June 2018 Meeting Recap
The meeting began with both of our guests introducing themselves to the group and a quick round robin introduction of the Alliance Council to them as well. Joining us was the lovely Kimberly Aigner, Sounders FC Director of Community Outreach as well as Ashley Fosberg, Executive Director Rave Foundation.
Initial start of their presentation was to break down their roles and what the focus pillars are; LEAD, SERVE and INVEST, and the dynamic between their two respective areas of work:
• Kimberly – LEAD & SERVE
• Ashley – INVEST
Discussed new and exciting ways they are wanting to be more focused on our community with key areas that help drive awareness through the Sounders brand. This is partnering with like-minded companies that also have a community focus that reaches out to their key initiatives in place.
These things range from looking at sustainability and how to start within and partnering with Washington Green Schools, providing education & resources in our community schools to become more sustainable and teaching kids how to conserve resources which is amazing at their outreach already! It’ll be exciting to see what our Sounders do with this knowledge. They also have a few key initiatives coming up throughout the rest of the season, some will require a call of action to fans (yeah!!) such as:
• PRIDE- promote LGBTQ awareness and equality in sports- partnering with Athlete Ally again this year to do some fun stuff such as a Coaches clinic to help focus on the fairness and equality on the pitch, the locker room and teams as a whole to be a more LGBTQ friendly experience.
• Special Olympics- USA Games- they are coming to Seattle!! Lots of volunteer opportunities such as Fans in the Stands, etc. will be an amazing experience connecting people of all abilities to show support and have a really wonderful week here in Seattle. Cristian Roldan and Jordan Morris are Special Olympics Ambassadors this year and signed players to contracts even at an event at the Ninety with Coach Schmetzer was in attendance and could NOT have looked more proud of his new team in the photo released by the club.
• Kick Childhood Cancer- this is an MLS wide initiative however I found it interesting that they say- use yellow nets, yellow flags and that’s it- everything else is up to you how you want to be involved or how much you want to bring awareness, which is wonderful because the clubs can do it in their own way. How do the Sounders do that you may ask!? Great question, so far the Sounders have had extensive involvement historically with raising funds and awareness for Childhood Cancer, they currently have a Honorary Team Captain that walks out with the team- gets a shout out and a quick background on why they there on the big screen- this is a child who is either currently or has battled cancer- some TOUGH KIDS which is perfect for them to be with our boys, we are all TK’s. There will be another blood drive in September, last year they did Out for Blood w Zach Scott- this year- he has already racked to the club to be involved so that’ll be no doubt amazing! September 4th they will have blood drives even outside of the Seattle area working with 4 locations of Bloodworks NW. The date of our match for this will be 9/29 to celebrate Kick Childhood Cancer.
Working to create a culture of service such as Give Big, which sadly will not be continuing this coming year so the club is working on figuring out how to do something on their own working closely with our players passions. There will be a call to action of the fans on this- a wonderful opportunity to either donate and / or potentially volunteer!!!
Opportunities for Involvement- Events will be things each month throughout the season-
• Seattle Pride Parade
• Community MVP (Laura Clise was last years pick)
• Fan in the Stands, 2018 USA Games
• Rave Match Celebration
• fun stuff to kids w Cancer- club to announce what that entails
• Blood Drive in the Ninety
• Day of Caring
• Rave Green Run (which the Rave Foundation now runs, and will be in Tukwila!!)
• Blood donation opportunities all month long
• WA Green Schools Service Project- TBD
• Rave soccer ball giveaway events- TBD
November / December
• holiday gift drive for Rave Community School
Strengthening our community by and through the use of soccer.
Got a wonderful update on Yesler Field free play space that will be officially completed in August, ribbon cutting event to be held on September 7th. Other fun and interesting things Rave is doing our communities is:
• Futsal courts- and easy, quick, high impact way to turn a dead play space into something awesome kids can use! Currently have one in Beverly Park and are looking at new areas to convert.
