We are about midway through the 2016 season for FC Dallas, and while the product on the field has been pretty good, it’s time to face the bitter truth:
Despite front office promises of good changes after season ticket price increases during the offseason, announced sellouts have looked nothing of the sort. While bouts of bad weather have certainly marred some matches, games featuring international teams have gotten more butts in the seat than an exciting, young roster who is tossing in goals and playing decent soccer. A huge chunk of the stadium is roped off and under construction, and yet it look like a ghost town out there.
Look, FC Dallas front office. I am no marketing guru, but something ain’t right in Frisco. Your strategy ISN’T working. It’s time for a real change.
Consider me your classic internet "ideas man" in this column. I’m not looking for a new job. I know you will fall in love with some of these creative solutions to solving your attendance woes, and you will come knocking on my door. But I’m not relocating to Frisco to help. (But a free scarf would be just fine in return.)
I’m doing this because you’re my team, and I don’t like to see you struggling.
So, here we go - five stunning ideas to radically improve attendance right now at FC Dallas home games.
1 - BBQ Night
It’s a Saturday night. The lights are bright. The field looks gorgeous. Crowds are streaming to Frisco because they have come to root for their beloved FC Dallas team. But it’s also BBQ night. That’s right, a celebration of food and meat and sauce that has the crowds buzzing with excitement.
After going through the line and receiving their complimentary bib (courtesy of Dickey’s BBQ), fans are surrounded by a BBQ celebration. Children are invited to climb up a tall slide brought in for the occasion and gleefully descend into a swimming pool of barbecue sauce. It’s local too, none of that European crap. As the kids swim and play and drink to the heart’s content, the parents are lining up for the Ring of Meats, a a series of tables that stretch all the way around the concourse brimming with ribs, brisket, pulled pork, sausages, chicken, turkey, and seafood being cooked up constantly before and throughout the game. Some fans are here purely for dinner. The ticket isn’t cheap, but it’s worth every penny.
- At halftime, cornbread guns shoot their delicious concoctions into hungry fans’ mouths.
- A fire truck hoses down the crowds in the feisty heat of summer with cheap beer.
- A soccer ball is covered with leftover grease, and the kid who can lick it clean gets to take it home.
- For every goal that is scored, the FC Dallas player gets a big cut from a slab of brisket and is forced to eat it before returning to action.
- For the more discerning fans in the box seats, an assortment of livestock is kept at hand, and families can choose which animal to butcher and devour in a celebration of the sport of soccer.
Concession workers keep the beer, sauce, and meat flowing. It becomes a record breaking night for FC Dallas - attendance and profit-wise. It is such a spectacle that fans fly in from far and wide. Best of all, leftovers can be tossed into underground freezers and re-used for future concessions.
2 - Recruit Lookalikes
Unfortunately, the Hunt family can’t exactly afford to hire big time players from European leagues, so do the next best thing - scour North America for lookalikes to the great players of international soccer. Surely there is some kid out there who looks like Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, or Chicharito. Give him a $30k contract in the custodial department and throw his likeness up on billboards around Dallas.
Look, it’s not technically fraud. You just keep featuring a guy in jersey who looked somewhat like some famous player in a bid to attract the eye and pull in additional ticket sales. We don’t actually list said famous player’s name. Free speech, right?
3 - Embrace Texas. Drop Budweiser.
This one comes up pretty regularly in the ol’ Facebook chats, and I’m sure Budweiser pays FC Dallas a nice little chunk of money to be good partners. But their beer is awful, and they aren’t even American anymore. Meanwhile, some of the best damn beer in the universe is being made right now in the DFW metroplex. From Deep Ellum Brewery to Franconia Brewing to Lakewood to Community Beer Company, the list goes on and on.
More than anything else, FC Dallas needs to cultivate an atmosphere that is unique, fun, and distinctly Dallas. Walking into a stadium to find local beer on the menu is a sign that you are in a good place. It’s a sign that you are a franchise that embraces Dallas. Because FC Dallas isn’t a giant behemoth like the Dallas Cowboys, they could easily do this and embrace the real flavor of their namesake.
The other possibilities follow suit - state fair corndogs, food trucks, taco stands, sweet tea, Mexican coca cola, and on and on.
Why not build a replica Big Tex or Alamo while you are at it?
Make it when a potential fan walks through those gates they know they are in Texas.
4 - Get into a fistfight with Jerry Jones.
Do Dan Hunt and Jerry Jones run in the same circles? I assume they would, even if the Hunts might fall into the lower end of the Texas elite scale. In a bid to garner new fans, Dan can do Cowboy world a huge favor and challenge Jerry Jones to a duel with nothing but bare fists and a bare chest. Have a marketing intern catch the five minute battle on camera, and Mr. Dan Hunt becomes an internet superstar.
After a brief stint in jail, Dan will find that his family’s name and respect in the world of soccer and Dallas increased in stature immensely. The video will play at the opening of home matches, and eventually, FC Dallas will surpass the Dallas Cowboys in worth. All because Dan Hunt took matter into his own hands and bloodied ol’ Jerry’s nose schoolyard style.
5 - More Niche Nights
If all else fails, FC Dallas can grow their fanbase in the tried and true manner of reaching out to to the various niche communities around the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Here’s a few:
- Furry Night
- Pajama Night
- Register to Vote Night
- Bring Your Pet to the Game Night
- Dallas Cowboys Fan Night
- Free Comic Book Day Night
- Swap Meet Night
- Remember the Alamo Night
- Check Your Blood Pressure Night
- "For $5 We’ll Show You a Current Family Friendly Release on the Big Screen Night Even Though There Happens to Be a Soccer Game Going On Just Please Come and Fill Our Stadium Please" Night
It’s your move, FC Dallas.