Free soccer for college students a hit at Rising FC games

By Emily Keenan for Somos Sports

TEMPE, Ariz.—It was an hour and a half before kickoff at the Phoenix Rising FC Soccer Complex, and their supporters — Los Bandidos as they call themselves — were already dishing out their chants of support into the hot and sticky evening.

Joined in song by students from surrounding colleges, the crowd was intensifying well before the on-field action.

College students from around the area took advantage of ticket deals targeted toward them this season at Rising games, which helped boost attendance at midweek games such as Wednesday’s 1-0 win over Rio Grande FC.

“College students are great for the atmosphere,” outbound sales executive Cort Wolleat said. “We often assign them seats in the supporters’ section. This is our ‘rowdy’ section in the stadium, so filling that with college-aged people is always helpful.”

Phoenix Rising FC has various promotions regarding college students which involve free admittance on certain nights and offers a season ticket deal for students priced at $50, which grants students entry to all home games. Only three remain this season.

Sam Doerr, vice president of marketing and advertising ,said, “Our Rising U membership that we launched last year has been a huge hit. It guarantees college students to get into every game for just $50 for the entire season. We have over 350 ASU students alone taking advantage of this.”

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Even if a student can only attend half of the games, Doerr said, they are only paying $5 per game. This is helping students see as many events as they possibly can without paying too much out of pocket.

Along with the season ticket promotion, students are able to get in for free on most Wednesday nights when showing their student ID, which have brought a significant increase in attendance.

“Our college student promotions are great for weeknight games, such as our occasional Wednesday night matches.” Wolleat said. “This is because college students are often willing and able to be out later during the week than others who may have full-time jobs.”

Weeknights typically deliver lower attendance, Wolleat said, so it is often helpful to fill the empty seats with college students.

“Last game we had well over a few hundred, I would say 400 to 600 of just college students in the stands,” senior account executive Dylan Cambareri said. This equates a nice percent of the stadium’s 6,000-plus capacity being filled by college students.

The club has various ways of approaching audiences with advertisement techniques, which are typically based off of individual demographics.

“I think the biggest thing is segmenting the audience and not putting a blanket approach to all demographics.” Doerr said, “We try to relate to the fan based off their demographics, brand affinities, what is important to them.”

Looking down the line, Phoenix Rising keeps looking to expand its brand image throughout the Valley.

“We just formed a team of brand ambassadors at ASU, so we are starting to get the name out locally for them,” Cambareri said,  “I’m sure we’re going to be bringing back the college students getting in free for Wednesdays with their ID.”

Doerr hinted at further plans to partner with ambassadors and what may come to be new promotions for the 2019 season, which is being spread among college campuses.