, three thousand season tickets is not a record number of sales for a USL expansion team in its first year. Sacramento Republic FC sold 6,105 season tickets in 2014. Three thousand, though, is a substantial number of sales. For some perspective, consider USL attendance statistics from 2015. FC Cincinnati’s season ticket sales at this point already outpaces the average attendance for half of the teams that competed in the league last year. For an apples to apples comparison, only Sacramento sold more than 3,000 season tickets in 2015.
“We’re doing really, really well,” said an excited and confident Smith. “We don’t have a schedule. We don’t have a whole team. We haven’t played a game. We haven’t had a practice. We don’t even have any of these things put together yet, so when people are looking to buy tickets and season tickets, they’re kind of doing it blind… I tip my hat to them. I think it’s great. It speaks to the passion, the excitement, and people’s willingness to get involved with what’s going on.”
The success achieved thus far has been without the full implementation of marketing strategies directed at specific demographics the club is targeting. The club is happy, though, that a good mix of various groups have been among the early patrons. Those groups include college students, young professionals and millennials, soccer families, and corporations.
College students are chief among the groups of fans that FC Cincinnati hopes to attract to Nippert Stadium on the campus of the University of Cincinnati. A concentrated campaign to attract college students across southern Ohio and northern Kentucky has not yet been orchestrated.
The plan to attract families associated with local soccer clubs and recreational organizations is brilliant. The idea is to give those groups a promo code that can be entered when tickets are purchased. Twenty percent of the dollar amounts from ticket sales tracked back to the promo codes will be given back to the local clubs at the end of the season. It is a plan that gives local clubs the incentive to promote FC Cincinnati and build their own programs at the same time.
Recent renovations to Nippert Stadium and affordable pricing are sure to attract business leaders to matches for corporate outings. Club seats for the entire season are being offered for $595. The amenities that accompany the purchase of one of these seats include thick-cushioned seats, upscale food, a full bar, large-screen televisions, private restrooms, and shelter from inclement weather.
“We’ve got big goals and big ideas. We’re going to keep pushing it over the next couple of months,” said Smith. “Our goal, and it is a lofty one, if we could average 10,000 paid attendance at every match, it would be tremendous.”
Lofty and tremendous are apt descriptors for a goal of 10k fans per match. Not only would it put FC Cincinnati in the upper echelon of USL clubs in terms of attendance, but it would garner some attention from other American soccer leagues. The goal will become more achievable when the USL schedule is released for 2016. Then the team can begin to sell mini-plans, group outings, and tickets to individual matches.
Say what you will about the marketing that has come from FC Cincinnati since the club launched a few months ago. It is not resulting in broken sales records, but it is working well. Whether or not it will help the club reach its ambitious goals remains to be seen.