New NASL owner boosts TV viewers, adds port-a-potties

The job of a new sports owner isn't always about the big things. Robert Palmer, who bought the NASL's Jacksonville Armada five weeks ago, has already increased peak TV viewers by almost 40 times, but he also tackled small details, down to adding table clothes at concessions and port-a-potties for tailgaters.

In an update to Armada fans, Palmer detailed just how poor the team has been doing:

-- Just 780 fans on hand for a recent match against Puerto Rico FC; and
-- As few as 700 peak viewers on local broadcasts.

No more padded attendance figures. Palmer said the largest actual crowd in 2017 was 2,201 fans, and he promised to offer fans and sponsors a more transparent picture.

“I want to give a more accurate,  picture to fans, to sponsors oft how much engagement we really have,” Palmer said. “The idea for me that we could print out 1,000 tickets, and those 1,000 tickets were free but they could land in a desk drawer somewhere or land in a trash can somewhere, and then report that as attendance -- just didn’t sit well."

Pumping money into broadcasts. Palmer said his first task was to boost television viewership, which he did by replacing digital broadcasts with telecasts on two of the top stations in Jacksonville and doubling the number of cameras in place at matches.

For its Aug. 16 match against Puerto Rico FC, he said that resulted in an increase from as low as 700 peak viewers to more than 26,000 and an average rating of 2.1, which he said was better than most ratings for NBA, NHL, PGA and NASCAR broadcasts in Jacksonville.

Next challenge: in-stadium fan experience: Drawing fans remains the challenge for the third-year NASL club, which the league operated for the first part of 2017 after founding owner Mark Frisch departed at the end of last year as it sought to stay afloat.

The actual attendance for the Puerto Rico game was just 780 fans, the lowest announced attendance in the NASL in 2017. The crowd for the next game against Miami FC on Monday was just 1,176.

Palmer, who operates a mortgage lending company, said his next goal was to improve the in-game fan experience.

"I am very confident we will see significant gains in attendances," he said, "and then we will have entire offseason season to focus on next year's attendance."
24 comments about "New NASL owner boosts TV viewers, adds port-a-potties".
  1. Fire Paul Gardner Now, August 25, 2017 at 11:06 a.m.

    This league is a joke. Seems likely it will be out of business after this season.

  2. Habib Erkan jr., August 25, 2017 at 9:27 p.m.

    Bravo, Robert Palmer. NASL is the only hope for football in the United States.

  3. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, August 26, 2017 at 10:11 a.m.

    LOL, then US Soccer is doomed! Fortunately that's not the case since we have a thriving, successful first division. 26k sellout for the NY Derby last night. Jax probably won't get that all season.

  4. R2 Dad replied, August 27, 2017 at 10:19 p.m.

    So I guess we have MLS snobs now? How does that feel, with the shoe on the other foot?

  5. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, August 28, 2017 at 9:17 a.m.

    Not at all. That attitude above, that NASL is a huge league that is as good as MLS and somehow also morally superior because they aren't single-entity, is so tiresome. It certainly makes me root for the failure of the league and all its teams.

  6. R2 Dad replied, August 28, 2017 at 4:06 p.m.

    Tiresome, is it, Fire? That sounds like a snob to me. Do you wear an ascot as well? Pennyloafers, too, as you swirl your martini? "Oh, the nerve of these upstart NASL clubs! Reeeeeaaaally! How presumptuous!"

  7. don Lamb replied, August 28, 2017 at 5:19 p.m.

    R2 - Is it really snobbish to brush off the comment that "NASL is the only hope for football in the US"? If that were the case, we'd be in serious trouble. Chances are far more likely that NASL is not around in 3-5 more years than they are that is still division 2. I won't go as far as to say that it will completely fold even though that is certainly a strong possibility. Meanwhile, MLS has grown..... MLS is stable..... MLS is thriving..... and on, and on.

  8. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, August 28, 2017 at 5:24 p.m.

    Yes, it's quite tiresome. Sorry if that word is too fancy for you. NASL could do its part to help grow the game by expanding to untapped markets, like USL is doing. But NASL wants to pretend it's on MLS's level when it's not. Putting teams in MLS markets like NY, Miami and the Bay Area doesn't make much sense. Now their expansion plans include a team in LA. Why? Meanwhile, USL puts a team in Cincy and it's incredibly successful.

  9. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, August 28, 2017 at 5:26 p.m.

    OKC is another example. USL puts a team there and then NASL decides it will too. How does OKC have the soccer support needed to maintain two clubs? And one year later the NASL side is defunct.

