Ellie Schneider COE Project - NWSL Marketing Proposal

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Marketing the World-Class Athletes Next Door: Raising the Profile of the NWSL in the United States

By Ellie Schneider

TABLE OF CONTENTS Acknowledgements...........................................................................2 Introduction.......................................................................................3 Executive Summary...........................................................................4 Market Summary and Analysis.........................................................5 Marketing Strategy.............................................................................8 Youth Involvement Ideas...................................................................12 NWSL and MLS Partnerships..............................................................14 SWOT Analysis..................................................................................18 League Sponsorship Proposal...........................................................20 Proposed League Sponsor Ideas........................................................21 Team and League Sponsor Ideas.......................................................22 FCKC Sponsorship Proposal..............................................................23 Communication Sponsors..................................................................24 Sponsorship Packages.......................................................................25 Advertisement Opportunities.............................................................27 Season Ticket Packages.....................................................................28 Season Ticket Perks............................................................................29 Promotion Ideas.................................................................................30 Campaign Ideas.................................................................................32 Conclusion and Keys to Success........................................................34 Appendix I.........................................................................................35 Appendix II........................................................................................38 Appendix III.......................................................................................39 Appendix IV.......................................................................................40

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS After over a year of hard work and research I have finally completed my capstone project. I started this project in hopes of creating a sustainable and marketable women’s soccer league in America. As soccer grows in America, women’s soccer is thriving. After the 2015 Women’s World Cup, the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) gained many new fans as people flocked to watch United States Women’s National Team stars in their hometowns. My goal with my project is to maintain constant enthusiasm for women’s soccer in America, rather than only every World Cup or Olympics. As an avid women’s soccer fan, I have been able to witness the good and the bad of the NWSL. I used this knowledge to write this marketing plan. It is my wish that this project helps teams in the NWSL think about new and economical ways to market so that the league is around for years to come. I would not have been able to create this project without the help and guidance from many people. This project would not have been successful without the help of my mentor, Laura Lewis, who took time out of her busy schedule to regularly meet with me and help me create this marketing plan. Without Laura, I would not only be lost when it came to creating this whole project, but I would not have found my passion for marketing. I also want to acknowledge my panelists who helped me finalize my project and helped me come up with a feasible plan. Thank you Shannon Myers, Lisa Thuer, Brad Zollars, and Kurt Austin for your advice and ideas. Thank you to the staff at the Barstow School who not only created this program, but also guided me throughout this process. Thank you to my advisor, Christopher Mullis, who helped me ensure that this project would be successful. Thank you to the workers at FC Kansas City who allowed me to volunteer at their home games for two seasons, where I was immersed in the NWSL environment and was able to witness in person how an NWSL organization runs. Also thank you to the women at the National Association of Collegiate Women Athletics Administrators (NACWAA) who have taught me about strength, resiliency, passion, and inspiration. Lastly, thank you to the numerous people and players who filled out surveys for me so I could create a stronger and well-researched marketing plan. For use of my ideas or work, or for further information on my project, please contact me at: Email: ellie.schneider@barstowschool.org ehschneider16@gmail.com Phone number: (816)-507-9355


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INTRODUCTION This project is the culmination of my Certificate of Emphasis (COE) program. COE is an optional program for students at the Barstow School. As part of the program, students choose an area of study, take online and in-person classes on the topic, work with a mentor, and create a capstone project to show what they learned throughout their time in COE. I started my project in August 2015 and completed it at the beginning of October 2016. I am grateful having been able to pursue my passion of women’s sports as a high school student and am proud of the work my mentor, Laura Lewis, and I have accomplished. My focus for the COE program was sports management and marketing. I took two online classes and one in-school class that helped me learn more on the topic. For my project, I chose to focus on professional women’s soccer and the National Women’s Soccer League. Soccer is the most popular sport in the world, but does not even rank in the top four in America. Still, soccer is growing in America, and I wanted to study the growth of the NWSL and create a marketing model for the league as they prepare for their fifth season. Over the past year I have been able to go beyond the view of a fan, which was made possible by my internship at NACWAA and volunteer opportunities at FC Kansas City of the NWSL. These opportunities taught me about branding, event planning, and sponsorship. For my capstone project, I have designed a new marketing model for the NWSL in order to promote and revitalize women’s soccer in America. For the project, I surveyed fans and players, wrote a sponsorship proposal, and created campaign and promotion ideas. I developed marketing strategies for the league as a whole, while also using FC Kansas City as a case study to create individual team campaign and partnership ideas. My intention for this project is to have my plan implemented leaguewide to help expand the NWSL throughout the country and growing the teams in each market.

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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Mission Statement:

With my capstone project, I have developed a new marketing model to promote the NWSL and revitalize women’s soccer in North America so that women can make a viable living while following their passion for the sport just like men do.

Goals for this capstone project for the NWSL:

• • • • •

Increase ticket sales Gain more Major League Soccer partnerships Retain current sponsors and attract more high level sponsors Form a season ticket model for all NWSL teams that is affordable for fans and generates revenue for the team Create a marketing campaign to attract fans who watched the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup


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To better assess fan interest and insights, I surveyed men’s soccer fans, women’s soccer fans, and casual soccer fans in order to understand the target demographics and understand how to cater to each fan’s needs. Here is the survey data.

