skip navigation

USL Ops & Sales Summit Pushing Innovative Scope

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 11/09/16, 10:39AM EST


League’s success has provided platform for continued growth across markets

Photo courtesy Darren Abate / San Antonio FC

As the Director of Ticket Sales for the Charleston Battery, one of the USL’s most historic clubs, the rapid growth and success the league has found in recent years has had a galvanizing effect for Suzanne Brandon.

“One of my favorite things about this event is that our league has been so successful,” said Brandon. “We’re constantly building and bringing new teams in that have a lot of different backgrounds, different sports industries that bring a lot to the table and show each of us how to be a little bit more innovative in how we go about doing ticket sales, presenting season ticket packages.”

Brandon is one of more than 140 guests at this week’s USL Operations & Sales Summit, hosted by San Antonio FC at Toyota Field, all of whom were eager to not only put faces to the names they interact with on a regular basis throughout the year, but also to learn and share best practices that will continue the USL’s growth off the field – and particularly in the stands – in the coming years.

“The best thing about this for me is getting face-to-face interaction with everybody else in the league who does what I do, and more,” said Brandon. “I love having that camaraderie, and getting face-to-face and sitting down next to someone and saying, ‘Hey, do you also do this, or do you also do that? Can we compare notes? What have you found in terms of hiring techniques?’ and so on and so forth. For me, it’s a fantastic networking opportunity.”

Photo courtesy Darren Abate / San Antonio FC

San Antonio is the second USL club to host the event, which began on Monday and concludes later on Wednesday afternoon. The first was Tulsa Roughnecks FC, which brought a strong contingent of its front office staff to the Summit. For General Manager Mike Melega, events such as this are a major platform for the league’s clubs to work together, and also develop more personal relationships that will pay off further down the line.

“That’s where you grow your business,” said Melega. “It’s by growing your network and growing the list of great ideas that you can turn into profit and fan amenities and assets for your fan-base to keep coming back year after year after year. We learn from all these great organizations when we come here, and we hope we can share a few nuggets for others to take home and make a few bucks on as well.”

With the event being hosted in San Antonio this year, it also offered team operations staffs the chance to visit San Antonio FC’s Toyota Field, a state of the art soccer-specific venue that provides a perfect backdrop for the club’s home contests. The visit provided insight for those clubs who have hopes of creating a soccer-specific venue of their own.

“I think, like many of the teams in the USL, we have aspirations to build a soccer-specific venue in our city, in Tulsa, so this will be a great opportunity for us to see what a soccer-specific venue looks like, how it’s different from our venue,” said Melega. “We just know San Antonio runs a first-class operation, so the chance to see how they do things and how their facility is laid out, that’s very exciting. I know we’ll learn a lot.”

At the center of much of the week’s ticketing and sales activity has been the USL Senior Director of Club Services, John Cochol. Since joining the league in 2015, Cochol has acted as a means for teams looking to innovate and learn, and has linked the network of front office executives across the league to allow new relationships to be created, allowing clubs to build their business off the field.

“John Cochol has been very instrumental in forging those relationships,” said Brandon. “I just took a sheet from him that was about deposits, based on the new ticketing systems that you’re getting, what other clubs are using those systems, what elements of that particular platform is supporting their group sales, so it’s nice to be able to go to him and say, ‘Hey, this is what we have, this is where we want to go, what clubs do you know that are currently using these systems, or who do you suggest I talk to and pick their brain a little bit, talk some numbers, maybe talk promotions?’ He’s been a huge asset in connecting the dots for us, and personally being a support system.”

Photo courtesy Darren Abate / San Antonio FC

With the league having hit new highs in total and average attendance this season – with almost 1.5 million fans having attended a USL game in the 2016 regular season – and the additions of clubs such as Reno 1868 FC next year and Nashville SC in 2018, the work that’s being put in over this week will lay another platform for the continued growth of the USL and its clubs.

“I think when you have networking events with the league, especially in a league of this size with 29 teams having played here in 2016, to have the chance to put names to faces and to meet teams from the other conference that you don’t get to see every day and learn best practices and share your best practices, it’s an absolute win-win situation for everybody involved,” said Melega.

Follow the USL Championship

Most Recent News

Most Read News

Latest Videos