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New Sports Alliance using teamwork to get more attention for San Diego teams

Discussion in 'All Other San Diego Sports' started by SDRay, Jun 4, 2018.

  1. SDRay

    SDRay RIP SD Chargers..F the LA Chargers, Go Irish Staff Member Administrator Podcaster

    Jun 20, 2005

    The San Diego Kings, with a roster of mostly local players, compete in the semi-pro American Basketball Association, and last season they posted a 16-3 record.

    They were the Far West Division champions and made it to the Elite Eight of the ABA postseason.

    The Kings have a Harlem Globetrotter alum, Manny “Prince” Perez, on the squad and play entertaining, fast-paced ball. Watch their game film and they basically do everything but leap on each other’s shoulders to score baskets.

    The final tally in one of their victories this past season: 132-78.

    All of that is impressive.

    The dilemma: Few people in San Diego know the Kings exist.

    They have the same challenge as the other two local teams in the ABA — the Guardians and Surf — or the San Diego Growlers of Ultimate Disc, or ASC San Diego and WFC Lions of soccer, or the Legion of Major League Rugby, or the Aviators of World Team Tennis.

    Each of those pro or semi-pro organizations charge money to attend their games — at a fraction of what it costs to see the Padres, or the Chargers when they were here — but they crave more attention and traction among more than their most loyal fans.

    A city that seemingly would be starved for some kind of live sports action often is indifferent to jumping on any kind of bandwagon. It doesn’t help that so many sports owners/dreamers have been carpet baggers, pulling up stakes after a season or two.

    “I’ve seen so much failure in 30 years — bad owners and mismanagement — and it doesn’t have to be,” said Jonathan Greene, a San Diego native who is the marketing and communications director for the Sockers.

    Greene isn’t standing on the sidelines complaining about it. He’s making an effort to change it.

    After brainstorming sessions with peers with other teams in town, Greene led the creation of Pro Sports Alliance of San Diego. Since February, representatives from about a dozen organizations have been gathering for monthly meetings to discuss how they can pool their resources and help each other.

    The organizations include the aforementioned teams, along with hockey’s San Diego Gulls, San Diego Seals (lacrosse), San Diego SeaLions (womens’ soccer), San Diego 1904 FC (men’s soccer), and SoccerCity San Diego.

    Some of the teams have been promoting others’ games on their websites, and they are beginning to formulate a ticket package concept — an “Alliance Team Pass” — that would allow fans to see numerous sports and teams for a nominal cost.

    One of those packages is already available. For $35, fans can see five games (ASC, Growlers, Guardians, Kings, SeaLions). Larger packages featuring other teams are in the works.

    There also has been discussion about creating one ticket and promotions agency that would work for all the teams.

    “It’s been a great collaboration,” Greene said. “I do feel strongly that it was needed.

    “We can help each other, learn about each other. There’s a lot of teams in town that are in the same boat. I thought that if we could come together, we’d probably be stronger as a group and let our voice be known.”

    The most tangible evidence thus far of the Alliance is a clean-looking, well-organized newsletter that Greene produces each week, and a website he maintains, prosportsalliancesd.com.

    For the week of May 28, for example, there was a preview of the Growlers’ upcoming home game; game summaries from ASC San Diego, SeaLions and Legion; a notice about Aviators summer tennis camps; and the Seals’ announcement of a pre-draft NLL combine that will be held in San Diego.

    The effort is focused on getting the word out about the teams without relying as much on mainstream print and broadcast media.

    “I think one of the first things you have to do is educate the people who are running the teams,” Greene said. “They need to understand their place. We’re not going to be the cover story very much in the Union-Tribune. It’s not just about bending over backwards to hope you get coverage.

    “We still need to educate people about who we are and how to get involved. It’s about convincing people to give some of the sports a try, maybe getting out to a Legion game or an ASC game to see if you enjoy it.

    “That’s what I’m trying to do with the Sockers. There’s a whole generation of people who were big Sockers fans through the ’80s and ’90s. And if we can get 10 percent of those people to come back and give it a chance that would be great.”