Men’s Fanatics: 38 individuals surveyed • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Average age: 34 years old 55% female 45% male 84.2% belong to a support group 50% have season tickets for an MLS team Lowest cost of season tickets: $400 Highest cost of season tickets: $1000 Average money spent at team store per season: $275 Average money spent on concessions per game: $43 68% participate in game day activities outside of the match 100% watch away games on TV 60.5% travel to away games 100% follow the team on social media 100% watched the 2014 FIFA Men’s World Cup 100% watched the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup • 84% have continued to follow the USWNT 50% have attended an NWSL game 37.5% have attended more than one NWSL game or purchased season tickets

NWSL Fanatics: 94 individuals surveyed • • • • • • • • • •

Average age: 35 years old 57% female 43% male 46% have season tickets for an NWSL team Lowest cost of season tickets: $88 Highest cost of season tickets: $300 35% believe they pay too little for their season tickets Most fans purchase team apparel a few times per year Average money spent on team apparel per season: $108 Average money spent on concessions per game: $16.70

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58% participate in game day activities 92% watch their team play away games (on YouTube) 56% travel to away games 97% follow their favorite team on social media 85% watched the 2014 FIFA Men’s World Cup 99% watched the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup • 98% have continued to follow the USWNT

Casual Fan: 32 individuals surveyed • • • • • • • • • • • •

Average age: 28 years old 50% female 50% male Average number of soccer games attended per season: four Most people buy team apparel either two times per season or every few years Average money spent on concessions per game: $25 17% do NOT participate in game day activities 80% watch away games on TV 17% travel for away games 60% follow their favorite team on social media 87% watched the 2014 FIFA Men’s World Cup 97% watched the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup • 53% have continued to follow the USWNT

Market Analysis •

Target Audience • • •

Casual fans including families and other soccer fans who attend a few games per season Fanatic adult fans who are attracted to quality of play in the women’s game Youth soccer groups who attend games with their team

Market Needs

• •


Sponsors, such as MLS and FIFA sponsors, that want to promote soccer in America and the growth of the women’s game as well as empower females and break down gender stereotypes in professional sports. Greater publicity for the league through print, radio, and television ads, as well as more interviews and coverage by media outlets like ESPN, FOX Sports, and other local news sources. Also, grow the league by using social media. Property of Ellie Schneider 2016


Increase the number of MLS and NWSL partnerships, which helps build a stronger fan base, organization, and support for the players while tapping into the same markets.

Market Trends •

2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup • FOX received its largest audience ever for a soccer match (25.4 million) • The Germany match is now the fourth most watched women’s soccer match (8.4 million), the China match the fifth most watched (5.7 million), and the Nigeria the sixth most watched match (5 million). • Kansas City, home of back-to-back NWSL Champions, FC Kansas City, was the largest local viewership of the USA vs. Japan final. • The USA vs. Japan final was the most-watched match in US history. • This World Cup had more American viewers than the 2014 or 2010 Men’s World Cup or 2011 Women’s World Cup • 49 NWSL players participated in the 2015 tournament • Reference Appendix II for information on the 2015 Women’s World Cup financials for the US Soccer Federation NWSL growth after • After the WWC 21,144 fans filled the sold out Providence Park for the Portland Thorns vs. Seattle Reign game. • Previously, the Thorns held the highest league average of 13,769 fans per game, but after the tournament, the average was over 16,000. • 13,025 fans attended a Houston Dash match at BBVA Compass Stadium against the Chicago Red Stars, which marked a record attendance for the team. • The NWSL saw more than 450,000 fans attend games throughout the 2015 season. • FOX Sports agreed to broadcast 10 games after the tournament ended, including the playoffs and championship games. Entering the fourth year of the NWSL, the longest tenured American league • The WPS, W-League and the WUSA folded after three seasons

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MARKETING STRATEGY Our plan is to promote women’s soccer in America through MLS partnerships and increased advertising to create a sustainable league for generations to come. In order to do this, we want to create a marketing plan and business model of a strong league that supports players while attracting more casual fans and true soccer fans. We will use FC Kansas City as a case study for this project by creating a marketing proposal and analyzing their sponsors, staff, and fan base. Our financial objectives are to gain enough profit to afford larger venues, increase in sponsors, higher player salary and ticket prices.

Target Markets • • •

Youth soccer groups • US Youth Soccer has over three million members ages 5-19 nationally • This includes 25,258 members in Kansas and 30,147 members in Missouri Fanatic adult fans who enjoy players with finesse and understand the art of the game • Individuals ages 21-48 who buy season tickets for their local MLS and/or NWSL teams Casual soccer fans and families • Hope to turn this group into fanatics

How to Market •


Print • Adult fanatics • National print • USA Today, ESPN Magazine, Sports Illustrated, Women’s Health, SELF • Local Print • Local newspapers and magazines • Youth soccer groups • Local print • Local newspapers and magazines • Group specific • Fliers at youth club and tournaments • Casual fan and families • National print • USA Today, ESPN Magazine, Sports Illustrated, Women’s Health, SELF • Local print • Local newspaper and magazines • Target families through fliers at schools, playgrounds and parks Radio • Adult fanatics

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National • ESPN • Podcasts such as the Men in Blazers • Local • Local radio stations • Time Warner Cable Sports • 96.5 the Buzz • Sports Radio 810 WHB Youth soccer groups • Announce over intercom at tournaments • Use local popular channels for kids and teenagers Casual fan and families • Casual fan • Use popular local and national radio stations for people ages 21-35 • Family • Use stations that are kid-friendly

Marketing to Millennials In order to target Millennials, you must look at what they want. They prefer a great experience to the final result in the match. For this, you must not only create a great environment for the Millennial fan to be in, but also find other ways to cater to this type of fan. Some ideas are sell craft beer or have a beer garden at games, sponsor pre or post game parties at local restaurants or bars, and sell stylish merchandise.

Social Media •

Adult fanatics • Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube • Use players to increase social media presence via Snapchat or Instagram takeovers, twitter or Facebook Q&A’s, and their own accounts • Player and fan interaction on the players’ accounts • Use existing soccer pages and groups to promote the league and local teams Youth Soccer Groups • Have players interact with groups by having Snapchat takeovers, social media giveaways, etc. • Use YouTube to create videos for youth groups to use for training such as skills and tips • Social media scavenger hunt Casual fan and families • Casual fan • Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube • Use players to increase social media presence via Snapchat or Instagram takeovers, twitter or Facebook Q&A’s, and their own accounts

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Word of Mouth •

Attractions Attract

FCKC plays at the Sporting Swope Park Adult Fanatic Soccer Village. The area lacks the restaurants, • Promote MLS affiliations shopping, and bars that fans at Children’s Mercy • Connect with local American Outlaw Park have access to. Fans attending Sporting chapter KC games can shop and eat at the Legends and Youth soccer groups then attend a game, while fans from all over • Have signs, tables, etc. at youth soccer the Kansas City metropolitan area must trek to Swope Park for a two-hour event. In order tournaments • Send players to interact with local to create a better fan experience, especially for families, FCKC should team up with local teams or clubs as “coaches for businesses. The Kansas City Zoo, Starlight the day” Theatre, Go Ape Treetop Adventure Course, • Local clinics for players and the Heart of America Golf Course (which features soccer golf) would be great partners Casual fan and families for FCKC. They could do cross promotion by • Casual fan selling group tickets, giveaways at both places, • Promote at other sporting events and appearances by players. such as baseball games (same season) • Families • Player appearances at schools • Billboard • Local-specialized for each team • 1-2 per team from March 1-October1

Email •


• Player and fan interaction Families • Connect through parent pages and local pages such as schools, gyms, parks, etc.

