Meeting Minutes: September 2017

SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC ALLIANCE COUNCIL

MEETING MINUTES

September 5, 2017 – 7:00 PM – The NINETY

Present (14 of 16): Nicholaus Biela, Nick Biesold, Martin Buckley, Cameron Collins, Mike Dollard, Alex Eagleton, Roberta King, Darla Langdon, Jeremy Monsivais, Karl Picard, Daniel Roe, Stephanie Steiner, Kristina Vaughn, Jeff Williams and Steve Wilson.

Via telephone (0): None.

Absent (2): Bill Kaczaraba and Karl Picard.

I. Call to order – Stephanie Steiner

II. Roll – Cameron Collins: 14 of 16 Present

III. Lamar Neagle and Head Coach Brian Schmetzer visit the Council: Council Members were able to ask questions and spend time with the coach and Lamar.

IV. Council Members-Elect

Several People who have been elected to next year’s Council have asked if they can sit in on this year’s council to start getting involved. They would come in as volunteers to start engaging on projects, but would have no ability to vote.  This would be inviting these individuals for this year only, and does not set a precedent for future councils having to follow suit.

Martin Buckley proposes that the Council maintain the ability to ask these individuals leave for a portion of a meeting should something sensitive or confidential need to be discussed.

Moved and seconded. Allowing Council Members-Elect to attend the remainder of this Council year’s Council Meetings passes unanimously by a vote of 14-0.

V. Stars for All – Martin Buckley

Martin spoke to Sounders COO Bart Wiley for a long length of time, and we believe the Stars for All issue has been solved. There were three main concerns we needed addressed as part of the Stars for All campaign: (i) stars on all jerseys for this season, both replica and authentic, (ii) stars on jerseys moving forward, whether silver or gold and silver; and (iii) stars for all the other teams in Major League Soccer as well.

(1) Stars on Jerseys for this Season: We were able to achieve this goal earlier in the season.

(2) Stars on All Jerseys in Future Seasons: Whether silver or both gold and silver, the club has agreed that it will provide Stars for all jerseys in 2018 as well. It will purchase the necessary stars and make them available to local mom and pop stores, if required, so that they can take part in providing stars on jerseys for their customer. This will likely only be an issue for the 2018 season, as there may be a new solution beginning in 2019, as per conversations with the Club.

(3) Stars for All Clubs: The Sounders have agreed to support any other MLS club who wishes to put stars on all of their jerseys in the same manner that the Sounders have. While the club in question would have to do so on their own, the Sounders will provide all necessary information to such a club as to the process they went through to order and distribute Stars to fans’ jerseys.

VI. 2019 Sounders Kit: The Council had previously provided feedback to the club on what they thought the direction of the 2019 kits should go. The Council were shown the inspiration for the jersey at this meeting. This information is confidential.

VII. Revisiting the Recognition Brainstorming Project – Stephanie Steiner
The Council reviewed a compiled list of a list it had anonymously brainstormed of “What reward would each Council Member give to the Member to that Member’s right?”

VIII. Revisiting Food & Concessions – Alex Eagleton
Alex, along with many other members of the Council, feel that the concessions have not lived up to the expectations that were set for the Council at the beginning of the season. All of the food has also suddenly changed with the start of the Seahawks season. Alex is going to start doing “Food Tours” around the stadium and blogging about his food and beverage experiences.

IX. Scarf Vote Results – Kristina Vaughn
Winner of the scarf design was scarf #1, City of Seattle. It received 45.3% of the vote. It will be announced at halftime of Sunday’s match. The Council suggested to the Front Office that the scarf have a star on it, and while many in the front office agreed, the Marketing Department decided that it would not have a star. They have ordered it with no star.

X. Adjournment
Moved. Seconded. Council votes unanimously to adjourn.

 

Meeting Minutes: August 2017

SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC ALLIANCE COUNCIL

MEETING MINUTES

August 1, 2017 – 7:00 PM – RAVE Green Conference Room

Present (12 of 16): Nicholaus Biela, Martin Buckley, Cameron Collins, Alex Eagleton, Bill Kaczaraba, Roberta King, Darla Langdon, Jeremy Monsivais, Daniel Roe, Stephanie Steiner, Kristina Vaughn, and Jeff Williams.

