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What: The new San Diego Seals of the National Lacrosse League are extending their reach south into Mexico to cultivate the rising Hispanic audience for the sport.
Why it matters: Deemed the fastest growing sport in areas like Southern California, lacrosse has new fertile ground and a new team with fresh ideas to find new Hispanic fans on both sides of the border.

Joe Tsai

There has been so much talk about lacrosse being the fastest growing sport in the United States in the last few years, especially on the grassroots level. One area that the sport has really taken off is in Southern California, where more than 100,000 young people have taken up the game in the last few years alone, and high school and some college programs have begun to take root.

Another area where lacrosse is growing in SoCal is on the professional side, where the San Diego Seals (@SealsLax), owner by former Yale lacrosse player and cofounder of Alibaba (@AlibabaTalk) Joe Tsai enjoyed a near sellout and a win over the Rochester (NY) Knighthawks in their National Lacrosse League (@NLLhome opener last week.

What made the win even more historic was the fact that the Seals, seeing a marketing opportunity for both the professional side and for fan development, became the first team ever in the NLL’s 33 year history to broadcast games in Spanish.

The Seals brought on Síntesis TV (@sintesis_tv), which serves the San Diego and Baja Mexico region to carry their home games. Síntesis TV was founded in 1985 and offers objective and truthful information about the Baja California region, also at a National and International level. Síntesis TV broadcasts through open television signal in San Diego County and Baja California on channel 50.4 and in Northern Mexico channel 71 IZZI. Osvaldo Samaniego and Jorge Camacho called the game, and will be back in the broadcast chairs for the remainder of the schedule, a portion of which will be carried in English on Bleacher Report Live (@brlive), with continued talks of a local English language carrier also in the mix.

That exposure brings new fans at all levels, and with that come brands looking to get more engaged with a growing diverse audience that is becoming more affluent and engaged.

But Lacrosse in Spanish and in Mexico? “The Latino sports fan in Southern California remains one of the most passionate and ardent, and we see this as the perfect way to introduce the sport, the team and the brand to that audience from day one,” said Josh Gross, Vice President, Business Operations for the Seals. “There are thousands of people who cross the border both socially and for business from Tijuana to San Diego and vice versa, and we want to be able to bring what we are doing to them in a way that’s easy, and this partnership we felt is a natural to cultivate fans in the entire region.”

The partnership also makes great sense for Síntesis, which is also looking to expand its audience, and sees the Seals, and live sports as a great fit.

“We want to introduce and bring the sport (of lacrosse) to Mexico, and if possible someday through our live stream to other countries, with our partnership to broadcast Seals games, our audience will see this great fast paced game that embodies teamwork and high spirit action,” said Octavio Islas, Producer/Company Consultant for Síntesis. “We are planning to also create entertaining short film like tutorials and promos to introduce and promote the game, the Seals and league play to the Mexican, Latino, Central and South American audiences. It is a great growth opportunity for the team, the station and for lacrosse that didn’t exist even a few months ago.”

Join us at PORTADA LOS ANGELES on March 15, 2019 at the Loews Beach Hotel Santa Monica, where we will dive deep into sports and soccer marketing’s preeminent topics. Felix Palau, VP Marketing, Heineken will discuss “How to measure ROI and transfer best practices between sports marketing platforms”. Other speaking engagements include Tiago Pinto, Global Marketing Director, Gatorade who will provide answers to the question: “Will Corporate America jump on the soccer opportunity?”Attendees will also be able to benefit from Portada’s meet-up service of three-eight-minute meetings with top brand executives!

The model for NLL and the Seals is not dissimilar from the toe dip we have seen MLB (@MLB), the NFL (@NFL) and the NBA (@NBAmake in recent years into the Mexican market. Even the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings (@LAKingshave started to look south to grow audience, all seeing the cultural and brand success soccer has had in taking Liga MX (@LIGABancomerMXmatches and the Mexican National team north for exposure. That exposure brings new fans at all levels, and with that come brands looking to get more engaged with a growing diverse audience that is becoming more affluent and engaged.