Adult fanatics • Send emails through local soccer supporting bars, supporter’s clubs, including local American Outlaw chapters, and MLS newsletters • Discounted tickets for MLS or American Outlaw members • Send to local fan groups of any team (local or international) • Discounted ticket if you bring a supporters scarf from an international team Youth soccer groups • Send emails through youth and adult soccer league and clubs • Discount group tickets for teams Property of Ellie Schneider 2016


Casual fan and families • Casual Fan • Include in emails from local shops, bars, etc. • Discounted ticket with promotion code from local bar • Families • Include in newsletters by school districts, parks, local shops, etc. • Offer cheaper tickets through school promotions • Discounted tickets if purchased with a code from local restaurants

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Youth academies are great ways to grow soccer in the local community while promoting home grown players and community involvement by the professional organizations. • FCKC created their academy program in 2016 Perks of the academy program includes: • 5 free tickets at every level and age group • Can be 3 FCKC games and 2 Comets games • Players from FCKC also attend academy practices and tutor the kids • Some Fridays they host special skills clinics with FCKC players • A few players even coach some of the teams in their offseason

Game day clinics •

Similar to FCKC’s Friday skills clinics, having camps or clinics for youth soccer players on game day are a great way to target the youth soccer market and promote player involvement with the local soccer community

Guest coaching •

If local teams can hire or enter a contest to have a world cup winner coach a team for one practice, not only will the kids be fans of the player, but they will come watch that player at the NWSL games. • This is a great way to market for group sales. • It is extremely important to market the product, which is the player

Discounted tickets/Group tickets •

The best way to get a large group of people in the stadium is to target youth soccer. While the game of soccer already appeals to the youth players, the discounted group tickets appeal to the parents. • FCKC does a great job of targeting the huge youth soccer movement in Kansas City. • In addition to group tickets, giving young teams the opportunity to be ball kids or walking with the starting players onto the pitch are other VIP experiences for youth players. Teams can also sell group tickets to college teams. This allows colleges to bring attention to their athletes. • FCKC draws college teams from all over the Midwest, including the University of Kansas, University of Missouri, and University of Missouri-Kansas City. • Besides featuring college teams at games, even having a college themed game, teams can scrimmage college teams, players can talk to them about being a professional athlete and give advice, and college teams can conduct clinics with FCKC before games.


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YOUTH INVOLVEMENT IDEAS Player meet and greets •

There is nothing more exciting for kids than to meet their favorite players. The players are also our best marketing tool, so the best way to utilize their star-power is to set up events for kids to receive autographs or pictures with players, which are mementos that will remind them of their amazing experience, making them itch to come to another game.

Pre or post game events • •

These events can include barbeques, ice cream socials, or fun activities to entertain the youth soccer players and get them excited for the experience as a whole. The event can also be tailored to a certain team or organization, making this a great opportunity for a VIP group ticket package.

Exceptional Fan Experience You cannot control who wins on the field, but you can do everything in your power to make sure every fan has the best experience possible. The three parts you need to make sure your fans are happy are: 1) Good marketing 2) Great fan experience 3) Amenities for the fans at the venue These are all elements that people in the organization can control and improve that do not have to do with the product on the pitch.

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NWSL AND MLS PARTNERSHIPS Goal: Have at least 75 percent of NWSL teams be affiliated with MLS clubs. •

Current situation

Current Teams

• •

• • • •


As of the 2016 season, only three MLS clubs are under the same organization as an NWSL team, despite having eight NWSL teams in the same city as an MLS team. Portland • NWSL: Portland Thorns FC • MLS: Portland Timbers Staffing Scenario (affiliate) Seattle The FCKC staff in the 2016 season was made up of: • General Manager • NWSL: Seattle Reign • VP Business Operations • MLS: Seattle Sounders • He is also the main marketing person. There is no (not affiliated) marketing team and they do not use an outside agency Kansas City for marketing support. • NWSL: FC Kansas City • Director of Sales & Marketing Ticket Sales Account Representative • MLS: Sporting KC (some • • PR & Social Media Director affiliation, but not the • Director of Merchandise and Affiliates same owners) • Assistant General Manager Washington D.C. • Graphics Design • NWSL: Washington • One office intern working solely with ticket sales Spirit For teams with MLS affiliations, NWSL teams have a manager • MLS: DC United (not dedicated to that team, but they share front office staffs. Therefore, affiliated) the MLS and NWSL teams under one organization have larger staffs, Houston budgets, and more opportunities. • NWSL: Houston Dash • MLS: Houston Dynamo (affiliate) Rochester • NWSL: Western New York Flash New Jersey • NWSL: Sky Blue FC Chicago • NWSL: Chicago Red Stars • MLS: Chicago Fire FC (not affiliated) Boston • NWSL: Boston Breakers • MLS: New England Revolution (not affiliated) Property of Ellie Schneider 2016


Orlando • NWSL: Orlando Pride • MLS: Orlando City SC (affiliated)

• Marketing •

The MLS fans will be more likely to support the women’s team if there is an affiliation that connects the teams because they want to be loyal to the whole organization. Additionally, true soccer fans appreciate the game, no matter who is playing.