Via telephone (0): None.

Absent (4): Nick Biesold, Mike Dollard, Karl Picard, and Steve Wilson.

I. Call to order – Stephanie Steiner

II. Roll – Cameron Collins: 12 of 16 Present

III. Council Initiatives

A. Constitution Vote – Martin Buckley: The Alliance-wide vote on the new Constitution has concluded. The Constitution was approved by the Alliance in a weighted vote of 96% in favor of the new Constitution and 4% opposed to the new Constitution.

→ Cameron Collins asked what the process would be now that S2 season ticket holders are now members of the Alliance under the new Constitution. Martin stated that, as this was approved mid-season, next season they should enjoy full member rights.

B. Scarf Vote – Kristina Vaughn: Kristina thanked all involved in the Scarf Vote Group. There was very little turnaround time, but running the vote on our own website made it a seamless process. Vote is now live and will be sent out as part of renewals.

When an Alliance Member renews, they’ll get an email telling them to vote for the scarves. On August 14, a link to the vote will be sent to everyone that is a designee and/or has yet to renew. The Council were then shown the final five scarves that will be voted upon by the Alliance.

C. Council member Rewards – Stephanie Steiner: On the survey given to Alliance Council Members, which was discussed in the July meeting, current Council Members said they were not on Council to receive “stuff.” But that doesn’t help the Council figure out what to offer as rewards. Thus, Council Members present were presented with a new survey to fill out on what do we think the person to our right deserves as a reward. This will help the Council approach the Front Office with ideas, and there will be a meeting of the minds on things they can offer us of which we are currently unaware.

D. Survey Results from Current Members – Stephanie Steiner: Overall, there was a lot of discussion of Constitution, but we are done with that, so it should rarely come up. There are some issues that could be addressed moving forward, but they are small changes that don’t require the kind of overhaul we just did.

→ Questions include:

  • What do you like most about serving on the Alliance Council?
  • What motivates you to do work for Alliance Council?
  • What would help us get more projects completed?
  • What would you like to do next year?
  • What is your wish list?

One major takeaway was that it may be worth rethinking how we interact with one another. If a Council Member is in a group and are not hearing from others in the group via email when attempting to have discussion, there is a list of members and their phone numbers on our Google Drive that can be utilized. Council Members must be more proactive.

IV. Monthly Call with Front Office & Meeting with Gary Wright, Sounders Consultant and former Sounders Senior Vice President – Stephanie Steiner & Martin Buckley

A.    Monthly Call: The call focused on the relationship between the Front Office and the Council and how to make it as productive as possible. It was a robust conversation and Martin and Stephanie voiced the wants and needs of the Council.

B.    Meeting with Gary Wright: Gary has been very responsive to working on the relationship between the Club and the Council. This conversation focused on that relationship, challenges, and an Alliance Member concern regarding diversity.

V. Open Conversation

A. Food & Beverage – Alex Eagleton: Alex has made an effort to eat at many places around the stadium, and the food lacks quality. Cameron Collins spoke on the limited vegetarian and vegan options being worse than before, despite promises to the contrary and Martin. Alex also has found that while they claim to have many different drink options, that often the specialty options, especially in beer and wine, are not ready during the match or not available at all.

B. Ticket Renewals – Dan Roe: An update from Dan on news concerning ticket renewals.

→Pricing: 75% of tickets are going up in price. 25% are going down. Those tickets closer to the center line and closer to the field will now be more than those that are not in those locations.

→Section 100NA:  The upper portion of section 100 has typically been non-alcoholic. The Club has contacted the 13 season ticket members currently sitting in that section to see if they truly valued the section being non-alcoholic. The overwhelming majority said it did not make a difference to them, so, in order to sell out that section, the Club will be removing the NA tag and allowing alcohol in that section. They are looking to advertise it as a more family friendly section, however.

