Meeting recap: March 2018

Alliance Council Meeting March 2018

By: Stephanie Steiner

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.

Meeting Minutes: April 2018

SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC ALLIANCE COUNCIL

MEETING MINUTES

April 3, 2018 – 7:00 PM – The NINETY

Present (14 of 18): Lisa Angeles, Nicholaus Biela, Martin Buckley, Cameron Collins, Todd Cowles, Michael Dollard, Alex Eagleton, Roberta King, Darla Langdon, Jerry Neil, Daniel Roe, Stephanie Steiner, Molly Wagner, and Jeff Williams.

Via telephone (0): none.

Absent (4): Nick Biesold, Peter Buck, Jesse Kilgore, and Gilbert Ko.

I. Call to order – Martin Buckley

II. Roll – Cameron Collins: 14 of 18 Present

III. Meeting with in-stadium concessions – First & Goal Hospitality (FGH)

Michael Johnson (First & Goal Hospitality Executive Chef), Reid Henderson (First & Goal Hospitality Sous Chef), Abby Hetterich (First & Goal Hospitality Director of Premium Services), and Emily Schultz (Sounders Suite Services Manager)

Council was able to try some of the new food options that are going to be offered.

A. Focus for 2018: Community Partnerships, Sustainability, Varieties of Food & Beverage, and Celebrating the 1st Year of First and Goal Hospitality (FGH)

→ New Spaces: Elysian Brewery will have a new area. Club refresh will be taking place with additions of Din Tai Fung and expansion of FGH’s Smokehouse. The Smokehouse will have tea brined smoked wings and the beef brisket will be chopped and cut in front of customer. The smokehouses will open in the Club April 22.

→ Community Partnerships: They will continue to foster relationships within SODO, Chinatown-International District, and Pioneer Square. They will expand the Stadium Street Market concept to include other vendors from greater Seattle and King County, inviting these vendors to the main concourse. When they have openings, FGH also uses their own chefs to try out new recipes. This practice has included many interesting vegan and vegetarian menu items. They are bringing in Thai Curry Simple and Rainshadow Meats as vendors, and have signed an exclusive agreement with  Country Natural Beef to provide hormone-free, primarily grass-fed beef from local sustainable farms. They have also signed an agreement with Collins Family Orchards.

FGH has made it a priority to focus on women and minority owned businesses, like East Anchor Seafood, a local woman-owned business, who will provide all of the seafood for concessions.

→ Sustainability: They have a 90% diversion rate away from landfill as a stadium. The compostables created at the step get sent to a local farm which is used top grow the produce used by FGH. This means that all of the produce is certifiably organic and locally grown, coming from less than 25 miles away. They are focused on hyper-local sourcing in the stadium, whether in concessions or catering. They have gone from 15-20 products from local vendors to 85 products.  They are also the only stadium in the nation that fresh bakes their own pizzas.

B. Questions and Comments from the Concessions Group (Alex Eagleton, Jerry Neil, & Mike Dollard) and the Rest of the Council:

→ Sounders need to promote all of this more. People generally assume stadium food is bad. Our fanbase would love to know about this, and they would support it.

→ Choice, especially on the 300 level, is a complaint. We’d love to see some of the suite and club food trickle down to the general fanbase.

→ With the rise of obesity in our country, we would like to see more calorie-free choices in the fountain drinks offered in the stadium. They are introducing unsweetened teas this year.

→ The Sofia Coppola Rosé is very popular. Why is more not available? They can only get a certain amount, and once it sold out until last year, they couldn’t get more until the new year. They will, however, be introducing Frozé (Frozen Rosé) later this season.

→ The Rising beer prices brought up. Council expressed complaints from the fans. They hear our concerns and will take the feedback up the chain. Last season they got the feedback that there were too many IPAs and have acted upon it.

→ Concerns about some of the food quality. The best way to give feedback is to write to your ticket representative. When doing so, the more detail that can be provided, the better. The more specific it is, the more they can deal with any issues.

→ Vegan and vegetarian options are simply not good enough. The quality, overall, has gone up, and we are grateful, but it would be nice to be able to get more options throughout stadium and the ability for vendors to do special orders when possible. They will continue to explore expanding these options and have been looking in to introducing new brands of veggie burgers and sausages. They are focusing on how they could make a dish vegan and not simply vegetarian, when possible, so both demographics would have options. They are also focusing on how to bring in other allergen-free foods for those with such needs.

IV. Bylaw 10, First Reading:

As we have been talking with the Club about the forthcoming General Manager vote, the Front Office asked that we more cleanly define who is eligible to participate in the vote under our new Constitution. The proposed new language for Bylaw 10 is as follows:

10.4 GM Vote and Recall voting eligibility:

10.4.1 Eligible Alliance Voters.  Only Alliance Members who have purchased Full Season Ticket or Half Season Ticket packages through the Club are eligible to vote in a GM vote.

