Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sporting KC Takes Page Out of Ochocinco's Playbook: Markets New Stadium, Team Name Without Paying a Dime

Chad Ochocinco, formerly Chad Johnson, has learned very well how to use marketing strategies to elongate an entertainment career.  This average NFL Wide Receiver playing in a below average populated metropolitan area (Cincinnati) has shown the world that he can take a little eccentricity a long way. 

He has been able to take a name change after his playing number (Ochocinco is 85 in Spanish, Chad's uniform number) and a few crazy hairdos to bring about a reality tv show and an invitation to participate in Dancing with the Stars.  He should be able to capitalize on his popularity when he is retired from football for many more years afterwards.  

Now, he has upped the ante and is being mentioned as a two-sport star by auditioning with Sporting KC of MLS, who coincidentally are opening their new stadium this year, June 9.

The publicity has worked out so well that pro Soccer in the U.S. as a whole has benefited from the Ochocinco experiment.  Video highlights from his practicing with Sporting KC has been fodder for sportscasts, radio banter and the written sports word every day of his workouts.  It wouldn't be too much of a surprise to see more MLS tryouts with other entertainment figures in the future.

From a Sporting KC perspective, this Chad Ochocinco experiment was pure genius.  Sporting KC is a new name from last year's Wizards and all the attention didn't cost anything because Chad tried out for free.

Also, the team has planned well in announcing their new stadium with a large amount of advertising.  Number 85 reinforced all of that advertising with his presence.  There should be more than a few days this year when Sporting KC has better attendance than its baseball counterpart, the Kansas City Royals.

The Royals have struggled for two decades as a below .500 team and their ticket gate revenue has taken a beating because of it.  If Soccer is going to make its move in KC and some other baseball towns, this year could be the turning point year.

When other Soccer-specific stadiums opened in the recent past, there was a feeling that Soccer was making a dent in the sports spectator landscape of the U.S.  It has turned out that the dent was not enough to give television ratings a boost and no real change has occurred.

Sporting KC is showing that they're willing to try whatever it takes to steal the headlines away from the Royals and it may work enough to bring sellouts to their new ballpark.  Their sellouts will look a lot better than a more than half empty Royals ballpark in the middle of Summer. 

The question remains who will do better with the ratings.  If halfway into their respective seasons, the Royals are last again with no chance of the playoffs and Sporting KC is in the playoff hunt, which isn't hard to do for any MLS team due to the playoff and points system in place, than expect a Major League battle this Summer in Kansas City.

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