“Our games are exciting, affordable and the sport caters to a demo that likes fast-paced,” Gross added. “Those aspects speak a lot louder than the language the game is broadcast in, but in being able to deliver a Spanish broadcast makes the barrier of acceptance just that much lower, and we think has a huge upside.”

While other pro franchises in So Cal have looked to the traditional Anglo audience first, the Seals, with their multicultural first play, are following in the disruptive growth pattern that has made NLL such a hot property in recent years. Indoor lacrosse is not your traditional sport, but its traditions run deep in lacrosse culture, and if its new franchise in San Diego can help unlock a Latino audience, the audience growth will be quite impactful, well beyond Southern California.

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What: The North American Soccer League (NASL) announced today that San Diego County is the league’s newest expansion market, the club will make its league debut in the Spring of 2018.
Why it matters: San Diego NASL is backed by an ownership group led by four global soccer stars: Demba Ba, Eden Hazard, Yohan Cabaye and Moussa Sow.

San Diego might recently have lost its NFL Chargers, but, this only opens up space for other sports teams to make its way into the county. Today, the North American Soccer League (NASL) announced its league debut in the city, starting with the 2018 season.

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Three international players, Demba Ba (Shanghai Shenhua), Eden Hazard (Chelsea FC), Yohan Cabaye (Crystal Palace FC), and Moussa Sow (Fenerbahçe S.K.), have partnered with local business executives to bring high-quality, professional soccer back to an area that is home to 3.3 million people and more than 50,000 youth players. Bob Watkins, a longtime San Diegan and successful businessman, will serve as the club’s president.

We intend to develop local talent, helping young children realize their dreams of playing professional soccer, and we intend to help San Diego become a soccer capital known around the world.

“It’s an absolute honor to bring professional soccer to San Diego County,” said Watkins, in a statement. “The international soccer stars driving this effort to give us an excellent foundation from which to build. We intend to develop local talent, helping young children realize their dreams of playing professional soccer, and we intend to help San Diego become a soccer capital known around the world.”

San Diego NASL is currently developing its name and logo and expects to unveil its branding at an event in the coming months. Meanwhile, the new team has set its social networks, and website, including a promotional video on Youtube.

What: More than 100,000 signatures were turned in to the county Registrar of Voters office in San Diego to promote the SoccerCity development proposal in Mission Valley.
Why it matters: If nearly 72,000 of the signatures prove to be valid, the city of San Diego would be one step closer to getting a new hybrid professional soccer-college football stadium.

Ever since the NFL Chargers decided to leave San Diego in January, and move to Los Angeles-after 56 seasons in San Diego- there have been questions about the future of the Qualcomm Stadium as San Diego sports fans have been left without a strong team to follow. However, a development group led by Nick Stone, La Jolla businessman Mike Stone, former Qualcomm President Steve Altman, technology entrepreneurs Massih and Masood Tayebi, Padres owner Peter Seidler and retired soccer great Landon Donovan, want to bring the stadium back to live and transform it into SoccerCity, a hybrid professional soccer-college football stadium with residences, office space, parkland and an entertainment zone.

Nominate your candidates! Call for Entries: 2018 Golazo International Soccer Award!

“The fact that more than 100,000 people signed the petition in less than two week’s time speaks volumes to the enthusiasm that San Diegans feel for this proposal, which will bring the world’s most popular sport — soccer — to San Diego, and provide a new home for SDSU football, all at no cost to taxpayers,” Nick Stone said.

Because of high maintenance costs, city officials believe the Qualcomm Stadium should stop operating after the 2018 college football season is over.

If close to 72,000 of the signatures prove to be valid, the San Diego City Council would have to either approve the replacement stadium or have voters decide on the stadium’s future in an election.

Until the new stadium is approved and built, San Diego State’s football team is planning to play two seasons in Petco Park.

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Feature image: @SoccerCitySD