Categories
2016 Meeting Recaps

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 (ssfcalliance@gmail.com).  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.

 

Categories
2016 Meeting Recaps

Meeting Recap: February 2016

Tweet credited to Likkit Pocinwong

By Stephanie Steiner

February 20th, 2016

This was the first meeting with our new attendance bylaw in effect – four people called in.

We started our meeting with a presentation from Taylor Graham, Mikaela Purvis, and Megan West to cover mobile ticketing, Matchpass rewards, the new mobile app, account representative restructure, and voting.  The news:

  • Sounders invested heavily and built their own app.
  • Matchpasses for entry and pre-printed tickets were going away – entry was mobile only.
  • Matchpass points were going away. For a loyalty program they never really worked, and were a cause for constant frustration.  Charitable support was more aligned with the brand and with the priorities of Sounders Season Ticket Members.
  • Voting: delayed. All efforts being focused on start of the season. Once everything was ready, Primary Account Holders would be able to designate voters from within the app itself. As of this writing, it appears as though voting is still not yet turned on. Primary Account Holders will be able to vote now and start designating voters as soon as it is. The FO is concentrating their efforts on making sure mobile entry works to get people through the gates before they take on anything else.
  • Mobile App: heavy investment into communication with STMs and entertainment options.
  • Account Managers: restructured and reassigned by “neighborhoods” within the stadium. Since they’ll know which seats are vacant on matchday, they can go sit within their sections and be available.  Neighborhood parties being planned.
  • Buy It Now option within MatchPass to generate funds for charity, 1/3 of those funds directed by the Alliance Council to a cause.
  • Mikaela Purvis, Megan West, and Taylor Graham will partner as liaisons to the Alliance Council going forward.

It’s important to note that although several Alliance Council members had been beta testing the app for a little over a week by this point, this is the first we’d heard of ticketing being moved to mobile only.  The November meeting with owners included conversations about mobile ticketing, but not from any perspective of “only.”

After they left, we approved our minutes from the November 2015 meeting and then went around the room and briefly highlighted for each other why we nominated ourselves for the the Alliance Council.  We held our annual elections:

President: Stephanie Steiner (unopposed)

Vice President: Kristina Vaughn (unopposed)

Secretary: Cameron Collins (unopposed)

All three of the above are on the Executive Committee – President and Vice President are automatic.  Also elected to the Executive Committee were Martin Buckley and Daniel Roe.

We then moved into a conversation about our workgroups, we changed the names of some and added a few more.  I left one off inadvertently (women’s attire), but since it’s already been created we don’t need to vote it into existence – it already exists, we just need someone to lead it.

We have far more workgroups than our twenty-three members will be able to manage, we will have to prioritize them as the season goes. Our groups are:

GM Vote – write our language into Charter and Constitution

Member Eligibility – Do we want to charge people to join the Alliance? Is $125 too much or too little? What about S2 season ticket holders?  Partial Seasons?

Supporter Group recognition

Alliance Council Visibility – blog, social media, Pre-match table: all included here

Community Outreach – also included here is charity partnership

Scarf Vote

MatchPass – program has been entirely restructured, not sure what will be needed here

Kit (we are done with jock tag thru 2017, next chance to be involved is 2018)

Annual Meeting Questions – does this need to be a workgroup or just take volunteers at the time?

End of Year Meeting – already have a full team here

Season Ticket Holder Giveaways – scarf or?

Presentations from the FO – doesn’t need to be a workgroup, can just work with Stephanie to get onto the agenda when the agenda can accommodate the time

Constitution & Bylaws – rewrites, what language and concepts should change – get out to Alliance for a vote in ’16

Budget – build awareness of the Alliance Council, members stop spending own money

Seating Expectations – will discuss all issues related to seating in stadium.

