The Houston Dynamo kick off their 2019 season this afternoon, and the club is planning to roll out – literally – an exciting new element to the game experience.
Saturday afternoon, the Dynamo will introduce a new cannon that will be fired before kickoff and after every Dynamo goal, as well as at the final whistle when the Dynamo win. With streamers no longer allowed inside the stadiums after Major League Soccer designated them as projectiles and added them to the league-wide prohibited items list, the club saw an opportunity.
“Even before the league informed us of the new policy on streamers, we had already been looking at ways to enhance the game-day experience,” said Jon Schuller, the club’s Vice President of Fan Experience and Brand Integration. “A big part of that is creating ‘big moments’ that fans look forward to, or augmenting those existing moments like goal celebrations.”
In addition to the new cannon, the team has added visual and audio elements such as Cryoets behind each goal that will shoot pillars of white smoke into the air after every Dynamo goal and are partnering with Houston music icons Los Skarnales to create a new club anthem that will play before kickoff, after goals and at other big moments during the match. While the anthem is still in the works, fans can get a sneak peek during Los Skarnales' performance today in the Bud Light Beer Garden.
“When we reviewed the feedback we received from fans over the offseason through surveys and individual conversations, we saw that those signature moments were consistently mentioned as fans’ favorite parts of the Dynamo game experience – especially for first-time fans and people who are new to soccer,” Schuller continued. “Our goal is that by amplifying those key moments and creating a couple of new ones, we not only give those casual fans more reasons to come back, but also create a better experience for our die-hard fans who have been with us for years.”
The club also plans to continue working with its Supporters Groups to create large-scale tifos, release orange smoke (with fire marshal supervision) and educate fans throughout the stadium on the lyrics of the Supporters’ most popular songs and chants.
The cannon will “live” above the Supporters Section on the north end of the stadium, and the club is working with its two largest Supporters Groups, El Batallon and the Texian Army, to name it. (Ed. note: At the home opener on March 2, it was announced that the cannon would be named in honor of late Dynamo supporter Leo Ponce to continue his memory at BBVA Compass Stadium. The first firing of "Ponce" was performed by members of Leo's family prior to the match.)
“Our Supporters drive the energy and passion in the stadium throughout the game, so it only made sense for the cannon to be a part of their section,” Schuller said. “They are already the loudest and rowdiest fans in H-Town, and now we’re going to put some additional firepower to really get things going.”
Schuller was quick to point out that the cannon is not a replacement for El Capitán, the Texas Revolutionary War-era mountain howitzer that goes to the winner of the annual Dynamo-FC Dallas rivalry series.
“El Capitán is always going to be an important goal for us to win and to keep because of what it represents. But as it’s gotten older, it’s become more and more challenging to move it around, particularly on game days,” Schuller said. “Firing the cannon has been one of the most popular traditions at our games, and we want to continue to maintain that. When we win El Capitán back, we intend to make it a focal point in the stadium, but it’ll be more ceremonial than functional.”
Where El Capitán will go has yet to be determined, and of course the first step is to win it back from FC Dallas this summer, but for now fans can look forward to even louder and more boisterous goal celebrations in 2019.