David Beckham And His Traveling Roadshow Invade Foxboro. In A Related Story, The Revolution Beat The Galaxy
The chant echoing throughout the concourse of Gillette Stadium before kick off summed it all up. Sung to the tune of, 'If You're Happy And You Know It', it went something like this:
"If you came to see just Beckham, sucks for you *clap* *clap*"
Judging by the massive amounts of boos that cascaded down from the Gillette crowd when Beckham's benched mug popped up on the Jumbotron in the 87th minute, tonight might've sucked for a lot of people. But not for me, and definitely not for the MLS.
Anyone that doubted Becks' ridiculous contract is wrong. I did, myself, but it was impossible to gauge the marketing effects without seeing it first hand. I've been to a ton of Revolution games throughout the years. I'd say about a third of the crowd wears jerseys or soccer paraphernalia to games. The majority being club/international/youth/random jerseys with Revolution attire coming in a distant second. Tonight was like stepping into a different country. I'd say more than 3/4 of the crowd was wearing something soccer related. A staggering amount of people wore Beckham garb, be it Galaxy/England/Real/ManU jerseys or t shirts, and an impressive amount of people had Revs stuff on. It was pretty jarring.
Then, there's the crowd itself. "The Beckham Game" as it was being dubbed was a sellout, with a little help from Beckham, and Bob Kraft, who could be the shrewdest guy around based on what he pulled.
First, you couldn't buy a single ticket to tonight's game. Each ticket bought must be contained within a 4 game multi-pack.
Second, he limited capacity to the Lower Bowl and Club Level seats, making 32,000 available and eliminating the need to open up Upper Level concessions, bathrooms, security detail, etc.
So, Kraft managed to, roughly, cut in half his audience (Gillette holds about 68k) but quadruple the dollar value of every ticket sold. If he didn't wear mismatched collared dress shirts, I might think he's a genius.
Despite Beckham's absence the game was great and the crowd was on the precipice of being really good. The mainstays of Revolution games sit in a section called The Fort, in the end zone section right next to the lighthouse. These are the kinds of people who bring drums to games, create chants, wear masks and openly admit to liking The Dropkick Murphys. I always sit in their section at games, and I was hoping they'd sort of set the bar and get the rest of the stadium rocking. Instead, they seemed to resent the fact that more than 12,000 people showed up to the game.
When 'The Wave' made its way around the stadium (yeah, I know, The Wave at a soccer game, but it's still America) the stalwarts of The Fort acted like Brooklynites who just found out Arcade Fire was on TRL and flipped off the entire stadium. Way to build that fan base.
Overall, I think the Beckham project will be a success. I think he can even compete in the MLS despite his age and declining skills. Let us not forget this is the same league that Youri Djorkaeff dominated the past two years and I'm pretty sure he went to school with Maxamillian Robespierre.
Plus, him not playing in all of these cities, just boosted the intrigue for the next time he's in town. It's a vicious cycle.