• Rave octagons- pop-up free play spaces, currently have two octagons- always looking for community sponsors to invest in Rave- reach out to Ashley.
• Sports Media Institute kicked off last year- they are actively working on that again
• Sports Science- working with curriculum that meets WA State School curriculum requirements to help teach students STEM Science/ Algebra through soccer (wish I had that in school)!!!
• Strikes with Sounders
• Rave Green Run
• 50/50 Raffle- don’t forget that’s at each match and is $2.00 per ticket!!
• Rave Green Fields- creating green, free play pitches in communities of need throughout the Puget Sound area- this is a lengthier process so other opportunities to help promote strength in soccer are in place- One Ball, the octagons, etc.
Corporate sponsorships, donations are always welcome!!
These ladies are a small, yet mighty team of four—- yes FOUR! They are both heading departments and areas in our communities that do amazing things that our club is passionate about- so back them, support and shout it from rooftops what great things our club is doing, it’s pretty great!
Next up- Alliance Council recap-
• scarf vote- got news and finalized dates for how our scarf vote will go this year which will be 7/19 with the winner being announced on 9/19
• GM vote- 40% of the Alliance members votes need to be done for us to meet quorum and have our votes be valid!! Which means a LOT of people need to actually vote! Any action to be taken needs 66.6% is required for it to be a super majority if we don’t need meet quorum or 66.6% no action is taken.
• 10 Year anniversary- Roberta- no update
• Away travel- Alex- no update
• Community Involvement -Darla- lots of volunteer opportunities that would align w clubs pillars, will send those out but if anyone has a passion they’d like to share- let me know!!
• Food / Beverage- Alex- asked all of us to take a few photos of food eaten at stadium and write a few sentences about it- share w him
• Jerseys- Cameron- met w FO, saw 2 potential 2020 jersey mockups gave feedback- club appeared more welcome for the feedback (yeah!)
• Matchday Experience- Paul- nothing to report- will re-engage with the group
• Outreach & visibility- will be organizing ideas, gathering input from AC to create overarching goals to connect throughout the season
• Sitting vs Standing- Lisa- corresponded w FO regarding potential outreach by club on how to start that conversation w fans in the stands….. this has been a long, long conversation and the data the AC has supports that even a end of year question is a start!!
• Youth Outreach- Todd- talked w Ashley and will be getting a meeting in place w her and Taylor to go over ideas. Molly talked w Reign FC for potential ideas and they might be interested in partnering w the AC to do something
• Meeting summaries- need volunteers!!
Alliance Council Meeting May 2018
First portion of the meeting was from Todd Albright, Director of Marketing and Gameday Presentation. Todd is a good dude, we like him a lot. He has a great job: we’re envious. Normally he comes in and presents with Kyle Sheldon, but that guy quit to go make Oscar-worthy movies (like who would choose that?!). Todd showed us some of the marketing stuff that Kyle (that quitter!) created before he skipped town, and then we moved into Todd’s area of focus. He presented the cool website that they created for the 100th meetup between Sounders and the team to the south: lots of imagery for the less-geeky in the fanbase, video for the geekier, and then lots to read for the uber-geeks. Nick Biela wanted to know if the url would be soundersfc.com/100matches/forc . hahahahaha I said he’d just outed himself as the uber geeky ( I hope that is indeed the url!).
We got details on our new anthem singer, Johnathan Wright (we love him) and how he was discovered.
Todd is working on a project to deck out the tunnel and then bring TV cameras into the tunnel for the walk-out onto the pitch. Some of the sexy details might change seasonally or for big rivalries (remember The Wall for the 40th Anniversary? Something big like that but flexible and built to create hype for our guys and let our opponents know they’re dirt. Maybe we can auction off the ability to type in messages and I can let Giovinco know how I really feel about his whiny antics? No? Well it was a good idea: RAVE Foundation would have made a killing.
Remainder of the meeting: We finalized the revision to Bylaw 10 , elected Jeff Williams to replace Karl Picard (now Ex-Officio) as our at-large member on the Executive Committee, and work group leaders gave updates.