Women’s Attire – Sounders attire still not right for women fans

Our last conversation of the meeting was about Season Ticket Members’ request for greater transparency, specifically the request that we publish our votes by member. The greatest complaint was about the number of people who have abstained. In the end, we have decided not to publish the votes.  The reasons surrounding that are that we are not a governing body, we don’t get to decide what the Sounders do.  We can merely make recommendations.  And our members have been harassed – sometimes even from other council members.  We had a lengthy conversation regarding the desire for more information and more perspectives being made available to the Alliance.  It’s too early to say if that will result in more views being expressed in the Opinions section, I hope so.

That summed up the first meeting.  We got feedback later from our call-in members that the Batphone worked fine, so that’s good.  We moved it up and down the table to keep it near the person who was talking – not always convenient, but not impossible to maintain.

And then a week later I went to bed and forgot to turn my phone off.  Like any girl from Italian lineage, when a phone keeps blowing up into the wee hours of the morning, I got up and went downstairs with heavy heart to learn the dreaded answer to the only question that could cause an iPhone to dance explosively across the countertop: Who died?  Luckily, I learned no one had.

What happened instead is that last December, some ditzy broad (who looks exactly like me) thought it would be an awesome idea to introduce season ticket members to the Alliance that they’re a part of. What a novel idea – an introduction!  That introduction went out in the season ticket member packages that also introduced the words mobile only.  I turned my phone off.  I went back to bed.  I did not sleep.  In fact, I didn’t for several nights.  Most of the mail that came in was absolute vitriol – not helpful in any way, shape, or form.  I answered those emails anyway, at least with “I’m sorry this is frustrating,” and an explanation of when the Alliance Council was informed of the decision.  After a few days, we (the Alliance Council) learned that we had an inaccurate talking point at the Front Office that declared the Alliance Council had vetted or enthusiastically endorsed mobile only or something like that.  There were several emails along those lines – I got that corrected.  We didn’t endorse the decision.  Several council members tested the app, that’s it.  Mobile only remains another story.  A couple of the emails that came in outlined the impact of the decision to go mobile only and the authors requested that their emails be elevated to the proper personnel for replies.  I was copied on those, and I’ve shared them below because I think they’re helpful to everyone.

I can’t help but be reminded of how far we’ve come in three years.  Yes – only three years ago, my group still had to deal with tearing paper tickets out of a giant book.  The rest of the stadium had been moved to these cool new plastic cards.  I made this huge color coded grid for the whole season (still do), rounded up as many people as possible, and we headed to brunch at Senor Moose in Ballard where we’d dive into awesome sopes de tinga with horchata lattes, and start separating our tickets and parking passes by person.  Some people drove in from Spokane for it.  Ticket trades had to be completed a week in advance so that the paper tickets could be dropped into snail mail.  Remember snail mail?  I forget about it too.  Sounders hadn’t even created tickets by pdf for us yet.

Here are the questions and answers I promised you (answers are from the Front Office Staff):

Hi Rob,

I appreciate you reaching out to both Alliance Council and myself. I apologize for the delayed response as I wanted to ensure I was provided you all of the answers that you requested. First of all, I want to thank you for taking the time to provide us feedback regarding our mobile app. I believe that some of the new features of the app provide you with a viable ticket solution and can ensure you we have taken precautions to make sure your concerns are addressed.

 Rationale for change? Business decision, cost, convenience

There were multiple reasons why we decided to make a switch to a mobile platform, cost was definitely not one of those. Integrating mobile tickets into the native app experience provides more flexibility for fans. The app will improve the ability to manage seats in the way that works best for each fan. Whether you’re sharing a seat with one person the entire season, splitting between multiple people or deciding last-minute on what to do with your tickets, the app will provide an improved solution to help with those needs. In addition, MatchPass rewards will also be available in-app, so fans can redeem rewards and manage tickets within the same location, anytime, anywhere.  In addition, we are excited the app will continue to support news, videos and additional content and can serve as the first-choice for fans when looking for the latest from Sounders FC.   

