Friday, September 25, 2009

Davis post on where it all went wrong for FC Frisco

Steve Davis, who writes frequently at and ESPN Soccernet, posted a wonderfully insightful piece on the trials and tribulations of the Dallas Burn/FC Dallas franchise on his blog the other day. You can read the whole piece here, but here are a few highlights:

Five years ago in August the Dallas Burn became FC Dallas. A year after that, they moved into a dandy little stadium, where tens of hundreds of people now show up 16-18 times a year to watch a poor product while frequently taking a beating in customer service and then putting the cherry on the bad experience sundae by getting stuck in traffic on the way home. (OK, the club has done something about the wacky traffic congestion. By stinkin’ up the joint pretty much everywhere else they have largely eliminated all traffic entanglements. Well done, kids.)

"...tens of hundreds..." Pardon me while I clean up from where I spit Coke through my nose.

MLS teams that continue to struggle simply have to understand that there are no magic formulas. You just have to work at it, and you have to work smart at it. That’s it. There’s all kinds of virtue in hustle, humility and a dogged desire to be better at what you do. You can’t just say you’re a kick-ass club determined to out-hustle, out-perform and out-smart the competition – you actually have to be a kick-ass club that out-hustles, out-performs and out-smarts the competition.

It's easy to see what teams fit that description as it's a rather short list recently. Dynamo are virtually the poster boys for this quality. The Chicago Fire qualify. Columbus Crew. Seattle Sounders. Who am I missing here? New England perhaps. DC United?

The problem is that you can’t just tell everybody that you’re "all that." Pretty soon, people figure it out. You actually have to be "all that." Just one "for instance:" One of Hitchcocks’ peeps was the genius behind the Hoops Nation campaign, one of the silliest ideas in the long, sad history of silly ideas.

Did anybody seriously believe there was a national groundswell to get on board with FC Dallas?

UHRFRGGGLE. Sorry. Coca Cola. Nose. Again.

Look, I could go on and on about bad print ads, nonsensical media buying strategies, ridiculously failed DP bids, money wasted on ballyhooed partnerships with foreign clubs, about running out of pizza countless times at Pizza Hut Park, about out-dated marketing strategies, about the long-term scourge of artificially inflated attendance numbers, about the mindless pursuit of the suburban family dollar, etc.

This time I had the good sense not to drink the soda before reading the "running out of pizza" line.

This is an excellent, excellent point, which Davis makes in other places in the piece. There are other discussions here about stadia, etc. But this is a serious point that applies here in Houston and on other discussions here. The stadium must be built downtown. PHP is a serious warning sign to all and sundry that a suburban stadium is a recipe for a disaster.

This is a brilliant piece from Davis and it should be required reading for MLS front offices, except perhaps Dynamo's because it's very clear that these are not the sort of mistakes made in the Republic of Orangia.


DCLee said...

Nice Post!

Anonymous said...

I just discovered your blog and it's great! That said, the qualm I have with the linked-to piece is the writer's conclusion that "it's not about branding."

Actually, having the right brand is vital to success. And the "brand" is more than just a logo and pretty colors. It's about all the elements that can create a connection with customers and make them loyal. FC Dallas has a great logo (sorry, but "Dallas Burn" really is lame), but otherwise their "brand" is that of a team with weak crowds in a far-away stadium with poor customer service. That's an awful brand to have. I think what the writer meant to say is a pretty logo isn't enough for MLS success.