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2015 Meeting Recaps

Meeting Recap: July 2015

Photo Credit: SoundersFC.com

By Karl Picard

July 20th, 2015

July’s Alliance Council meeting was designated for Council business, without outside guests.  There were four main areas of discussion for the night: the visibility team and promotion of the council, supporter group recognition and the role the council plays in that process, community involvement, and the GM Vote and Recall process negotiations (ongoing).

On the supporter group recognition front we focused on Bylaw 7 of the Alliance Constitution. The discussion focused around the fact that with the current language, the Council could remove recognition of a supporter group without cause or criteria.  It was explained that Bylaw 7 was originally added to provide criteria for recognition, so that the Club could recognize “supporter groups” consistently. This was a concern since supporter “groups” wanted access to Cascadia away match tickets. There will be more fine-tuning of the bylaw changes with a vote on those changes scheduled for the August meeting.

Next up was the visibility group, which is focused on ways to promote the Council.  We have been working on being more active on social media outlets as well as publishing some blog posts and these Council meeting recaps.  We are in need of more people willing to help out as Alliance Council is a volunteer effort, check out a recent blog post on this request.  If you have some ideas on what we can do to improve our brand and work better for the Alliance let us know on Twitter, Facebook, or in the comments.

Within the area of community involvement, we discussed the scarf vote and the Rave Green Run . The 2016 scarf competition:  design submissions will be in September with voting on the finalists in October – so it’s time to get those ideas fired up! The Sounders have a few community efforts coming up, the big one is the Aug 9th  Rave Green Run, complete with viewing party afterwards for the LA game.  Be sure to look for these and other community events on Twitter and Facebook.

Lastly, our main discussion was centered on the GM Vote and Recall Process negotiations. We are working with the Front Office on updating the Charter regarding the vote to ensure the terms are clear, and the Alliance retains the power to recall a current General Manager. We also strive to ensure that what we create will never be in the way of the Club to recruit top talent for that role.  Look for more to come on that in the coming months.

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Editorials

Lawyers and Writers and Prayers, Oh My!

Photo Credit: SoundersFC.com

By Stephanie Steiner, Alliance Council President

July 8, 2015

As people become acquainted with the Alliance Council and learn a little about what the Council is and does, members of Council are asked questions like, “Why can’t the Council post surveys a few times each year?”  “Why can’t the Council get old minutes posted?” “How come the Council never has one open session?” “Why does the Council still meet at Sounders Headquarters?”  and so on…

The answers are all pretty much the same:  The Alliance Council is without any financial resources,   meaning: our resources are made up of the ideas we create and the efforts we contribute.  We simply don’t have enough resources currently to get to everything.  We have barely started creating our own mailing list.  We don’t have access to the Club’s mailing list of Alliance Members. If money is needed, it’s currently coming from our own pockets.  Luckily, what we have needed to take on so far has been inexpensive. Meeting space has been generously provided by the Club, and as far as ideas go – we often collaborate and brainstorm back and forth.

So why would I write about lawyers and writers and prayers?  Well that’s how we get by, and in a way, that’s what we need.  It’s time to recruit for the Alliance Council.  For example, the Council has a Constitution with bylaws, but not enough people to be operating a rules committee.  We need a rules committee to be looking at those bylaws and making necessary adjustments.  The Constitution and bylaws are a relatively short, but tedious document that people are tired of dealing with.  With a couple more good attorneys on the Council, we could make really light work of this – one or two sessions at most to get some language updated and clarified.

The Council needs more writers so that we can divide that work, but more importantly: share the spotlight.  More people writing would give more of our alliance members the opportunity to get to know more Council Members and the topics that drive us.  We are great at tweeting, and we like the idea of having blogs for our members.  But even though writing a blog is a short task, it’s one that people have to work into their busy lives – and that kind of task needs to go to people who are comfortable with it.

As far as prayers – well I’m not actually religious, so maybe that’s a fib.  But I do worry about the number of times I call upon the one attorney we have on Council, or the one community organizer, or the one other writer.  They are all fabulous, but we need a few more.  Alliance Council should be about fifteen to sixty minutes of work per person, per month, between meetings.  If it’s more than that, then it’s a strong indicator that we need people with specific sets skills and experience – and that’s where we are today.