→ ECS & resale: ECS has requested that members not sell their tickets for more than face value. The club has crafted language to help message that to people with season tickets in the section, and will allow for people to move if necessary. The statement will read, “The ECS supporter sections are priced in a way to ensure affordable ticketing options are available to those wanting to join the supporter culture. Members within these sections are asked not to sell tickets for more than the single match price. If you disagree, relocation is always an option.”

→ S2: For the 2018 season, the south side will not be available for season ticket purchase at S2 matches. Due to attendance in past seasons, the focus will be to fill the North Side to increase matchday atmosphere. This will also increase efficiency from a staffing perspective so the Club can provide the best matchday customer service. There are 9 season ticket members affected by this change and they will receive priority relocation to make sure they find satisfactory seats for next season. Cameron Collins lamented that, with the move, he is sad that he will no longer be sitting by coach Schmetzer and won’t hear his running commentary on the game.

→ Visiting Supporters: Visiting supporters will no longer sit in section 203. Instead, qll visiting supporters will be placed in Section 300/301/302, where Portland and Vancouver supporters are already seated.

VI. Adjournment

Moved. Seconded. Council votes unanimously to adjourn.

Meeting Minutes: July 2017

SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC ALLIANCE COUNCIL

MEETING MINUTES

July 10, 2017 – 7:00 PM – The NINETY

Present (13 of 16): Nicholaus Biela, Nick Biesold, Martin Buckley, Cameron Collins, Mike Dollard, Alex Eagleton, Roberta King, Darla Langdon, Jeremy Monsivais, Karl Picard, Daniel Roe, Stephanie Steiner, Kristina Vaughn, and Jeff Williams.

Via telephone (1): Bill Kaczaraba

Absent (2): Nicholaus Biela and Steve Wilson.

I. Call to order – Stephanie Steiner

II. Roll – Cameron Collins: 13 of 16 Present

III. Ticket Renewals: Mikaela Purvis, Director of Membership Engagement & Retention

A. Retention → Their top goal is retention. They hope to increase ticket member retention by enriching the ticket members’ lives and creating moments through soccer. The goals break down in to six areas: 1) relationship with club, 2) customer service, 3) sales, 4) engagement, 5) events, and 6) benefits.

a. Relationship with club: Focus on creating camps and other opportunities for kids and the community; supporting the supporter groups and the Alliance Council; and the matchday experience.

b. Customer service: Focus on reactive problem solving and proactive communication.

c. Sales: Focus on referrals, group premium outings, and upselling.

d. Engagement: Focus on social media, rewards, touchpoints, and “wow moments.”

e. Events: Focus on access to players and bonding with other fans.

f. Benefits: Focus on savings, access, and rewards/experiences.

B. Midseason Survey: The Club sent out a mid-season survey to Alliance Members to see how they are using their benefits, what their satisfaction is with benefits, and the likelihood that they would renew.

a. The top 3 benefits were Options to Resell, Alliance Member Scarf, and Pro Shop Discount.

b. People were highly satisfied with mobile ticketing.

c. People were satisfied with the Alliance Council.

d. The only area of dissatisfaction was Matchpass Perks. Only about 25 to 30% of Alliance Members use their Matchpass Perks and people are primarily entered in to random drawings.

e. Although people aRe fond of their Alliance Member Scarves, the Club liked the opportunity the Council proposed where Alliance Members could forego their scarf, donating its value to charity. In 2018, this opportunity will be available during renewal. Decisions are for the entire account; Every ticket must give up the scarf for the entire account. All donations will be used for Rave Foundation’s soccer ball program. Delta Airlines will be matching the donations. The Council would like the Club to ask Delta Airlines if they can also match Alliance Member donations directly to Rave Foundation, as a Member may not want to forego their scarf.

C. Season Ticket Member Celebration: on August 13th, the Sounders will be having an event at CenturyLink Field from 11 am to 2 pm to celebrate the fans.

D. Autorenewal: a large percentage of accounts are still set to opt-in, but following this renewal period, every account will be set to autorenewal. With autorenewal, if you choose not to renew, you simply fill out an online form that deals with the process.

