Schalke and Veltins look to increase U.S. focus by creating one of a kind viewing party experience
For years, fans of the so-called “Königsblauen” across the United States have woken up in the early hours of their weekends, donned their kits and scarves, and cheered their favorite club from afar on matchday by heading down to their local social club or soccer bar. And now, with the help of the club and its stadium naming partner, Veltins, these supporters are being brought closer to their club than ever before, through official viewing parties, which are held across the country.
“It’s really amazing that the club puts so much interests into the grassroots of fandom by helping put on such great events, like the viewing parties, for the fans in the US,” says SchalkeMerica podcast co-host and Leesburg Knappen supporter, Richard Kharman. “It makes us as fans feel that much closer to a club that is so far away. Gives us a deeper connection to a club we love. As founder of the SchalkeMerica podcast, it was great to go out and watch a game with the fans and get to enjoy the team we love.”
Together, Veltins and Schalkehave continuously worked together fan by fan, connecting with the club’s fanbase, offering merchandise in giveaways, scarves, appearances by the lovable mascot Erwin, and making sure the club’s beer is on tap at as many viewing party locations as possible. This synergy has been crucial in providing the one of a kind matchday atmosphere that Schalke’s fans enjoy week in and week out.
“As a company, it’s fun to connect directly with fans and to share our love of the game,” said Nick Olsen, National Business Development Manager for Artisanal Imports, who represents Veltins in the USA. He added with a smile, “nothing goes better with soccer than great beer!”
It goes without saying that a great beer is nothing without a great bar, and there’s no better home for Schalke fans in the United States than the clubs only official fan club, The Amsterdam Tavern in St. Louis, Missouri. A powerhouse of the American soccer scene for over a decade, Amsterdam plays host to Schalke 04 STL, one of the club’s biggest supporters groups. Don Rheinheimer, President of the supporters’ group who strives to cheer on Schalke with the hardworking spirit of the mining founders of the club, had this to say on the home of the group:
“In this area, the Amsterdam is synonymous with providing a top tier experience and atmosphere that would rival some of the best football bars in Europe. Week in and week out, we bring all of our Schalke gear, a winning attitude and a thirst for great football.”
Finally, Schalke have also committed to growing the number of fans and fan groups it is able to reach in North America as a whole. The Bayern match on January 25th marked the celebration of Schalke Canada’s first official club viewing party at The Black Bear Pub in Toronto. For organizer Glenn Kremp, his connection to Gelsenkirchen runs deep:
“Our organization, Schalke Canada starts with my Opa, who is from Gelsenkirchen, and a Schalke fan. I started it to always remember my Opa when he passed away, as it was something special that we shared. The club went to Florida, for winter training four years ago, and that changed everything. I met a lot of other fans across Canada and our club took off.”
“The happiness that fans have that we have a place to cheer together is great. As this was our first meeting, I was excited and nervous; I am not a good public speaker. But it felt like family today with the fans today,” Kremp continued, referencing his first meeting for the January 25th Bayern match. “Plus, as we took over the pub today, other patrons started to ask us questions of the club and were interested in the game. Everyone came into the pub excited to meet other Schalke fans.”
To stay informed on the latest Schalke watch parties, follow the club on Twitter @S04_US, or subscribe to their North American newsletter using this link.