Chalk Talk: September 17th, 2016

photo from SoundersFC.com

By Stephanie Steiner

September 20th, 2016

On September 17th, immediately following our victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps, Sounders FC hosted a Chalk Talk with fans to discuss Club direction, challenges, and (surprisingly) took live questions from the audience.  This conversation is the result of the Council’s repeated requests to make Garth Lagerwey, General Manager and President of Soccer, more accessible to our Alliance Members.  We are very pleased that the Club heard us and made this event possible. We sincerely hope this can become something that happens multiple times each year.

I have been getting my backside kicked getting escrow closed (silly me, I thought that was the hard part), and now that I have the keys, I also have a new definition of urgent.  So I simply did not get a write-up of the event done as quickly as I’d hoped.  Today, Dave Clark got a great one posted at Sounder at Heart, and I highly recommend you read it here.

photo by Daniel Roe

Meeting Recap: September 2016

Photo by Taylor Graham

By Karl Picard

This month was not your typical Alliance Council meeting.  For the first time in my service we had a current player visit the meeting (we get former players like Taylor Graham and Roger Levesque to speak with us occasionally).  Stephanie worked a surprise for us into the agenda – more on that later.

First the business part:  The first was beginning the planning for the end of year business meeting that the Alliance Council helps to run.  Kristina Vaughn has managed this project for the last couple of years. We want to improve attendance and make it more valuable to the fans.  If you have ideas feel free to let us know ([email protected]).  For now we are working on timing, location, and overall format.

Next up was the Scarf Designs that will lead to the Scarf Vote. This project has also been Kristina’s for the last couple of years. Design submissions are now open (started on 9/8) and will continue through 9/22.  Be sure to get your ideas in, as you could be part of the Sounders legacy.  The voting from the Alliance will be 9/28 – 10/5 and the official announcement is scheduled from the 10/12 game.  The vote for the scarf will also include the Alliance vote on the changes to the Constitution that the Council has finalized.

Finally, you have a chance to meet your Alliance Council reps and those that are looking to get your votes.  Be sure to come to The NINETY before the game on October 12th.

Now back to the beginning: Stephanie (in August) updated us on some really inappropriate communications that have come to the Council email this season – people insistent about meeting players, harassment, even a threat. We thought the “presentation” in the agenda was a follow up to that bit on when communication got “unexpected,” but the unexpected part was Cristian Roldan coming down the stairs behind her.  She worked with Mikaela Purvis and Taylor on that for a while and kept it a surprise for us for all the work we’ve done on the Constitution.

It was great to talk with Cristian about things soccer related, his teammates, about coming to the Sounders, and playing himself in FIFA.  He took an hour answering questions and asking them as well.  Some of the highlights:

  • He joked that his brother would call himself better, so he needed to say he’s better than his brother (who is currently at the UW) but would love to play along side him for the Sounders.
  • He said hands down Chad Marshall is the funniest player on the team, especially on Thursdays when he puts on Stefan Frei’s clothes. He’s such a big guy he stretches them out and then Stef has to wear baggy clothes afterward.
  • He said Ozzie has been the player he’s learned the most from this season, also mentioned that Friberg was another source of knowledge.
  • When asked about the draft and dropping to the Sounders, he said he was the happiest guy and even noted the fist bump gif online by Lagerwey and Schmid.
  • He said he likes to play himself in FIFA and at forward so he can score goals.
  • About his first goal: he kind of blacked out about it. He thinks that Brad Evans might have celebrated more.  Even though they practice that play, it was the best flick from Brad he’d ever gotten – it was perfect.
  • And for me maybe the most important answer he gave was around advice he’d give to young players: When asked what he’d say to the seven to ten-year-olds out there, he said school was really important, they need to be sure to keep their grades up and focus on school. He said he was barely recruited in high school and was lucky some highlight tapes got in the right hands – but that he wanted kids to know it was his grades that got him into the University of Washington.

It was really a fun night, we got some work items addressed, got to have some great conversation with Roldan, and we are ready for the push to the playoffs.  If you are an Alliance Member (Season Ticket Holder), be sure to vote for Alliance Council members so we can continue to work for you.  ‘Til next time.

Be sure to get in touch with us on Twitter, Facebook, or the comments section here on the Blog.

