Manchester City’s match day experience is becoming more and more American with each new season. While Maine Road was what you could expect a typical British experience of what it was like to see an English football match in the 80s, the City of Manchester Stadium experience seems as American as apple pie.
In previous seasons, City have tried to focus on improving the match-day experience. They’ve added buskers, i.e. public performers, around the ground to add to the atmosphere. And recently they’ve adopted American entertainment methods such as turning down the house lights before kick-off and trying to get everyone excited for the big match. They’ve also been a pioneer in English football in their usage of American social media sites such as Facebook, Foursquare, Flickr and others to create a bond with supporters.
And now for their first home match in the league for the 2010-11 season, against Liverpool tonight, they’re set to unveil two new features. Both of them have a uniquely American feel about them. Plus the club has launched a new campaign across Manchester, which is revealed below:
The first is City Square, an outdoor entertainment zone and the first of its kind, according to Manchester City, at a Premier League club.
Located on Joe Mercer Way, near the stadium, the zone will feature:
- Giant media screens streaming live and specially-edited content,
- Summerbee and Star bar, featuring a dispenser that will pour multiple pints in seconds,
- Blue Moon Cafe, which will serve up traditional northern favorites with a twist,
- And it’s all underneath a waterproof canopy.
“The aim of City Square is to greatly enhance the match day experience of our supporters by providing them with exceptional food, drink and entertainment facilities within a family friendly environment,” said Manchester City Chief Executive Garry Cook. “It is the first facility of its kind within the Premier League and we’re really looking forward to our fans using it for the first time before the Liverpool game.”
In addition to the City Square entertainment zone, City has launched a new look family stand. According to City’s website, entertainment for kids will include free face painting, product “guns” firing goodies into the crowd, magicians, jugglers, interactive chalkboards, virtual dressing room, and height check chart for them to measure themselves against the City squad.
Also the food has been upgraded to include a choice of spaghetti, chicken goujons and smoothies. Plus the family stand area features lowered counters, lowered wash basins and toilets for the children.
City has also launched a new mural in Manchester today, which features a side of a building painted to feature City flags, players and Roberto Mancini. It’s near the City of Manchester Stadium. The mural promotes “Be Part Of It,” which is a social media website that Manchester City created to encourage supporters to show their support for the club.
All of these changes definitely have the earmark of Cook’s influence. Born in Birmingham, Cook moved to the United States in 1985 and later was an employee of Nike for 12 years. While working for the US company, he worked very closely with Michael Jordan and headed up the “Brand Jordan” project.
While City receives high marks with their marketing initiatives, they’ve been lacking on the pitch. Their US pre-season tour, which featured plenty of publicity off the pitch, was sadly lacking on the field with very weak performances from players who looked like they didn’t care. Now that the season is under away, hopefully City will impress where it’s most important and that’s on the pitch.
Coupled with Manchester City’s wealth and Cook’s bright ideas, Manchester City is paving a way as a football club of a new generation in England. This is not your dad’s football team. This is a club that understands marketing and is smartly trying to bring in a younger crowd to watch its football matches. As the average age of a supporter of a Premier League club increases, City is investing in the future by upgrading its family stand to ensure that they create loyal City supporters for generations. Family stands are not a new idea. Most Premier League clubs have them, but City is offering a different experience. Short-term, it’ll boost revenue. Long-term, it’ll create a new breed of City supporter. Hopefully the rest of the clubs in the Premier League will pay close attention.
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