Fan Base

Predicated Teams

Expansion Possibility

Statistics show that teams affiliated with MLS organizations have higher In an interview with Sports Illustrated, Don Garber, MLS Commissioner, spoke about NWSL expansion and affiliation attendances. with MLS team: • Portland • Average attendance for “Our goal is to raise the overall perception of professional soccer in this country–both men’s and women’s, our leagues the 2015 season: 15,639 and others,” Garber said. “I think as the women’s game gets • Average attendance for games post-World Cup in more and more popular, it just makes sense for teams that have the infrastructure to add NWSL teams.” the 2015 season: 18,443 • Houston • Average attendance for 2015 season: 6,413 • Average attendance for games post-World Cup in the 2015 season: 8,408 • Orlando Pride • Attendance for inaugural home match: 23,403—breaking the NWSL attendance record of 21,144 previously held by the Portland Thorns

Future City Predictions Based on Interest • Salt Lake City • Atlanta • Indianapolis • Pittsburgh • Los Angeles • Sacramento • Canada (based on rise of popularity in the women’s game since the success of the 2015 FIFA Women’ World Cup)

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Benefits from partnerships

Partnership ideas

• • • •

Must be mutually beneficial (i.e. growing both fan bases) Creates and promotes a “one team” mentality Draws more families to the MLS and more soccer fanatics to the NWSL Teams share resources, allowing both teams to be successful

Community service projects • Just like the NBA performs service projects along with WNBA players, the MLS and NWSL teams should work together to grow soccer in their communities and establish a connection between the teams for the greater good of the local area. Combined advertisements • Having players from both teams in an advertisement to promote both teams would help strengthen the connection between fans of the men’s game and fan’s of the women’s game while encouraging fans to support both teams. • In 2016, the NBA released a video in support of the One Team WNBA’s 20th season. In the video, NBA Other valuable partnerships players discussed how WNBA players inspire them include joining with other and teach them about basketball. The MLS and professional women’s sports NWSL players could easily create a similar teams. This includes the WNBA, WNHL, and other video and receive a great response from soccer small leagues. More support lovers everywhere. from women’s athletes can Double header games only benefit both teams. • While these games would not bring in additional revenue, they would be a great marketing tool to help connect the two fan bases and grow women’s soccer in a market where men’s soccer is already successful. The idea would be to grow soccer in general, not based on the gender of the players. Season ticket holder event for season ticket holders of both clubs Governing Body Support It is also vital for US Soccer to support the NWSL. They must be more collaborative in terms of sponsorship, scheduling games, paying players, and growing the game of soccer.


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How to create these partnerships •

The first step is to have the owners meet and come to an agreement • Sometimes owning a women’s team means carrying a debt, but the positives from aspects besides revenue are beneficial to the entire organization. • Most MLS stadiums cost upwards of $50,000 to run for one game, so the women may not play all of their games in that atmosphere. • It is still important to present the women’s team with a suitable and professional playing field that also caters to all of the fan’s needs.

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SWOT ANALYSIS Strengths of the Current NWSL • •

• • •

Player accessibility Cheaper ticket prices than the average professional team • FC Kansas City • Most expensive season tickets are $550 and $45 at the gate • Cheapest season ticket is $100 and $14 at the gate • Portland Thorns • Most expensive season ticket package is $900 and $90 per game • Cheapest season ticket package is $105 and $10.50 per game World class players Sponsorships with Nike, Coppertone, Mango, and a coalition of the Mexican, Canadian, and American Soccer Federations Evening the Playing Field Great family environment

Weaknesses of the NWSL • •

• • • •

I strongly believe in order to grow the women’s game we must create more roles for women on and off the pitch. I am not the only fan who agrees with this sentiment. In fact, many fans discussed this issue in the survey I sent out. Right now, a female coaches only one of 10 teams-Laura Harvey of the Seattle Reign FC. They have been extremely successful on the pitch, winning the NWSL Shield in the 2014 and 2015 season, which means they had the best record in the league for two years straight. More women also need to be in other areas, such as the front offices of NWSL organizations and behind the production of games. There needs to be more female commentators, camera operators, reporters, trainers, and even security guards. By hiring more women in roles off the pitch, it helps promote the women on the pitch.

Lack of fan apparel for most teams Small venues • FC Kansas City plays at Swope Soccer Village, which holds 3,557 fans • Sky Blue FC plays at Yurcak Field on the Rutgers University campus that holds 5,000 fans • Boston Breakers play at Jordan Field on the Harvard University campus, which holds 4,000 fans Focuses too much on families; must also target adult soccer fans YouTube streams for the games are poor quality Travel and accommodations for players are sub-par • In August 2015, Portland Thorns FC players reported bedbugs in their hotel in Kansas City No NWSL players association

Opportunities for the NWSL • • •

Capitalize on the youth soccer market Sign marquee players Enter the unsaturated market


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SWOT ANALYSIS Threats to the NWSL • • • • •

The league must take good care of their players when traveling and overall Small venues make a higher attendance impossible, so after the World Cup, some venues couldn’t keep up with the increase in interest Must retain adult soccer fans and produce a fun environment Media coverage needs to increase to gain more fans On off years when there are no world tournaments, fans may lose interest

Alternative Providers •

There is no other American women’s professional soccer league • The WNBA and WNHL who also provide entertainment through women’s professional sports • The WNHL finished its first season and has had success through a partnership with the NHL for the Winter Classic and through targeting areas where women’s hockey is popular

Value Proposition • • • •

Affordable entertainment featuring world-class athletes Entertainment for soccer fans Unique fan experience Great family activity

Critical Issues • • •

Growing to gain new soccer fans while holding onto those who have supported the league since the beginning Raising ticket prices so teams make a profit that they can use to pay players, improve the season ticket holder experience, and enhance their marketing strategies NWSL teams must focus on ticket revenue, because people want to see the product, which are the world-class athletes on the pitch

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LEAGUE SPONSORSHIP PROPOSAL The NWSL is the fastest growing women’s professional soccer league in the world and the longest lasting women’s soccer league in the United States. After an extremely successful FIFA Women’s World Cup, the league also grew in popularity. Now that soccer is steadily growing in America, we are looking to grow and expand the NWSL on a national scale. As we are adding more teams, drawing more international talent, and bringing in more fans and revenue, we also need greater sponsorship support. Enclosed are ideas for league sponsorship throughout the NWSL season. Our mission is to grow women’s soccer, and soccer in general, in America while inspiring girls and boys to play the world’s sport while giving women the opportunity to play soccer at the professional level and have viable careers.

