What we can learn from Portland, Oregon, and its thriving soccer scene
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There are plenty of cities in the United States that are embracing American soccer, but few cities have cultivated an identity with their team quite as strong as Portland, OR. The Portland Timbers sell out nearly every MLS home game, while the Portland Thorns lead the NWSL in fan attendance. So where are these sales numbers coming from?
AN UNPARALLELED SPORTS EXPERIENCE
Keeping audiences engaged is harder today than it ever has been. In a world built off of instant-gratification, it can be difficult to keep fans engaged in 90 minutes of gameplay that may only result in one or two goals. The Timbers and Thorns keep fans engaged through their supporter organizations: The Rose City Riveters and Timbers Army. These organizations add a new layer to the fan experience, and are a tangible marketing element for ticket sales. The Timbers and Thorns also source their concessions from local businesses, further aligning their brand with the city.
The Thorns attendance indicates that Portland has done an exceptional job of capturing the female soccer market. One of the ways they have done this is through unparalleled fan access. At the end of games, players are known to run through their supporters sections, and meet with their fans for photos and autographs.
The more personal investment a fan has in their team, the more likely they are to buy tickets.
Portland recognizes this, and uses their digital platform to build personal relationships between their fans and athletes. Personal stories from athletes can help fans bond with the players, increase fan engagement, and raise brand awareness. There are also a multitude of fan Facebook groups that help foster an online community between fans.
Although Portland has a successful track record on the field, it is their fan engagement, game day experience, and team access, that keeps fans coming back from more. To hear more about Portland’s unique approach to sport marketing, you can read the full article here.