Alliance Council Meeting April 2018
April meeting started with a presentation from First and Goal Hospitality leadership: Executive Chef Michael Johnson, Sous Chef Reid Henderson, and Hospitality Director Abby Hetterich. Also joining us was my representative, Sounders Suite Manager Emily Schultz (aka Shultzy). Not sure we should trust skinny chefs, but it’s hard not to when they put out really good chewy fresh pretzels as bait. Did I mention beery cheese sauce? You might have learned something about me by this sentence – I’m easily led astray. (a word from our sponsor: you should consider running for council now J nominate yourself here . Yes, we do much more than eat, but you already know that.)
Besides all of the snarfalicious distractions, it was a good meeting. Canned rose! DING DING DING: and it will be local! Yes: we brought up beer pricing (I do not expect a miracle here. Why? Because there’s a magic point at which it becomes less profitable, and I don’t think they’ve hit it). But I’ll give them credit for listening to all of the concerns: pricing, labeling and adequate descriptions/training regarding vegan and food allergies, and food quality. First and Goal Hospitality leaders are really good and they are working hard to continuously improve. If you have a challenge, look for someone dressed as a chef.
When we first met with them a year ago they were brand new – the entire entity had only existed for a few months (maybe even weeks). They’d created some really lofty sustainability goals regarding food waste, composting, and the creation of a garden to supply the stadium. Here we are a year later and damn if they didn’t hit all of their goals. My biggest disappointment is that no one knows. I got a little pushy (who me? I know you’re surprised) and suggested that start learning to brag a little better on paper napkins, cups, and the like: most of those say CenturyLink Field. Well do we really need to be reminded of where we are?
In addition to sustainability goals, they’ve made many local community connections; they support women and minority-owned businesses, supply grass-fed and hormone-free beef and pork, and the produce is organic and travels fewer than 25 miles. Whew! That was accomplished in a year. Last year, fewer than 20 products were local, now they’re up to about 85 local items and they continue to expand.
Later this year, we’ll see some Frose (froze zay) show up. Don’t know what that is? Oh honey you don’t know what you’re missing!
Our concern for the rise in diabetes was taken seriously. We had asked for better non-caloric beverages: unsweetened tea will be added as an option.
The next portion of the meeting was the first reading of the adjusted Bylaw 10: essentially, partial season ticket memberships and large, commercial ticket brokers will not be able to vote in GM Vote. Due to the degree to which people have a tendency to be checked out, we felt it was best to prevent any risk that this could cause the entire vote to not count. These types of account holders still vote for scarves.
Group leaders gave quick updates to the rest of council, and then we adjourned.
Alliance Council Meeting March 2018
All two hours of our meeting were filled with a very open and thoughtful conversation and team update from General Manger and President of Soccer, Garth Lagerwey. Much of what he discussed is information that we can’t really talk about. We want to… but there’s that pesky little thing called honoring our word.
Some stuff we can tell you because I’m writing this so late:
What about an off-season signing?! Gah!! Yea – well there was going to be one, and it fell through for really good reasons. We agreed not to talk about this while we were in the room, but since I’ve seen Jeremiah Oshan mention it in a Sounder at Heart interview with Garth, I’ll say it. So there, sue me. Lots of discussion about JMo’s injury (Lagerwey was ‘cautiously optimistic’ meaning he didn’t want to watch us sob for the rest of the meeting but we all knew what that meant, confirmed twelve hours later). He was humble and highly aware of the General Manager Vote to Retain/Not.
We talked pretty openly about the decision to leave Alonso unprotected: the deal for Tyler Miller and been prearranged (nothing there that hasn’t been out in the open for a while now). Ty is a player that Lagerwey has lauded for some time so seeing him move up is a source of pride, and we were all sorry to see him go.
