RGV FC Toros and RGV Vipers president Bert Garcia joined The Monitor’s Facebook Live on Tuesday to continue a dialogue with Valley fans about the response to the teams and ways to improve the fan experience.
On Monday, The Monitor published a Q&A in which Garcia said this season’s attendance marks for the Toros fell short of expectations. Garcia addressed many of the responding comments and questions on Tuesday, covering a wide range of topics including the teams’ marketing and promotional efforts, the affordability of the experience, and the future of both organizations at H-E-B Park and Bert Ogden Arena.
“For us in the organization, there’s no such thing as, ‘We’ve done everything possible,’” Garcia said. “The point of the story was, in a sense, to create a dialogue. Is there a disappointment we didn’t have 9,700 day in and day out for a game? Yeah, there’s disappointment.”
RGV FC reported an average attendance of 7,067 in 2017, which was the team’s first season at the 9,700-capacity H-E-B Park. But Garcia said on Tuesday that the usage rate of those tickets was only 48 percent — a figure he called “alarming.”
“Without the fans, we’re nobody, so we appreciate what the community has supported,” Garcia said. “I still believe it’s only 10 percent of the community that supports us on a regular basis. In saying that, imagine if everyone took pride in what the Rio Grande Valley has.”
To try to build that connection, Garcia said he wants to continue to ramp up the Vipers’ and Toros’ community service efforts across the Valley, allowing fans to become familiar with the players on a personal level.
Garcia also emphasized the affordability of the experience, with Toros tickets starting at $5 and Vipers at $7, plus specials on certain concessions. Much of the reader feedback to the story centered on the inability of the average Valley family to afford an expensive night out.
“We get creative in that way so people are able to partake and enjoy it and not feel like they’re spending their whole week’s earning in one game,” Garcia said. “We try to do as much market research as possible, but at the same time, we do bring quality. So the quality costs us a little bit of money.”
Garcia also highlighted the quality of H-E-B Park, touching on the possibility of continued improvements to the facility.
As for Bert Ogden Arena, Garcia said the timeline for completion remains late January or February, depending on weather and other factors.
“I don’t think the delays are going to hurt us in the long run,” Garcia said. “The delays are for reasons to make it better and improve it. You only get one shot at this. … We better make sure we get it right the first time. I think once the doors open, people are going to be like, ‘OK, this was well worth it.’”
Garcia closed by thanking the fans who took the time to comment or ask questions.
“Just know that we are working diligently to get this product and make this product better and reach out to the community,” Garcia said. “Whether it be the 4-year-old just starting to recognize the sport or the 70-year-old still trying to enjoy live entertainment. Forget the ages. We’re just here for everybody. What our organization has invested both financially and in efforts, we just want what’s best for the Valley.”