Vancouver Whitecaps COO Rachel Lewis on how to sell every seat in the stadium

“We get people in, give them a great experience and have them coming back.”

 
Darren Mattocks of the Vancouver Whitecaps FC running with crowd visible in the background
Darren Mattocks of the Vancouver Whitecaps FC celebrates after scoring against the Colorado Rapids during their April 5, 2014 game. (Jeff Vinnick/Getty)

Rachel Lewis, chief operating officer of Vancouver Whitecaps FC, explains how the soccer club has sold out eight of its nine home games so far this year:

1. Sell the experience

“We took a page from what Seattle did. They had entered Major League Soccer [MLS] ahead of us in 2007 and have the highest attendance in the league. Like them, we set a strict capacity for every game, which in our case is about 21,000 seats. To create a unique soccer experience, we have a different configuration from the [B.C.] Lions, which brings fans closer to the action.”

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2. Get ’em young

“We’re the only pro sport in the market that’s a true club structure, with a player development system that extends right down to community soccer leagues. Soccer’s now the largest sport in the country; I think there are about 850,000 registered players. So we’ve built a huge base of players and soccer enthusiasts to draw from.”

3. Keep them coming back

“In 2013, we introduced our 12% campaign, which gives people a 12% discount on season tickets for 12 days. It’s been hugely successful in driving new and repeat season ticket sales. We get people in, give them a great experience and have them coming back.”

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4. Don’t black out games

“Many sports teams black out local games on TV, the thinking being that putting bums in seats is the first priority. We take the opposite approach. We want to spread the word and grow exposure, so we broadcast every game on radio, television, mobile and online. If people are watching games and getting excited about it, they are going to want to come to the stadium.”

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