2020 was a tough year for everyone, and the sport’s world surely felt the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic, with leagues shut down entirely and fans around the globe forced to watch from home. In L.A., the once raucous stands of Banc of California Stadium were silent.
As the global pandemic continued to take shape, LAFC’s season memberships department was faced with a tough dilemma: How do you contact and remain in touch with your season ticket members when you don’t even know when the public will be allowed back in the stadium?
“In a time when so many other teams thought, ‘Don’t say anything, don’t do anything,’ We kind of went about it like we have always done,” LAFC’s Vice President of Ticket Sales Brendan Boyle said. “We just started reaching out to people with the thought that we are part of the community. We wanted to reach out and check in. If you want to talk about soccer and seats, that is awesome, but if not - we understand that too. That was the way we approached it, and momentum just started picking up.”
This complete focus on the human connection of sports and speaking, listening and learning from the LAFC community is what helped build the Club’s fanbase one by one before the Black & Gold ever kicked a ball, and it is what continues to help grow the team in the midst of an unprecedented pandemic.
And even while selling out every MLS game at Banc of California Stadium in the Club’s history, that fanbase does continue to grow. Since March, the LAFC memberships team has managed to collect nearly 1,500 new season ticket member deposits to go along with the 1,500 fans already on the waiting list for their chance to snag a seat at the Banc.
With fans still excited about attending a match in the future, the LAFC team had to figure out a way to re-program one of the highlights of the off-season, the annual “Select A Seat” event where members are able to come to the stadium and physically pick out options for seats for the new season.
Boyle and his team worked to turn this into a virtual event, but what surprised him wasn’t the logistics of connecting virtually, but rather the fan response they received once it began.
“The seat selection process and the way we’re doing it right now is not innovative, other teams are doing it this way,” Boyle said. “I think the interesting part is the volume with which we have received seat deposits leading up to this week, and then how excited people are about when we return.”
In talking with members, Boyle and his team are finding out that the LAFC experience is what continues to draw fans in.
“It’s really changing the landscape of what it is to be a soccer fan,” said newly minted season member and Palm Desert resident Steven Shields, flanked by his wife Lauren and children Jude and Harlowe. “There’s so many different cultures coming together in L.A. to celebrate what they’re doing in the victories and it’s just an exciting time to be part of it. So, being a fan is one thing, but being part of the family is something better.”
That wasn’t it for the Shields family, who continued to describe some of their favorite parts of the LAFC experience, adding. “Our favorite thing about the atmosphere of the games is getting there early and being part of the tailgate. The last couple of times we’ve gone we’ve taken some great food to hang out, out there. The kids, next thing you know, they’ve found other kids to play soccer with out on the grass that we’ve never even met but they’ve got this common thing that they’re all sharing while we hang out.”
Another new season member, Eduardo Mayen, who in the past was a partial season member, couldn’t kick the feeling of the LAFC community.
“What I like about the team is that it’s more than a team,” Mayen said. “It feels like part of the community that I feel I was lacking. That’s what I’m craving right now. I think a big part of that is that you go together, and you leave together as a community, not like with other sporting events where you jump in your car in Los Angeles and you get out of there. Once the world wakes up from its slumber, I think it’s something that we’re all going to enjoy again, because that collective energy is hard to replicate.”
LAFC Co-President & CBO Larry Freedman knows it is going to be special once those fans and members are finally able to sit down in those seats for another LAFC match.
“Having been around sports for a decade and a half, you get the sense that there's nothing that quite captures the feeling and emotion and excitement of an Opening Night,” Freedman said. “Everybody knows Opening Day is an important thing in any sport, and that next level of experience is opening a venue for the first time. Now, I feel like whatever that date is when we can fully open is, I believe that the grand ‘Re-Opening’ of Banc of California Stadium, when the 3252 can be together in full force and 22,000 people are filling the building - it will be like the biggest family reunion ever. I don’t know exactly when it will be, but it is coming.”
There is still limited availability to become a LAFC Member. For those interested in placing a deposit for season memberships, you can do so now here and you will be added to LAFC’s priority waiting list and notified when Memberships are available.
Your deposit will stay on your account until you have the opportunity to purchase an LAFC Membership.
Your deposit will also give you immediate access to limited LAFC Membership benefits including pre-sale access.
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