League Stats and Facts • • • • • • •

The league was founded in 2013 FC Kansas City was a back-to-back champion in 2014 and 2015, making them the only team in the league with two titles The lowest average attendance in the 2013 season was 1,664 with Sky Blue FC The highest attendance in the 2013 season was 13,320 with the Portland Thorns The highest average attendance for the 2015 season was 15,639 with the Portland Thorns The highest attendance in the 2015 season was 21,144 at Providence Park in Portland, OR for Portland Thorns vs. Seattle Reign The 2015 NWSL Championship took place at Providence Park • The attendance was 13,264 • The total attendance for all NWSL games in the 2015 season was 454,791 • Attendance increased 23% from the 2014 season to the 2015 season • The 2016 season includes 20 games (10 home and 10 away) • FOX Sports will air three NWSL regular season games and all of the playoff games in the 2016 season • All other games can be watched via the league YouTube channel


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Official drink of the NWSL Coca-Cola is a FIFA sponsor, so they already support women’s soccer (Women’s World Cup) Sponsor of sideline coolers and related supplies (Powerade) Powerade would be on the tables at press conferences One commercial with one female and one male player to promote MLS-NWSL partnership

Banana Republic • • • •

VISA • • •

Official dress wear of the NWSL Give each player $250 worth of clothing: • One suit, dress, or skirt for game days Also include 15% discount for players NWSL/Banana Republic ad in print • Ex: Alex Morgan kicking the soccer ball in heels • “My Power Suit” • Possible outlets: SELF magazine, Women’s Health, Glamour, etc.

Official credit card of the NWSL 10% discount on season tickets for VISA cardholders VISA cards available with NWSL team logos

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Social media shout outs • •

Snapchat or Instagram takeovers with the brand • Ex: Alex Morgan NIKE Snapchat takeover on Orlando Pride game day Twitter or Facebook question and answer • EX: Powerade: what fuels you? Q&A with Becky Sauerbrunn

Commercials bringing together both brands

Service projects together

Sponsor clinics throughout the season

At least one giveaway per season with sponsor logo

Sideline banner

• •


Ex: Carli Lloyd and Direct TV

Ex: local Boys and Girls Club event with NWSL team and Coca-Cola Ex: rebuilding an urban soccer field in collaboration with a local construction or lawn company

Ex: FCKC Camp for Girls, Sponsored by Unilever

Ex: posters, water bottles, towels, sunglasses, drawstring or tote bag

Company logo will be seen on YouTube streams throughout the country

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FCKC SPONSORSHIP PROPOSAL FC Kansas City is one of the eight teams from the inaugural NWSL season in 2013. They played at Shawnee Mission District Stadium in their inaugural season, but now play at the Swope Soccer Village and play one game at Children’s Mercy Park (the home of Sporting KC) in the 2016 season. FCKC is the only team in the league to make the playoffs in the 2013, 2014, and 2015 seasons. They also are back-to-back champions, winning the NWSL Championship in the 2014 and 2015 seasons. The 2016 roster includes one Canadian National Team member, Desiree Scott, and four USWNT members, Becky Sauerbrunn, Heather O’Reilly, Amy Rodriguez, and Sydney Leroux. All of these players participated in the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Both Rodriguuez and Leroux will sit out the 2016 season due to pregnancy. Sauerbrunn received the Defender of the Year award for the 2013, 2014, and 2015 season. She is also currently the FCKC and USWNT team captain. Other notable players on the roster include Nicole Barnhart, a member of the USWNT during the 2007 and 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup and the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. FCKC drafted Katie Bowen in the 2016 NWSL Draft. She is the youngest player to play for the New Zealand National Team. Other star team members are Shea Groom, Yael Averbuch, and Erika Tymrak. FC Kansas City’s average home attendance for the 2015 season was 3,091, which is about 1,000 more fans per games than in the 2014 season. This can be attributed to the team’s move from UMKC’s soccer facilities to the Swope Soccer Village. Their highest attendance in the 2015 season was 8,489 fans helping the team reach over 30,000 fans in attendance throughout the 10 home games that season. The team provides the most intimate fan experience available in professional athletics due to the small size and lack of barriers at the Swope Soccer Village. This allows fan interaction before and after games, as well as great views during the game from any seat in the venue. All of FC Kansas City’s games will be broadcast via YouTube on the NWSL YouTube channel. FCKC is averaging over 20,000 views for YouTube streams in the 2016 season. Also, on September 7, 2016, their game versus the Chicago Red Stars will be broadcast on national television on FOX Sports 1 network. FCKC is playing in one of the only three games that FS1 will air in the 2016 regular season.

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COMMUNICATION SPONSORS FC Kansas City is looking for communication sponsors on all platforms. This includes: television or YouTube stream, radio, print, social media, etc. In addition, non-communication sponsors are encouraged to utilize their existing media buys to promote both the team and their partnership. In exchange for air time, FCKC would offer tickets and trade sponsorship benefits. •

Television/YouTube stream • One sponsor for the broadcast • One sponsor for highlights • One sponsor for the halftime show

• Radio • One local radio sponsor to cover at least five home games • Also include advertisements on other sport related shows or broadcasts • Print • One newspaper sponsor • Include advertisements • Editorial coverage of team, including stats, game previews and reviews, and interviews with players and staff •

Web • One sports website or blog • Will act as the go-to online source for team information including statistics, interviews, trades, etc. • Must use social media as a platform for news in addition to the website


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CORPORATE SPONSORSHIP PACKAGES All packages have flexibility, especially with promotion and advertisement opportunities. All sponsors will have the opportunity for their brand to be promoted on 10 YouTube game streams, reaching on average 17,500 viewers per broadcast, throughout the 2016 season and one national broadcast on FS1.