10.4.2 Ticket Brokers. Club-identified commercial Ticket Brokers are not eligible to vote in a GM Vote.

The Sounders currently have one ticket broker with whom they work. This broker would be the only entity excluded under this new clause.

V. 2018 Alliance Council Projects

Youth Outreach (Todd Cowles): They talked to someone from the Mariners and they were really open with information on giving away tickets and made themselves available for future conversations. He also talked to the Front Office, asked what their definition was of outreach…and they break it down in to 5 different areas: RAVE, kids club, summer camps, etc. Talked about where council goals and FO goal might cross to create synergy and move forward some big ideas.

Sitting vs. Standing (Roberta King & Lisa Angeles): Group has been working on understanding the history of the issue. The Club have not been willing to deal with the issues. We will make baby steps with them. We are hoping to get a question on the topic in the end of year survey.

Scarf Vote (Roberta King): The schedule from last year was laid out, and Roberta will be working with the Front Office to finalize the schedule for this year and have the Front Office make the vote a priority. Ideally, it would be nice to build in more time between announcement of contest and due date for designs than last year, so as to allow for more entries.

S2 + The Alliance (Darla Langdon): Darla talked with Kyle from SCT. They are committed to remaining independent from the club. They want to keep communication with the Alliance open moving forward. They are focused on their relationship with the Rainiers right now. They are not closed off to the Alliance being involved when needed.

Outreach & Visibility: Group leader Karl Picard has elected to go ex-officio, so the group will work to re-form and come back at the next meeting.

Jerseys (Cameron Collins): This is the third year we have been involved in the jersey conversation. MLS being a single entity, and thus having a single kit provider, causes the choices to be primarily made at an organizationally level by Adidas. The input we give is primarily upon the “mood” and themes of the jersey, rather than individual details. The group met with the Front Office to give input on the themes of the 2020 jersey and will continue to provide feedback to the Club.

GM Vote: The group has had several meetings and will be finalizing their proposed calendar at their next meeting, taking place on the 18th of April.

Food and Beverage (Alex Eagleton): The group will be touring the stadium, eating the food and keeping track of the information they discuss. They are unhappy with the rise in beer prices and will continue a conversation with the Club on beverage selection and pricing.

Community Involvement (Darla Langdon): The group has talked to RAVE foundation about different events they are having where the Alliance Council can get involved and looking in to other ways for RAVE and AC to collaborate. Council needs to start thinking about projects we are passionate about.

Away Travel (Alex Eagleton): Away ticketing is handled by ECS. Alex will continue the conversation as a means to discuss the creation of travel experiences for Sounders Alliance members.

10-Year Anniversary of the Alliance (Roberta King & Molly Wagner): The group has been doing extensive research so as to allow for the best interviews to be done as part of the project. The group will work with the Front Office to see if they can share resources with the Club in creating content.

VI. Executive Committee Member Karl Picard now Ex-Officio: Karl was promoted at work and now feels that he cannot devote the appropriate amount of time he wishes to the Council to achieve all of his goals. The Council is grateful for all that Karl has done for the Council and will greatly miss his voice. Because of Karl’s departure, we will need someone to do write-ups of each Council meeting for the website and to handle social media for the Council. We will also be holding an election for the At-Large Executive Committee position vacated by Karl at the next Council Meeting.

VII. Adjournment

Moved. Seconded. Council votes unanimously to adjourn.

Meeting minutes: March 2018

SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC ALLIANCE COUNCIL

MEETING MINUTES

March 6, 2017 – 7:00 PM – The NINETY

Present (16 of 19): Lisa Angeles, Nick Biesold, Nicholaus Biela, Peter Buck, Cameron Collins, Todd Cowles, Michael Dollard, Alex Eagleton, Darla Langdon, Jerry Neil, Daniel Roe, Stephanie Steiner, Molly Wagner, and Jeff Williams.

Via telephone (2): Roberta King and Karl Picard.

Absent (1): Martin Buckley.

I. Call to order – Stephanie Steiner

II. Roll – Cameron Collins: 16 of 19 Present

III. Work Group Updates: In order to allow Garth to Lagerwey to have as much time as possible, Council agreed to forego work group updates at this Meeting.  Instead, work group leaders will update the Council via the email distribution list. Suggested changes to the February minutes should be sent to Council President Martin Buckley and Council Secretary Cameron Collins by the following Friday.

IV. Meeting with Sounders General Manager Garth Lagerwey – Council met with Garth and discussed a myriad of issues from the forthcoming General Manager vote to his vision for the future of the Club.

V. Adjournment

Moved. Seconded. Council votes unanimously to adjourn.

