With the MLS season just getting started, clubs are coming up with promotions to get fans out to the matches. While more special events are likely to be revealed in the coming months, there are some interesting social media contests, giveaways, celebrations, and festivals to highlight. In this edition of Promotions Watch, we cover five offerings to keep an on eye over the initial months of the MLS season.
One of the earliest promotions to watch comes from the San Jose Earthquakes, who are hosting an elaborate St. Patrick’s Day Celebration on March 13. For that afternoon’s match against the Portland Timbers, the Earthquakes are offering a St. Patrick’s Day ticket special that includes a free t-shirt and $25 admission for a scoreboard terrace seat. Those coming in groups of 10 or more will get a further discount, with the price of the ticket dropping to $23. There will also be Irish food specials, and a pre-game show by the Irish band Plastic Paddy. Even those who do not buy into the ticket special can walk away with a freebie, as magnet schedules will be available to the first 7,500 fans to enter Avaya Stadium.
This summer, the Chicago Fire will stage an eventful evening shortly before Independence Day. On July 1, the Fire will give away a jersey drawstring bag. Following that evening’s match against the Earthquakes, fans will be treated to a firework show. While that is the only firework display listed on the schedule so far, there will be other events and giveaways in the ensuing weeks, including a koozie on August 14 and a Fire hat on August 24.
On the events side, the Columbus Crew SC feature numerous offerings this season. One that will particularly appeal to craft beer enthusiasts is the Craft Beer Festival package. For Crew SC’s match against the Houston Dynamo on April 23, fans can purchase a ticket special that grants them pre-match admission to the Stadium Club tent, where they can sample up to 10 three ounce brews. That also includes a match ticket. The special is scheduled to appear at least one more time this season, as it is available for the August 27 match against the Earthquakes.
While getting fans out to the matches is a priority, social media allows clubs to reach fans at home. One such example comes from Sporting Kansas City, which runs a season-long social media contest under the hashtag #CapFedSKC. Whether it’s from a match at Children’s Mercy Park, the comfort of their own homes, a pre-game tailgate, team event, watch party at No Other Pub, or from another interesting location, fans can use #CapFedSKC to post photos on Instagram or Twitter.
Each month, a winning photo is selected, with the prize pack including tickets, autographs, and an automatic entry to the grand prize drawing. The person who walks away with the grand prize is given season tickets for next year, a $150 gift card to the team store, autograph and player photo opportunities, and much more. There are a total of eight monthly winners, the first of which will be selected at the end of March.
The final promotion to highlight is courtesy of Orlando City SC. While Orlando has already received attention for it’s successful #FillTheBowl—an annual campaign to sell out the Citrus Bowl for the home opener—it actually offers a unique promotion every night that not only allows fans to take home an interesting souvenir, but to donate to charity as well.
At every home game this year, Orlando City SC offers fans the opportunity to obtain a game day poster in exchange for a suggested $5 donation to Orlando City Foundation. All fans have to do when they enter the Citrus Bowl is find the Orlando City Foundation’s table, where they submit their contribution and walk away with the poster.
The offering is also used as a way to reach out to Orlando’s art community—local artists can submit concepts, and have their designs used for a month’s worth of matches. Orlando City SC posts the poster designs and information about the monthly winners on its website, so those who are interested should keep an eye on it throughout the season. Other MLS clubs—including the Chicago Fire—have similar offerings, allowing fans outside of Orlando to take advantage of a comparable special.