 Are you looking to enable an Opt-In for physical tickets or enable “print at home” with “matchpass and season tickets” privileges?

Similar in the past, you will be issued a MatchPass, instead of a physical MatchPass, you will receive a digital MatchPass that you can manage through the Sounders FC app. You will still have the full functionality of My Account Manager, now even easier to access through the Sounders FC App. My Account Manager gives you the opportunity to print, forward, resell or donate your tickets. Therefore, if you prefer not to use mobile for entry, you still have the ability to print.

 Will you enable contest entry for each ticket purchase?

No, for the history of the MatchPass program, all enter to win contests have been one entry per account. This allows for all season ticket members to have the chance to enter for prizes. If you do not want to take the chance of the enter to win, there is also a buy now option to secure a spot where all of the money raised will be donated directly to charity. I strongly recommend you check out the new MatchPass informational video on the matchpass.soundersfc.com website for more information and to check out the cool rewards already posted.

 The MatchPass loyalty program has completely changed this year. There is no need to swipe at concessions or the pro shop or work to earn points, so you do not need to provide your kids your phone at concessions. With this new program, we want to simply reward you for being a season ticket member, not to have you to worry about earning enough points to redeem. We hope your phone doesn’t die getting to the match, but just in case if it does, we will have Sounders FC staff available with phone chargers to get you some battery to get into the match. If you do not want to charge your phone, you could also visit the customer service window located on the NW corner of CenturyLink Field for assistance with your tickets.

We had some issues with the Android launch, which is most likely why your wife was unable to log-in. However, we released an update Wednesday evening, which should fix those issues. Therefore, if you would like both you and your wife to have the ability to scan into the gate, you can designate her a couple of passes to download onto her device, so you do not have to swipe through all 5 passes at the gate. Below are some tutorial videos, just in case if you need them, to explain how to share a season pass with your wife or simply download the passes to your phone. In addition, you can add those passes to either Android Pay or Apple Wallet, so you do not have to worry about downloading them on matchday or using Wi-Fi or data.

Share the Season: http://www.soundersfc.com/mobilize/manage-season

Download to phone: http://www.soundersfc.com/mobilize/get-all-passes

If you have any other questions, please do not hesitate to reach out me directly. I would be happy to walk through this with you, so we make sure you have a great matchday experience. If you would like to read any more information, I would recommend checking out the STM Benefits Website or the Mobilize Website for more information. Thanks again for your support and look forward to your response.

Later follow up:

Thank you for your email! One thing I do just want to note is if you save your season pass to your “wallet” on the phone, you can actually delete the app afterwards. As long you as you have the default setting, the pass will update itself to the next home match on its own. Also, the wallet doesn’t use Wi-Fi or Data, which should help the battery issue. 

We do still have our Sounders FC Pub Partnerships, and expect to expand them for the 2016 season! We are working on creating a form of Season Ticket Member ID for those who do not have access to smartphones.

Again, I really do appreciate this in depth feedback. If anything else comes up or still does not work (Android should have gotten an update after you sent this email).

At the March first meeting, we will have Taylor Graham and Bart Wiley coming in to discuss some of the hot button topics (Mobile only, variable single match pricing, etc.).  We can’t reverse their decisions, but we do want to know how they’ll take care of people – I’m confident there must be an answer, so what is it?

Categories
2015 Annual Business Meeting Editorials

Sounders Edit GM Vote & Recall Out of Alliance’s Annual Business Meeting Recap


Photo from soundersfc.com

by Stephanie Steiner

November 14, 2015

Maybe someday the Sounders’ Front Office staff will learn to avoid stepping in it. But for now, that crap they’re tracking across the carpet stinks.

“Follow the Live Tweets of the Alliance’s Annual Business Meeting” and then they don’t bother to tweet a damned thing the Council presented – especially General Manager Vote and Recall – the reason the Alliance exists.