Meeting Minutes: February 2018

SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC ALLIANCE COUNCIL

MEETING MINUTES

February 6, 2018 – 7:00 PM – The NINETY

Present (15 of 19): Lisa Angeles, Nicholaus Biela, Peter Buck, Martin Buckley, Cameron Collins, Todd Cowles, Michael Dollard, Alex Eagleton, Karl Picard, Daniel Roe, Stephanie Steiner, Molly Wagner, and Jeff Williams.

Via telephone (0): None.

Absent (4): Nick Biesold, Darla Langdon, Roberta King, and Jerry Neil.

I. Call to order – Martin Buckley

II. Roll – Cameron Collins: 15 of 19 Present

III. 2017 Operations Summary and Ticketing

Taylor Graham, Vice President of Business Operations
Mikaela Purvis, Director of Membership Engagement and Retention
James Milgate, Senior Application Developer

A. 2017 Sounders Operations Summary – Taylor Graham
→ The Sounders will continue to work at getting international soccer matches in Seattle. Council President Martin Buckley raised the concern that there were complaints from the public about scheduling and pricing. This is driven by the organizations involved with the events. Sounders will continue to work with them to try and get them to set the prices within the range to which Seattle market is accustomed.
→ Security Experts at CenturyLink lead the move towards stronger security. Sounders have the highest security standards across MLS.
→ There were eight matches on the same days as the Mariners in 2017. The FO worked to strengthen the relationship with Mariners and offer double headers. There are seven such matches in 2018 and the FO will continue to work with the Mariners and will collaborate on time changes when necessary.
→ The Sounders play in one of the greenest stadiums in the world. 97% waste diversion, all food service and vessels are compostable, they use paper-based ocean biodegradable straws, 25% of energy used is created on site through solar panels, they use 24% less energy because of LED and automatic lighting, and 1.3 million gallons of water are saved via low flow fixtures.
→ The Sounders continued their relationship with the Boys and Girls Club through the use of their Youth Force program, which is a teen employment program. → People enter through a variety of gates, but the Northwest gate is the most popular. NW (29%), South (22%), SW (16%), NE (12%), N (1%), Club (4%), NW VIP (3%), SW VIP (3%), and Suites (1%). The average peak wait time to enter the match is seven minutes.
→ Working with ECS, they will go away from the wrist bands for GA in the upcoming year.
→ The LED Board system will be replaced around April. The technology is outdated, making it cost prohibitive to maintain the old system.
→ In 2018, there will be far more weekend matches. There is a significant jump in Saturday day and evening matches compared to 2017.
→VAR: There were zero times where the technology did not work in the stadium in 2017. They cannot show the replays during VAR in the stadium because of FIFA rules. Replays cannot be shown until play has restarted.

B. Sounders Ticketing, SeatGeek, and Sounders App – Mikaela Purvis & James Milgate
→ Tickets are launching this week so there is more time prior to the season to work with the new system. There are not a lot of changes from the fan perspective, but the biggest changes are ease of use for the fan.
→ For security reasons, Sounders couldn’t transfer passwords and credit card information from Ticketmaster to SeatGeek, which is why season ticket holders had to do it themselves. It was the only process that wasn’t mobile friendly because of set up, but everything will be mobile friendly from now on. There is a small percentage of accounts who have not done this yet and have missed payments. Sounders are tracking them down.
→ Some of the new benefits with SeatGeek include: Pre-sale for single match tickets with a discount and no fees for Alliance Members, you can transfer individual match tickets to friends and they can pay you through the SeatGeek system via Venmo, option to donload tickets as PDFs, no seven date print limitation, and SeatGeek has a dedicated customer service teams for Sounders fans.
→ 900 seats opted out of scarves. Because of this initiative, spearheaded by former Council member Angelica Peck, 6000 balls were donated between this opt out and Delta providing matching dollars. → There are no Supporter Group logos on tickets this year.
→ Ticket packages get put in the mail Wednesday. App goes live Thursday.

IV. Alliance Council Projects Updates

10 Year Anniversary of the Alliance: A skeleton outline of content has been made. Council will be working with the FO to make it a joint project. This will allow for more high-quality content. Molly will be interviewing the three Presidents of the Alliance Council. We still need people to write for the project.

Away Travel: The group is working on the framework for what it will looks like and setting the goals. Discussion on Ticket allocation, so they will meet with FO to discuss the process. Main goal is to make sure that fans who are season ticket holders who are not part of an Supporter Groups will have an opportunity to travel.

Community Involvement: Darla is working on what it will look and has spoken with Ashley Fosberg, Executive Director of the RAVE Foundation. She is currently working on the setting a greater scope that previous involvement. Todd & Molly are joining the group.

Food & Beverage: GFC and Eastside have the same beers. ECS have a new beer. They will all be available in the stadium. Discussion followed on affordability and vegan/vegetarian options. Cpuncil will try to do a meeting with concessions before a match so that we can sample the average stadium fare.

