Newark isn’t nicknamed “Brick City” because of its soft and cuddly reputation. However it is hard by one of the most fertile areas for youth and high school soccer in North America, and its Prudential Center is one of the Northeast's best kept secrets in terms of arenas. So into the fold comes the New Jersey Ironment, who with a limited budget made a go of it for the last year of the Major Indoor Soccer League. The team never went to the extreme to capture buzz in the marketplace, and there were not many who thought that when the MISL disbanded that indoor soccer was dead. However two groups emerged and one the Xtreme Soccer League, pulled together some decent markets, including New Jersey, to make a go of it. The problem of course is confusion in a limited niche marketplace, and with precious few dates for the season, the Ironmen have struggled at the gate and to build mainstream brand in the crowded marketplace. However they are trying to do all the right things to identify with the core and casual soccer fan in the area, and if they can build any financial and strategic marketing base, the team may be able to compliment in the winter what the Red Bulls and MLS may be able to do in the outdoor season. Big Apple Soccer had a look at the Ironmen and their community outreach , which along with tieing to former Cosmos legends, theme nights, a growing offseason camp business, and an affordable ticket price all give the team hope to build brand. Using this minor league success approach, along with some nice digital work to give fans a destination in lieu of any television exposure this season, is all a good first step. Next comes the hard part…establishing stars, finding excitement amongst mainstream media and getting on TV and radio somewhere, which is really the only way to get partners ROI they will need for a marketing spend. However in the NY marketplace, the Ironmen are trying on a very limited budget, and in a time when niche sports are quickly falling by the wayside, they may be able to find some ways to stay alive, grow their base at the grassroots, and be an affordable alternative the way minor league baseball is in the summer.
Some other good reads…The Sports Business Journal has a great breakdown by Trip Mickle and Terry Lefton on banks, where they spend, what they spend and what it means to the sports landscape…ESPN.com's Jeff Bradley has a great education for American sports fans in explaining how relegation works in soccer, through the eyes of Hull City…Ridge Mahoney on si.com has a look at MLS expansion now with FC Barcelona pulling out of their deal for a Miami franchise…and Ad Age has a good look at banks in general, and how as brands they have not been able to reassure customers, a good lesson for all in branding.