What can we expect: active work to land aggressive contributors to our team, however we won’t know about any of it until contracts are signed. Lagerwey hates rumors: they drive up prices and cause deals to go sour. He doesn’t use false rumors to help hide real ones; he doesn’t like rumors, period. Bad for business, but nothing wrong with negotiating with many people at once: just be truthful. Be a good steward, honor your word, and expect the other party to do the same. Hold people accountable if they don’t.
Lagerwey’s thoughts on USMT: was asked about the possibilities for coach – his reply: none of it really matters until USMNT is willing to invest in youth systems that will build a solid program.
Alliance Council Meeting 2/6/2018
The first part of our February meeting we had a joint session with Taylor, Mikaela, James to discuss Operations, Ticketing and the move to SeatGeek.
Some key notes from the Operations section were:
- Season attendance average 43,666, hosted non-Sounders games Mexico v Paraguay and the Tournament of Nations.
- Clear bag policy was implemented over the past year, this was a partnership with CenturyLink. Continue to work with security around their standards and their application.
- After addressing the inconstancy with bags at the gate in working with staff, there is a reduction of checked bags at the Sounders official checkpoint based on data. They continue to focus on improving in this area.
- Continue to work with supports to encourage tifos and displays.
- There were multiple 48-hour conversions for the stadium from soccer to football (or vice versa).
- 8 doubleheaders with Mariners, the team continues working to build the relationship between the organizations and to reduce the congestion with the partnership (7 will occur this year).
- Multiple new presentation elements for match presentations and fan engagements, working to raise the standards
- We play in one of the greenest stadiums in the world, with 97% waste diversion rate, they generate their own solar power to offset, reduce water consumption with low-flow, and automatic lighting reduces the energy usage.
- Sounders have a partnership with Youth Force to supply game day support staff.
- Gate wait time peaks over the season were at most an average of 7 min. This is a balance between resourcing and not overdoing that expense. This data point was across all games and times including full stadium games.
- Sounders will be updating them on the field LED system as they are 9 years old. This is to reduce the maintenance and repair costs.
- Reduction of weekday games and Sunday games and increase in Sat games while working to build consistency on kickoff timing.
Next up was the discussion around ticketing. The SeatGeek transition was completed in a very short offseason. Tickets will launch the first full week of Feb to allow fans to experiment more before the season (3 weeks before the first home game). The main change to fans is the account manager (managing of tickets and selling them) is now powered by SeatGeek. You need to link your account to be able to resell, forward, print tickets, renew seats, reserve playoffs, and take advantage of presales and additional soccer events. Basically, linking your account sets up your account manager. There is an insert coming with the Season Ticket packages to outline some of the actions and benefits. You can now use Venmo to get payments for selling tickets. The workflows to manage tickets will be more logical and save clicks to do things like print tickets. SeatGeek no longer has the 7-day restriction of printing tickets like last year, just keep track of what you are printing to prevent any gate issues with duplicates. The mobile app also saves clicks and has Single Sign-On functionality and integration between managing tickets and accounts. Instructional videos will be coming to help with the transition. You will need to re-designate tickets again this year for your account. Designation give the access to the season pass but not to be able to manage the ticket (like selling)
New up was AC Projects for 2018
After a quick break, we moved into Alliance Council projects. We have 12 projects with multiple people on each project. Expectations are for the groups to address moving the projects forward outside of the meeting and report back to the group.
- 10 year anniversary is working on their content, they have a framework on the content and are working with the FO on collaboration. The goal is to get 15 posts.
- Away travel team is working on the framework for goals and what they plan to accomplish on tagging away games for general fan allocation. We want to be careful with not impacting supporter’s groups while working to help general fans can have access.
- Working with RAVE and others to see what we can do to impact Community involvement. Todd and Molly joined the group to support Darla.
- Food and Beverage have been working to have supporter group beers in the stadium, they should be covered for the upcoming season and available. There should also be some new packages for the upcoming season. Will continue to work with the FO to provide feedback. One of the issues is that the Sounders don’t own the venue and there are challenges there. The group is going to work to come with some data and research to help the cause.
