Stepping into Spring, Ready to Take Care of Business
Hello April! So much has happened since our March meeting – we had a time change, the cherry blossoms are… blossoming…, everyone came back healthy from the International break, and after a hearty game of bunkerball in Vancouver our Sounders are sitting on the best start in club history. And we’re just getting this month started!
In the spirit of the season, the Alliance Council also sprung right back into business on the 2nd by focusing on wrapping up some loose ends from previous meetings and checking in with our workgroups.
First on our agenda was a read out from the jersey workgroup. Prior to our Council meeting they had a working session with Taylor Graham where they walked through 2020 mock ups and talked about the feeling and vision for 2021. We have a pretty quick turn around to get our thoughts back to the club and overall the feel from the group was that it’s starting to feel like we have a bit more strength behind our voices. Time will tell how much influence any of us have when it comes to working with adidas and their templates and that includes the front office. And no, don’t ask me any details about upcoming designs – I’m not part of that workgroup and the closest I got to that meeting was sitting near the pizza that was left over from their dinner. BTW, I now have Opinions about the amount of green pepper should be on a pizza. Opinions.
Next we continued our work on Future Council. We locked in our North Star – you can read more here if you haven’t already seen it. We feel good about it and it’s something that we’ll be checking ourselves against as we look at how we make our plans and priorities. After finishing our Vision, we talked about some possible organizational changes as the Council scales over the years – we’ve all been in those large meetings which are pretty terrible and don’t seem to bear fruit at the end. Bigger isn’t better without a deliberate structure and set of expectations. Luckily, we have the time to test out some ideas and see if we’re getting the results that we want over the next couple of seasons. This workgroup will continue to work on next tactical steps and bring back those recommendations to the larger team.
In the new business roundtable, Chris talked about starting planning for early 2020 season Inclusion activities such as World Autism Day that we missed this year and then we seeded the agenda for next month: get updates from the Player Recognition, Youth Outreach and RAVE Foundation workgroups and start early planning the Annual Business Meeting (specifically talking about venue options that support a larger in-person audience and streaming if possible).
And we wrapped up a little early. Which is probably good, because if you’ve looked at the schedule for April we all could use some extra rest – the Sounders still have 6 (6!!!!!) games to play in April including 2 (2!!!!!!) against LAFC in a week. A WEEK! Buckle up and strap in – this is going to be a crazy month. Scarves up, Seattle!
Present (11 of 18): Lisa Angeles, Martin Buckley, Cameron Collins, Todd Cowles, Alex Eagleton, Carmen Hall, Darla Langdon, Jerry Neil, Ben Slager, Stephanie Steiner, and Chris Urquhart. Via telephone (1): Daniel Roe. Absent (6): Nicholaus Biela, Kelsey Gallo, Louis Garcia, Jesse Kilgore, Molly Wagner, and Jeff Williams.
I. Call to order – Martin Buckley
II. Roll – Cameron Collins: 11 of 18 Present
III. Update: Player Recognition – Molly Wagner Tabled until next meeting.
IV. Update: 2021 Jersey Subgroup – Cameron Collins & Stephanie Steiner The jersey subgroup met with Taylor Graham, Seattle Sounders Vice President of Operations, to discuss the 2021 kit and adidas’ vision. The subgroup will be providing ideas to the Club on inspirations for the kit. If the larger Council would like to provide feedback, it can be submitted through Cameron or Stephanie.
V. Alliance Council Mission/Vision – Martin Buckley Council discussed the Mission Statement created at the March Meeting. After review, it was adopted unanimously as below:
The Seattle Sounders FC Alliance Council strives to achieve the best fan experience in North American soccer and to build upon our historical foundation in order to preserve the Club we love.
We do this by being the voice of the fan and by upholding the principles of Democracy in Sports.
VI. Alliance Council Future Structure – Martin Buckley
Currently, the Council is pretty well distributed throughout the Stadium, more so than the Council has ever been before. The question before the subgroup has been, “how does the Alliance Council work to be representative as the Council grows?” Doing so in a more strategic manner would allow for more information sharing, increased participation, and emphasis of areas of the stadium where representation is lacking. One suggestion to achieve this would be to have the equivalent of “Section Mayors,” where Council Members would represent the section where they sit. This model would allow for “at-large” members, such that there could be more than one representative from a specific section.
The group has also looked at different structures for the Council itself, including quarterly meetings for a larger Council and then monthly meetings for an increased-in-size Executive Committee.
Council will target the summer fan event to grow Alliance Council and get more information to and from the fan base.
VII. Other Business and Open Discussion
Away Game Travel: Alex Eagleton has continued to look in to the notion of allowing Alliance Members away game travel experiences. He will continue to research the topic.
Inclusion: Chris Urquhart would like the Council to do something surrounding World Autism Awareness Day next year. Council agreed that this would be a great idea.
Moved. Seconded. Council votes unanimously to adjourn.
