A/N In the second part of the Supporters’ Club interview with Eric Bowman, we take a look at some of the changes already happening, and in place to take the Battery forward on and off the pitch.
In the second part of our article, we recap the meeting with members of three main supporter’s groups; La Barra, Queen Anne’s Revenge and The Regiment with Eric Bowman, owner, Andrew Bell, president, and Suzanne Brandon of the Charleston Battery. Read the Q&A with Eric Bowman on Black and Yellow Post here.
When Eric Bowman took over ownership of the Charleston Battery in February, it didn’t take long for news to come out about huge video board that would be installed at MUSC Health Stadium. Other upgrades were announced; an upgrade to the stadium WiFi and a new audio system was installed.
But the upgrades didn’t stop there. A complete overhaul of the front office was completed shortly before the season began. New ticketing software and point of sale systems were implemented. New flat screen TVs were put in the pub. All the bathrooms were cleaned and repainted. Water fountains are being repaired. Nearly every aspect of the stadium that you can see is being touched in some way.
Some of the things happening aren’t so obvious to the casual fan. As Bowman leads representatives of the supporter clubs through the locker rooms, he shows us more improvements being made. It’s likely most won’t see the modernized locker rooms, but the players will certainly appreciate the update. There is now a more efficient and time saving program for contacting the Battery’s contact list too.
Work is being done behind the scenes in the pub too. Improvements to the menu and expanding its hours are being explored.
Perhaps the biggest changes to come is the utilization of the giant video board (unofficially nick-named “Broadside”) Using a video streaming app call Stre.am will allow fans to broadcast their unique view and perspective of the match for others to see. Imagine seeing the tailgate and march into the stadium on the big screen, encourage others to get involved. Eventually Bowman hopes to have an in-game app which will allow fans to vote on their man of the match and be able to see real time results in a bar graph on the screen.
There is to be a summer movie series starting this week. And Bowman mentioned that they were looking to attract high-level tournaments and other events to the stadium in the off season. They worked quickly to move the kick off forward to facilitate fans being able to watch the US v. Paraguay Copa 2016 match. Bowman also said they got a game console connected to the screen for FIFA play while joking about needing a 300 foot HDMI cable.
But some of the changes met with mixed reviews. The removal the playground being one. But Bowman described the rusty metal pipes and potential safety issues to the 18-year old structure, it had to go. There are ideas to bring back a play area of some sorts aimed at younger kids but also an area for pre-teens too.
The increase in season tickets was a shock for many. But Bowman was very open with the finances and comparing to many other USL markets, and so it was easier to accept the price increase excepted. The ticket prices are on par with them and the increase were necessary for the future of the club.
These are the building blocks of looking forward. Much like building a house, you have to have a solid foundation. The improvement will help solidify the efforts Tony Bakker started in 1993 and advanced in 1999 with the building of the stadium. Once those building blocks are in place, other advance can be made to help realize Eric Bowman’s vision of making Charleston a MLS city.
Obviously those changes take time but perhaps the most exciting thing isn’t the endgame of MLS, it is an owner that is ambitious and has a long term plan for the club. One that will extend the Battery’s legacy of one of the longest continuous professional clubs in the United States.