Cavalry FC president Ian Allison discusses the progress being made at the club, as it prepares for the inaugural season of the Canadian Premier League:
We are just over a month away from the start of the season. How are things at Cavalry FC?
“Exciting times,” said Ian Allison. “As Tommy Wheeldon Jr. and I were commenting to each other, we’ve gone from playing fantasy football to activating on so many fronts. Whether it be depth charts on players or kit designs, all of these things are coming together. The tributaries are becoming a stream.
“The stadium is under construction. It’s nice to have the snow, for the most part, off the Meadows on Green (enclosure at Spruce Meadows). So the grow tarps can start to do their work and the turf can start to come along, so it’s emerald green when we kick off May 4.
“We’ve got a terrific amount of community engagement going, whether it be through the supporters groups or we had a terrific skills and training session with the kids out at the Genesis Centre, where a few hundred kids showed up on Friday afternoon. It was really a highlight, not only for them but for the new players that have come to town, and be able to put on a clinic and recognize the breadth of the Calgary soccer community.
“We’ve got our plans in place now for when we move outdoors from our training camp that’s currently underway. The boys are going to get some time down at the Dominican Republic to play on grass and see what the competition looks like and perhaps get some minutes against other Concacaf member teams.
“We’re going to have our kit reveal coming up in the not too distant future. We had a very successful conversion from our membership to season tickets. We’re now in the very short term of starting to be able to have our game-packs, individual and non-season tickets in the market place.”
Where are we at with regard to Cavalry FC ticket sales?
“Originally, the members had their first right of refusal. And we got close to 1,500 sold (to members) in that regard. Many members are looking at game-packs. Whether it be for the ‘Apertura’ section of the season or the ‘Clausura’ section. (Note: The Canadian Premier League season will be divided into two sections – April to July ‘Apertura’ and July to October ‘Clausura’)
“We’re also going to have the Al Classico game-pack available, and then individual game-packs. They’ll be available April 2. They were just in design, if you will. There are all kinds of permutations and combinations. It’s a learning curve for all of us. (Note: A pre-sale of individual tickets is scheduled to be made available exclusively to members March 25. Tickets will be made available to the general public April 2.)
“We were delighted with how it went. And, of course, one of the things that was a little bit of a, I won’t say a struggle, but people wanted to see the schedule first.
“We’re into the runway now, where we’re a little over six weeks from kick off, and you’re going to start seeing April 2 there’ll be a big push, around awareness and around ticket sales. We’ve got a lot of youth group and larger group initiatives going right now. We’ve been really fortunate with local partnerships who want to sponsor groups of kids and organizations just to come out and attend the games. It’s all run through, on an individual basis, through Ticketmaster.
“(Season ticket sales for non-members) are going well. We’re working through with league guidance. We’re going to be a little more into the market place on mainstream media, but we’ve been using a lot of social media platforms. I know that our Centre Circle app has been very well received.
What progress has been made with the 5,000+ seat stadium?
“There was some interesting elements to us getting launched, because when we made the decision to have a covered stadium it was terrific. And I think the fans will really enjoy that. But as of January 1 this year, there was a new building code in Alberta after the big wind arrived last autumn. Anyway, the stuff had to be a little bit redesigned so that it could take 183 km/h winds for 24 hours. That’s little extreme. We won’t be playing in that.
“But you build that into your design. We knew it was going to be tight, because we made a pretty significant change. I was talking to our construction leads today and while it’s a little sloppy out there, with frost coming out of the ground, but everything’s in good shape.
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“The stuff that has to come in via container is either not too far out from the port in Vancouver right now, or actually being off-loaded in Vancouver right now. The elements of the grandstand will be arriving here at the end of next week.
“Once it’s all set and stage, it’s a pretty interesting puzzle. The folks from Cana, who are your general contractor on it, and Pakar (Seating), who did the stadium design, they’re working together. There’s boots on the ground from both of them now.
“There are quite a few stadiums in the United States that Pakar has done. Phoenix rising is probably the one most similar to us, except we’re covered.”
Looks like Canadian Premier League is unveiling all the club’s kits April 4. What can you tell us about Cavalry FC’s kit?
“It’s no secret what our colour scheme is. The traditions of Cavalry FC, inspired by Lord Strathcona Horse (Royal Canadian) – the blood over grass. I think it’s going to be, for sure, tied equal best for any kit I’ve seen across the league.
“And we’re already working on next year’s. And that’s pretty exciting times. Macron’s been amazing for the bespoke designs, so you have to get that all done and in place and ready to go so. I love our inaugural season’s kit and it will hopefully become a collectors and cherished item in CPL history.
“There’s also our mascot, that I’m very happy with that I think will span the generations and span the platforms. And hopefully it will become a part of the signature of the club and in the community.”
How confident are you that Cavalry FC will have sellouts during the season?
“That’s certainly our goal and objective. Not only sellouts, but full houses. It’s one thing to sell all our tickets, it’s another to fill the seats. It’s a new game (in Calgary), it’s a new experience, it’s a new venue. It’s all those things.
“I think between our pre-game march to the match, the game-day experience, the product that Tommy Wheeldon Jr. and his coaching staff have put together and the style of play we’ll be playing – I think all of those things merit well for us running near capacity all year. It’s a long season, from May to October. I think people that are Canadian Football League (CFL) fans will be surprised that we play literally twice as many home games. But yeah, we’re looking forward to it. We’re ready to ride.”
What have been the challenges for creating branding and awareness for something that’s completely brand new?
“I think we took a long time in designing our manifest and story, and understanding it and understanding us, and it’s legitimacy around the Space Meadows brand, around the community, around the football culture in the city and what we want to build here going forward.
“We’ve been very mindful, and Tommy and I have lot and discussed a lot about how to develop this culture. We fully recognize that in football supporters groups and all of the different fans interests go a long way to driving that culture. It can’t be a forced thing. That said, within the players, within the locker room and with what we want to achieve, we’ve been very mindful of where we want to go and build off a 43-year tradition of our (Spruce Meadows) brand.”