From gaining thousands of fans to hosting the league playoffs, Lansing United is exceeding expectations in its first year. Creating a successful franchise in a market like Lansing isn't easy, but building a passionate fan base is half the battle.
"We didn't talk about wins and losses, we didn't talk about championships, we talked about being competitive," said Jeremy Sampson, Owner of Lansing United.
A competitive spirit helped the United make it to the playoffs, but when it comes to making a winning team Sampson knows how important the first year is.
"Our business model was one of sustainability," he said. "We wanted to be able to have an entity that people came out in year number one had a good time at our games and would want to come back."
So far the fans have kept coming out. Last Sunday's game drew the biggest crowd yet with more than 2,000 people in the stands.
"That's exciting for us an organization that there is room for growth," Sampson added.
That growth starts with fans, since they equal tickets and merchandise sales. The team even has a fan support group, Sons of Ransom, to help spread the word.
Co-Founder Richard Schenck says the group relies on word of mouth and social media to engage fans.
"We share stories, articles, photos, because photos are important because the people see we're having a good time and people turn out," he said.
Now the team isn't just competing in the playoffs, they're hosting it.
Something that's giving the local economy a boost.
"Certainly it's going to create some economic impact cause you have teams and fans staying in hotels visiting the restaurants," said Executive Director of the Greater Lansing Sports Authority Mike Price.
Another one of Lansing team's knows how important the first year is. The Lugnuts have been playing in Lansing since 1996 are well aware of what it takes to keep fans interested
"It's really just keeping in touch with those fans and making sure that we're still doing what they want on a regular basis," said Nick Grueser, General Manager of the Lugnuts.
For now Sampson hopes everything United has been doing in it's first year will lead to many more to come.
"The fans of the Mid-Michigan community have really wrapped their arms around us this season and we hope they come back out this weekend and continue to support us as we try and win the regional championship," Sampson added.
The United's playoff game is Saturday July 19 at 7:30 at the East Lansing soccer complex.