Last year we made a significant schedule change and voted to meet exclusively on first Tuesdays. It was the day that worked for the most people, and when we enacted that step we knew we’d leave some behind: it’s not uncommon for only ten to make it to a meeting.  We wear many hats, and can’t get to everything we’d like to or to everything Alliance members would like us to.  But when I look at what the supporter groups have been able to accomplish, or at what owner-groups have done in clubs around the globe, I know that building this up is certainly within our capacity. Next up for us to take on: building a budget.

That’s where you come in:  we have a stadium full of amazing and incredibly talented Sounders Season Ticket Members. We don’t just need random people, we need you, with your skills, your voice, and your contribution of knowledge.  You have the ability to make a difference. The Alliance Council could greatly benefit from people with strong backgrounds in the areas of:  finance/money management; project management, event planning, writing, marketing, community outreach, legal: lawyers, legal aids, law clerks; web design/production, video production, content management, and volunteerism. To nominate yourself for Alliance Council, you’ll need your login email and your account number (it’s on your match pass): https://vote.soundersfc.com/Login.aspx.  Thank you for considering it!

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2015 Meeting Recaps

Meeting Recap: June 2015

The Ninety display window – photo by Karl Picard

By Karl Picard

This is the second in a series of Alliance Council meeting recaps.  For more information about the Council, click here.

At the June 2nd Alliance Council meeting, which was held at TheNinety, we met with Mikaela Purvis, Fan Relations Manager, to discuss options for Season Ticket Members. Currently, the club is promoting the Priority List where fans can reserve a place on the list to get season tickets in the lower bowl.  Additional benefits for season ticket members are discounts at the pro shop and pre-sale access for other event tickets. The priority list is only for those who want to be new season ticket holders – existing Alliance members are already at the top of the list.

The club consistently renews at a high rate, but they are looking at ways to engage those who have not renewed in order to determine the reason they don’t renew and make sure they aren’t missing anyone. One big change Mikaela mentioned was that the club will have a 6 month payment option that should make the financial impact less on those that need a little relief, just be sure to renew by the deadline for this benefit Also, the club is looking for a way to combine the processes of renewals, playoffs, and seat designation to make it as easier for Alliance Members. They are looking at a few other things as well, working both with the Alliance Council and others.  As those options get more developed, we’ll be sure to get the details out.

Following our conversation with Mikaela, we discussed the Council’s involvement with Supporter Group Recognition.  Currently, Bylaw 7 of the Alliance discusses how supporter groups are to seek formal recognition from the Alliance Council, which may also remove that recognition.  The discussion tonight was about whether the recognition process is something the Council should do, or if that is more of a role for the front office. Article 6 of the Alliance Constitution discusses the relationship of supporter groups with the club and precludes the Alliance and supporter groups from interfering in each other’s business. Discussions will continue and hopefully a vote on what that bylaw should look like going forward will happen in the next couple of months. For more on supporter group members participating in Council, read the recent blog post by the Alliance Council president Stephanie Steiner.

The Visibility group gave a debrief their activity with Twitter, Facebook, the outreach table at the Sounders game, as well as working with the Sounders front office to get Council blogs published on the SoundersFC.com website.  If you missed it the first one, Democracy in Sports ran this past week.  You can find all articles published about the Alliance Council using their tags at the bottom of articles.  We expect to publish two articles each month by the group, along with the usual Facebook and Twitter activity.  Give us a follow if you haven’t already.

The last business item covered was the GM Vote and Recall.  Discussions are still ongoing around how the GM Vote and Recall should be structured. We continue to work with the Sounders front office to make sure the Alliance voice is heard. We all know Drew Carey wanted there to be a way for the fans to provide feedback on the direction of the club, so we are working to ensure Alliance members have a key role– not just today but forever.

Let us know what you think Council should be talking about and working on for Alliance members.  You can do that in the comment section below or via the social media avenues mentioned in this article.  Until next month…

Categories
Editorials

When Will You Limit Supporter Groups on Alliance Council?

By Stephanie Steiner, Alliance Council President

The question I’m asked most frequently since becoming President of the Alliance Council is, “So are you finally going to set a limit on the number of supporter group people who can participate?”

The short answer is “Nope.” The much longer explanation is worth your time, I hope you’ll grant me the courtesy:

Firstly, it’s not up to me, nor should it be.  For the Council to make any changes such as limiting the participation of any particular type of person or group of people, we’d have to create the language, discuss it, and vote it into effect.  It wouldn’t be up to any one person.

