Fans' View / MLS

Fans’ View: Tech can bolster Union fan experience

Photo: Paul Rudderow

Technology is everywhere.

You wake up. You check your phone. You go downstairs. Check the TV. You probably drive a four wheeled, gas guzzling machine. Most likely, you use e-mails and internet at work or school to complete tasks. You come home, watch TV, eat dinner, maybe exercise with some machine that can help you. You check your emails, then go to sleep. On the weekends, you watch Philadelphia Union on TV or use a mode of transportation to get to the games.

It’s clear we use lots of technology.

If we use it so much, why don’t sports teams — especially the Union — take more advantage of it to to enhance game day experiences?

Think about the Philadelphia Union having an app that offers unique experiences to fans, which in turn, would help fill Talen Energy Stadium. They could offer raffles, sales on jerseys, unique on-field experiences like taking a penalty at halftime.

True, they already offer certain fan experiences, but if they further embrace technology, the Union would leapfrog other pro sports teams.

Imagine a young fan going to a Union game where he has a chance to go out on the field just by throwing his name in an app. Before the game starts, the PA announcer tells fans to check their phones to see if they won. This young fan realizes he won, and at halftime he gets to go out on the field for 5 minutes to take a PK against the backup keeper.

Now, let’s say he goes to the Linc or Citizens Bank Park, where they don’t offer similar experiences. He goes and watches the game but doesn’t feel super connected. Which one is he more likely to attend?

Although we use technology everyday, many people will say, “We shouldn’t look at our phones during a game, you’re there to have a fun time watching the game.” I completely agree with them.

But if the Union can take the time to produce this sort of game-day experience every weekend, I would bet a mortgage that attendance would increase.

I’ve had the awesome experience of taking the first kick. I’ve also been on the field as a player escort and a ball boy. I once asked Amobi Okugo if I could just go on the field for a couple minutes while the stadium was empty, and he brought me on. I want young kids to have these same experiences.

We shouldn’t sit at a Union game in front of our phones, but this is the 21st century. Adapt!

For example, Sporting Kansas City offers game day experiences like this every game, and the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks have a system where they create similar experiences for fans.

Fans feel connected to the teams for a reason. The Union can grow their franchise however they wish, but to offer fan-focused apps would bring in more revenue and more fans.

11 Comments

  1. Good stuff Collin. The Union should definitely take notice of opinions from young people like you!

  2. el Pachyderm says:

    Good stuff Collin.
    .
    I get grief from my kiddos about looking at a screen sometimes and quite enjoy informing them… when I was a child my mom read a book at my practices….and to this day one of my favorite things growing into adulthood was to grab a zep with hots and sharp provolone, The Post or local ‘Philly Rag’ sit in the center field bleachers of The Vet, nary a soul within 200 feet and bury my head in the paper only to check in with the game on occasion.
    .
    So much has changed to the vehicles of media and the written word, yet so much remains the same.
    .
    Keep bending language to your will young man.

  3. Andy Muenz says:

    To a certain extent they have already done this. In past years (I don’t remember if they did it last game) you could text KICK to some 5 digit number and if you won you got the prize package at halftime (I never won so I don’t know what’s in the package). The number would scroll across the sideline scoreboards during the first half. Obviously, though it wasn’t promoted as well as it could have been.

    • I think I did that once when I was a STH. It was such a second thought kind of effort it hardly felt like a real thing even while I was doing it. It definitely felt more like the marketing dept. (assuming there was one) was just checking off a box on the list of social media interaction goals for the year.

      In this day and age of interactive experiences however that’s akin to asking you to run down to pick up a telegram from the box office to see if you won.

  4. Nicely done Collin. At 50+ I’m not as good with technology as I should be. But my 3 college age children are and it sounds like you are also. Work on the app. Then sell it to the Union!!

  5. Robert Deckert says:

    Collin
    Great stuff again!! Keep writing these great articles.
    Very proud of you C!!

    Love
    Dad

  6. Drhammerheel says:

    !!!

  7. Amazing ideas here, but the honest answer from the mouths of the FO is that the development of an App like that would cost far more than the team is willing to or is able to spend in that area of the budget.

    • Collin Deckert says:

      I would argue that if they spend 100,000 on a simple app, and if it works and attracts, over 10 years they would break even on it. Again, this is the Union we’re speaking of, gotta pinch pennies

    • Pragmatist says:

      It should be an MLS-sponsored app, even part of the general MLS app, but individualized for each club. Spread the cost around, keep the MLS branding, and make it more prevalent through national marketing.

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