Complimenting the second-highest point total in club history and a revamped on-field attack, the Columbus Crew also achieved substantial success off the pitch in 2012.
Since launching the Goal 10K initiative to reach 10,000 season ticket holders in September of 2011, the Crew has boosted season ticket sales by 30 percent, the largest mark since Crew Stadium opened in 1999. The organization also saw a significant rise in general ticket sales, increasing attendance by 18 percent from 2011. With brand-new BBVA Compass Stadium, only the Houston Dynamo had a greater increase during the 2012 MLS season. The raised attendance figures build momentum as Goal 10K heads into its second full season.
"[The attendance increase] is 'massive', to put it in the terms of our fans," said Crew Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing Mike Malo. "It's important for our momentum in accomplishing Goal 10K. We've put a good plan together to move us in that direction." *
Malo continued, "It's going to take a lot of work. It will take a lot of community support to [accomplish Goal 10K]. The results have been really strong. We've made a lot of investment in the infrastructure of the organization with a new sales staff and we've reset our pricing to make it very attractive to people. We've created urgency for the product. The fact that the product has been really good on the field certainly makes it a lot easier for someone to make a buying decision. The combination of all those things really led to a record year in growth for us."
In addition to increased attendance, improvements were made around Crew Stadium in 2012 to enhance fan expierence. Upgrades including LED field boards, concourse branding featuring historic Crew milestones and new concession stand menu items helped make Crew games more enjoyable for fans this season.
"[The stadium upgrades] were a very important visual reminder to the fans that we're committed to continuing to put resources into the stadium experience," Malo explained. "In some of those cases like the LED field boards, it also provided a financial upside to us. We were going to make that investment, but we also get a return on that investment. I think that's how we look at all the upgrades. If we invest in the stadium experience, it's going to pay off in people wanting to buy season ticket plans and attend more games."
Aside from 18 Crew games, Crew Stadium also played host to nearly 60 other events with over 425,000 attendees in 2012. The venue hosted events like a sold-out USA vs. Jamaica World Cup Qualifier, a sold-out Jason Aldean concert and the annual Rock on the Range Festival which drew more than 70,000 fans to make it the premier outdoor destination for sports and entertainment in central Ohio.
"[Crew Stadium] is the best outdoor venue of 20,000+ seats in the region," Malo said. "If you're looking for a great outdoor venue of that size, this is the place to be. It has a great central location, so we can draw from all over. It's a unique experience."
Malo continues, "The acts like coming here. Operationally, we do a great job of treating them well when they're here. At least this year, the acts we put here were the right fits for the market because the market responded. It was another good year as far as selling out concerts and providing the right kind of acts for the marketplace."
* EDITOR'S NOTE: The corresponding quote was revised following the publication of Monday's original piece to properly reflect the origin of the term ‘massive.’ For a full history on the importance and evolution of this term, read Steve Sirk's comprehensive profile.