    Kings owner Abraham Muheize — best-known for a tremendous career at quarterback for El Cajon Valley High — is enthused about the Alliance because he feels like it is in step with what he’s trying to do.

    “When Jonathan reached out, I thought it was a genius idea,” Muheize said.

    “My approach was that I’m going to win in the community before I win in the gym,” he said. “I’m not going to ask San Diego to come out to watch my team if I’m not giving back to the community.

    “My main message to the group has been to get out in the community. Get your players out there. Get up on social media. Be creative and react.”

    Muheize said the Kings began their season at Grossmont College with 300 people in the stands. They eventually moved to the home floor of their coach, Lincoln High’s Jeff Harper-Harris, and by the end of the season were drawing 1,000.

    “I’d like to have enough people to have the fire marshal kick us out!” Muheize said with a laugh.

    Justin Goodman would like that problem, too.

    He is one of the three owners of the Growlers, who are in their fourth season of playing in the Ultimate Disc League. The sport is highly popular on college campuses and UDL boasts 23 teams in the U.S. and Canada.

    But the Growlers still draw about 250 per game at San Diego High — not much more than the number they started with.

    “I think there’s still a ton of people that we haven’t reached, and I think the Sports Alliance can help us with that,” Goodman said.

    “What I’ve learned is that the San Diego market is very complex, and I don’t know how to attack it yet. I do know that we need to look at different angles. We need to keep plugging away.”

    Like the other small-team owners, Goodman would love to buy a bunch of billboards or commercials and let San Diego know he’s here. But those cost thousands of dollars, and it’s a huge risk to spend that and not see it converted into fans.

    “We’re not at break-even yet,” Goodman said. “In order to break even, we need a huge uptick in attendance or to find several pretty substantial sponsors.”

    It’s a tough road, but maybe better traveled with others in the same bus.

    “We all want exposure and don’t have big budgets,” Greene said. “We all want to get butts in seats.”

    Pro Sports Alliance of San Diego
    The current members of the new Pro Sports Alliance of San Diego

    ASC San Diego
    ASC — part of the Albion Soccer Club — is a member of the seven-team Southwest Conference Division of the National Premier Soccer League. The season runs March through June, with home games at Mission Bay High School. Website: asc-sandiego.com

    San Diego Aviators
    World Team Tennis squad plays 13 matches from mid-July through early August. Seven home matches this season will be played at the Omni La Costa Resort & Spa. Website: sandiegoaviators.com.

    San Diego Growlers
    The fourth-year Ultimate Disc League team plays home games at San Diego High School from April through mid-July. Website: sdgrowlers.com

    San Diego Guardians
    The Guardians played their first season in the American Basketball Association in 2017-18. Website: thesdguardians.com

    San Diego Gulls
    The current version of the Gulls began as an affiliate for the Anaheim Ducks in the 2015-16 season. They play in the American Hockey League, with home games at Valley View Casino Center. Website: sandiegogulls.com

    San Diego Kings
    The Kings played their first season in the American Basketball Association in 2017-18. Home games are at Lincoln High School. Website: sdkingsbasketball.com

    San Diego Legion
    In their inaugural season in first-year Major League Rugby, the Legion play home games from April through June at USD’s Torero Stadium. Website: sdlegion.com

    San Diego Seals
    The Seals will begin their inaugural season in the indoor National Lacrosse League in November. Home games at Valley View Casino Center. Website: sealslax.com

    San Diego WFC SeaLions
    The SeaLions play in the Women’s Professional Soccer League, in May and June, with home games at Cathedral Catholic High School. Their division also includes the LA Galaxy San Diego and San Diego Parceiro Ladies. Website: sealionsoccer.com

    San Diego Sockers
    The Sockers recently finished their fourth season in the Major Arena Soccer League as the Pacific Division champions. They play home games at Valley View Casino Center from November through March. Website: sdsockers.com

    San Diego 1904 FC
    The soccer team has said it will play in the second-division United Soccer League beginning in 2019. Website: 1904fc.com

    SoccerCity San Diego
    FS Investors has proposed building a Major League Soccer stadium on the site of SDCCU Stadium — the fate of which could be decided by a vote in November. Website: soccercitysd.com

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