Photo from soundersfc.com
November 17, 2015
By Karl Picard
I have attended a couple of these events in the past; last year I came with my 4-year-old so it was totally different. This year was my first year as an Alliance Council member and it was quite different. I found myself way more interested in what the owners and staff were saying about our team and the future. Maybe it was because I was running the Twitter feed for the Alliance Council, but I think it was because I got a glimpse over the season of how things run. As a fan I cared less about that, just give me wins and trophies, but now it’s about respect for the fan base as well as the Alliance Council and what it stands for. And maybe more, there is a lot the team represents besides just the product on the field, as Roger Levesque would gladly fill you in on. As you heard, if you were there or have watched the edited video, there are families, community outreach, and running a business that is independent from the Seahawks.
My evening began around 4:30 with an early arrival to set up a table for council candidates and help out where I could. Then it was on to the pre-meeting the Council members had with the owners and senior staff. I found this to be one of the best things I’ve gotten to participate in since getting elected. We had a direct line to over 20 folks on the Sounders staff. We talked about several issues that have been pointed out to the council by the Alliance, including delegating season tickets for voting purposes, customer service of ticket reps, changes that the club has gone through as part of the split from the Seahawks, to MatchPass and a few thank yous from each side. The main theme was how can we all help each other make the fan experience better. Based on some of the ideas for the coming season I am optimistic it will get better.
Then it was upstairs for the main event. I sat maybe 15 rows back to get a good view of the stage and allow me to take some pictures. I spent a decent amount of time tweeting or monitoring Twitter to help those who were on stage as I could. Joe Roth definitely got things going with his comments (which if you missed them, just look back on social media or anyone who covers the Sounders) for which I immediately thought that will have an apology the next day, and it did. As I was following Twitter, I got a really good idea on the backlash the comments would bring. After that was some big news on Adrian becoming the majority owner. He talked about doing right by the club. Next up was Bart talking about the business. The biggest thing I took from this was new turf is coming, which and while that won’t stop the conversation around grass, maybe it will result in fewer questions on that topic around that area (we got a lot). About that time MatchPass came up and the club presented an instant delight reward, and Craig (who was right next to me) won a signed jersey delivered by our captain Brad Evans. I thought that was pretty cool and wish there were a few more of those throughout the night.
Then it was our time to shine, Stephanie covered what Council did this year. While I was sitting there I was thinking, does this crowd appreciate it? Based on the applause, while not the same that turf or some of the player mentions got, it was a little satisfying. Twitter comments also helped validate our efforts. While, as Stephanie said, they weren’t sexy, and I may not fully agree with all of them, it was something myself and 20 other folks changed over the year. Cameron hopped up on the stage for his first appearance. He got the short end of the stick covering the details of the GM Vote & Recall. This part got edited out of the video of the night that the Sounders posted, but really was a big part of our year-long efforts. It laid the ground work for the Alliance to make a difference should they feel the team was headed the wrong way. In my opinion, it put some teeth (like baby teeth, but better than none) into the democracy in sports idea that Drew Carey set forth as soon as he became part of the organization. This is why making sure Alliance Members (season ticket holders) get a vote for every seat they own is important and we’ll be working with the club to ensure that happens over the next year, as was discussed earlier in the night. After that, Paul Cox talked about S2 and the Community Trust. I heard less of this as I was dealing with some of the questions that had come in via Twitter and was discussing some of them with Jerry (sorry Paul and S2 folks).
Garth got up next and talked about the team. This was probably what most folks were there for. He made it clear that Sigi would be back for another season. Most people cheered, there was even a Sigi Sigi Sigi chant. But I heard a few sighs and Twitter didn’t seem as excited. Me personally, I don’t think there is a better alternative, but I also don’t think he has a long leash without a better playoff performance next season. I think the most important thing Garth said was around player development and the academy system. Getting young kids in, building them into the community and club to make them role players will be how this team has the depth in the future to survive injuries and suspensions like we had this season (and in most seasons based on the data Garth presented).
Then it was on to questions. I had seen most of these either prior to the meeting or on Twitter. I was excited to hear about Copa America possibly coming to the Clink and the next day MLS reported that Seattle looks to have made the cut). I appreciate the club takes questions from the Alliance. Most of the answers from the club are predictable as they are mentioned in blogs, tweets, Facebook, or on the official Sounders website in some format already. I’d love to have a way for the Alliance to see all of the questions submitted, because as Stephanie pointed out that night, folks want the club to spend money, but at the same time, keep ticket and concession prices down. Now, I am by no way rolling in money, but I understand that it is a business and they try to balance as best they can (most of the time).
If you missed it, be sure to catch the video online; as mentioned, it is edited but covers a good portion of the meeting. This is my last recap of the year. Our next meeting will be in February 2016. That doesn’t mean council won’t be working on stuff. The front office has asked us to help them with some things for next year and I know people will be helping as they can. If you haven’t, be sure to vote someone for Alliance Council, the more people we have on it the more we can do and the more we can influence.
Happy Holidays and can’t wait to see our Sounders play Club America in the CCL in late February.