- GM vote group meet at the end of last month. They are working to improve marketing, maybe leveraging radio options. This will be the first vote for Garth and the 2nd for the club. We want to ensure we have a decent voter turnout. Voting will be in October timeframe
- Jersey group is working with front office and working to set up the timing and meetings. We want to continue to expand our impact on what we can do with the FO for the jerseys.
- Matchday experience currently doesn’t have a leader and there wasn’t much movement due to that. Peter volunteered for the group leader.
- S2 and the Alliance, much of this is going through the Rainers and Community Trust. We’ll work to support this effort and work with the contacts we have.
- Scarf vote effort will kick off in late summer or fall
- Visibility and Outreach is working to identify priorities for the season
- Sitting vs Standing still without a leader. Resources have been out for a bit.
- Youth Outreach will now be led by Todd. Looking into how to get youth programs to take advantage of open seats. Getting input from how the Mariners do stuff to support youth tickets. Group to set up what they want to focus on and identify a front office resource.
That’s all for now, see you next month with another meeting recap.
Jan Meeting Recap
The January meeting was on Jan as we moved it a week this month due to it falling just after New Year’s day. We opened the meeting with introductions to new Council members Jesse Kilgore and Gilbert Ko coving why they joined and how they have been involved with the Sounders to date. We have gotten some great new members recently but need more to address all the items we have (see further below). If you are reading this you too can join the Alliance Council and help represent the fans.
Martin gave an update on a survey conducted on how the AC can better communicate and collaborate. The results were emails for collaboration on bigger items like projects and SMS/Text for more urgent items and things that need immediate action. We will still use the Google group for archiving and communications.
The main focus of is around planning with front office topics and then projects for the council for 2018. A lot of the front office discussions do require us to fall in-line with the front office calendar so we can be sure we can influence this year/next year. Topics we are planning to address:
- Food was a topic we addressed last year and we had little influence based on our meeting. We want to follow-up on some of the items from last year. Hoping this year will be more focused on the stadium concourse food rather than the suite or higher end items. We want to readdress overall draft beer selection and options for veggie and vegan stadium wide.
- Marketing was another item we discussed last year. We saw some items but not a full execution there. We plan to cover some game day experience and well as overall experience around the stadium.
- Want to try to get security in for a discussion around the experience and what the plan is for improving, as well as reporting issues.
- Rave foundation, we want to get an update from them on what is going on and where the money from the AC donation last year went.
- Discussed addressing outreach and ticketing as well.
We will work with the front office to determine the schedule for the next several months.
Next up was what items were project and efforts the Alliance Council is going to work on in 2018.
- 10 years of the Alliance – we are planning to have regular content on this topic and need folks to produce content. Key resources: Martin Buckley, Stephanie Steiner, Roberta King, Molly Wagner, and Nick Biela.
- GM Vote – vote to retain Garth. We have 2 thresholds we need 40% of the Alliance to vote, a supermajority is required for the action to be binding otherwise the decision is up to the front office. Key resources: Jeff Williams, Nick Biesold and Darla Langdon
- Sitting vs Standing – can we get designated sections, this keeps coming up
- Traveling portal to connect fans. Key Resources: Lisa Angeles
- Youth outreach: Lots of discussion around how to get the next generation involved, possibly through a junior alliance. Need to determine what options exist and do some research. Key Resources: Darla Langdon, Todd Cowles, Nicholaus Biela, Molly Wagner, Dan Roe, and Gilbert Ko
- S2, is there something we need to get involved with there? We’ll put a request into the Community trust. Key resources: Darla Langdon
- Outreach & Visibility around the Alliance Council, driving the brand and ensuring we get information out to the Alliance. Key Resources: Karl Picard, Cameron Collins, Nick Biela, and Jesse Kilgore
Final items we addressed were getting bios and pictures for the new members to update the website.
We have a lot of work ahead in 2018 and the more folks on the Council the more we can get done. If you are interested in joining reach out or just self-nominate and get your 25 votes. We’d love to have you.