SBD/April 11, 2014/Franchises

Fire Expanding Marketing, Community Outreach Programs To Re-engage Local Fans

Fire execs say that they hope to sell 7,000 season tickets this year

The Fire seem like they have a "plan to create a much-needed buzz around the club" with a "seven-figure marketing campaign that will include TV advertising and digital advertising," according to Orrin Schwartz of the Illinois DAILY HERALD. The Fire's "re-engagement plan with Chicago soccer fans" includes buying time for "a one-hour Saturday morning radio program dedicated to the team on ESPN 1000-AM that will run throughout the season." The team also is "putting up billboards throughout the Chicago area" and "reaching out to soccer organizations throughout the area ... to coordinate activities where appropriate and assist where it can." In addition, the team is building a $20M soccer facility "on the North Side of Chicago with two full-size fields where rec leagues can play and the Fire can train in bad weather." The facility will include "retail, a training center, meeting areas and a Fire-branded pub." This is the "biggest, most important piece of the Fire's plan, with about 250,000 people a year expected to go through the 15,000-square-foot building." The overall goal is to get "more fans in the stands and a return to the atmosphere of 2009, the last time the Fire hosted a conference championship match." The team hopes to "sell 7,000 season tickets this season, a still modest number by MLS standards but a step up for the Fire." However, the "biggest challenge" for the franchise will "come at the end of this season, when its jersey sponsorship deal with Quaker expires." Fire COO Atul Khosla said that the club and the company "already are in negotiations to extend the contract" (Illinois DAILY HERALD, 4/10).

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