GM Vote: Council is working with the Front Office on visibility. Look at minutes to put more info in to her. The group will be looking into the available voting mechanisms and the timeline necessary to effect October voting. The goal is a high turnout and visibility through local and national press.

Jerseys: In May or June Council will start work on the /2020 jersey with FO. We will continue the conversation on our involvement with the 2019 jersey, which is being finalized now. The new 2018 first kit includes a nod to the Alliance, with both a jocktag that celebrates the Ten Years of the Alliance and a neckhit that has the phrase “YOU WILL HEAR US.” It goes on sale on the 10th.

Matchday Experience: The group currently needs a leader. Peter is stepping up to lead the group.

Outreach/Visibility: The group has begin the conversation on what we are going to target for the coming season. There will be a larger update at the next meeting.

S2: All of the S2 operation have gone to the Seattle Rainiers, and all the fan experience type issues are going to Sounders Community Trust (SCT). Darla will work with Kyle from SCT to see what Council involvement will be.

Scarf Vote: It typically takes place at the end of the Fall. The process of how it runs has been developed for a strong vote to happen this season.

Sitting vs Standing: No updates. The group will need somebody diplomatic to deal with the issue.

Youth Outreach: Todd will lead the group. He has already talked to the Mariners to see what they and Major League Baseball do with the youth. It includes ticket giveaways, working with Seattle Schools, and other activities.

V. Adjournment

Moved. Seconded. Council votes unanimously to adjourn.

Meeting Recap: February 2018

Alliance Council Meeting 2/6/2018 

By: Karl Picard

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.

Meeting Minutes: January 2018

SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC ALLIANCE COUNCIL

MEETING MINUTES

January 9, 2017 – 7:00 PM – The NINETY

Present (15 of 19): Lisa Angeles, Nicholaus Biela, Nick Biesold, Martin Buckley, Cameron Collins, Todd Cowles, Michael Dollard, Alex Eagleton, Jesse Kilgore, Gilbert Ko, Darla Langdon, Jerry Neil, Stephanie Steiner, Molly Wagner, and Jeff Williams.

Via telephone (2): Karl Picard and Daniel Roe.

Absent (2): Peter Buck and Roberta King.

I. Call to order – Martin Buckley

II. Roll – Cameron Collins: 15 of 19 Present

III. New Member Introduction
New Council Members Jesse Kilgore and Gilbert Ko introduced themselves to Council and the Council Members present introduced themselves to Gilbert and Jesse. They talked about why they joined Council, what they hope to accomplish, and their relationships with the Sounders.

IV. Alliance Council Collaboration Survey – Martin Buckley
The Council was surveyed as to what the best form of communication is to stay in touch and get work done. The responses showed that the current use of email communication with phone contact for urgent communications was the best way to stay in touch with our members.

V. 2018 Meeting Themes – Martin Buckley
The last two Council years, the first half of each Council meeting consisted of a presentation from the Front Office; the second half we carried out Council business. The calendar for the club presentations is based upon the deadlines within the front office. The topics included Food & Beverage (February), Marketing (March), Corporate Partnerships (April), RAVE Foundation (May), Jerseys (June), and Ticketing (July). Other topics the Council would like to see presentations on moving forward include Security, GM Vote, Seat Geek, and Matchday Presentation.

The Council expressed a great interest in a more robust conversation on “Food & Beverage,” focusing on food quality, meal deals, vegetarian/vegan food, and beverage diversity. Mike Dollard will reach out to the Supporter Groups for information on their beers for the upcoming season.

VI. 2018 Alliance Council Projects – Stephanie Steiner & Martin Buckley

Stephanie Steiner discussed what a Council project is and project management within the Council. Current 2017-18 Projects, and the members involved with each, are:

10 Year Anniversary Martin Molly Nicholaus Stephanie
Away Travel Alex Gilbert
Community Involvement Darla
Food & Beverage Alex Jeff Jerry Karl Michael
GM Vote Alex Darla Jeff Martin Nick Peter
Jerseys Alex Cameron Gilbert Jerry Martin Michael Nicholaus Nick Stephanie
Matchday Experience Alex Karl Lisa Michael Peter
Outreach & Visibility Cameron Jesse Karl Nicholaus
S2 & The Alliance Cameron Darla Jeff Molly
Scarf Vote Cameron Darla Jerry Roberta
Sitting vs. Standing Lisa Roberta
Youth Outreach Daniel Darla Gilbert Molly Nicholaus Peter Todd

VII. Other Business

The Council has until the end of the week to work on Alliance information for the media kit. We also need bios and a photo from new Council Members for our Council website.

VIII. Adjournment

Moved. Seconded. Council votes unanimously to adjourn.