Revolution 'as close as ever' to stadium

Revolution 'as close as ever' to stadium
March 22, 2012, 8:00 pm
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The challenge for the New England Revolution is not converting sports fans to soccer fans, but converting soccer fans to MLS fans, according to Brian Bilello.

The Revolution COO, in an appearance on NECN Business, cited the success of the Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers in doing so.

"Portland, it's probably the best professional sports experience in the country right now," said Bilello.

A major factor for their ability to tap into the young-adult fan base, he said, is the location of their stadiums in downtown areas.

Currently sharing Gillette Stadium with the Patriots in Foxborough, the Revolution for years have been exploring possible locations for a soccer-only stadium. Bilello called it his "number-one priority" off the field, but didn't have anything firm to report when Mike Nikitas prodded him to "make some news."

"We're probably as close as we've ever been, right now. But I think they're still a little while away from making any announcements," he said. "It's not like building a little store somewhere in a town; you've got to work with the town officials, you've got to work with cities officials and make sure it's a right fit.

"We don't want to be somewhere that doesn't want us. We want to be somewhere where we think the stadium can bring a lot to the community, can bring a lot to the town and city."

Bilello tied it back to the success of the two northwestern clubs, saying that building the stadium along the T in an urban setting would help deliver a sports experience "second to none" in MLS and New England.

The Portland Timbers uploaded this YouTube video, a short documentary on the fan participation at the team's inaugural MLS home opener. The hope is a soccer-only stadium would attract this type of crowd to Revs games -- an expansion of The Fort, one could call it.