When you head out DSGP seventeen times a year, the Rapids experience switches from just being a thing you do for fun sometimes to being a significant aspect of your life. And so it means that you want it to be totally enjoyable in all facets. There are things the team does really well, especially regarding the on-the-field product in 2016, and the merchandise for sale, and our announcing crew of Richard Fleming, Conor MacGahey and Marcelo Balboa.
Other things could stand improvement. So here’s a list of some ideas that’d make every Rapids fan happy: I guarantee it.
1. The digital production team needs to get crazy.
In the past couple years, the Rapids have put out video productions that were, uh, how shall I say it? Boring.
Maybe that was too harsh. But hey, man, it was the truth.
Halftime videos of ‘what is Sam Cronin’s go-to breakfast cereal?’ isn’t must-see viewing for anybody. But as I’m sure the Rapids know, having some smart and eye-catching videos that can both be played on game day and sent around social media is a great idea. If you can make a video that goes viral, you can convert the masses in Denver that are vaguely aware of our soccer club into hard core fans. Believe me. I’m an example. Somehow, I went from not being able to name the local MLS club in 2011 to googling Norwegian websites daily for Rapids transfer rumors.
MLS has done it, and the results were amazing. If you haven’t seen ‘Mike Magee’s Day Off’, you’ve been deprived. Bonus points if you catch all the amazing cameos.
The Rapids have at least three video storylines/personalities that are so damn ready-made to blow your socks off with a hysterical or brilliant or tear-jerking story that I want to cry. Here they are:
* Axel Sjoberg- Swedish Folk Hero
Sweden is naturally rife with comedy and fantasy. Vikings. Meatballs. The Swedish Chef from the muppets. Ikea. Fjords. On top of that, Sjoberg is the tallest MLS player in history.
Have Axel tour the Ikea in Centennial, asking questions in Swedish. Have Axel give a locker room speech in full Viking regalia. Follow Axel around for a day as dozens of people ask him ‘Do you play basketball?’ Have Axel do a cooking show. Sam Cronin can be Beaker. It’d be amazing.
* Dom Badji and Marlon Hairston doing a trailer for a buddy cop movie.
Dom and Marly are hysterical. They did the most entertaining video of 2016 for the Rapids, and that was a tenth as awesome as the outtakes to said video. Judge for yourself by clicking.
You can’t coach charisma. These guys are amazing. So put them in costumes and have them do movies trailers. Have them coach the whole team in handshakes. Have them drop in on fans, play them at FIFA, and talk trash the whole time. Have them coach the Rapids U5 team in goal celebrations.
Just, more Marly and Dom. More.
* Do a high quality film on Micheal Azira back home in Uganda
MLS did a fantastic video of Kwadwo Poku and Lloyd Sam visiting Ghana last year. To be honest, it got me emotional. No, it isn’t dusty in my office. I’m a man and I cry, dammit.
Micheal Azira’s got an amazing story too. From Kampala to Alabama to Kentucky to Seattle to Colorado is a hell of a story. And now Azira’s back with the Ugandan national team at AFCON 2017. There’s so much to explore there. I may never get to travel to Africa. But for the price of my seat, the Rapids can take me to Africa and have one of my favorite players be my tour guide.
Yeah, it’s expensive to do this kind of stuff, but it’s an investment in the club. There are thousands of Africans living in around Colorado: there are at least 8,000 in Aurora alone. This video can be entertainment and outreach at the same time.
2. We need taco trucks
The food at Dick’s Sporting Goods is bad. But at least it’s overpriced.
As a vegetarian, I have to plan to eat before the game, otherwise my options for food at the game are Marco’s Pizza or french fries. My meat-eating friends tell me that the animal product options are no better.
I’m sure KSE has a massive and complicated contract with Aramark, and I don’t think Aramark is necessarily bad at cooking; they’re just uncreative. But compare it with Coors Field, where you can get a much wider variety of food and is pretty good, and DSGP looks pretty meh.
Put taco trucks on the North Terrace. Or put taco trucks in the parking lot before and during the game. Let fans exit and re-enter with a stamp through the south gate. Rotate the available fare from week to week- empanadas and Korean BBQ one week, Greek gyros and pupusas the next. I’m drooling already. And if the logistics of doing it as the Rapids is too complicated with the Aramark contract, then let Centennial 38 or Stout Street Bulldog do it instead at their tailgate.
3. Let’s be creative with game day promotions
The Rapids look at promotions for game day as a ticket-sales tool; they can dial up the Air Force Academy and Fort Carson, have Military Appreciation Day, and sell tickets quick. And that’s good. Local sports teams have had appreciation days for Irish, Latino, Jewish, and LGBT fans too.
But game day promotions aren’t just a way to sell tickets to fans; they’re a way to serve as a multi-platform entertainment experience.
There’s a lot of untapped potential. The San Francisco Giants have a ‘Star Wars’ themed game and a Grateful Dead-themed game. Other teams have done mustache nights and bring-your-dog nights and Broadway Musical nights. The Stockton Ports did asparagus night last year.
Other half-time promotions can become iconic touchstones of a franchise. The Yankees, love ‘em or hate ‘em, have their infield crew do YMCA during the 3rd inning base-drag. The Washington Nationals have the presidents race - as you can see, it has it’s own wikipedia page. And even if you hate it, everyone knows that the Red Sox sing ‘Sweet Caroline’ during the seventh inning stretch.
You could call these gimmicks. You might be the kind of person that thinks that mascots make sports teams cartoonish and goofy. But try and relax. Remember: you just just paid $40 to watch 22 men chase a ball around a field for 90 minutes. Adding a musical number in the middle isn’t gonna hurt anybody.
4. More pyro, more party
The Rapids got rid of the Arsenal cannon, and I have yet to meet a fan that misses it. The ‘boom’ scared the hell out of every child under seven in the stadium including my own. Also, we have no relationship with Arsenal. Stan Kroenke owns both teams, but unless you’ve sat with Stan at both the Emirates and at DSGP, you’ve seen no tangible benefit to that linkage, which was why the team took down the cannon and the Gunner’s crest.
To compensate, the Rapids did a really good thing last year by bringing their fireworks show onto the field for the march. That was awesome.
Let’s go bigger.
Let’s have more on-field fireworks. Let’s have C38 members pop burgundy and blue smoke on-the-field, with Rapids supervision, and the approval of the Commerce City fire department. Let’s have flares, too. It pumps up the fans. It pumps up the players. It is my kids’ favorite part of the game. C’mon.
5. Build a beer garden
I think (I hope?) the Rapids have something in the works for the North Terrace, now that C38 is being relocated to the South Stands. Because the terrace needs to stay un-developed so that the Rapids can host a five-day long Phish concert in August (that’s where the stage goes), there are limited options as to what you can do.
Putting taco trucks there is an option. Another option is to do like Houston and convert it to a nice beer garden. I think that’s a great idea. Sell seating there and make it the only place to get specialty Colorado brews like Odells or Left Hand. Reach out to some of Colorado’s local bars and try and convert micro-brew aficionados to football aficionados. If Denver can sell 35,000 tickets to the Great American Beer Festival in, like, an hour, they can cross-market the team to some of those hop-heads without fail.
OK, those are my wild ideas to make DSGP better in 2017. I have more. But the Rapids would need to hire me as a consultant for all the other brilliant ideas I’ve got. They can probably pay me in beer and scarves, but don’t tell Tim Hinchey that.