There was a Wave of nostalgia in the air at the US Cellular Arena in Milwaukee last Saturday. The Milwaukee Wave game reminded me of the old days, and not just because it was “Wave Homecoming Day“. It was by far the best day since my return to indoor soccer last October. It was the biggest crowd of the season (5,789), the highest ticket revenue in three years and Marco Terminesi scored two goals to lead the Wave to the win, which moved us (temporarily) back into first place in the MISL. There was a buzz in the air…and not just with the Highbury Pub crowd.
It was a great day and it didn’t happen by accident.
The first place Baltimore Blast were the opponents and Wave legends Pete Knezic, Michael King, Art Kramer, Pat White and Greg Howes were among the two dozen Wave alumni on hand to welcome former Goalkeeper Tony Pierce and First Fan Louise Au into the Wave Hall of Fame.
The Wave staff worked hard organizing many groups and events.
There was the Parade of Champions(1500 tickets) that allowed teams that had won….well, we weren’t picky…anything (and bought tickets) to be honored on the field before the game. They all received medals from Milwaukee Wave Hall of Famer Michael King and other Wave Champions.
And we had the Now Newspapers Senior High-School All-Star Soccer Game (250 tickets) after the game. The sides were a bit uneven as the west was missing four of its top players due to a high school dance. The dance helped the east team clobber their western rivals 24-2.
And we had a Wave Camper All-Star group outing (350 tickets). The Wave hosts more than 50 camps each summer and on average, more than 50 kids per camp sign up for a week of soccer lessons from Milwaukee Wave professional players and coaches. We invite them to watch their camp coaches a couple times each year for a discounted price.
And we had the Waukesha County Chamber (85 tickets) bring out a group of west suburban business leaders and family members for the Wave game as well as a pregame event in the Wave VIP lounge.
And we had an outing for NEWaukee (80 tickets), a social and business networking group for young people. They bought both party areason the north end and packed the field-side bar. Several NEWaukeeans heckled the opposing goalie who became a bit unnerved and ended up losing the game…thank you NEWaukee!
And we had youth soccer teams playing pregames (300 tickets) and forming the human tunnel (100 tickets) for the player introductions. You want to get your kid on the field? No problem, buy a group package.
And it was one of the Wave’s four Family4 Pack Days: 4 tickets, 4 hot dogs and 4 sodas for $59 (300 tickets). Happily, Levy Restaurants’ concessions staff was prepared and minimized the lines in the 60 year old building.
And we had other ticket sales programs, too: A youth dance team (75 tickets), the national anthem singer (25 tickets, four birthday parties (75 tickets), color guard (50 tickets) and additional miscellaneous groups (750).
And most importantly, to me anyway, we honored Wave alumni with “Wave Homecoming”. I don’t know how many tickets this sold, but I do know that it warmed my heart and thousands of others to see the old timers take another run out of the tunnel and onto the field at halftime. We honored the ten year anniversary of the Wave’s 2000 NPSL Championship team and the five year anniversary of the Wave’s MISL Championship team. Wave Hall of Famers attending the game, Michael King, Art Kramer and Pete Knezic were introduced.
We then inducted the class of 2010 into the Hall of Fame: the Wave’s first fan, 26 year season ticket holder and team mom Louise Au. Louise co-founded the Wave Booster Club, befriended players throughout the league, cooked them dinners and opened her home to them. After being denied the opportunity to similarly honor two worthy Chicago Fire fans in 2008, it made me feel good to be with an organization that recognizes the importance of fans to the team and is willing to extend this honor.
Also inducted was Tony Pierce who won 71 games for the Wave while also serving as the team’s Director of Community relations for six seasons. Tony was one of a generation of American soccer players forced to earn their keep indoors when outdoor soccer began its 12 year hiatus in 1985. The missed opportunity outdoors was a real shame for Tony who went to the NCAA Final Four with the UConn Huskies three times including his freshman year when he won an NCAA Championship. But on Saturday, he received his rightful recognition in the spotlight where he starred 25 years earlier.
I had a big smile for the crowd size and a bigger smile for the ticket revenue which eclipsed last year’s top games, including two crowds of 7,000+. The bodies were fewer, but the dollars were higher, because we are being more disciplined with discounts, which maintains a higher average ticket price.
My biggest smile was afterwards while thanking fans for coming on the way out, many were thanking me and telling me they couldn’t wait to return!
We’ve come a long way in a short amount of time, but there’s more to do…like giving fans a chance to race their own car on the WORLD’S LONGEST PINEWOOD DERBY TRACK on February 21st! Get your tickets now!!!