2016 Year in Review


Photo from Cedarpoint.com

Keep Your Arms and Legs inside the Ride at all Times

By Stephanie Steiner

In August I reminded owners and front office decision-makers that our General Manager was eligible for recall vote as soon as the last whistle blew on regular season play. I looked right at Garth Lagerwey and said, “This is not a time for people to tell you they have your back. They need to have your back.” In a year with some Front Office decisions that really made people angry, Alliance Members were ready to make him pay for it. Only four months later, late at night on December tenth, I got to congratulate him and shake his father’s hand (and wipe a few of my own joyful tears). In March 2016, my in-boxes were full of hate mail over the mobile-only ticketing decision the Alliance Council didn’t influence, and in November we watched our boys advance to the Final. We learned quickly that no matter what the conversation is about “rebuilding” or “loyalty,” our fan base has little patience for it. The loyalty is deep with only a few: we have work to do there. In late spring and early summer there was incoming communication with threatening tones, and in November we finally got to drop the word “interim” from Head Coach Brian Schmetzer: at the Annual Business Meeting he shared the love Schmetz-style with all of you.

What a roller coaster of a season. (more…)

Supporter Group Recognition – doing the right thing for all

28 March 2017

By Martin Buckley

Back in October 2016 the Alliance Council sent our updated and revised Constitution out to The Alliance for a ratification vote. Very quickly we realised that one part of that document had unintended consequences for our incredible Supporter Groups.

The specific issue was around the recognition of Supporter Groups. When you travel to an away match under the umbrella of a Supporter Group several important things happen. Safety, security, access to the ground – these are all pre-negotiated before the game. There are also MLS, Club and Stadium specific Supporter Group Exemptions around flags, two-poles and the like. All of this would be lost if a Supporter Group lost recognition.

I would like to publicly acknowledge the deep knowledge, history, context and support from Dave Clark, Glenn White and others. (more…)

Stars For All

February 23rd, 2017

By Stephanie Steiner

Sounders: You will have a star. Our team earned it, we will all be able to celebrate that championship authentically regardless of our size or gender. You matter. The star matters. We have been heard.

#StarsForAll: hashtag, battle cry, and quite frankly a no-brainer. Now we’re closer to it being a reality.

In a joint Press Release made just minutes ago, it was announced that stars may be applied post-purchase to our Sounders gear. I have no idea where the team stores are going to be able to source dump trucks full of stars, but I wish them Godspeed. Sounders: please be patient. They have only known this for hours. Any stars applied to jerseys in the next few weeks are miracles.  Give them time.

Our list of champions extends beyond the field, and beyond the locker room.  Our Front Office has been championing our #StarsForAll cause for months (minus the hashtag). In 2015, someone at MLS made the decision that only authentic jerseys would receive stars. We don’t agree with this this decision. Members of our front office did not agree with this decision and pursued it relentlessly. Doug Orweiler, Taylor Graham and several others are warriors.

Yesterday morning we started sending teasers to let you know we were all in for the #StarsForAll battle.

Battle might not be the best way to describe it – but we had a multi-step, multi-club, multi-month plan of action that we had just begun.  The first step was the declaration, the second was a letter sent via FedEx to MLS Headquarters.  Steps three through twenty-seven would have involved all of you – but it looks like we might not need them. The post-purchase star application for Sounders is MLS’s short-term solution.

We look forward to the longer term plan from MLS and are deeply grateful for the short term solution provided for Sounders. Now we wait for MLS to reveal its next steps: we were never in this for only our Club. Our letter clearly declares that we believe all fans of all championship Clubs deserve stars. It is our hope that all Clubs can learn their solutions expeditiously.

#StarsForAll #YouWillHearUs

 

Seeing Stars

photo from soundersfc.com

January 6, 2017

By Stephanie Steiner

It’s 2017, and we’re Brian Schmetzer’s Rave Green Army. The team are the championest champions ever.  We’ve had some sad moments saying goodbye to some heroes, and we’re still waiting to hear about a few more we love. When I get sad or worried about them, I go watch the celebration videos again and look at them in their proudest moments. It helps a little.