  10. R2 Dad replied, August 28, 2017 at 11:49 p.m.

    The NASL gig has been up the moment MLS co-opted USL in 2013. USSF has to give the appearance of impartiality, but since 2013 there has been no doubt about where Sunil and Garber have been going with this. NASL will eventually die on the vine once Sunil announces (surprise) NASL will become D3 and USL alone will be D2, after "careful consideration" blah blah blah. But yes, NASL IS morally superior to MLS/USL--they just couldn't stop shooting themselves in the feet in the 3 years they had to make hay. Game's been over since 2013--didn't you get the memo?

  11. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, August 29, 2017 at 9:45 a.m.

    Exactly - this league was dead in the water from the moment it started. So why bother? It isn't morally superior - it's a different league with a different business model. A failed one it looks like. The whole model was based on this idea that people would flock to see retro nostalgia teams like the Cosmos. They didn't realize times have changed. No one under 45 remembers the Cosmos and there isn't much of a market for games involving MLS rejects at a college lacrosse stadium. Not when there are two MLS teams already in town.

  12. don Lamb replied, August 29, 2017 at 10:26 a.m.

    Why bother? At this point, the only thing they are looking for is a payday. They are hoping that one of their shameful lawsuits will scare MLS into a settlement or that their scam of an operation will lead to some sort of buy out or "merger" with MLS. Of course, none of this is going to happen. Meanwhile, USSF has been patient and generous with NASL as they have gone rogue and, as you put it, R2, continuously "shot themselves in the feet." Also, it's funny you mention that USL was "co-opted" by MLS. lol. It's called a partnership, and NASL could have been in on that if they hadn't been so stupid as to spurn MLS for their "superior" business model and open system (which, incidentally, is not "open" at all).

  13. R2 Dad replied, August 29, 2017 at 10:43 a.m.

    Don, it's called partisanship--Sunil has been in bed with Garber despite his requirement to stay impartial. Will be very curious how those NASL teams will be treated by Sunil when that day comes. I'm betting no fig leaf--Garber will want to crush these owners the way Fire does and Sunil will say something about market forces and let it happen. Sunil has been in office for 11 years--time to move on? How long is too long?

  14. don Lamb replied, August 29, 2017 at 1:17 p.m.

    Sunil has stayed as neutral as possible through all of this. USSF was extremely generous in granting NASL join-d2 status with USL last year. If you want to say that the partnership between MLS and US Soccer is sketchy, I guess you could make a weak argument there based on reckless conspiracy theories. But, it would be a much stronger argument to say that their partnership is simply a first division and a national federation working together because it makes them both better in a fragile and maturing market place. It makes business and footballing sense when both are needed badly. Why would USSF want to be entwined with NASL when they have been an utter train wreck? That would be a poor decision with negative consequences. On the other hand, the partnership with MLS has been a good decision with positive outcomes. Maybe it is time for Gulati to go (I don't know), but you would have to say that he has overseen unprecedented success in the game during his tenure and that every level of the men's game has grown during his time. (If he deserves criticism, it is over the women's side, but even they have had lots of success.) Hell, you can even say that about NASL since they were non-existent when he started, and he granted them d2 status from the jump with them. Think about that for a second... NASL was recreated out of thin air, and he GRANTED them second division status right away. And you want to make it out like mean old Sunil Gulati is sabotaging NASL.

  15. don Lamb replied, August 29, 2017 at 1:22 p.m.

    Oh, and as for how the USL teams will be treated when NASL folds... Ask Tamba Bay. They seem to be doing just fine in USL and are being considered to join MLS. Same with Carolina. The answer to that question is the same for every other situation in the country. If there is good ownership, infrastructure, and market, they will be seriously considered for MLS. Others with good ownership but second tier markets or infrastructure will be considered for lower divisions. Sketchy owners can kick rocks. I, for one, am glad that Garber is being selective in how the game grows. It's ironic that he seems to have learned lessons from the original NASL while the new NASL seems to have not.

  16. R2 Dad replied, August 29, 2017 at 4:40 p.m.

    "good ownership, infrastructure, and market, they will be seriously considered for MLS" Don, have you been following FC Cincinnati? Garber is insisting on a new stadium, even though Cincy has a serviceable one already. This smells of Blatter/FIFA and the insistence on new stadia in South Africa and Brazil, just because. Also, Tampa Bay jumped ship on NASL so they're already USL--they've already kissed the ring. Will new "prisoner" teams be treated as fairly? What about the defacto requirement to tie up with existing MLS teams? The white flag of NASL will only bring more bloodshed to these team owners. But you and Fire will be happy because....something something something stability something.

