Just 45 minutes south of Dilboy Stadium in nearby Foxboro, Massachusetts, the New England Revolution attract an average fan attendance of 14,000. For the Boston Breakers, the lesser-known women's counterpart, a median of approximately 2,500 fans turn out on gameday. We believe the quality of soccer should lend itself to a sturdy fan base, leading us to wonder: what steps could the Breakers take to increase fan attendance? Our five tips answer that very question.
1. Turn Dilboy into a permanent home. Last week, we analyzed Dilboy stadium, describing the Somerville-based facility as suitable-albeit-quirky home for the Breakers. Dilboy's biggest flaw stems from its multi-purpose image, creating an identity crisis for the stadium's home teams. Bias aside, Dilboy hosts the Breakers and then everybody else. Do the Boston Militia of the Women's Football Alliance deserve permanent markings on the turf? Probably not. We like the sound of "Breakers field at Dilboy Stadium."
2. Tout the vets. After acquiring forward Sydney Leroux and re-acquiring midfielder Heather O'Reilly during the 2013 NWSL inaugural player allocation, the Breakers uncovered their future core. Sure, supporting players Lianne Sanderson, Cat Whitehill and Joanna Lohman offer top-tier talent, though fans respond to name recognition. By further exposing O'Reilly and Leroux, two women who compete at the national level, the Breakers will cater to a broader pool of soccer fans.
3. Involve the fans. Americans hold onto a love-hate relationship with soccer, often appearing too "haughty" for the world's most popular game. How can the Breakers reach apathetic soccer fans? By offering creative marketing schemes, of course. We'd like to see Sydney Leroux scoop ice cream in center city, Heather O'Reilly give away a signed jersey at half time and Alyssa Naeher save penalties from fans after the match. The "kick the ball closest to midfield" routine has lost its luster.
4. Move beyond the children. We appreciate that women's soccer attracts soccer tweens, as the Revolution (and every other local team) has missed out on this market. We do not, however, appreciate the overwhelming number of young, uniformed fans. In order to reach the underground population of adult soccer fanatics, the Breakers need to move beyond youth soccer and begin inviting the older demographic. Why not feature the Massachusetts state champions at halftime instead of local intramural teams?
5. Spread the gear. The Breakers online store offers everything from team jerseys to logo magnets, though no pronounced apparel sale occurs on gameday. Why not take advantage of the 2,000 fans who enter Dilboy on a bi-weekly basis and begin spreading the team's logo? We've spotted more USWNT Alex Morgan jerseys than royal blue Sydney Leroux kits; we'd love to see that change.
Do you have any additional ideas for increasing fan attendance? Drop us a comment below.
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