Meeting Minutes: August 2009

ALLIANCE COUNCIL MEETING MINUTES:
8/27/09  Conference Call

MLS Supporters Summit and Cup Final
Planning will begin next week between the Sounders Supporters Groups, MLS and Sounders FC in preparation for the Nov. 22nd Cup Final weekend festivities and events. Stay tuned for more details from the Supporters Groups and Alliance Council!

Sounders FC has been in talks with the MLS to find ways to ensure and encourage that Sounders fans show up for the Cup Final and host an enthusiastic, full stadium, to represent Seattle well across the league and finish out our inaugural season strong! It will be Fall in Seattle, so the weather may not be great…but we still need to drag ourselves out of bed and show why Seattle is the best home for soccer in the nation.

We were asked to share any ideas we might have on encouraging local attendance. There is talk of trying to provide a musical act at pre-game or half-time (The Council felt it would take a fairly well-know name to create a real draw). Other ideas discussed were to: encourage people to donate their ticket to a person who hasn’t had the chance to enjoy a game yet, send out a Sounders players to the sections to watch the game with fans, or provide a pre-game festival in the North Lot similar to the Mexico/China match.

Season Ticket Deposits and Renewals

There have already been 6,000 deposits of $50 each put down by those wishing to get season tickets next year. If projected renewals are high, the front office will again be considering the pros and cons of opening up additional seating capacity at Qwest.

There was a great deal of feedback heard by the Front Office regarding the standing or sitting issue early in the season, but they have heard less concern as the season progressed, and renewal preferences may better inform the situation. In general, it appears that the charter-level 100 seats prefer to stand, and club-level 200 seats prefer to sit, with the majority of those preferring to stand concentrated behind the goal ends (with the Supporter Groups), and sitters concentrated near mid-field. If you are an Alliance Member and have a specific seating request for next year, please contact your ticket rep and let them know now, so they can note it on your account, and can work to accommodate your needs. Renewal calls from ticket reps will be beginning very soon.

2010 Sounders Schedule
The good news is, the groundskeepers at Qwest have been able to turn over the field from soccer lines to football lines quickly, and will only get better with time. But, Qwest has an agreement with the city that only allows a certain number of games to be played at the same time as the Mariners. The Alliance Council felt that they were hearing a preference for night games from the fans for next season and passed that along, though again, scheduling for the Mariners and Seahawks will come into play.

While we definitely were given a treat this year with two exhibition games and the Cup Finals, there will be exhibition games included in our season ticket packages next season. After very successful Barcelona and Chelsea matches (with Chelsea speaking well of Seattle on their return), the front office has been hearing interest from other English and Mexican league teams interested in visiting Seattle. In addition, MLS will be watching the 2010 World Cup situation and how it impacts the league schedule. Though most World Cup matches should be airing in the morning (unless on replay), and won’t overlap with evening Sounders games. There might also be the possibility of Training Camp being open to fans next year (similar to what the Seahawks have offered in the past). Council members thought fans would be interested in attending training camp if access was possible.

2010 Open Cup
The conversation continues regarding the use of Starfire vs. Qwest as the location for Open Cup matches next season. While Starfire has parking, seating, access and facility limitations…it did provide an intimate and alternate viewing environment for fans, which many enjoyed. They are looking into getting a better turf playing surface installed, and exploring ideas for solving seating and parking issues. While many on the Council voiced a strong preference for Qwest (as it would likely mean a larger draw), others acknowledged that Starfire had worked pretty well, and Qwest would likely draw around 10,000 fans vs. Starfires 3-4,000.

Miscellaneous
There was additional conversation surrounding the Broadcasters, PA Announcer, all of which will also be considered anew as we approach next year. Plans for the pre-game, in-person Council meeting continue.

Meeting Minutes: July 2009

ALLIANCE COUNCIL MEETING MINUTES:
7/23/09 posted

A report from the July 8th Alliance Conference Call with the Sounders own Bart Wiley

First In-person Meeting of the Alliance Council
Date to be set in the near future, prior to a home game near, or at, the stadium (several hours prior to pre-function activities, so all can attend).

Improvements to the Council Voting system
While not perfect, the vote system this season has sufficed. Whether a “one seat=one vote” model is possible or preferable is still up for debate, both logistically and in terms of balancing corporate, ticket broker, individual or other group purchaser’s representational power…while still allowing individual fans to feel they are getting value from their Alliance Membership and Season Ticket (personal vote, discount card, email communication).

There have been some limitations to the current vendor voting software, in that season ticket holder access was processed in batches causing some access problems. Next year, the possibility of a streamed feed is being looked at. Unfortunately, there isn’t a public access point for the software to allow public access to vote standings.

Section Preferences for Next Season
Many fans this season found themselves in sections that were non-conducive to how they hoped to enjoy the game…whether preferring to sit, stand, wave flags, blow horns, proximity to the band, beer consumption…or otherwise. Ticket reps will be calling season ticket holders soon to discuss renewals, and will be asking about fan experience this year, and asking what they’d hope for next year.

The Council heard from many fans this season who felt they were in the wrong section…also, many were still accessing section preference tools available at Ticketmaster and Sounders FC. The Council recommended updating these tools with current preferences and profiles for sections so renewing season ticket holders can make more informed decisions.

Plastic Horns
Under consideration…as there’s a range of strong opinions regarding their use/sale…both pro and against. Council members reported hearing from many dissatisfied fans and hearing of several confrontations arising from disagreements over horns at games.

Vancouver and Portland preparations for 2011
Sounders FC has been in contact with Vancouver and Portland. There will be reserved sections for visiting supporters at both Qwest (section 203) and the rival cities. Their season ticket holder sales may impact how many extra seats will be available for traveling Sounders fans. The Council also strongly suggested preparing now for strategies to keep fan separation between teams at games…as a way to head off conflicts, and commended the good work done so far at Qwest and gave some suggestions for improvement. The Sounders FC is also already in discussions with the other teams regarding this issue. Regarding traveling supporters. At this time Sounders FC will not be organizing travel arrangements, but will assist supporter groups as they are able. This may be reviewed next year to see if changes are needed.

Partial season ticket holders from the band move
Discussed previously…it was felt value/alliance status should be given to those who put money up early for season tickets. Also, many moved from other areas of the stadium and already enjoyed STH status.

International Supporters Clubs
The front office will be focusing on building the club for the immediate future, and encouraged Council members or those hoping to help support international clubs to put together a plan for review/consideration. One suggestion was for international groups to consider the successful ECS model, putting together a package for international fans (scarf, pin, membership card, etc) and letting it grow organically.

Council Impact and Responsibilities
The Council heard back that they are indeed having an impact, and Sounders staff have been pleased with the feedback they’ve been getting. They assured us that they are hearing the fans. The Council is also acting as a sounding board and stewards for the club/brand, and the Front Office is working to take our initiatives under consideration and into action. In the future, the Council would like to continue to have their discussions available on the Sounders FC site blogs, to better keep the fans connected and informed. And keep an eye out for more issue threads on the forum.