This past Tuesday, we met with Garth Lagerwey who shared with us a tiny bit about what it was like to have some of those meetings on Sunday morning after winning the Cup. You’ve read the article, he called the meetings “brutal.” Don’t get me wrong, he wasn’t insinuating that it was worse for him than the others, but you’d have to be inhuman to not be impacted. He was certainly impacted. Dear MLS: There is nothing about this timing that is a good idea. Let the winners be champions for a few days before this happens. Fix it.

Move forward with our love, Champions. Once a Sounder, ALWAYS A SOUNDER.

We’ve been hearing from you – a lot of you. You want to know what will have stars, where to find stars, if we can get a tattoo artist for stars. It’s a little bit overwhelming to try to manage the expectations at this point, but I’m in love with the enthusiasm.  Of course, it wouldn’t be MLS if they didn’t take something that was functioning perfectly well and change it up, so here are the updated rules for all things stars and jerseys:  http://www.mlssoccer.com/post/2016/02/04/here-s-what-s-changing-about-championship-stars-mls-jerseys-year .

Shortly after our win, I was in touch with Taylor and Mikaela about the whole star situation, what to expect, etcetra. Bart Wiley had met with adidas prior to the MLS Cup match to discuss stars and the 2017 jersey. I’m sure Toronto FC had a similar meeting with their representative.  Taylor updated me that Sounders FC were in a persistent conversation with adidas regarding women’s jerseys.  Current rules are that only authentic jerseys receive the stars. When I went forward with this question, Sounders’ FO was already all over it and lobbying for us hard.  By definition, women’s jerseys (and kids) are replica jerseys as there are no women or kids on the team, and none on the team wear women’s or kids’ jerseys. So it’s a sticking point – but I am so proud and honored that our front office wasn’t going to just let this slide. I can’t predict the outcome, and they are so busy that I’m trying not to pester them with things beyond their control.  But I’m really proud that they took this on for us and you should be too.

Some products are ordered and finalized during the regular season – don’t expect to see stars on the clear plastic bags – we can take gold pens to those. Scarves, well I really doubt it since the design contest deadline makes me familiar with the production calendar (I’m sure they were manufactured before our season ended).  There is simply a ton of work which has to be done early in order to have merchandise for all of us at the start of the season. But with the responses I’ve gotten to my inquiry, I’m confident in the efforts our Club has made to get as much merchandise updated as humanly possible.

Happy New Year, Rave Green Army!

Alliance Council has our first official meeting next Tuesday (January 10th) where we’ll elect our Executive Committee for the year.  At the end of January, all candidates’ votes will go to zero and voting will start over for 2017. If you’re considering running, you might want to wait until after that reset date and then nominate yourself at this link.  If you’d like more information about it, shoot us an email and we’ll get back to you quickly.

In only two and a half months, we’ll be welcoming our men back to Century Link as Champions. Dang it, someone is chopping onions in my house again.

Long Conversation with Adrian Hanauer

image from twotartescafe.com

October 27th, 2016

By Stephanie Steiner

I’ve heard from several of you regarding Adrian’s comments in this article that hit the Times last week. Thank you to all of you who care enough to be in touch.  Adrian and I got together for two hours earlier this week. We met at Two Tartes Café in Georgetown near my office.  If you haven’t ever tried it, please do.

Adrian was as he always is: respectful, thoughtful, and polite.  I was as I typically am: talking too much, thinking too fast, and excusing my Grocery Industry Tourette’s Syndrome™.

I know we have many in our base that want to know I beat him up – that he left bruised and limping and – dammit – I let him have it.  That’s not what happened.  He’s a good listener, he regrets his comments hitting the Times – he totally understands why we’re pissed off.  For real.  So what do I have to tell you?  Just that I really don’t think this guy is full of it. There’s something deep in there that we will never know. For one hell of a lot of good reasons, we’ll never know the whole story. Now it’s time for us to move on and butt out. Does that mean we have to love Ross any less?  No, not at all.  But it is probably past the time for all of us to quit our bellyaching and let Ross be done with this crap too.

