Like most companies, every year we have our annual GESM Holiday party. This year was no exception, but, we decided to have it in November. Not because we are total scrooges, but the U.S. Men’s National Team would be playing in close proximity to Chicago for their 2018 World Cup Qualifying match against St. Vincent & Grenadines. That was enough for us to pack our belongings for the night and head down to the Gateway City.
After a five hour train ride where we could barely sit still, we were anxious to get to the hotel, grab a couple pre-game beers and walk over to the stadium.
Being soccer marketers, we are always in tune to what other brands and sponsors are doing to activate at the events we attend. Typical protocol for us, we walked around to check out the pre-game festivities in the activation zone where Coca-Cola, Liberty Mutual, and Budweiser had a presence. A couple of us went through Liberty Mutual’s footprint, where they had set up a picture marketing experience that was seamless, enjoyable for fans, and all around well executed…and we got a goofy/fun photo showing our pride for the USMNT.
Moving on to the in-stadium experience. In St. Louis, there isn’t a soccer specific stadium that can fit 40,000+ people. Coupling that with the fact that most of us don’t typically enjoy watching a soccer match in a baseball stadium, I must say we were pleasantly surprised. The atmosphere was electric and most fans stood for the majority of the game. I noticed quite a few youth soccer teams from Chicago made the trip as well. Adding to the experience, U.S. Soccer does a great job with signage inside the stadium, outfitting every piece of open wall-space with clean, branded wrap. I would have to argue that Busch Stadium is probably one of the few baseball venues fit to host a soccer match. Not to mention the concession’s loaded nachos were delectable (extremely important).
Although the opponent wasn’t strong, there were some fantastic goals off a couple set pieces and in the run of play. Personally, I was most excited to see Darlington Nagbe and Matt Miazga make their senior USMNT debuts, and of course, keeping my eye on Jordan Morris to see how he integrates into the lineup.
Completely separate from the match, as we were waiting for our dinner reservation just steps away from the stadium we stumbled upon a game of BIG beer pong. Instead of tossing a ping pong ball into a red plastic cup you’re throwing or kicking a soccer ball into trash cans. Not surprisingly, the game turned into a duel of boys vs. girls. Long story short, let’s just say there’s a reason girls were at the top of the table for our foot golf outing…and soccer pong is no different. Can’t gloat too much!
St. Louis, you didn’t disappoint!