Saturday, 10 March 2012

Could The Alouettes and Impact be Fighting For the Montreal Business Dollars?

On the eve of the inaugural kickoff of the Montreal Impact’s entry into the MLS, the fans are abuzz with excitement that the top tier of North American soccer is back in this city.

How could this “impact” their city neighbours, the Montreal Alouettes?

From a marketing standpoint, the Impact has had numerous newspaper advertisements in both official languages promoting the team and its players in its lead up for tonight’s road game against the Vancouver Whitecaps.

They even hosted a glitzy fashion show promoting their new uniforms.

Given the location of Saputo Stadium in the east end of Montreal, they’re in the heart of a huge soccer community that could flock to see them play. In-fact the Alouettes will have a bird’s eye view from their coach’s office at the Olympic Stadium which is next door to the soccer site.

The Impact has a lot momentum going for them considering the local ownership group of the Saputo family has been instrumental in keeping soccer alive in the city.

Furthermore, the team is entertaining the thought of potentially bringing in an international superstar. The name that keeps coming up is Alessandro Del Piero who would garner a lot of attention from the large Montreal Italian community.

However, Impact season ticket sales are not off to a strong start. It could pickup considering this city is known to support what is trending, and they would be the new darlings for the fans.

As for the Alouettes situation, in conversing with a local media member who made the point that they may have stagnated with their product in-terms of promoting the team, and its players.

Essentially, the Alouettes winning success could be their demise because the fans might be taking it for granted on what has been a perennial Grey Cup team.

This summer, there is a growing sense that a family of four could spend their money towards the Impact than an Alouettes game.

As one Alouettes season ticket holder wrote to me on Twitter, his buddy will be dropping his football package after 2012 and instead will be getting 2013 Impact season tickets. Could many football fans follow suit, and invest their money in the soccer product?

Since 2004, when the Montreal Expos moved to Washington D.C. the Alouettes have been the second choice sport behind the Montreal Canadiens amongst the local community.

With the Impact moving up to MLS, it could dilute business from a football team that had some bumps during the 2011 season in selling tickets.

In their home opener against the B.C. Lions, the then two-time defending champions were far from a sellout, and had one section in the northeast stands mostly empty.

It definitely was a sore eye on television. President, the explained it was due to the construction on Pins Avenue, and a lot people were leaving for the Canada Day long weekend.

Throughout the season, it wasn’t as smooth as there were spots of empty seats around Molson stadium. During the playoff home loss to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, the team only had 33,051 fans in attendance.

In speaking to a source very close to the Impact they’re content with their home schedule. But are ecstatic that the MLS coordinated their April home game against Toronto FC on the same day the Canadiens play the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Bell Centre.

The team fully expects an influx of southern Ontario fans in attendance for the first ever MLS tilt against their 401 highway rivals.

Prior to each season, there are certain dates that CFL teams will request the league office to schedule them on. The football schedule does intersect with the NHL and MLS seasons, then why couldn’t the Alouettes ask the CFL to have their home games on the same weekend as their city counterparts if it involves the Maple Leafs, Toronto FC, Vancouver Canucks, or Whitecaps?

Economically all the properties would benefit due to the fans wanting to support their teams during the weekend.

The Alouettes are second tenants at Molson Stadium, since priority is given to McGill University sports on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Some passionate fans have echoed the same reason that it is awfully tough to attend an Alouettes home game on a Sunday afternoon during the eye of the NFL games.

Maybe it is time the Alouettes start lobbying the McGill administration for better available start times during the fall so they don’t become second fiddle to the NFL. I am curious to see how a Friday night home game in October would feel like?

I give full credit to the football team in making football popular product to come watch. In 1997, when the team was near extinct, former president, Larry Smith and his group worked hard to keep football going. They have developed a cozy fan base that many diehards will continue to show up.

Moreover, the Alouettes get high marks for their community work. They have had their players spend a lot of time in helping out the schools, football camps, and various charities.

There are many players the Alouettes could market, but it seems the average fan only knows Anthony Calvillo. At some point, when Calvillo retires. The marketing department must figure out alternative plans and starting promoting the next generation such as Shea Emry, S.J. Green, Jamel Richardson, and Brandon Whitaker.

At the end of the day, this will be an intriguing summer. Will the Alouettes have difficulty selling their product against the sport of soccer that has been culturally ingrained in the community of Montreal.

Starting next week, we will find out as the Impact will host the Chicago Fire in their home opener at the Olympic Stadium, and could expect a home crowd close to 50,000 fans.

Otherwise, both clubs could potentially water down each other’s fan base in trying to attract their business.

Follow me on Twitter @MoeKhan19

Listen to me every Friday morning on The Midnight Snack from midnight-2am, every Tuesday night on Gamepoints, and various shows on TSN 990.

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1 comment:

  1. here "we" go again with another chicken little reporter running around montreal yelling the SKY IS FALLING!! Impact soccer along with the MLS is at best a 4th rate league that's NO threat to the alouettes for the city's dollar!!