E. Renewal Process: The renewal period is August 1-September 1. Relocations will take place September 11-29. Must have renewed current location to be eligible for relocation. Playoff Tickets & new sales will take place in October.

F. Sitting vs. Standing: The Council brought up the perennial topic of Sitting versus Standing. The current conversation has been that the Sounders do not want to dictate whether a section sits or stands. It is majority rules. If the majority choose to sit, it is a sitting section. If they choose to stand, it is a standing section.

a. The issue that several members of the Council raised is that in the stands, as a practical matter, it is “monkey see, monkey do.” People do not necessarily know they have the ability to have their section be a sitting section, and if people in the front row stand, it means everyone will end up having to stand.

b. Because everyone believes they have to stand, how will the Club communicate that this is an option? Could a survey be part of the renewal process?

c. A survey could potentially show that this is not a major issue, that it is a vocal minority who raise the issue.

d. The Council noted that the Club would likely worry that asking as part of the renewal process could open a can of worms and set the expectation that change is coming, and that there would need to be a plan in place on enforcement in a section. Currently, in the Club sections, security handle the issue when someone stands in the sitting sections. The Front Office will discuss this matter further.

IV. Alliance Council Survey

Martin Buckley Alliance Council Members from 2015 – 2017 were asked to take a survey on what they thought the Council did well, and what they thought could be improved. The survey had a 74% response rate. The focus was on perception, open-ended responses, improvements, areas of strength, and areas of weakness.

A. Would you recommend joining the Council? Common themes included historical tedium of the Constitution, Front Office perceptions, Council Member expectations, and Work vs. Fun. People either loved or hated being on Council; there was very little in-between.

B. Alliance Council on the Front Office: Three years of the Alliance Council spoke and felt that the Front Office did not take the Council seriously, primarily treating the Council as a focus group rather than as a partner. Roberta gave the historical perspective that in the beginning, the relationship was very adversarial, so the Council got off on the wrong foot from the outset. The feeling was that it does seem to be getting better.

C. What would make the Alliance Council better? There was a wide range of ideas on how we could improve. The main takeaways were outreach so that the Alliance could know more about Democracy in Sports, having a budget to help with independence and potentially forming a non-profit, and better follow up from the body of the Council.

V. Council Initiatives

A. Scarf Vote – Kristina Vaughn & Roberta King: It is coming up quickly. All members of the committee should be ready to vote because it will require a quick turnaround to narrow all of the entries down to the five that will be presented to the Alliance for a vote.

B. 10-year Anniversary of the Alliance – Roberta King & Bil Kaczaraba: Roberta presented that she has made an outline of topics and requested volunteers to work on the project. The work will include writing articles, filming interviews, and more. Bill and Roberta will be collaborating with President Steiner on how best to move the project forward.

C. Constitution Vote – Martin Buckley: The Alliance-wide vote on the new Constitution is ongoing. Thus far, of those who click through to the Alliance Council webpage, 60% follow through to the voting site.

V. Monthly Call with Front Office

Stephanie Steiner and Martin Buckley had their monthly scheduled call with the Front Office. In the call with the FO, they focused on their frustration that the email sent to the Alliance about Constitution Voting being live had a subject line about Bowling with Players. Many people did not even open the email because of that headline. More traffic came to the Alliance Council webpage than came from twitter than came from their email. If Democracy in Sports is going to be a pillar of the organization, they need to treat it as such, rather than as a pillar of marketing. Stephanie and Martin also expressed the Council’s frustration that the Constitution vote did not receive equal billing with the Rave Foundation’s bowling event in an email nor in the stadium. The Club interpretation was that in our relationship we have very high highs and very low lows. We need to work on the low so that they do not happen in the future. They understand that the Council relationship with Gary Wright has been created to help improve the relationship between the Club and the Council.

VI. Open Conversation

A. Council Tables at CenturyLink Field: In August, we have the opportunity as a Council to have tables on the concourse at two matches: 8/12 & 8/20. We will use the opportunity to promote the Alliance Council and create more visibility, as well as promote the Scarf Vote.

VII. Adjournment

Moved. Seconded. Council votes unanimously to adjourn.

