The New York Red Bulls have announced Don Garber - Commissioner of Major League Soccer - will be the first season ticket holder for NYRB II, the club's USL team.
The big news in that statement is NYRB II is selling season tickets. The team has spent two seasons playing in a mostly empty Red Bull Arena, but it is moving to a new home field for 2017: Montclair State University's Soccer Park.
NYRB II's primary purpose is to develop players for the RBNY first team squad. And it has quickly established itself as a superior finishing school for young pros: the 2016 team was historically good by USL standards, and won the league's regular season title and post-season Cup.
Marketing the reserve team, however, hasn't really been a priority for RBNY. The club's future is (one would hope) not in any way dependent upon having good crowds at II-team games. But crowds are important to USL. It is a pro soccer league with an interest in growing its profile, and it was briefly troubled by the embarrassing possibility of having a 2016 Championship game broadcast on national TV from an empty stadium.
NYRB II delivered a respectable crowd to USL's showpiece event, reporting a slightly larger announced attendance (5,547) than was recorded for the 2015 USL Cup final (5,247). But the II-team's average home crowd in the regular season was just 589: a number that would be embarrassing for RBNY if it had any reason to care about NYRB II's crowds (which it really doesn't), and a number that was doubtless embarrassing to USL. The standout best team in the league had no fans: not a great look.
But in 2017, it seems that NYRB II will make a more serious effort to attract attention to itself. Pair the existence of season tickets for the II team with the fact the Red Bulls have strong-armed Garber (who lives in Montclair, apparently) into at least pretending to be a fan of his new local pro soccer team: looks like there will be some effort to build a fan base for NYRB II this year.
That effort will also extend to finding ways to encourage RBNY fans to make the trip to Montclair. In the same release that announced Don Garber was NYRB II's
number one fan first season ticket holder, it was also revealed that MSU Soccer Park will be "available" for US Open Cup games (and the RBNY U-23 team's games in PDL). We should see a little more marketing muscle behind the II team and its new home field in 2017.
We'll see some of that muscle flexed on Monday, December 19. The II team will start taking deposits for season tickets at 12:00 pm, shortly after it has it has welcomed Don Garber to MSU Soccer Park.
For more information on NYRB II season tickets, call 1-877-722-7585 or visit the II-team's corner of the RBNY website.