 

Meeting Recap: July 2016


photo by Karl Picard

By Karl Picard

July 22,2016

The July meeting was in the Sounders offices as The NINETY was being used.  With 20 people in attendance the room was quite warm for the 3 hour meeting (extended to get a bunch of old business done). We started off with a visit from Mikaela Purvis (Director of Fan Relations) to go over the renewal process and notifications the Club was planning to send out over the next month and half.  The highlights of the presentation were:

  • We discussed the Save the Date email which you should have received this week
  • An additional email will be sent around Aug 1st with the full information about the renewal process
  • This year’s auto-renewal: you won’t have to interact with Ticketmaster, Sounders are taking over that area.  You’ll still use the Ticketmaster login but the look and feels will all be Sounders based
  • You will be able to update delivery address, personal info, parking options, and credit card details
  • Accounts that opted for auto-renewal will have an option to verify their info, you don’t have to but you can change the payment plan and other items.  Sept 1st will be the first time they process payments, the amount will depend on your payment plan
  • For those who didn’t sign up for auto-renew, it will be a similar process as last year, with invoices available on August 1 and you will need to process your renewal either online through Ticketmaster, over the phone or at the match on 8/14 or 8/21 prior to the September 1 deadline.
  • All Alliance Members are automatically opted into the relocation process, Sounders FC just needs to process your renewal first in order to be eligible
  • Within the invoice for auto-renewal will be your opportunity to opt-in to a different ticket type other than mobile
  • Payments are the first business day of each month.  The options are full payment on 9/1, 50/50 or the 6 month plan
  • To better help Alliance Members with the bag changes Century Link will implement, those with packages of ½ season or more will get a clear bag, one per seat
  • Additional renewal events are being discussed for the month of August so stay tuned.

Council members were asked for feedback and we provided some in the areas that seemed confusing.  Overall the renewal process seemed much improved from an informational standpoint from last year.

Next we got some updates from our work groups.  The big stuff was the progress made on the Constitution, Articles, and Bylaws.  These were dealing with everything from Council election rules to GM stuff to proposing Alliance-wide votes or Alliance Council statements.  All of this work will need to be finalized in the coming weeks so we can get it out for an Alliance-wide ratification this fall.  Once approved, we’ll have all the changes the Council has worked on for as long as I have been a member in place.

Then it was onto making some changes to how the Council operates.  Moving away from the working groups (or at least for the initial efforts, they might still be used in some cases) to a structured schedule of Strategy Sessions with the Club.  This would allow us to focus in on areas where the Council can better engage the Front Office/Club and have the right people to get some real progress on issues/topics. The ultimate goal of this change is to have the Alliance Council take action and better represent the Alliance.

Another topic was regarding the nomination of Honorary Chairperson of the Alliance Council.  We may get to a point where we designate one annually, so we discussed ensuring Drew Carey is always recognized as the first Honorary Chairperson and the owner who brought us the whole idea of the Alliance.

One final personal note outside of the meeting recap, the Alliance Council is working hard to help improve the overall fan experience.  This year has been suboptimal, to say the least, in many aspects.  There are lots of cries for the Council to do something, and trust me we are working on it.  With really only 20 people working for you in a volunteer effort there is only so much we can do.  We get lots of folks on social media calling on us to get something done, if you want something done: join and help.  These developments that were acknowledged in the Club’s email were the result of a continued and cooperative effort between us and the Fan Relations Team. We are grateful for the open lines of communication between us.

Alliance Member Improvements 2016 MidYear

 

Meeting Recap: June 2016

By Thom Kephart and Stephanie Steiner

New business at this meeting was a Supporter Liaison Officer resolution proposed by Paul Cox.  This conversation was tabled until we can discuss at greater length and expect to devote time to this topic in our next meeting. The goal of this proposal aligns with the goal of the Alliance which is to positively influence the game day experience.

We had a heated conversation about our productivity particularly around how we are representing the fan voice and progress within our work groups.  Pretty much everyone on the Council agrees that the Council as a whole is not producing enough for the Alliance; i.e. for you. Half way through the season and the Council is short on representatives who are striving to push for change. We are short on action oriented people. This is where you come in; If you think you can make a good contribution to the Alliance, nominate yourself for Council here.  To learn more about what is entailed, check out this blog and this link.

