When Robb Heineman unveiled the re-branding of Sporting Kansas City, he focused rather intently (without specifics) on how the team wished to re-define what it meant to be a fan of the club. The concept of "membership" versus "fan" or "season-ticket holder" is interesting on paper. This afternoon, Heineman offered the first tangible benefits of what it means to be a member of Kansas City Sporting Club via a letter to fans. (You can read the whole thing here.
The cost of membership is free... after you provide the team with simple profile information.
Let's take it bullet by bullet with a little instant analysis.
• The first tangible benefit membership will offer is the opportunity for complimentary tickets to road matches. Initially, we’ll buy 50 per match with the hopes of there being a much higher demand – it would be great if we had that many members interested in traveling to support our club. Due to close proximity, as well as the strong desire to provide as much support for the team as possible during the season-opening road trip, we are purchasing up to 300 tickets for the Chicago Fire match on March 26.
That's one of the first things that fans knew about. Not too long ago, the KC Cauldron twitter feed advised fans not to worry about purchasing tickets. I should also add, this is quite awesome. It's essentially an ownership group
its fans free tickets to away games. An excuse to take a road trip. (Now, if they'd also pony up for travel... I kid, I kid.)
• When Sporting Park opens, members will have the opportunity to check-in and receive complimentary access to the Members’ Section of the stadium for three (3) Sporting Kansas City matches per season. Season ticket holders in this section will receive additional complimentary vouchers to bring family or friends.
So, this answers the question: "Who is allowed in the Members' Section?" The answer: If you're not a members' stand ticket holder, you can check it out three times.
• Members may access the Sporting Park mobile app which will provide information and services for Sporting Club events.
The overall experience at Sporting Park will be greatly enhanced by the membership program. For example, we will be able to remember your concession preferences and provide ordering through the mobile app. Affinity point will be redeemable for discounts at the stadium, and members will have the ability to actively participate and share their own content with other fans at the stadium.
Heineman told me when the stadium was still quite a stadium, that the technology would be "state of the art." I have a nagging suspicion there's more to "state of the art" than just this. I know that there will be iPads in the suites and many fans (maybe through the mobile app) will have access to stats/replays.
• Members will have the opportunity to purchase Sporting Passes for kids under the age of 18. A Sporting Pass is $59.99 and provides entry to three matches in the South Stand (which may be chosen online in-advance), as well as access to any other matches on a complimentary basis in which there is availability in that section. Additionally, the Sporting Pass provides special offers on merchandise, discounted tickets purchased for family members and a commemorative credential to access Sporting Park.
This is a good way to build a younger audience. Also, that's not a bad price-level either.
• Members will have access to exclusive Sporting Kansas City content, as well as invitations to members-only ticket presales for concerts and special events at Sporting Park.
I sort of assumed this one.
• The Membership Activation Lounge or “MAL” will allow you to purchase goods and services from our partners at discounts up to 80% off retail. By taking advantage of these offers, you will then have the opportunity to unlock new benefits and affinity rewards.
My European friends have told me that this is a normal feature of sporting clubs in Germany/France/et al. It's sort of the evolution of corporate sponsorship.
So... that's a start in explaining the membership switch. Is there more coming? Is there something more you want to know? Tell them firstname.lastname@example.org
. Or just vent them in the comments section.