Fourth in a series of 10 posts analyzing NWSL 2013 from my viewpoint.
I’m a little torn about this one. The Flash have my all time favorite player, Abby Wambach and a supporting cast that features some reliable favorites and upcoming young players. If I lived closer and could watch them play in person I’d be in big trouble as to where my loyalty would lie. No kidding.
Preseason, Season Tickets, and Fan Engagement:
Western New York Flash (WNY Flash) started posting about the NWSL on their website November 21, 2012 and never looked back. Their preseason saw them defeat Canisius, Penn State, Ohio State and UNC, not a bad start.
I purchased two $220 tickets in section 107 on the halfway line. The process was easy online and I was contacted by email to select my seats. My only complaint would be that I had asked for my tickets to be mailed to me because I do not live in NY and they were not. I had to email and explain again that I was from out of state and wanted them mailed, which they did promptly. None of the perks offered to STH’s were geared toward long distance ticket holders.
WNY Flash started to engage the fans before the league name and logo were officially unveiled and continued to do so throughout the season. They covered all the social media sites; Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and tumblr. Their Flash Spotlight series was a nice way to meet all the players. Whoever ran their twitter account did (and still does in the off season) a really good job of keeping fans abreast of all the things Flash players are up to, on and off the field. If a Flash player is involved you’ll hear/read about it from the team.
Web Site and Web Stream:
The WNY Flash website could use a serious boot into this decade. While the content is quite good and up to date, the look/graphics are dated. If that’s the worst thing I have to say about a site, it’s good. There are a few things I couldn’t find any mention of; archived streams of games and more importantly any link to their true supporters group (NOT American Outlaws) The Flash Mob (@WNYFlashMob). Flash are one of only a couple teams with a grassroots supporters group, at least link to them from the site. The team store link on the site opens a pathetic selection of merchandise, once again.
WNY’s stream was OK, not always the best quality, but almost always watchable, listening was another thing entirely. Announcers were mostly knowledgeable about both the home and away team, but couldn’t bring themselves not to fill every second of every minute of every game with some sort of commentary, often leading fans to mute the audio.
Kits and Venue:
I liked all three of Flash’s kits. The home white was clean and simple. The away red was probably my favorite as they chose the vertical stripe like the Red Stars. Just that little touch made all the difference for me. The third kit was hot pink with a vertical black stripe and while striking, I’m just not a pink kind of person.
I didn’t attend any games at Sahlen’s Stadium and only got to see it online or on TV. It looks nice enough and the capacity seems about right. The only real complaint I heard was that parking was not easy to find. I’ll leave that to someone who attended a game to address in the comments.
Western New York Flash obviously already have a legacy in women’s soccer, just look at the titles they’ve won in the last 3 years in 3 different leagues. You can always count on them putting a good product on the field. Now it’s time to step it up a notch in the media and merchandising department.
I’d like to see some improvements in 2014:
- Offer some appropriate perks for STH’s that are from out of state. They may be few, but the purchase of a season ticket from anyone deserves a perk they can actually take advantage of.
- Support the supporters group by linking to them from your website. Strike up a friendship with them.
- Offer more merchandise.
- Improve the quality and consistency of the live stream. Consider streaming in Spanish. And please tell your on air talent that sometimes less commentary is more, find a balance between providing information and just talking to fill the air space.
I am encouraged by commitment to the women’s game like the Sahlen’s have shown. I hope they continue to hold the bar high for what a professional team can be. To be honest, even if Abby didn’t play for them I’d still keep them on my must watch list. How far can they go in 2014?