DFW deserves better from its MLS franchise

I'm glad that people are beating the FCD attendance drum again because it is foolhardy to believe the club's premise that "if we build it (the Hall of Fame) they will come" next season. Let's face it, the front office made a monumental mistake when they hiked ticket prices across the board going into this season under the auspices of providing a premium experience for fans. To avoid things going from bad to worse when capacity expands, it is going to take a lot more than just rounding down numbers on single game tickets.

A good start would be providing that premium experience to season ticket holders. FCD is hard pressed to answer the question, "what is the inherent value of being a season ticket holder?"

Perhaps it's that you are assured tickets for every game. Well, there are plenty available. Even the "sold out" July 4 match had numerous options on Maybe it's that you get a lower price? On paper, yes, it's cheaper than buying single game tickets directly from the club, but in reality you can find folks willing to unload their tickets in the secondary market well below face value because supply vastly outpaces demand.

One solution employed by other MLS clubs is to add value in the form of merchandise. In FCD's mind, this means STHs get the opportunity to buy sandals, sunglasses and a t-shirt for $10; in my mind, this means free merchandise such as a jersey, or perhaps a gift card to use at the fan store. Free gear that sports the club logo is how you turn fans into walking promoters. Unfortunately, Hunt Sports Group seems just as unwilling to invest in the fans as they are to invest in both the transfer market and stadium upgrades that go beyond what their CPAs dictate.

Back to the demand issue. Kenny Price's recent Fan Post article is correct. There are plenty of excuses for people not to go to Frisco. However, there are plenty of people already in Frisco and quite a few more on the way. Frisco is the fastest growing city in the USA with more than 100,000 people for several years running. Next door neighbor, McKinney, is annually in the top five on that list.

Many of the people in Frisco and McKinney are young families that FCD sees as their target market. However, these young families are probably not going to be season ticket holders because most are just looking for inexpensive ways to entertain their kids on a Saturday night. They could learn a lot from the Roughriders in that regard. The Roughriders put as many butts in seats on the weekends as FCD even with the minor league baseball team's location a few exits south of Toyota Stadium. Frisco may be to blame for the game day atmosphere (or lack thereof), but it is not to blame for the lack of butts in seats. The blame for that resides entirely in the front office.

As the President of the Dallas Football Elite, we've encountered these problems firsthand. Season ticket prices more than doubled in our previous section, 103, forcing a move to section 101 in order to maintain a remotely close price point. Having worse seats for more money makes growing the group difficult, especially when each game you can look back over to our old section and see nearly no one. Without a revenue generating section sponsor to appease (even though we provided the Marketing Department with a prospectus for one months ago) promotional support from FCD is hard to come by.

There is a recipe to bust the bubble and get millennial Dallasites to Toyota Stadium. For the Chicago match on July 16 we bused 109 new fans to the stadium from Uptown by partnering with a local social recreational sports league. To their credit, FCD helped charter the bus, allowing us to provide discounted tickets that included a safe sober ride. Moral of the story, "if you build the right partnerships and market strategically, they will come."

It all comes back to marketing. What they are doing now is not working. It is past time for the Hunts to show the pride in ownership of this team that their father had. People want a reason to come to a match (and to come back for another match). That takes more than repeated phone calls from a defeated intern and a chance to buy $10 sandals.

Phil Crone
2016 President, Dallas Football Elite