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The Manchester City Tunnel Club will offer fans a chance to access exclusive areas around the tunnel that leads from the dressing rooms into the field
Elite soccer players are often a subject of study for their fans, but until now it’s been at a distance. On August 21, Manchester City unveiled a newly minted concept for European soccer wherein mega fans can purchase ‘premium access’ tickets for individual games at £299 (approximately $385) and £15,000 ($19,240 USD) for a season pass.
The Tunnel Club will offer fans a chance to access exclusive areas around the tunnel that leads from the locker rooms into Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium field for an intimate look at the players as they prepare for the action. Since both the locker room and the tunnel have traditionally qualified as sacred spaces for coaches and players, the unconventional move has been met with some criticism by the broader stroke of Manchester City fans.
In The New York Times, columnist Rory Smith argues that all things considered, the Tunnel Club makes sense for the club to pursue. When jersey sales and tickets don’t pay off the costs of hiring increasingly expensive athletes, teams will have to get creative to continue affording the cream of the crop. And while it’ll definitely take time for players to get acclimated to the commerciality of walking through an aquarium-like tunnel with people staring in from either side as they make their way to the field, its becoming the latest trend within the sport. Having borrowed the idea from the Dallas Cowboys AT&T facility in the U.S., Manchester City isn’t even the only team within the English league to make their tunnels transparent: the Tottenham Spurs have announced a Tunnel Club of their own to be outfitted in their new stadium.
“It is an ongoing conversation between customer and brand. We want to be in the know as to what that brand is doing, whether it is a company or a person. We want to know what they are wearing, what their day is like. We want to see a picture of what they are eating. It makes us feel closer to them, more connected. Access has been redefined,” Tracy Hughes, chief executive of Silicon Valley Sports Ventures and an AT&T Stadium project veteran, told The New York Times. “Teams have a responsibility not just to provide access to a seat so you can sit there. They have to give fans a perception of ownership of the experience.”
Manchester City and Tottenham’s respective Tunnel Clubs mark a cultural shift in the in the global phenomenon. As powerful clubs whose decisions hold sway over the rest of the soccer world, the monetization strategy may very well find its way over to the rest of the European giants’ stadiums should it prove effective.
via PSFK http://www.psfk.com/