Presidential - $100,000 (2 per team, or 1 per team and 1 league-wide) • • • •

One Tier 1 and one Tier 2 opportunity One suite or VIP area per game One giveaway or one title game per season Two field side banners • Possibilities • VISA • VISA cardholders will receive discounted season tickets • Coca-Cola/Powerade • Sponsorship of all water coolers and other related supplies • i.e. “FCKC Powered by Powerade”

Platinum - $50,000 (5 per team) • • • • •

One Tier 1 opportunity Seating section naming • i.e. “Visa Zone” One suite or VIP area per game Two field side banners One giveaway or one title game per season • Possibilities • Delta or United Airlines • Must provide discounts to teams when traveling and will be promoted as the “preferred airline of the league/team” • Unilever/Dove • Hershey • General Mills • One nationwide cereal commercial with 2-4 NWSL players, including 1-2 non- USWNT players

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CORPORATE SPONSORSHIP PACKAGES Gold - $25,000 (5 per team) • • • • •

One Tier 2 opportunity One suite or VIP area per game Sponsor logo on VIP tents Two field side banners One giveaway per season

Silver - $10,000 (10 per team) • • •

One Tier 3 opportunity 1 field side banner Two announcing ads per game

Bronze - $5,000 (unlimited) • •

1 field side banner 1 announcing ad per game


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We hope to have a sponsor for at least 75 percent of home games. Sponsorship for one game will cost $25,000 in addition to participating sponsorship level, except for Presidential and Platinum, where a title game is included. Title games will include: • Company logo on tickets • Logo on digital billboards promoting match the week of • Logo on the giveaway for that game • Signage throughout the venue • Two announcement advertisements during the game

Sponsorship Package Options •

Tier 1

Tier 2

Tier 3

• • • • • • • • • •

Main jersey sponsor Lower back jersey sponsor Club level sponsor Main ticket sponsor Logo on VIP section/area/tents Arm jersey sponsor (Sponsor) Player of the game Seating section sponsor Logo on the scoreboard Logo on ticket Advertising Around Town Digital billboards are a great and cheap way for teams to market. These billboards are cheaper because they are not permanent, which also allows teams to change them if situations change. For example, if there is a game on Friday, teams can create a special digital billboard graphic and have it run just for that week. Then, teams can decide whether or not that form of marketing was valuable in their area and decide how to increase ticket sales through digital platforms outside of social media.

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SEASON TICKET PACKAGES These are recommended ticket prices and season ticket packages, but prices and perks will vary with the different markets and stadium arrangements. Supporter’s Club Tier 3 General Admission Corporate Sponor Suites and VIP area

Tier 2

Tier 1

Media Suite Owner’s Suites Tier 4

Corporate Sponsor Suites or VIP area - Allotted to sponsors for each game Media area - Reserved for local and national media for each game, plus announcers for the game Owner’s Suites or other VIP area - For Club owners and team members’ families Tier 1 (Club Suites or other VIP area) - $450/ $60 per game Tier 2 (Sponsor Club Level) - $300/ $45 per game Tier 3 (Field Side) - $230/ $35 per game Tier 3 (Bench Side) - $250/ $40 per game Tier 4 (Corner Club) - $190/ $27.50 per game Supporters Club (end zone 2) - $130/ $17.50 per game General Admission (end zone 1) - $110/ $10 per game Half-Season (five game) ticket package options will be available for Corner Club, Field Side, and Bench Side seats. Group ticket pricing is also available (minimum group of 15) for single games, three game, and five game packages.


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SEASON TICKET PERKS All Season ticket holders have access to these benefits: • • • • • • •

Reserved parking Team yearbook Post game meet and greets 10% discount at team store Payment plan options Ticket exchange program Invitation to pre-season team party

Additional Benefits Supporter’s Club Benefits include: • • • • •

Five beer coupons good for the whole season Special edition Supporter’s club scarf Reserved parking in special lot for tailgating Invitation to opening day tailgate hosted by (Sponsor) Early access to general admission seats for playoffs

Tier 1 (Club Suites) benefits include: • • • • • • •

Unlimited supply of snack food and non-alcoholic drink in the suite or VIP area during games Coverage for inclement weather VIP parking passes One all-access stadium tour per season Invitation to special end-of-the-season party with players Club scarf Early access to premium seats for playoffs

Tier 2 ((Sponsor) Club Level) benefits include: • • • •

Reserved parking close to the stadium Invitation to special end-of-the-year party with players Club scarf Early access to premium seats for playoffs

Tiers 3 and 4 (Corner Club, Field Side, and Bench Side) benefits include: • •

Club Scarf Early access to playoff tickets

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PROMOTION IDEAS The goal for promotions should be to have a giveaway at every title game (paid for by the sponsor) and try to have giveaways at other games, especially if they have a theme. One of the best ways to manage this cost is to include the price of the promotional item into the cost of a ticket for these premium games, especially with games on the weekend when more people are likely to spend more and attend. Earth Day Giveaway: (Sponsor) giveaway water bottle or tote bag made from recycled plastic. Take Your Daughter to Work Day/Daddy-Daughter Day at the game or Father’s Day: Have a photo booth with a logo for daddy-daughter day with the team logo and date. Have each player’s dad walk her out on the field for the starting lineup. Have players make a video discussing how important their fathers are to them and their soccer career and play it either before the game or during halftime. May 4/ Star Wars Day: Give away (x) number of Star Wars themed team t-shirts and Star Wars characters walking around to take photos with fans. Create a Star Wars themed halftime event. Cinco de Mayo: Give away mustaches to every fan. Sell margaritas and give a coupon to the first 100 legal age people to enter the game. Have a mariachi band for pre-game entertainment. National Teacher’s Day: Give a discounted rate to every teacher with his or her school ID. Have kids write about their teachers in a contest and give the winning teacher a team basket with gear. Have local school districts sponsor the game. Give away (i.e. sponsored by Staples) rulers. July Fourth: Give away bomb-pop popsicles to everyone. Have a fireworks show at the end of the game, face paint and other fun activities for kids, and one free beer coupon for all of the adults. National Watermelon Day: Give away watermelon or a coupon for a watermelon (from a possible local grocery sponsor) to every person. Grandparents Day: Discount for everyone over the age of 60. Oktoberfest: One free German beer for every adult in attendance. College Day: Discounted tickets for college teams in attendance or for people who wear college attire to the game.