Present (15 of 19): Alex Eagleton, Cameron Collins, Carmen Hall, Dan Roe, Lisa Angeles, Louis Garcia, Gilbert Ko, Jeff Williams, Jerry Neil, Kelsey Gallo, Martin Buckley, Nicholaus Biela, Molly Wagner, Stephanie Steiner, Todd Cowles Absent (2): Ben Slager, Chris Urquart Via telephone (2): Darla Langdon, Jesse Kilgore
I. Call to order: Martin Buckley
II. Roll. Jeff Williams: 15 of 19 present
III. Working session: Alliance future state
Martin gave an overview of how the council started, numbers of Alliance Members and numbers on Alliance Council. The club goal is “to fill CenturyLink” by mid 2020’s.
The question is how Alliance Council is ready and adapting to this? Martin displayed the situation of where we are today. We created a map on where the current Alliance Council members are situated within the stadium.
We perceive there could be up to 50,000 Alliance Members in the next ten years. We want to be more representative in all aspects; demographics, stadium coverage.
Discussions were centered on several topics.
What is the Alliance?
are new fans aware of what the Alliance is?
are fans aware of the Alliance Council? What the purpose of Alliance Council is?
How do you join Alliance Council? What being part of Alliance Council means?
Discussion on Hurdles we are facing.
We have ten years of history and in looking to the future the discussion on what some of the challenges we are facing and how the Alliance and Alliance Council are perceived. We believe that the majority of current Season Ticket members do not have tenure back to 2009 – and we will need to work to educate them on being an Alliance member. We need to have the Season Ticket membership buy into the emotional part of being a fan.
We had a conversation on how we are interacting with the Front Office, positive and negative. One of the pillars of the front office is Community, and the Alliance is a large part of that.
A North Star.
Some workshop and discussion about “what is the Alliance” and “what is the Alliance Council” led to a need for a mission statement, or North Star, for the Alliance Council.
Key themes included:
represent all Alliance members
help with the fan experience
enrich the fan experience
encourage the emotional hook
speak with a unified voice on behalf of the communities we represent.
To help focus on this direction we wrote a draft of the mission statement:
The Alliance Council strives to achieve the best fan experience in North American soccer and to preserve the Club we love. We accomplish this by being the voice of the fan and upholding the principles of Democracy in Sports.
IV. Other business
The summary of the Player Recognition project will be emailed to the Council for discussion next month.
The value menu did not show well enough and needs to have better placement, this will be passed to the Front Office team.
Adjourn: 8:58 PM
Addendum: Gilbert Ko submitted his resignation, and it was accepted.
Julius Caesar was warned “beware the ides of March” by a soothsayer– I’m not sure that FC Cincinnati needed an oracle to foresee how their first MLS game might go but there are some things that, in retrospect, seem predetermined by the fates. Whew, that was fun to watch! This month’s meeting on March 5th could be summarized as follows:
We spent 2/3 of our time talking about the future
Then we wrote the first draft of a Vision/Mission Statement for the Alliance Council
We quickly covered the feedback we’d heard about the Value Menu – we’re passing that along to the Club along with some recommendations for better signage in the stadium to make it easier to find.
That’s it. That’s what we did. Technically my write up is done so indulge me and let’s talk about why we blew off the intended agenda to spend so much time in the ‘art of the possible’ space. First, happy 10 years in MLS! That’s not just a milestone for the Club but for the Alliance as well. And, as 10 year olds often do, we got slightly introspective and asked ourselves a variant of the age old question: What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up? Adrian has said that the goal is full stadium sellouts within the next 10 years; assuming that our STH ranks scale with that vision, we’re going to welcome a lot more Alliance members into the stands. We recognize that there is a need to evolve the Council to differently represent the Fan voice as the Alliance grows along with the Club vision. We had a really involved conversation on what we thought our opportunities were and, frankly, if we thought that change was attainable. Generally speaking, we’d like to have Council representation better mirror the Alliance base, be stronger, and more visible. But we need to define what that looks like and how to get there. Thus enters the Vision/Mission statement. We wanted a North Star – something that we could look at as we make strategic and tactical decisions and check our intentions. We should be able to tie everything that we do back to the principles that we outlay in our Vision. We came out of the meeting with an initial draft that we’re bouncing around in email a bit since we wanted some time to let it soak. This is important, and we want to get it right. This was a really great working session and everyone was participating openly and respectfully as we discussed some hard topics with honesty. And while everybody really contributed during this exercise, Louis and Todd helped the team think aspirational and Martin managed to herd all us chickens and keep us productive. Look for more on this as we keep working on it. I’m writing this on the morning of Saturday, March 9 – today we play Colorado and here’s hoping for another 3 points at home and staying on the top of the table. Spring is coming, the days are getting longer, and it only snowed once this week so things are looking good in Soundersland – Scarves up, Seattle, let’s take them all!