Yes – the Alliance Council is made up of quite a few people who are also part of supporter groups.  That’s accurate.  People who are involved in Seattle’s soccer community are exactly that:  involved.  The Alliance Council needs people who can make commitments and keep them.  We need people who know how to stay organized and get things done.  Many of those people are organized and get things done for other groups – it’s true:  supporter groups are part of them, but also charities, soccer clubs, PTAs, neighborhood associations, and the Sounders Community Trust.  But people only get bent out of shape about supporter groups.

I think the reason some people have issue with “supporter group people” is that the person in question has made a negative mental association with the idea of “supporter group people.” I did it too. Back in 2010, when I learned about the Alliance Council, and later when people were getting elected, I was irritated that nearly everyone on the council was from the south end of the stadium. Then when their profiles were added to the website – I was really ticked off.  Everyone was young!  Insult was sufficiently added to injury.  What kind of garbage was this? I was so mad it took me almost two years to get the ability to vote (long story – some other time), and then I got myself elected – there was no way those young, good looking, jumpy-ass singing people were any good at representing me.

………we pause this middle-aged-woman tirade for a truth-in-advertising commercial break: I am now a paid-in-full member of every single supporter group which will have me……

Why such a change of heart?  Well, I met them.  The real them, I didn’t just stick to my idea of them.  I paid for memberships in every group out of respect for the commitments they make to the community at large, not just the soccer community. I also joined because the membership payments are the mechanism by which I can contribute financial support for the awesome tifo work that I love in the stadium and the charitable work that the SGs promote. I am not going to contribute my time to those endeavors – to that I am resigned. But I have a little bit of money I can give, so to that end, I will give. But as far as my attitude shift regarding “those supporter group people on council:” the Alliance Council is made up of moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas, singles, and married people.  Some people are experiencing divorces, some already have.  Some have diagnoses to deal with, some already have.  Some are transitioning jobs, some are done with those transitions. Some are executives, some are laborers, some are unemployed and there is everything in between.  We might actually be over-representing parents as our population shifts away from parenting. We could use some better racial integration, we would benefit from members of the LGBTQ community, and we could use the perspective of some folks in their sixties and seventies. Considering that the trials and tribulations of a normal life will not stop for anyone who chooses to join the Alliance Council, we really need the Council to be about twice the size that it is currently so that we can all cover for each other when the going gets tough – because it will. But mostly what we need are people who will commit to getting a little bit done, and then stick with their commitments.

So now here I am in my third year with the Alliance Council.  I don’t see how we can represent the voice of any particular group or every type of person by limiting participation of another.  I believe the only way for anyone to be heard is to build their voice.  If you really think there are too many people from supporter groups on the Alliance Council, OK. Let’s say you’re right.  Change the ratio by nominating yourself. Participate.  If you think there are too many people from the west side of the stadium on the Alliance Council, OK. Let’s say you’re right.  Change the ratio by nominating yourself.  Participate.  If you think there are too many people with noses on the Alliance Council, OK. You’re absolutely right.  Every single person on the Alliance Council has a nose. Nominate yourself.  Get your 25 votes, and participate.

I’m not trying to be ridiculous, I’m not.  I’m trying to get your attention.  Since the Council was created in 2008, there have been fewer than one hundred people pass through. It’s hard to hear our group of volunteers criticized for not representing nearly 14,000 season ticket member accounts when we’re the only people stepping up to do it. We need people to participate and contribute meaningful effort, and that includes you.  I haven’t voted yet – will you run?

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Democracy in Sports Editorials

Democracy in Sports: the Meaning Behind the Words

May 3, 2015

By Stephanie Steiner, Alliance Council President

In February of this year, Alliance Council was invited to SSFC headquarters to meet with Adrian Hanauer and to be introduced to our new General Manager and President of Soccer, Garth Lagerwey for the first time.  During the evening’s conversation, Mr. Hanauer introduced the topic of the General Manager Vote and asked us to collect our thoughts and make a recommendation on the right thing to do regarding the timing of the vote.  In reading the Charter, we realized the ambiguity of the language included there.  So here we are, only two and a half years following Adrian Hanauer’s landslide vote of “confidence,” facing questions we weren’t expecting so soon, if at all:  Is it the right thing to do for the Club to hold a GM Vote every four years on a set schedule no matter what?  Could it interfere with the Club’s ability to hire the best General Manager possible, if the candidate would be facing a vote within a very short time of accepting the position? If the candidate is the best and confident in their abilities, would that scheduled vote even matter to the person? What is the Alliance actually expecting or wanting?

