I was at the game on Saturday, took the wife with me and she loved it. She was referring to the entire Wolfpack team as her "future boyfriends"
Couple of things:
1. Stadium is in an awesome location, lots of restaurants nearby and easy to get to. I found the buzz and carnival atmosphere at the stadium very good. With this in mind, I believe the Wolfpack should look to make Lamport Stadium their long term home and conduct a phased redevelopment as I believe one of the drawing features of this team is their accessibility to the fans and the intimate setting of the stadium. I would draw on the experience of certain Rugby Union Clubs in England in particular, who all went through phased expansions of their stadiums when the game went professional in 1996. A good example of this would be Northampton Saints redevelopment of Franklin's Gardens.
Franklin's Gardens (circa 2003):
Franklin's Gardens Today:
2. Game day experience was good but there are a couple of things they need to work on. One is the beer ticket system for the beer garden. They should have a ticket booth on each end as opposed to in the middle. This would cut down on some of the bottleneck and crowding in the centre of the beer garden. I think they also need to introduce a tackle count clock so the sport newbies could have a better idea of what's going on. This could come via improvements to the stadium though. I would say first on the list is a new score clock with video replay capability and a dedicated sound system in the stadium. I also think they need to streamline their ticketing process. The whole East/West thing was a pain in the ass having to show your ticket every time you went to get beers. I would grab a beer for myself and one for my wife only to have to fumble for my cellphone so I could show security my ticket. A simple solution would be for the concessions and beer stands to have trays so you could carry food and drinks in one hand.
Also, stadium needs a designated smoking area. My wife is a smoker (she is a bartender, it comes with the territory ) but she hates when there are no ashtrays or butt cans to place her cigarette in. The stadium needs a designated smoking area, otherwise you get a bunch of smokers throwing butts everywhere. I know Toronto is like the anti-smoking capital of Canada (ironic considering how many people can't wait for pot to be legalized) but can we stop putting our head in the sand and realize like 15% of the population still smokes and probably always will.
3. Merchandising: The Wolfpack seem to be getting better at the Merchandising aspect. They sold a lot of gear on game day at the Club Shop and they also had a stand in the stadium. They need to expand it further though. One thing I would be trying to do would not only market the Wolfpack but also develop the brands of some of the other clubs. It would be great to be able to buy other clubs jerseys at the pro shop or have the Wolfpack sign some sort of distribution deal with Sportchek (a major sporting good store in Canada) to distribute apparel for the League. I know this will come in time but to me merchandising and marketing is key. Toronto FC gear is available at every Sportchek across Ontario and people see the brand and know what it is.
4. Mini games for Children in the Parking Lot/Adjacent Parks: I really think the Toronto Wolfpack should continue to push the family oriented environment. Take it a step further, have a mini rugby tournament at halftime or pre-game. Maybe have a kicking net or some sort of ball game outside for the kids in the park or the parking lot.
All in all though, the Wolfpack are on the right track and I think they are going to build some nice momentum for the Eights!
Couple of photos for everyone:
(View of the East Stand at I think either opening kickoff or the beginning of the second half)
(Players talking to fans post match)