As a devout soccer fan, your club’s home grounds can feel like a second home. A home stadium is much more than just a pitch with a few white chalk lines and some chairs around it. It can sometimes be more important than even the players in certain instances. Players often come and go, and their longevity at any one club is often unpredictable. But the grounds are always constant – at least, as long as they hold up and continue to meet modern standards, etc. Some of the world’s biggest clubs’ home grounds are just as famous as the team itself: Anfield, Old Trafford, Camp Nou, Bernabeu, Ellen Road, St. James Park, and the list goes on. If you told fans that call these soccer coliseums home that they could have had a chance at helping design the stadium when it was built, what do you think they would say? Orlando City SC is about to find out.
In a press release on Thursday the club announced that it would be launching an initiative to engage fans and solicit design ideas from them for the team’s new stadium to be built in downtown Orlando, FL. The innovative idea for the program arose after team front office members met with leaders from the Orlando City SC supporter group and stadium architects, club president Phil Rawlins explained.
We recently invited the leaders of our supporter groups to meet with our stadium design team. During this conversation it became very apparent that our supporters had a lot of great ideas – and that we needed to find a mechanism to incorporate additional fan input into our stadium design. As a result, we’ve launched this new initiative to encourage all of our fans to send us their stadium design ideas.
Fans and enthusiasts who feel so inclined can submit their ideas to an email address dedicated to the initiative (firstname.lastname@example.org) or use the hashtag #NewOCSCStadium on Twitter and the club will take them into consideration. Several respondents will be selected to meet with the Stadium design team in special workshop sessions and the club will also release a collection of fan stadium design ideas that they collect throughout the process so that everyone can see each other’s ideas. Rawlins commented further,
If you have even a small idea that you think would be cool regarding Orlando City’s new stadium, this is how you can get our attention for it. Orlando City’s goal is to create an iconic year-round development on Church Street that will serve as the top soccer stadium in MLS – and we’re excited to hear our fans’ ideas on how we can best accomplish this goal.
One of the major challenges for soccer clubs in the modern era is to engage with their fanbase in new and meaningful ways, and see a result from their efforts. The advent of social media and digital marketing over the years has opened new doors to clubs to achieve just that, but the challenge still remains for a still very young and developing MLS. Orlando City SC is offering its fans and their community a chance to be a part of history in the development of their stadium, an initiative that certainly qualifies as meaningful fan engagement.
The level of influence fans will ultimately have on the design of the stadium is yet to be seen. Obviously, certain building codes and standards must be met and cannot be altered, no matter how “cool” the fan idea might be. The club’s commitment to sharing a collection of fans stadium idea submissions is perhaps more important than most people realize. It will allow fans to hold the club accountable, so-to-speak, in that they can make sure the organization is keeping its word and really does incorporate fans ideas into the actual development of the stadium, and to what extent as well. This piece will be especially important for the club to illustrate to its fans that their input does not just fall on deaf ears, but actually has actionable impact and influence. The more fans can personally connect with a club, the more they will take personal responsibility for its success off the pitch in the arena that they can have an impact. There is no greater marketing tool than positive word of mouth, and Orlando City SC is taking a step in the right direction towards just that with this program.