Team America's game against the Fort Lauderdale Strikers at RFK Stadium today at 2:30 p.m. (WWDC-1260), which will be followed by a Beach Boys concert, will draw the team's biggest crowd so far this season. Advance ticket sales were at 30,000 yesterday afternoon.
Although Team America officials are pleased with the prospect of such a crowd--the team has averaged 11,222 for four home games--they are more interested in what effect the concert will have on attendance the rest of the season.
"We know we have between 8,000 to 10,000 hard-core fans, made up mostly of young kids and their parents," said Jeffrey Wagner, Team America's vice president of marketing and sales. "These people will be here every game, rain or shine.
"But we're missing that 18- to 24-year-old group. Our research shows they spend their money on concerts and not sporting events, especially soccer. By using this concert as a lure, we hope to bring these people in and show them soccer isn't boring.
"Hopefully, they'll keep coming back," Wagner said.
Team America, which is producing the concert with radio station WRQX-FM-107, has spent more money promoting this game than any other, concentrating on a special poster and newspaper and radio ads. Free Metro farecards also will be given to the first 3,000 spectators.
"We're really pushing this game and the Cosmos game (June 17) and advertising heavily," said Wagner. "They could be our breakthrough in terms of attendance for the rest of the season. Naturally, we're spending the most to promote them."
Team America also received invaluable publicity for today's game courtesy of Interior Secretary James Watt. Watt disapproved of the Beach Boys giving their annual Fourth of July concert on the Mall this year because, he said, they attract the "wrong element." Team America had been quietly negotiating with the Beach Boys for two months.
"We had been trying to work something out since February," said General Manager Beau Rogers, who did most of the negotiating with Mike Love, the band's lead singer. "But when Watt said what he did, I was in Latin America with the team. We had to rush (team owner) Robert Lifton in from New York to finalize the deal."
John Carbray, former Washington Diplomats general manager and now a free-lance media consultant, proposed the idea of a Beach Boys concert to Rogers, a close friend. With Carbray working as a go-between, Team America carried on a series of negotiations in February and March with PAX Productions, the San Diego-based firm that produces the Beach Boys concerts.
Although Rogers refuses to discuss exactly what the concert will cost, Wagner said Team America would not come out a financial loser.
"We're all tied together," said Wagner. "The Beach Boys are paid according to how large a crowd they attract, so either we all win or we all lose."
Rogers also said the Team America-Beach Boys combination, which he calls a "natural," might be used in an offseason overseas tour.
"Right now, I'm trying to line up an offseason tour for the team in Europe, and the Beach Boys have expressed an interest in that," he said. "It's all very tentative, but Mike Love and I have discussed the idea."