Sometimes our meetings feel like Bill Murray’s Groundhog Day, especially with our June meeting being devoted to voting on Constitutional changes presented in May. However, with repeated efforts we are able to move forward toward the greater good.  Why must we do everything twice?  The Constitution requires that every new Article or Bylaw (or every change – called an amendment), must be presented at one meeting and voted upon at the next.  This provides our Council members with the time needed for consideration.  Usually, there is discussion on the topics at each meeting, because people have ideas whenever they have them, not on a convenient schedule.

Our objective is to have the cleanest possible and most relevant version of the Constitution ready for the Alliance to ratify when we host the annual scarf vote.  The most important section is the addition of General Manager Vote and Recall – this section is not in the Constitution that was ratified in 2011.  Solidifying that work could be extremely important in the future and finalizing the Constitution has a big deadline.

If you’d like to read about some of the other things we’re working on, you can check out this blog.

We’d love to hear from you: hit us up on the comments, Facebook or Twitter.  You can also look back at the meeting minutes for past Alliance Council meetings.

 

Meeting Recap: May 2016

Photo by Karl Picard

By Karl Picard

The May Alliance Council meeting, which took place at The NINTEY with cardboard cutouts of Clint, Chad and Nelson (not pictured), watching over us, was begun with old business: reviewing changes we’ve been working on to the Constitution and Bylaws of the Council.  This work started last year and we are closing in on the final efforts to get it out to the whole Alliance to be ratified later this season.  This work is in no way sexy but it does pave the way for the Alliance Council to better represent the fans moving forward.

Many of the changes are simple like using ubiquitous language thought the document to allow for easier understanding and creating consistency throughout the Constitution. Other items are around the fact at times the Council is referred to as a corporation, which is incorrect.  Maybe at some point we’ll incorporate, but if we use the word “Council,” we’re accurate now and in the future. We are working on how to make those that purchase any ticket package (not just a full season ticket package) are included in the Alliance.  We’re also working to have an attendance policy for Council Members to ensure they are representing the fans that voted them in, and to ensure they are knowledgeable about what they are voting on by participating in Council business.

We ended the evening with New Business: specifically, discussion around the new bag policy which was released by MLS in late April, the mobile ticketing issues from the 4/30 Columbus game, and the overall customer service the Sounders have been providing.  While we didn’t get deep into specific details, a few members of the Council did discuss writing up some possible opinion statements or blog entries to get deeper into the items we’ve been hearing from fans and experiencing ourselves this season.  We will also continue to explore ways to influence the Club and specifically the front office to respond to the needs of the Alliance Members.

We’d love to hear from you: hit us up on the comments, Facebook or Twitter.  You can also look back at the meeting minutes for past Alliance Council meetings.

Meeting Recap: April 5th, 2016


photo credit: unknown

By Eric Flatness

Tuesday, April 5 was the third meeting of the year for the full Alliance Council, joined by Taylor Graham as well as Kyle Sheldon (VP of Marketing) and Al Raitt (Gameday Presentation). The club staff at hand garnered much interest right away as Council members peppered the pair with questions about potential and insipient stadium changes, gameday signage and the logistics of showing video replay of controversial plays and decisions.

This meeting came in the immediate wake of the previous weekend’s home loss to the Vancouver Whitecaps, a match that featured two… let’s say “interesting”… penalty kicks for the away team. Raitt was able to clarify the policies that govern what replays are shown on the in-stadium video boards. The league itself has certain guidelines on what can and cannot be shown, and disputed plays are treated gingerly (likely with the intention of avoiding inciting the crowd.) It was brought up that many fans can now watch the plays via their mobile phones (using in-stadium wi-fi no less) and that gifs via Twitter and other social media can make the situation even worse. We were told concerns would be passed on to the league.

Raitt and Sheldon both addressed a noticeable change occurring at the stadium: the inclusion of the wrap-around video boards on the edge of the upper deck. The boards should be fully functional in May, and will include new gameday features as well as old ones (scoreboard) and likely some new advertising opportunities.

Most members of the council were pleasantly surprised with the increased speed getting through security lines since the first match, though it was noted that consistency was still an issue for wanders. Some had heard examples of people being asked to unzip jackets and take off hats while others had not been asked to do so. One problem that no one had was with the mobile ticketing-the new tickets seem to work exactly as intended.

We’d love to hear from you: hit us up on the comments, Facebook or Twitter.  You can also look back at the meeting minutes for past Alliance Council meetings.