P.R. Football Club kicking off 2nd season with high goals

Written by  //  March 13, 2017  //  General Biz News  //  No comments

This year’s professional soccer season gets underway in two weeks. (Credit: http://www.puertoricofc.com)

The Puerto Rico Football Club is gearing up to start its second regular season, hosting more local games than last year, as team owners look to boost the visibility and performance of the young member of the North American Soccer League.

In an exclusive interview with this media outlet, PRFC President Tom Payne said the team’s local business should increase by about 45 percent during the 2017 season, primarily because “we’re jumping from 11 to 16 home games in our regular season. If we were in the playoffs, that would add even more.”

“Last year, we got off to a late start in mid-season, but we did pretty well, given the island’s economic challenges,” Payne said.

“We averaged 4,000 spectators per game, which is pretty good considering that we started in the fall,” he said, stressing that the PRFC has a strict “no free ticket” policy, so every seat sold at the stadium generates revenue.

“We have good partners, sponsorship-wise that came in with multi-year deals,” he said, mentioning Claro de Puerto Rico, Samsung, Medalla and Triple-S’s commitment to the soccer team owned by professional basketball player Carmelo Anthony.

The first game of the regular season is March 25, when the PRFC will host New York Cosmos at the team’s home field, the Juan Ramón Loubriel Stadium in Bayamón, where they play through October. Prior to the team’s debut, Puerto Rico will host the Caribbean Football Union championship series on March 14, 16, and 18.

All of this activity translates into revenue Puerto Rico’s economy and exposure as it relates to sports tourism, he said.

“During the NASL regular season, we should generate about 2,000 room nights. Visitors represent about 300 of those, but they stay for longer periods, usually five or six nights. We already know of lots of fans coming to see games this spring,” he said.

“Team and official meals for NASL visits alone should equal more than $60,00 in revenue. Visiting fans of course will multiply this,” he said.

The three games of the pre-season tournament will generate more than 400 hotel room nights for players and their technical staff. Meals alone will drive another $40,000 in revenue, which the PRFC will pay for, Payne said. Furthermore, visiting fans could produce another 75 to 100 room nights and between $10,000 and $20,000 in additional spending, he said.

This year, the PRFC’s goal is to average 5,000 people per game for its 16 home games in Bayamón, he said. Aside from drawing fans to the stadium, the PRFC is a business that generates about 200 jobs per game, said Payne, who was recruited to steer the PRFC after running the biggest soccer club in the U.S. mainland, the L.A. Galaxy.

“We feel like we made good ground in the first year. We’re really happy that we were able to start off with all those great partners, and now it’s time to build on it,” he said, adding this year the team expects to see at least 5,000 people at the stadium per game.

To achieve that, the team has been signing up some big-name players, who have been training for the past few weeks. The roster includes Michael Ramos, Billy Thompson and Jake Stovall.

“Last year, we noticed that we had a harder time getting crowds when the team was struggling. But the truth is that if we went away because we aren’t supported, a professional team at our level would never come here again,” he said.

Aside from performing on the field, the PRFC has been actively working with soccer clubs islandwide as part of its community outreach efforts, Payne said.

“We offer free clinics all over the island. We want to be community partners for the people of Puerto Rico and the government. We’re not here just trying to make money and take it back to the states. We look at what we’re doing as something much more important than that. Our owner puts his money where his mouth is,” Payne said.

Waiting on Tourism Co.
Since its debut last year, the PRFC has been working closely with the central government — specifically the Puerto Rico Tourism Co. — and the Bayamón municipal government, which has put significant work into the team’s home stadium.

“The stadium is the only soccer-specific stadium on the island, which is why we play there. We also put a lot of money in the stadium last year, to make it look as much as a soccer stadium as we can,” he said. “One of the most important things that we need to focus on having the most professional sports presentation on the island.”

The PRFC had a sponsorship arrangement with the Tourism Co. last season, and are proposing an “even larger partnership this year and some really cool things we can do for them.”

That proposal is currently under evaluation, Tourism Co. Executive Director José Izquierdo confirmed.

“Soccer, like other sports, is contemplated within our initiatives to support the development of sports tourism on the island,” he said. “We recognize that sponsoring soccer teams such as the PRFC, which participates in games with teams in different cities in the U.S. [mainland] and Canada, allows the promotion of Puerto Rico as a destination.”

“We’re committed to continue sponsoring projects that help to position Puerto Rico as an ideal tourist destination for sporting events, entertainment and conventions, among other areas of interest,” Izquierdo said. “But we will exercise methods that allow us to measure the effectiveness and cost-efficiency of that investment.”

PRFC games are aired on Wapa 2, which average about 40,000 viewers per match, as well as back to the markets of the teams that are playing, Payne said.

“Puerto Rico will be highlighted in Miami, San Francisco, New York, Edmonton, and Jacksonville, among others. And we’ll be on national television shown from Puerto Rico, on BeIn Sports, so that’s more exposure,” he said.

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