Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Parade to the Pitch: The New England Revolution Pre Game Parade

I was talking to my brother-in-law a while back about the idea of building a soccer specific stadium at the old Wyman-Gordon property in downtown Worcester. He's a big soccer fan and suggested that I check out the various activities that the MLS Seattle Sounders put on to promote their club and boost attendance and see if it might generate any ideas that could be adapted to Worcester.

Apparently the Sounders led the league in average attendance in 2010 at about 36,000 per game as compared to a league average of 16,675 per game! One of the things that the Sounders do that I like is their tradition of a pre game fan parade known as the "March to the Match." Fans gather at a public park a few blocks north of the match 1 hour before game time and proceed about 3/10's of a mile down the main road to the game, singing and chanting the team's fight songs along the way.

Seattle Sounders: PreGame Parade from Firefly Vodka on Vimeo.

I think this is a great idea, and building a stadium for the Revolution at the Wyman-Gordon site presents a unique pre game parade route opportunity for the team and its supporters.

Map of downtown Worcester Showing Proposed 1/2 Mile NE Revolution Pre Game Parade Route (Blue) from Union Station to the Pitch at Wyman-Gordon Field. The Red Lines Indicate the Proposed Path of the AIRLINE BRT System
Union Station presents itself as an ideal gathering point for the parade. It's adjacent to I-290, offers plenty of parking, will eventually serve as the new downtown hub for the WRTA bus system, and serves as the terminus for the MBTA's Worcester commuter rail line. I don't think its much of a stretch to envision 100's of fans gather in a new public park behind Union Station (see page 11 of the Free the Blackstone! masterplan for one idea for public space in this general area).

Many would arrive by car and park in the Union Station garage. Others would arrive at Union Station via the AIRLINE BRT; perhaps they flew into ORH that morning, or drove in earlier in the day from Princeton to do some shopping at the Greendale Mall and hopped on the AIRLINE North, or maybe they had lunch on Shrewsbury St. before the game and caught the AIRLINE East to Union Station. As they gather in the public space behind Union Station, the Revolution Trains out of Boston and Providence deposit 1,000 additional fans who will join them in the parade. (Assuming a 20,000 seat stadium, this means that 1 in 20 would arrive by train - the Pats train captures about 1 in 30, see this Globe article for more numbers on the Pat's Train and this Herald article discussing possible train service to Revolution games in Foxboro). A majority of these fans arrive on the combined North and South Station MBTA Revolution Train (a 6 car train, 3 cars originating out of North Station, 3 cars out of South Station that are joined in CSX's Beacon Yards for the express ride to Worcester) and a 3 car Revolution Train operated by the Providence & Worcester Railroad that brings 3 cars full of fans from Providence.

The parade kicks off exactly one hour before game time and proceeds south down Harding St. The parade is led by a local pipe and drum group; following them are a half dozen or so New England Revolution fan clubs and a handful of New England youth soccer clubs; the official Revolution band follows next and leads the 100's of fans following them in chanting and singing the club's fight songs. As the parade moves down Harding St., it grows in size as patrons from the bars and restaurants on Harding, Water and Green Sts. join the crowd as it passes. The parade then approaches Kelley Square, where it pauses momentarily (see page 19 of the Free the Blackstone! masterplan for a rendering of a proposed park at Kelley Square). The popularly elected leader of Revolution Nation (Red Sox Nation has Jerry Remy, it looks like Drew Carey plays a big role in Seattle, does Denis Leary like soccer?) emerges from the front door of An Cu Liath (The Grey Hound Pub), climbs up onto a 6 foot wooden ladder, and leads the crowd in a spirited rendition of the Revolution fight song. Recharged, the parade continues on the final few hundred yards, where it enters Wyman-Gordon Field to the roar of the gathering crowd.

This sound like so much fun, perhaps we don't need to wait for the Revolution to come to Worcester? The first home game of the 2011 season is Saturday, March 26 at 4:30 pm. Anyone up for meeting me behind Union Station at 3:30 pm that day? We'll take a stroll down Harding St. and enjoy a pint at An Cu Liath as we watch the season opener vs. DC United.


  1. Eric , I read the above aND It conjures up some nice images, but can wORC logistically handle 20,000 fans plus all the working folks necessary on game day?

    Would A 20,ooo seat stadium be large enough to be finacially feasible today. Sounds kinda small by todays standards? I am Not sure what the threshold size would be to turn a profit and let's say it's more like 30, would that affect game day logistics?

    Just a rough comparison to measure a potential marketplace...How large is Foxboro and do they fill it on soccer game day?

    Is this an alternative to the Quinsigamond Ave area where it kinda, sorta looks like the bus co. maybe will end up ... obviously dashing your former plans for a soccer staduim site there

    Wonder what that sports economist guy who I think is a college professor in the boston area would say about your ideas? Is it Northeatern he's associated with?

  2. I think this is your man:

    The other person mentioned above is maybe Roger Abrams?

  3. Size of stadium - The Krafts are looking to build a soccer specific stadium with 20,000 to 25,000 seats (2010 average game attendance was 13,000).

    Can Worc handle a crowd of 20,000 to 25,000? - We handle 15,000 for a concert at the DCU Center pretty well, so with some public transit improvements such as the AIRLINE and a dedicated Revolution train to/from Boston, I can't see why we could not handle it.

  4. Why would you not be going to the game 3/26 in person? Save the rehearsal march for a road game TV viewing and support the team live. Go Revs