At the March Council meeting three weeks later, we created a work group to take on the task of debating the conversation surrounding the GM Vote topic, collecting ideas and opinions, and we took those to the general council meeting in April.  After that conversation, the ideas grew and the extended list was shared with our SSFC Liaison, Taylor Graham at the end of April – and the ideas grew even further.  It is easy to see how each time we add a different perspective to the conversation, new ideas emerge as to how to solve the same challenges and our opportunities to satisfy our Alliance members get better and far more interesting.

Our challenge has been to get to the Alliance at large.  In the coming weeks, you will see these questions in social media.  Please take the time to answer them in the comment sections of that media format, or send us a direct message:  SSFCAlliance@gmail.com

Democracy in Sports:  What does it mean to you?

  • What would “Democracy in Sports” need to provide such that the Season Ticket Members could influence the direction of the Club?
  • In a perfect world, what does “Democracy in Sports” mean to you?  How would it function?
  • With regard to General Manger Vote of Confidence – No Confidence, do you believe a new General Manager should have a minimum amount of time to prove him/herself in the position before facing a vote?  If so, how much?
  • In the context of “Democracy in Sports,” what can be done to make this your Club and not just a product you are consuming?

Thank you for sharing your thoughts.  Go Sounders!

Categories
2015 Meeting Recaps

Meeting Recap: May 2015

May 7, 2015

By Karl Picard, Alliance Council Member

This is the first in  a series of Alliance Council meeting recaps. For more information about the Alliance Council, click here.

At the May 5th Alliance Council meeting we met with Maya  Mendoza-Exstrom (Sounders FC General Counsel and Executive Director of the Rave Foundation) and Petyr Beck (Publisher at Documentary Media). Maya has been involved with the Sounders since she was a baby going to games, with her father as General Counsel for A-League/USL Sounders, and now she works with the MLS club. She has also played and coached in the area at several levels, really just being part of the soccer fabric around Seattle.

Maya and Petyr are building a book around the history of the Sounders with the proceeds generating funds for the Rave Foundation as it’s first fundraiser. The focus is not your typical history of a sports team but rather around the relationship between the community and fan base that has developed from the 40 plus years of Sounder history. Petyr was actually a roommate of Adrian in college and has been around the Sounder legacy for his whole life.

The book will contain lots of full-page photos depicting Sounders related interactions around the community, not just in the stadium or at games but from bars and events. The book will contain quotes, memories, and a few short essays, but will mainly be driven by the photos. They are looking for the community to help them in this effort by offering pictures and stories; anything that reflects the soccer community and its influence on the Sounders and soccer in the region. The best stuff will likely come from a personal perspective, from being at the stadiums to viewing parties to events. We’ll have more to come on how to share those experiences, but get your photos and stories together.

Maya also talked to us a bit about the Rave Foundation and their efforts around equity and access to the game of soccer. How do they influence urban areas and deliver the game to those who can’t afford the youth leagues in the area, similar to what the NBA has done with basketball. They are looking to build tennis court size fields in neighborhoods and areas of the City that are field deserts or which do not have quality places to play that are open and accessible without having to rent the field.  She also mentioned they are planning small-sided, pick-up street soccer events throughout the City.

The last hour of the Council meeting was dedicated to ongoing business, mostly updates regarding progress about the General Manager Vote conversation with the Club.  The previous week, Stephanie Steiner had met with Taylor Graham to discuss several options we had come up with to manage the GM Vote as well as outline concerns expressed by the Alliance which needed to be addressed in conversation with ownereship.  Taylor took back all of the documents after review and the request and will bring them to Adrian Hanauer.

Additionally, all work groups which were present gave updates regarding their tasks:

SG Work Group:  Mark Nesterhoff, Dan Roe, Brendan Vaughn, and Stephanie Steiner held a conference call to outline questions for the Club.

EOY Business Meeting:  Kristina Vaughn was told its too early to discuss the EOY BM – we disagree.  We only have five more regular council meetings before we are at the EOY Business Meeting.  She will revisit the conversation.