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PROMOTION IDEAS Other Giveaway Ideas for Potential Sponsors Kleenex - free box of tissues with team colors or logo Banana Republic - enter into drawing for $100 gift card every game Delta/United - Free trip if you make a shot into a hole from 45 yards at halftime Hershey - free chocolate bar with team logo Boulevard Brewing Company - Free coozie Pre-game BBQ sponsored by local BBQ restaurant Giveaway item ideas: drawstring bag, towel, water bottle, bobble head, soccer ball, foam finger, hat, sunglasses, stickers, etc.

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CAMPAIGN IDEAS Campaigns are extremely important for retaining fan attention over the period of a season. The NWSL season is seven months long, so campaigns can help engage the fan base throughout the season. Campaigns are also important for community involvement. Welcoming and engaging players into the local community not only helps the team, but also the community. Campaigns can be for marketing, social action, and promoting national teams. Below are three campaigns that can benefit the national teams, NWSL teams, and local communities.

For Club and Country •

Use the USWNT and NWSL players from other National Teams to promote the league and women’s soccer throughout the world. The Cycle of Excitement • Especially promote the USWNT, Canadian WNT, and Mexican WNT, because those three It is important to keep fans excited on off years where there is no World Cup or Olympics and federations created and run the NWSL. retain bandwagon fans. These years will test • Create posters, advertisements, etc. that show players in their club uniform and their the league, but also bring great opportunities to create a stable fan base for the whole league national team uniform. rather than Olympic stars. Additionally, these • EX: Portland had a diverse roster years give countries the opportunity to build in 2015 and took photos of all of excitement and strengthen their fan base for the next big international tournament. the players in their Portland Thorns jersey with their different national flags. This showed unity in the club ahead of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, but also promoted competition. • Sell merchandise that connects club and country, such as player shirts for the club with numbers that have the national flag colors for that player or feature the flag on the arm.

#HometownHeroes • •

• •

The NWSL must capitalize on the major success of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The tournament was wildly popular, seeing many fans travel from the United States to Canada and receiving record television ratings in the United States. The USSF noted that NWSL attendances rose after the success of the World Cup. Use the tagline—“You watched them in Canada, now watch them in your hometown” • This will draw out fans who enjoyed the excitement of the World Cup, but who did not know about the league or were unaware of a team in their city. This campaign would be great for targeting the casual fan that watched the World Cup. Use the hashtage #HometownHeroes to promote the campaign on social media Similarly to “For Club and Country,” use this campaign to promote both the clubs and the national teams.


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The players starring in this campaign should be USWNT players, because the campaign promotes the U.S. players who became American heroes after winning the World Cup after a 16-year drought and were honored with a ticker-tape parade.

Create a league wide service project that promotes active girls and women living a healthy lifestyle and continuing education. • Projects can include: • Soccer camps for girls and women • Health talks for women • Involvement with the local Boys and Girls Club • Talks at local schools • Self defense classes for women and teenagers As all professional athletes are competitive on the pitch, they should be just as competitive when it comes to helping out the local communities. While the league should require players to participate in some community service project, I would also like to implement this for each team. • Each team can pick one local charity, and throughout the season, the team will raise money through a variety of ways. • At the end of the season, the team that raises the most money for their charity will be awarded a citizenship trophy. • This encourages the athletes and the fans to become involved with their local communities.

NWSL Cares

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CONCLUSION AND KEYS TO SUCCESS Whether you are fans or work in the sports business, by reading my marketing plan, I hope you have learned: 1) Popularity cannot be based on revenue. Soccer is becoming increasingly more popular in America. As we have seen with the 2014 and 2015 FIFA World Cups, Americans have rallied behind the US Senior National Teams all over the world. While many Americans traveled north to support the team, the rest of America was glued to their television screens. In fact, the final game was the most watched soccer game (for men or women) in American television history. Furthermore, our nation celebrated the USWNT win with the first-ever ticker-tape parade for a women’s sports team and have continued to attend USWNT games during the Victory Tour and beyond. Additionally, the NWSL saw growth after the World Cup, reaching attendances over 21,000 in Portland and breaking that record with the inaugural match of the Orlando Pride in the 2016 season reaching over 23,000 fans. Just because the money is not pouring in yet doesn’t mean Americans don’t like women’s soccer. With time and the right marketing, revenue will come. 2) MLS partnerships bring in more fans and revenue. The three NWSL teams under the same organization as an MLS team have higher attendances than NWSL teams that are not partnered with an MLS team. The fans of the men’s team also support the women’s team because they are loyal to the organization. Even when teams are not affiliated, there is support. In fact, 50% of men’s soccer fanatics I surveyed have attended an NWSL game. The teams with affiliations also play in soccerspecific stadiums, which allows them to play in front of sell out crowds. Other teams play in college or high school stadiums or fields, which reveals their lack of support. Even MLS Commissioner Don Garber believes that partnerships are beneficial for both the MLS and NWSL. The key for developing this type of partnership is to start with the ownership. The ownerships, if two different owners are involved with the different teams, must come to a conclusion to sell or become partners in order to create a united soccer organization in the market. That way, the marketing, sponsorships, and player support are all handled in a professional manner and the teams can work together to promote soccer throughout the community. 3) Sponsorship and social media are increasingly more important to retain fans. Coca-Cola, VISA, Hyundai, and Kia Motors sponsor the FIFA Women’s World Cup. Obviously these companies believe that there is value in sponsoring women’s soccer, but they have not started sponsoring the NWSL. The NWSL does have important partners: Coppertone Sport, NIKE, Mango.org, and the U.S. Soccer Federation, but they need more high-level sponsors. If Coca-Cola sponsors the NWSL, fans will see one of the most well-known brands in the world supporting their local NWSL team. High-level sponsors add value to the teams. Another branch of promotion and sponsoring is social media. In today’s digital world, print advertisements are becoming less effective. Sponsors, teams, and players need to use their social media accounts for advertising and fan engagement. This also helps boost fan conversion and attendance.


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APPENDIX I Sponsorship Overview and Target Sponsors Below are national and local brands and companies who would be good potential sponsors for the league and for local markets, using FC Kansas City as an example. As a professional women’s sports team, it is important to align your team with brands who believe in women’s empowerment and healthy living.

