Make Yourself at Home

When you take your place at a full Qwest Field come spring of 2009, there’s a good chance that you will have quite a bit in common with the fans surrounding you.

When you take your place at a full Qwest Field come spring of 2009, there’s a good chance that you will have quite a bit in common with the fans surrounding you.

Seattle Sounders FC is now in the process of converting those season ticket deposits into actual seating packages and doing it in a cutting edge fashion.

Using a combination of customer service, collected data and Web technology, Sounders FC is helping supporters find the single-best section to sit, stand, sing or just see the game.

“To my knowledge, this is the first time anyone has incorporated personal preferences into helping fans select the perfect place to sit,” says Chuck Arnold, director of ticket sales and operations for Sounders FC and the Seattle Seahawks.

“If you’re sitting next to people with like interests,” adds Arnold, “you’re going to enjoy the matches that much more.”

There is room for 24,500 supporters in the Qwest Field configuration for MLS games, and there will be a place where everyone should feel very much at home.

A Place for Us

Special Sections

Family (alcohol-free) 100-102
Supporters (general admission) 121-123
All-inclusive (regional food, FSN Lounge) 209, 235
All-inclusive (hot dogs, peanuts, soft drinks) 144-151

Prompted by popular demand and feedback from focus groups, there are already areas for organized supporters’ groups who want to sing, stand and chant the evenings and afternoons away. There are benefit-added options in the suites and club seats, as well as alcohol-free sections for families.

Beyond that, you can also find fellow players or diehard followers of clubs like Man United, Chivas or Barcelona. See? No more worries about wearing that ragged ol’ Ryan Giggs jersey and getting razzed for it.

Right now, customer service representatives are calling those people who placed season ticket deposits in the franchise’s first few days. In due time, they will personally reach everyone by phone. The list has surpassed 15,000.

Sounders FC began the process of converting deposits into season tickets on April 30, sending out instructions on use of the ticket sales Web site [Link:] to select their top four choices for seat sections.

Clients can roll their computer mouse over every section [Link:] and, in so doing, see facts about price, benefits and a demographic profile of those fans already seated there. Once they submit an online form of preferences to the ticket office, the information is attached to their account.

Attention to Detail

“After telling my representative what I wanted, he was very creative in finding solutions and opportunities,” said Bill Fry, who was able to find seats next to a colleague, two rows behind the visitors’ bench. That means if they’re singers, the opposition is sure to hear them.

Arnold said that more than 2,000 submissions were received in the first 24 hours. Calls are then made to the clients, in order of their deposit priority, and final seat selections are confirmed. So far, those sections nearest the midfield stripe are filling first.

“Those joining the list now are still going to get a quality seat location,” says Arnold. “Everybody’s got a different preferred view of the pitch, a different budget.”

Whatever you pay and wherever your ticket takes you, everyone is automatically enrolled in the Membership Association and earns early access to special events.

For those who have debated whether to make a deposit, there are plenty of incentives. Last week, more than 12,000 members of the season ticket deposit list took advantage of the presale for the May 31 international featuring Brazil-Canada. There’s always the possibility of more games, too.

Fans who purchased deposits have converted to season tickets at a rate of 102 percent, indicating some have actually bought additional seats.

Building Community

As for the personality of each Qwest Field section, those are still under development. Based upon their response to five initial survey questions, ticket holders create the demographic and the profile will evolve accordingly with the addition of more fans.

“I chose my seats pretty early, so our section hadn’t developed a personality,” says Fry. “Looking at it now, it’s fun to see the personality take shape.”

Arnold terms this process as Phase One of creating a social network for Sounders FC fans.

Phase Two will be the creation of a network wherein fans communicate directly with one another online, and it could be operational some time in 2009.

“When we let fans interact with each other, let them develop relationships on their own, I think you will see little communities developing throughout the Membership Association,” says Arnold. “That’s the next phase, a whole different level of social networking.”