SBD/April 1, 2014/Franchises

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  • Timbers' Unique Ways Turning Into Marketing Blueprint For Other MLS Teams

    Providence Park has been at 100% capacity for every league game since inception

    The Timbers "have quietly become a fixture" in MLS since their '11 inception and are "changing the way" league teams think about marketing themselves, according to Josh Dean of FAST COMPANY. It is now "becoming clear that the team's innovative launch approach is paying off in a more permanent way." It is "hard to think of any team, in any league, that has kicked off with the kind of runaway success enjoyed" by the Timbers. Providence Park "has been at 100% capacity for every league game, with fans in the general-admission section often camping overnight to get in, and there's a waiting list of 10,000 for season tickets." But the Timbers' "most important contribution to American soccer might be the way in which the team and its fans have redefined the live experience, creating an atmosphere that is every bit as passionate as you'd find at games featuring Europe's top clubs." MLS President & Deputy Commissioner Mark Abbott said, "What they amplified is the connection between the club and the fans. The emergence of this fan-group culture is now a defining characteristic of the league." Timbers Owner Merritt Paulson has given team supporters group the Timbers Army "great influence." He or his staff meet regularly with the group, and "at its urging they agreed to keep the traditional Army section general admission and low-price." Dean notes even on TV, the games "have a palpable excitement, and the combination of perceived fun and ticket scarcity makes the Timbers a kind of cult sensation across the league." Paulson: "We're still only three years into this thing. I'd like to get to the point where, when you talk about the great pro sports organizations in the world, the Portland Timbers are on that short list" (FAST COMPANY, 4/'14 issue).

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