Manhattan resident Shawna Brazell first heard of NJ/NY Gotham FC through her adult soccer league and started attending games with friends.
“I love telling friends about how fun it is going to games but majority of the time it is a complete surprise to them that Gotham even exists,” she said.
This is the challenge facing the New York metro area’s National Women’s Soccer League franchise two years removed from a major rebrand. The team, which plays its home games across the river in Harrison, New Jersey, is still trying to pinpoint their identity and attract big crowds from one of the world’s most diverse cities.
Gotham’s presence in New York is a critical component for the overall growth of the league who now calls this city home. The club’s pathway to success is still a work in progress.
Welcome To New York, it’s been waiting for you
In the city that never sleeps, European matches — both men’s and women’s — frequently play on screens at bars across the five boroughs, no matter the time of day. Kids kick soccer balls around on the sidewalks and in parks. A walk around neighborhoods in Queens or the Bronx reveals multiple restaurants with New York City FC flags in their windows, or American Outlaws banners hanging outside pubs. Light posts are adorned with stickers of local amateur and lower-division clubs.
Gotham FC? Evidence of the team’s presence is more difficult to find.
Jonna Valente, Gotham’s SVP of Marketing + Brand, says the club understands just how important it is to engage with New York-based fans.
“For us, in terms of thinking about New York, it reflects this internal message that we say to each other that we’re not just building a team, we’re building our culture,” she told The Equalizer. “What people love about a place like New York is that it’s greater than just being a place where people live. We fully want to capture that and bring that to life through how fans, players, and staff feel about this brand and this club. It’s all encompassing. You feel like you’re part of something much greater.”
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