On Tuesday night, I had the pleasure of attending an event for "ticket evangelists" at Red Bull Arena. I brought along two soccer-crazed pals who were on the fence about buying Red Bulls season tickets, and they weren't disappointed. Neither was I. I hadn't been inside RBA since September's ticket relocation event, and the place looked absolutely fantastic. Nearly all the seats were in, and with the lights on, one could feel the energy in the place.
Click here for a photo tour of my visit.
Before the tour began in earnest, though, was a short presentation from Marketing VP Andrew LaFiosca, Head Coach Hans Backe, Sporting Director Erik Soler, and Managing Director Erik Stover. Among the things I learned...
-Red Bull will invest nearly 20 times the 2009 marketing budget to promote the 2010 season and Red Bull Arena. The campaign will begin in early February.
-The team hopes to fill its second designated player slot for this season, has set aside one million dollars to invest in star attacking player to complement Juan Pablo Angel (Raul? Henry? stay tuned)
-Red Bull should receive its Certificate of Occupancy for Red Bull Arena today, meaning folks won't have to wear hard hats in the arena anymore.
-The stadium will open before the MLS season opener v. Chicago on March 27th. On March 20th RBNY will host Brazil's Santos FC.
-There's great news for fans driving to the arena. RBNY will provide three free trolleys to get fans from the Newark Ironbound district (and restaurants therein), from Kearny, & one other route TBD. Fans will be given schedules to plan their trip using the trolleys.
-RBNY is smartly educating the Portuguese population in the Ironbound about the team. Apparently, some soccer-mad fans there had no idea RBA was a soccer stadium. Some mistakenly believed RBA was built for baseball.
-The international club tournament that will be held at RBA this Summer could have some big names, reflecting the fanbase surrounding the stadium. While no one has signed on, Celtic and Sporting Lisbon were mentioned as possibles.
-Full season ticket holders will have their RB tickets delivered via a smart card. STHs will tap the card at the turnstile to gain entrance to RBA. The cards will be used at concession stands and the team store, and reward points will be awarded for purchases. Eventually, sponsors may take part in the RB smart-card program as well.
-The RBA concourses will include panels that will block the view of the seating bowl. Why? Red Bull wants folks IN THEIR SEATS during play, watching the match. This is a very smart move that will surely look great on TV.
-Why hold Big East Soccer semis & final at RBA in late 2010 and beyond? Red Bull wants to prevent local talent from slipping away to ACC schools. If the chance of playing at RBA drives local HS stars to the Big East, fantastic. While the Big East tourney may not be a moneymaker for RBA, the relationship with local players & fans is important for the team.
All in all, it was a fantastic night, and frankly, made this Red Bulls fan incredibly excited for Red Bull Arena, 2010, and the franchise direction as a whole!
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