Already Established League-wide Sponsors • Coppertone Sport • Mango.org • Nike • US Soccer Foundation

FCKC Sponsors for the 2016 season • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Kansas City Comets Verizon Wireless (jersey) Domino’s Pizza (jersey) HyVee Welk Resorts Overland Park Mazda Overland Park Fiat Tide Dry Cleaners Blue Cross Blue Shield Kansas City KC Soccer Dome Renewal by Anderson Soccer Fit Academy Pinnacle Therapy Services Sports Lodge HCA Midwest Health Heartland Soccer Association Kansas City Transportation Group Health&Wellmobile Carey Kansas City First Watch KC North Spine and Joint Center Brookside Soccer Club Property of Ellie Schneider 2016



Freestyle Graphics Sports Shake

Ideas for New Sponsors National •

Coca-Cola • Powerade • VISA • Audi • Kleenex Brand • Banana Republic • Delta • United Airlines • General Mills • Covergirl • Unilever/Dove • Hershey • KIND Snacks • Cliff Bars • Nature Valley • Dick’s Sporting Goods • Uber- promotes more female drivers • Gatorade • Fox Sports • Staples

Local (FCKC) • • • • • • • • •

Scheels KC Local car dealerships- rent cars to players for season Boulevard Brewing Company Local Time Warner Cable Hallmark Applebee’s Children’s Mercy Hospital Commerce Bank H&R Block


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APPENDIX I • • • •

Russell Stover Candies The Roasterie Jack Stack/Gate’s BBQ/Arthur Bryant’s/Joe’s KC Google Fiber

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APPENDIX II US Soccer Financials These numbers are from the 2016 U.S. Soccer Annual General Meeting. • $38.2M is expected for the FY’17 expense budget for National Team related activities • $27.8M is derived from the Men’s and Women’s Senior National Teams • This money goes towards the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup winning USWNT. They use the money for national team camps and training, traveling, and other expenses. • $10.4M is spent on the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, Futsal, Paralympic and Beach National Team programming, and Youth National Team programming. • This money also goes towards the NWSL, since the NWSL was formed by a coalition of the Canadian, Mexican, and United States Soccer Federations • The actual spending on the NWSL by the U.S. Soccer Federation for 2014 was $670,678 and $1.43M for the 2015 season • The budget for the 2016 season is $1.3M and projected spending is $1.37M • The projected NWSL budget for the 2017 season is $1.2M


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APPENDIX III Glossary American Outlaws: The official fan group for the USMNT/USWNT ESPN: Entertainment and Sports Programming Network FIFA: The Fédération Internationale de Football Association FS1: Fox Sports 1 MLS: Major League Soccer NWSL: National Women’s Soccer League SI: Sports Illustrated “The pitch”: Another term for the soccer field TWC: Time Warner Cable USFA: U.S. Soccer Federation USWNT: United States Women’s National Team WNBA: Women’s National Basketball Association WNHL: National Women’s Hockey League WPS: Women’s Professional Soccer league WUSA: Women’s United Soccer Association WWC: Women’s World Cup

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APPENDIX IV Sample Budget - Expenses Here is a sample budget that my mentor helped me create. We did not have access to information of actual budgets for NWSL or MLS teams, so we did our best to research and create an estimated budget.


Primary Category

Secondary Category

Advertising Advertising Advertising Advertising

Group sales ticket fliers Schedule posters Schedule cards Web or targeted email ads

Advertising Advertising

$219,048.00 $80,952.00 $300,000.00

Estimated Quantity

Estimated Cost per Unit

Estimated Subtotal


10,000 30,000 30,000 12

$0.15 $0.80 $0.90 $3,000.00

$1,500.00 $24,000.00 $27,000.00 $36,000.00 Weekly campaigns

Traditional Radio Web streaming Radio

12 12

$5,000.00 $2,500.00

96.5 The Buzz, 102.1 FM, 93.3 FM, $60,000.00 94.9 FM $30,000.00 Pandora, Google Play





Kansas City Star, Johnson County $18,228.00 Sun (1/6 or smaller ads, B&W)





435 South, KC Family full page ads $10,000.00 with schedule


Digital Billboards




Social Media



Public Relations

Email campaigns



Public Relations

Community events



Public Relations

Sponsorship expenses



Sponsor hospitality, thank you $15,000.00 notes/gifts; end of year reporting

Promotional Event Giveaways Giveaways Giveaways Giveaways Giveaways

Player appearance Giveaway #1 Giveaway #2 Giveaway #3 Giveaway #4 Giveaway #5

6 3,000 3,000 3,000 3,000 3,000

$200.00 $3.50 $7.00 $1.25 $3.50 $3.00

$1,200.00 $10,500.00 $21,000.00 $3,750.00 $10,500.00 $9,000.00


Low-budget giveaways for other five games



$8,002.00 $0.00


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Two pre-season; 10 weeklies $11,820.00 leading up to home games $500.00 Facebook, Twitter, Instagram ads Monthly service for Constand $1,200.00 Contact or like ESP Transportation, food and $800.00 beverage for four players

Transportation, food and beverage for four players Bobble head Club scarf Domestic craft beer coupon Star Wars t-shirt Watermelon

APPENDIX IV Sample Budget - Revenue


$444,625.00 $725,000.00 $1,169,625.00

Estimated Estimated Quantity Cost per Unit

Primary Category

Secondary Category

Attendees at base ticket price (3,557 seats per game)

Five games - no promotional giveaway



Attendees at base ticket price (3,557 seats per game) Corporate Sponsorship Corporate Sponsorship Corporate Sponsorship Corporate Sponsorship Corporate Sponsorship

Five games - add on promotional giveaway value ($5) Presidential Platinum Gold Silver Bronze

17,785 2 5 5 10 10

$15.00 $100,000.00 $50,000.00 $25,000.00 $10,000.00 $5,000.00

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Estimated Subtotal Notes No giveaways or giveaways under $. $177,850.00 05 per piece (i.e. posters, popsicles) High-caliber giveaways (i.e. $266,775.00 bobbleheads, scarves, craft beer) $200,000.00 $250,000.00 $125,000.00 $100,000.00 $50,000.00


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