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SBJ/July 11-17, 2011/Franchises
L.A. Kings eye soccer-style support section
Published July 11, 2011, Page 8
The Kings have set aside a 500-seat section behind the goal in the lower bowl at Staples Center that will house the team’s new supporters club, which has yet to be named. Chris McGowan, Kings COO, said the franchise developed the idea after a handful of executives attended a Los Angeles Galaxy game, and watched the MLS team’s four supporters clubs — the LA Riot Squad, Angel City Brigade, Galaxians and Ultimate Fan Organization (UFO). Traditional soccer supporters clubs sit together in the stadium, wave flags, play drums and stand for the majority of the game.
“We thought that [MLS] fans are very similar to NHL fans when it comes to passion, so why couldn’t that concept work if we brought it to hockey,” McGowan said. “We see this as a chance to create electricity in the Staples Center and help the club create a tight fan community.”
All 30 NHL clubs have unofficial or team-sanctioned fan clubs, but team and league sources said that the Kings’ soccer-style supporters club will be a first for the NHL. “The Kings are being quite progressive and this is an exciting development as they look to generate lifetime fans and engage new fans with a fun and interactive community,” said Brian Jennings, executive vice president of marketing for the NHL.
McGowan said the organization is still completing details of the supporters club, which will officially launch Wednesday. McGowan said the club will name itself and develop its own logo, and that he envisions the club to have the freedom to display banners and play drums at home games, much like soccer supporters groups. The Kings will sell only season tickets in the section, at $44 a game — the average lower-bowl season ticket is $69 a game. He also said the organization will hire a full-time fan development representative to work exclusively with the club.
The team has identified 10 fans to help recruit members to the section.
“We hope it grows by word of mouth,” McGowan said. “We want this club to be authentic — this is not a mass-marketing initiative.”