Present (14 of 19): Alex Eagleton, Ben Slager, Cameron Collins, Carmen Hall, Gilbert Ko, Jeff Williams, Jerry Neil, Jesse Kilgore, Kelsey Gallo, Martin Buckley, Nicholaus Biela, Molly Wagner, Stephanie Steiner, Todd Cowles
Absent (2): Chris Urquart, Dan Roe
Via telephone (3): Darla Langdon, Lisa Angeles, Louis Garcia
Note: this meeting was scheduled for an early 6.30pm start. Roll was taken at 7.00pm.
I. Call to order: Martin Buckley
II. Roll. Jeff Williams: 14 of 19 present at 7.00pm.
III. Closed session with Garth Lagerwey, GM and President of Soccer: Garth spent time discussing multiple aspects of the forthcoming season with Alliance Council. Thank you to Garth for spending time with us.
IV. Working session: report back from workgroups
Our top collaboration areas with the Front Office will be around Jersey design, Scarf Vote, Alliance Council future state and Inclusion. Inclusion will specifically include areas around perceived affordability and sitting/standing.
JERSEYS. No update.
SCARF VOTE. No update.
CONCESSIONS. No update.
INCLUSION. No update.
OUTREACH. No update.
AWAY TRAVEL EXPERIENCE. No update.
YOUTH OUTREACH. No update.
ALLIANCE COUNCIL FUTURE MODEL. Workgroup will meet late February.
MERCHANDISE AND SIZES. No update.
PLAYER RECOGNITION. Martin Buckley reported that this project to build a Hall of Fame is broadly supported by the club and Front Office – but the timing for funding and other investment is not right. For 2019 the club will be working on Ten Years in MLS with some specific MLS player recognition this year. Alliance Council will look to be included in that work.
The Hall of Fame/Player Recognition workgroup should meet to wrap up this workstream – with action items and a work back for a future year. Alliance Council will work with the Front Office to secure priorization for this – along with funding.
V. Other business: The club will announce their goal to become Carbon Neutral. Alliance Council recognizes this work and commends the club for their leadership. There is a planned Tree Planting event that Alliance Council have been invited to attend in late February.
Molly Wagner was noted for her work on social media, especially regarding the more human side of the Zulily kit sponsorship announcement.
VI. Adjournment: Moved. Seconded. Council votes unanimously to adjourn.
Happy “wait, since when does it snow in Seattle?” February!
Before I start, here are the two things that I learned about The NINETY when we had our monthly Council meeting on Feb 5:
The codes to the bathroom end in * … not # like every other code that
we seem to have in our society Just, you know, you have the opportunity
to impress someone by getting it right the first time.
2) Bring a hoodie or something – that place is chilly. Awesome, but brrrrrrrr.
On to the meeting!
The first half of our time was spent meeting with Garth Lagerwey, General Manager and President of Soccer – you may remember him from that voting thing last year. While I won’t cover any specifics, I will make a couple of observations about the conversation. First, I marvel at what an opportunity that we, as the SSFC Supporter Community, have with the Democracy in Sports concept. The fact that we are able to have this sort of access to Club leadership is something that we should appreciate as part of the very unique fabric of our Club’s DNA. Secondly, Garth was personable, respectful, straightforward and very generous with his time. This meeting easily could have felt perfunctory – one of those “Ugh, I have to go do this THING with these PEOPLE” meetings – and yet it didn’t. That says a lot about who Garth is as a person and what the Alliance Council has done to foster those relationships over the years. It was great to see.
When Garth was finally pulled away, after a couple of pictures (damn, we’re a good looking group!) we got down to business – an update from some meetings with the Front Office, and then quick read outs from the working groups. On the working group front, most of us are still ramping up so we should start having more to talk about in the next couple of meetings – both Youth Outreach and Merchandising will be on the agenda for March and I expect we’ll see more get added in the next couple of weeks.
We had a big discussion around the current Hot Topic – player recognition. The Alliance Council working team has done an amazing job with some concepts that incorporate community participation in the process and we’re all really excited about it – the feedback from the Front Office is that we’re not aligned with their timing. So, while everyone agrees that recognition is something that’s important, the Council proposal is going to go on the back burner for just a bit. The working team is SO passionate about this that there’s no danger of this just fizzling out, it’s a matter of planning and keeping the pressure on. Keep an eye on this one – we’re not done here!
The last update was from Martin and Stephanie about how we strategically spend the time we get with Front Office representatives. This year, we’ll focus our “Club Time” on the Scarf vote and Jersey design, Inclusion (how do we make the game day experience more inclusive so that all feel welcome and represented) and the Alliance of the Future (how do we evolve, what role does the Alliance play as we move into our second decade in MLS). What this means is that these are the areas we’ll really press into and look for collaboration with the Club as we expand out our ideas.
At this point, we were all pretty cold (I might be projecting a bit) so we had a quick round table ending with a SHOUT OUT WHOOP WHOOP to Molly for k-i-double l- ing it on the socials. She did a fantastic job on the zulily reveal party and really caught some great moments of the guys being… themselves… before the event. High five!
That’s it! First games are right around the corner and, let’s face it, we’re all ready to see the Rave Green back in action. Season Ticket packages are shipping and they just announced some new budget friendly food options… it’s happening, Fam!