  17. don Lamb replied, August 29, 2017 at 8:52 p.m.

    First of all, Cincinnati is in a great position to join MLS. We will see what happens with the stadium situation, but I doubt if Garber is going to let ruin the deal if everything else is perfect. It will require a nice deal between UC and MLS if they stay in that stadium, and that makes sense because stadium ownership is a huge factor in revenues. And revenues are a huge factor in the growth and success of the league. If we are being honest, that would probably have to be seen as a temporary option anyway since it simply does not make sense for a professional team to be a tenant in a college's facility. In any case, the stadium issue is nothing like World Cup venues because this is not a one-time event. We are talking about a permanent home for a professional team with local ownership and most likely private financing. lol, downplaying the importance of stability. It also has a lot to do with organization so that there is an actual understanding of how the leagues can work in harmony with each other. Which is the sort of relationship that can aid player development. And which is the only sort of relationship that could eventually lead to promotion and relegation. Isn't it a red flag for you that Tampa Bay willingly "jumped ship" for greener pastures in USL? That Carolina is making their MLS intentions well know even as they are playing in MLS? That a franchise like Minnesota was so eager to leave for MLS? Nobody is forcing those organizations to do that. It's simply that MLS offers them much more profitability, brand recognition, growth potential, higher levels of professionalism, and, yes, stability (don't underestimate the importance of knowing that your rivals and your league are actually going to be around next year). What makes me happy is the long term success of the game in this country as it grows to a level where it rivals the best footballing cultures around the world. NASL harms that vision with it's Mickey Mouse bs. MLS -- single-entity as it may be -- and it's infrastructure of academies and facilities, and it's lower division partner(s, soon) are doing much much much more to accomplish that mission than anything else ever has. I really wish NASL were contributing these things, but the only things they are doing are suing others and embarrassing themselves.

  18. Nick Daverese, August 26, 2017 at 5:38 a.m.

    I think it was the sports Chanel they would broadcast minor league soccer games. The announce was a girl and Brian kilmead before he made it big on channel 5. Incidently it also did mixed martial arts with Jimmy brown before the UFC became a billion dollar company.

    Any way those soccer games were televised but the league was paid no money from sports channel to televise them. It gave the league exposure to the public. So is this owner making any money from the televised shows I seriously doubt it. However, and I have said this before it you make the game a family event it could draw a lot of people. The same way MCI park does for baseball here in Brooklyn. I am not into baseball but I would go to games because it is fun for the grand children. Then let them run the bases. You race a guy in a hotdog outfit silly stuff like that but the kids love it and I enjoy watching the kids having a good time. Donthe same for minor league soccer it will draw more people. Plus don't play games when youth soccer is still going on. Plus arrange for bus service to games to get whole clubs to go to a game.

  19. Craig Cummings, August 26, 2017 at 9:56 p.m.

    How come Robert Palmer did not have those hot looking women hanging on him. It just looked like a simply irresistible opportunity.

  20. Craig Cummings, August 28, 2017 at 11:02 p.m.

    I had to add that as a former DJ.

  21. Nick Daverese, August 29, 2017 at 8:01 a.m.

    When you were a DJ did you get weddings or were they still doing bands back then? There is nothing like a band.

  22. Nick Daverese, August 29, 2017 at 8:14 a.m.

    Is anyone actually getting married anymore? I was in Gargiulo's the other night. The bartender told me he was getting married. I guess the girl agreed because his family owned that place so she is set. I was there with two other couples we told him the three of us have been married for a total of 159 yrs. every two minutes the waiters are singing happy birthday at a table and everyone in the place is applauding. So I told the waiter it's our friends birthday. I start singing happy birthday to her and the waiters join in. She is laughing because it's not her birthday. I love atmosphere, Italian music, great food, and people singing in the restaurants I go to.

  23. Nick Daverese, August 29, 2017 at 8:19 a.m.

    I hope everyone is either helping or donating to the Texas catastrophe Harvey. I can't tell you how many people helped us when we went through Sandy. A month before we also had Irene.

  24. Bob Ashpole, August 29, 2017 at 11:28 a.m.

    Clubs come and they go, even in soccer mad countries. I am happy to see new owners step in, at all levels of the sport. The thing I like most about this forum is the intelligent and polite discussion. Please avoid personnel attacks.

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