SBD/April 24, 2012/Franchises

MLS Sporting K.C. Enjoying Newfound Success On And Off The Pitch

Club's season-ticket sales have increased from 600 to over 10,000 in past five years
While MLS Sporting K.C. CEO Robb Heineman has “made it clear that winning championships is the club’s goal,” team COO & General Counsel Greg Cotton said that continuing “its remarkable surge in popularity depends on the leadership being ‘agnostic’ of wins and losses,” according to Joel Petterson of the N.Y. TIMES. The team’s 7-1 record this season “is not the only improvement,” as season-ticket sales “have increased from 600 to over 10,000 in the past five years.” Merchandise sales this year “have already topped $1 million -- a far cry from 2006.” Cotton said that in ’06 the team earned “only $30,000 in merchandise sales for the whole year.” Sporting K.C. D Matt Besler, who grew up in the city, said, “I think it’s night and day, just the buzz we’ve created among the city. You can’t drive down the highway without seeing an SKC magnet on a car and SKC hats all around town.” The training center was “one of the first things the new ownership group renovated after taking over.” They wanted to “send a message that they were serious about changing the atmosphere and perception of the team.” Cotton: “We may not be brilliant sports guys, but we’re pretty good at our jobs in different niches, and we all like to think a little bit differently. So if we’re going to do this, and if we’re going to risk our fledgling young careers here, let’s go try and do something really big.” Petterson wrote for “both fans and players, it transformed the team from the very first practice held on the field.” Team MF Roger Espinoza said, “From that moment, you knew everything was going to change” (NYTIMES.com, 4/23).
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