Do I miss Ross on the broadcast? Yes I do. But I’m going to admit that Matt Johnson has grown on me, and it’s obvious that he loves the Sounders. I’ve always enjoyed having Marcus Hahnemann in there to lighten things up.  I think Taylor Graham has too much to do but he’s damned good on TV, and I see the comments all the time about Steve Zakuani – you all love him.  If Zach Scott, Mr. Sounder himself ever wants to float in on a broadcast in the future, I’d love to see that. So did the broadcast really go down in flames, or was room made for more former M.L.S. players in the broadcast team? Yeah, there’s a former Timber on the broadcast team – there’s actually more than one.  We’ll be okay.

With that conversation completed, we talked about the Annual Business Meeting (next Wednesday, people – get your questions in by Saturday please). We talked about handling the questions – Martin Buckley is triaging all of those, in fact we’re filtering out the ones that have been answered over and over again. I’ll respond to people with a link to last year’s meeting so that they can get the information on their own, but we won’t spend meeting time on those.

He gave me a quick peek at their ten year plan, and the pride was not only evident but contagious.  I told him that I have started a ten year plan to build democracy in sports but haven’t shared anything with anyone.  We started brainstorming and collaborating.  He’s not the enemy – we’re just not always going to agree, and we’re not always going to get to know everything.

There are plenty of you in the Sounders community who think I’m weak. I think you’re wrong – I think I’m different from what you’re used to:  I share very little until negotiations are completed.  Maybe that’s weak, maybe it’s smart, maybe it’s different. It’s possible you’ll be even angrier with me for having a productive meeting with Adrian – I might wake up tomorrow to an inbox full of vitriol – again. If that’s what you need to do, then it says a whole lot more about you than it does about me.  I’d rather build Democracy in Sports with Adrian than by working against Adrian.

Constitution Update – Supporter Groups

October 10th, 2016

By Stephanie Steiner

There is a lot of social media chatter this afternoon about the change to Article 8. The Alliance Council has had a procedure in place to recognize Supporter Groups since the very first set of Bylaws was written: Bylaw 7.  Pasted below is the archive copy from 2011.  We also have the original form that Supporter Groups filled out, also pasted.  What’s different today is that this was acknowledged in the corresponding article.  We’re not opposed to creating a different system. We support fan involvement in the conversation, and a systematic method that is fair.  Right now, this responsibility IS on our plate, and has been since 2011. Changing the system means writing an updated version of Bylaw 7, which is why it was acknowledged in the Constitution.  The one below has already been updated – please see the notes below.

BYLAW 7.  SUPPORTER GROUP RECOGNITION

Supporter groups are an integral part of the Sounders community and gameday experience. As such, the Alliance wants to encourage the growth of existing groups as well as the formation of new groups.

The relationship between supporter groups, the Alliance, and the Club, has a unique nature. As such, it benefits all of these parties to have a set of minimum standards for groups to attain, demonstrating their commitment.

Therefore, for formal recognition as a supporter group, groups must meet the following standards:

  • At least 25 identified, paid members
  • Identified group leadership who are responsible for coordination and can speak on behalf of the group
  • Organized participation as a group in activities like songs, chants, tifo, etc.
  • Established history of conducting supporter group activities for the Sounders
  • Have registered articles of incorporation with their local state

Supporter groups may apply to the Council for recognition, and the Council will invite the leaders of the group to a Council Meeting for discussion prior to a vote.

A majority vote of all Council members present is required for recognition.

Supporter groups may annually request renewal of their recognition from the Council; renewal is automatic (assuming it is requested).

Recognition may be withdrawn by the Council with a two-thirds vote of all Council members present and voting at a Council Meeting; such votes will always be taken with at least one month’s notice to the supporter group in question. <- this is the biggest part that caused issue and needed to be updated: 2/3 vote of members present: what about meeting Quorum? We’ve had meetings with as few as eight people in attendance- this meant six could eliminate a Supporter Group. What about having cause to do so? Isn’t that important? Shouldn’t the group in question be granted the time to speak on their own behalf? We think so.