By: Monica Casey | WCTV Eyewitness News
July 26, 2019
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Visit Tallahassee said it's partnership with the Tallahassee Soccer Club has been mutually beneficial this season.
The team made it to the playoffs in its first year.
The first game alone had double the expected attendance, setting a high bar for the rest of the season.
The team also received a donation from a Tallahassee celebrity; T-Pain chipped in $1,500 to help fund the playoff run.
"They've made their mark. They had their inaugural year, they had a tremendous time, a lot of people came out to support the soccer team, heading to the playoffs. I mean, what a great story," said Mayor John Dailey.
Amanda Heidecer, the Director of Sports for Leon County Tourism, said the teams' jerseys were an important marketing tool.
"We know that they were playing in communities that were a drive market in tourism for our community so with Visit Tallahassee being on our jerseys, it allowed us to spread the word in a non-traditional way, and a way that we haven't had in the past," said Heidecer.
The Gulf Coast Premiere League stretches from Central Texas to West Palm Beach and has a strong social media following, adding to the visibility for Tallahassee.
"We had the opportunity to kind of work alongside them as they started their inaugural season, and again it was a very successful one," said Heidecer.
Many of the target "drive markets" of Tallahassee and Leon County tourism are in this area as well.
Elizabeth Emmanuel, the Director of the Downtown Improvement Authority, said the team drives energy and enthusiasm in the community.
"First they gave us "to the goal," and then thanks to T-Pain we've now got "I'm going in" so I think it gives us a great sense of pride for what's going on in Tallahassee," said Emmanuel.
Emmanuel also believes the increased foot traffic may help downtown.
"People taking advantage of the happy hours, the concerts, the other great amenities that we have in addition to our thriving sports team," said Emmanuel.
Heidecer said the team's success on the field helped with visibility off the field as well.
"Obviously when you have a good product that helps, and they really put that on there this year, and we're looking forward to what they have in the future," said Heidecer.
Mayor Dailey said he hopes Tallahassee can build on this success.
"We're so blessed to have such tremendous university level, high school level, middle school level sports, but it's great to have the semi-pro team as well. It generates a lot of excitement, and it's great to see families go out to support them," said Dailey.