Meeting Minutes: June 2017

SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC ALLIANCE COUNCIL

MEETING MINUTES

June 6, 2017 – 7:00 PM –  The NINETY

Present (14 of 16): Nicholaus Biela, Nick Biesold, Martin Buckley, Cameron Collins,  Mike Dollard, Alex Eagleton, Bill Kaczaraba, Roberta King, Darla Langdon, Jeremy Monsivais, Karl Picard, Stephanie Steiner, Kristina Vaughn, and Jeff Williams.

Via telephone (0): None.

Absent (2): Daniel Roe & Steve Wilson.

I. Call to order – Stephanie Steiner

II. Roll – Cameron Collins: 14 of 16 Present

III. 2019 Sounders Jersey – Mikaela Purvis, Director of Membership Engagement & Retention; Taylor Graham, Vice President of Business Operations; and Bart Wiley, Chief Operating Officer

Last year was the first year that the Alliance Council was able to work with the Club on the jersey. The Club took some great feedback to Adidas and the relationship with the Alliance Council in relation to the 2018 jersey worked out well.

→ The Club wants a second kit for 2019 that reflects the Sounders brand

→ What is the vision and inspiration for the 2019 kit?

→ What is the most important story to bring to life with 2019 jersey?

→ Are there identity elements make sure are included in 2019 jersey?

IV. New Member: Jeff Williams
Jeff was our last new member of the year, getting enough votes to join Council just prior to June 1st, when voting resets and people who get elected join next year’s Council.

→Jeff is a former soccer coach who has three daughters who have all played soccer at a collegiate level. His eldest daughter even played for the Seattle club in a previous iteration of the women’s professional soccer league.

→ Jeff wants to help continue the fan experience he has had since Day 1 with the Sounders. He hopes for all new fans to have the same positive experience he has had.

V. Council Initiatives

A.    Stars for All: In the jersey portion of tonight’s meeting, the Front Office let the Council know that Doug Orwiler, Director of Retail Operations for the Sounders, is working with the MLS to come up with a long-term solution to the issues we have raised in our Stars for All campaign.

B.    Charitable Contribution – Darla Langdon & Bill Kaczaraba: The Council has a sum of money from last year’s Matchpass Rewards program that we can donate to a charity of our choice. There was a discussion of various options for the donation, focusing primarily on whether the donation should be made to an organization that works within the soccer community or to a non-profit not affiliated with soccer in any way.

→ Council Vote: Should Council’s charitable contribution be to a non-profit that is part of the soccer community?: 13 votes for a non-profit that works within the soccer community. 1 vote for a non-profit that is not affiliated with the Sounders or soccer in any way.

The discussion as to what organization the money should be donated to focused primarily on two organizations: The RAVE Foundation and Steve Zakuani’s Kingdom Hope. If the money went to the RAVE Foundation, it would go directly to the Foundation’s upcoming Sports Media Institute (where they need $5000 to fund the event) and RAVE’s art program at their camps ($2000 is needed). If the money were donated to Kingdom Hope, it would go to their Scholarship programs, but no information was received on the amount of money needed for the program or how the donation would be used. After passionate discussion for both sides, a vote was taken.

→Council Vote: Should Council’s charitable contribution go to The RAVE Foundation or Kingdom Hope?: 13 votes for RAVE Foundation, 0 votes for Kingdom Hope, and 1 abstention.

C.    Scarf Vote – Kristina Vaughn & Roberta King:  The Front Office has suggested that the scarf vote take place at the same time as ticket renewal and could be built in to that process. Rough Timeline: Launch (July 10), End of Entries (July 24), Alliance Council narrows down (July 25-29), Voting begins (August 1), Voting Ends (August 31), Winner announced at match (September 1). Karl Picard will tease that the scarf vote is coming through our Alliance Council Twitter account.

D.    10-year Anniversary of the Alliance: Roberta King presented to the Council that there is already one post up on our website, and the hope is to get 1-2 posts per month, possibly structuring it with each post being about a different year of the Alliance. Roberta has agreed to be the project manager and will work with Bill Kaczaraba to help get interviews done for the project. The two will work together to create an outline for how the project should proceed, but would like other Council Members to work on the project.