Video recap of the Annual Business meeting held Thursday, November 12th, 2015: click here .  They left my Council update in, how generous of them. Cameron’s General Manager Vote and Recall presentation was edited out, as were my answers to questions (granted those weren’t terribly exciting – but they were inclusive and supportive of the Front Office).

Disappointing isn’t strong enough of a word. I thought we’d come much further than this in creating partnership.  If the General Manager portion suddenly gets posted as a separate video, I’ll post it, but that would be a huge surprise (and likely a result of this post, and not planned ahead).  Below is the comment I posted on their Live Tweet thread:

I have already submitted my answers to my portion of the questions that the Alliance sent to us.  I sure wish I could have a do-over.  Does the Alliance need to step up to make this work?  You bet. But guess what, Front Office?  After you.

Categories
Editorials

Why Don’t our Radio Stations Love The Sounders?


Photo from SoundersFC.com

By Kristina Vaughn

October 9, 2015

It’s been a lingering question for me, mostly this season, why is soccer (and the Sounders specifically) talked about so much less on sports programming on TV and radio? Even with the USWNT winning the Women’s World Cup, there was very little chatter about soccer.

I asked a friend of mine who works for a sports radio station to answer a few questions that I had about why this may be:

Soccer/futbol/football is played all year long around the world, why is it broadcast so much less than other sports that only play for half of the year?

Basically, there are three major sports that are covered by most conventional sports radio- Football, Baseball, Basketball. Hockey used to be a 4th, but has fallen off in the last decade and a half, fueled mostly by the labor dispute that led to a lockout. 

When the national teams (both Men’s and Women’s) are successful, do you see an increase in interest from listeners?

When the men’s and women’s teams are successful during the World Cup, and the Olympics (More so the World Cup) there is a genuine interest from listeners. The fever sweeps the nation, and everybody catches the wave for those couple of weeks.

What do you think it would take to get more airtime for soccer both in Seattle and across the US?

I think in the Northwest, it gets about as much airplay on radio and TV as you’re going to see. We have shows that have Adrian Hanauer and Sigi Schmidt on as guests when Sounders news breaks, and have had Sounders players on occasionally. In most of the other reaches of the country, you’ll find that MLS soccer takes even more of a backseat to bigger time local teams than it does here. The Northwest is the region that has more interest than any other in the US.

With the recent scandal involving FIFA, did that increase the soccer conversation?

It was a brief headline on our top of the hour updates, but didn’t change the conversation.

What is your favorite aspect of covering the Sounders (when you do)? What do you notice is different about our Club from other local sports teams?

There isn’t really a way to answer this; I produce the morning show, and we don’t spend any time on MLS soccer.

What is the biggest reason why soccer isn’t as entrenched in mainstream sports as football, baseball and basketball?

I’d say there are several facets. First, when you look at sports like football, they’re successful because of the dollars they generate (more than 7 BILLION dollars in the last year) and can market themselves accordingly. Football’s meteoric rise of the last 20 years can almost directly be tied into fantasy football, and the effect it’s had on the popularity of the game throughout all demographics.

That said, soccer fans often don’t do themselves any favors. The perception of soccer fan is that they’re standoffish to new or less educated fans, meanwhile, from the other side of their mouth, complain that those same people who would be casual observers don’t hold them highly in the mainstream.

I know that’s the case with me; soccer fans have ruined any interest I would have had in watching MLS soccer. 

In the Seattle metro area there are three sports radio stations; KFNQ-AM (The Fan), KIRO-AM, and KJR-AM. I’m not even sure that any of them have true soccer specific programming.

If we want more coverage, more Sounders news and conversation, on our local sports radio stations, we’ll have to show that we want it; that we’ll listen to it. You want more Sounders? Go after it! The only way we can make a difference in the air time of these stations is if we call, text, tweet, Facebook, Instagram the hell out of these radio stations to talk more about our Sounders.