E.    Annual Business Meeting – Martin Buckley: There has been further discussion on changing it to an online event that will be streamed live and have live interaction with the online audience. It would be a small event in person, with 150-200 people present. The Council is looking to the Zach Scott Testimonial Match for online metrics, which shows that it has had 34,000 views since the match.

F.    Constitution Vote: The Alliance-wide vote on the new Constitution will take place in July. The Council needs to write several op-eds for our website on different topics surrounding the vote and is looking for volunteers. The Council will host the why, where, and how on our own website and link back to the voting platform. Stephanie Steiner will writer about why the Constitution has changed. Nickle Biesold will write about why the vote is important. Mike Dollard has agreed to help review and edit the posts.

V. Monthly Call with Front Office

Stephanie Steiner and Martin Buckley had their monthly scheduled call with the Front Office and will be meeting with Gary Wright, Sounders Consultant and former Senior Vice President, next week. In this conversation with the Front Office, amongst other things, the two discussed the “The Save” mural, and how disappointed the Council was to not be a part of it when the Club knew we were working on a way to commemorate “The Save.”

VI. Open Conversation

A.    Council Perks: Council Vice-President Martin Buckley has developed a potential perks system for Council Member Participation. This system would have four tiers entitled Rave Green (tier 1), Sounder Blue (tier 2), MLS Gold Scarf (tier 3), and MLS Cup Gold star (tier 4). Each move up to the next tier mandates greater involvement from an Alliance Council Member. This would allow for benefits above and beyond what council members already receive to be allocated when the space to participate in the opportunity is limited.

B.    Garage Sale: Cameron Collins has spoken to the Club about the Alliance Council being the sponsor of the Garage Sale, and the word from the Front Office was that it was a possibility but we would need a buy-in from the Council. The entire Council raised their hands when an informal vote was taken to gauge volunteer interest from the Council.

VII. Adjournment

Moved. Seconded. Council votes unanimously to adjourn.

Annual Business Meeting 2017 – an update

21 July 2017

By Stephanie Steiner and Martin Buckley

Annual Business Meeting 2017 – an update

To be clear – the Alliance Annual Business Meeting will be held.

It will be after the close of the regular season and is planned to be held in The NINETY.

The event will be live streamed.

We recognize that the Annual Business Meeting is important, yet at the same time it’s also not terribly convenient for many fans. Location, timing, traffic, weather – all conspire against us.

Early this year we began working with the the Club to make the Annual Business Meeting more accessible. That means reaching out to more people, making it easier for the average fan, and yes reduce the expense of a large production. We coordinated with the Club to meet these goals.

To be clear – the Alliance Annual Business Meeting will be held. It will be after the close of the regular season and is planned to be held in The NINETY. The event will be live streamed.

Also as part of these conversations, we closely examined the degree to which people were embracing Sounders’ streamed events. One eye-opening example of the reach of streamed events are S2 games and even the streamed draft for the Zach Scott Testimonial Game.

The NINETY has a limited capacity. Once Front Office, coaching staff, Alliance Council and representatives from Supporter Groups are present, there is even less space for Alliance Members. We plan to hold a lottery for Alliance Members to be at The NINETY for the event.

We then worked with the club on creating something FOR the Alliance as a whole. This resulted in the 13 August 2017 Season Ticket Member Event – for all Alliance Members – a real benefit to you all. Fans, players, behind the scenes – and at a time when we can all enjoy the Seattle summer.

Looking back – the Alliance Annual Business Meeting attracts pretty much the same 700 people. We have gained almost nothing in attendance. When people knew Schmetz would be promoted, we got up to 1200, but we can’t promote him every year. There were huge investments into player interaction, big lures with photo ops – none of these grew awareness. People don’t want to come out on a rainy November night.

We represent all Alliance Members – we have a duty to consider any and all ways to reach out to those that are unable to attend that in-person event. Technology can be the enabler for this.

Our other commitment to you is to review this change. If it does not work – we will change.

As always – thank you for reading and for your support.