7.31.2013: Advice For Precourt, PSV Sports As Our New Owners
1.) A MLS Franchise Can Succeed Anywhere If Done Correctly. But, Winning Ain't Easy.
A MLS soccer franchise, absolutely everywhere in the United States, will have trouble attracting 20,000 fans weekly, let alone double that, by just being in existence..
Or by putting in place a positive initiative or two. Perhaps two hundred organizational initiatives of doing all the little things right, yearly.
The Seattle Sounders organization most likely is what all owners aspire too. The Major League Soccer owner water mark.
But, I bet Seattle didn't rest on, "hey some of you guys like soccer, more than most of America."
They promoted, they aggressively marketed on the internet, they attracted curiosity through their media, they made the right partnerships, they worked with the supporter groups, and the list goes on and on.
They spent a little money to make money. They took risk to make reward.
Columbus Crew needs a risk taker, someone that rolls the dice.
MLS obviously remains a tougher sell compared to more established leagues.
A MLS team doesn't have a 50 year history to rest on.
Yet, a talented ownership can build something where it wasn't, can connect history, can enhance a 17 year history to make the local community feel it more.
And, each year the MLS road gets just that little bit easier.
The road will be easier in 2014 than it was in 2013, and much easier than it was in 2005, or 1999 when Crew Stadium was the first soccer stadium ever built on American soil.
But, an owner can make that road easier or harder, can make positive results easier or more difficult to attain.
An organization can be there for 17 or 50 years. But, any organization that rests on it's history does not grow.
A organization that is happy where there at, is already in decline.
What are the Crew doing currently in 2013? What have they been doing since their own high point of 2008?
And what will Precourt do? What will his message be, compared to his predecessor?
It's got to be more than it is now. It's got to be more than MLS Soccer in FC Dallas, Chicago, New England, Chivas, etc.
It's got to be more than "hey were America's hardest working team" in every advert, when we can't beat one of the worst teams (from Canada).
As a Columbus Crew fan, I want more clarity in the team's direction. I also want to see new ideas.
Soccer is the second most favorite sport from 8-24 in the United States; but like anything, if you take no risks and don't try new innovations to attract that demographic and all demographics, you'll never entertain 20,000. They will not show.
Picture I took from Pirates game tonight: A team that was lucky to attract 5,000 fans on a Tuesday this time last year. Things can change quick.
It's all about personal connections. That can bring anyone to a game and get them hooked. That get people thinking about the team weekly, itching for the next kickoff.
The Columbus Crew were that passion and pride team in 2008 and the early parts of 2009.
You had players like Frankie Hejduk doing this and relating it to other players to try to play for the fans. You had players do more than a few claps and a head nod on the way to the locker, that wasn't acceptable
Now the Columbus Crew's passion best resembles an old steel mill, where the breadwinners punch a time clock at a organization about to be outsourced.
Being a part of something attracted people to the Nordecke, and if things were to occur a bit differently, that could grow in the future throughout a renovated and renamed Columbus Crew Stadium.
The Crew currently talk about their 10 K season ticket goal.
You can throw me a fancy chart. But, I unofficially coined the Nordecke name, ran this here (once popular) Crew fan website, and used to spend a cool grand painting Crew banners in my basement, had season tickets in the Nordecke in 2008 and 2009.
But, since then I have been to one game in 2010 and one game in 2012.
That's probably not a good sign.
Well, maybe I'm a half ass lazy soccer fan?
Let's see... Currently I'm reading English soccer player biographies about Paul Merson and Tony Cascarino, I risk viruses on my computer to watch Gold Cup illegally since I don't get Fox Soccer, I dream about the changes I'll make to my Forest Green club on Football Manager during work, I've coached high school boys soccer (which you have to be nuts for, try it), oh and I watch the Columbus Crew at my gym off their directTV (which if you saw the Toronto FC game means your bonkers).
There is passion here in the fans. Just some things lately make me say meh, and are making other former diehards say "meh."
Warzycha, he tries but does he inspire? McCullers, seems to have some goals but never gets to them, partly because he is handicapped by HSG, partly because of something else difficult to pinpoint. Lamar Hunt's son, I can't even remember his name at this hour, which tells you what you need to know about our previous owner. The team, has given up on whatever Warzycha's script for the season was. "Omg were shocked we keep giving up all these late leads," that screams a team not on board. meh.
The stadium, meh. The promotions, meh. The video/media/website production, meh. The scoreboard, not meh, that was probably our biggest story of the season.
2.) I Know You Said You're Going to Wait, But... Do Something! Anything.
It's good to assess over a period of time, but you also have to do something right away to let everyone know that you're the owner and not an absentee one, that you mean business.
You got to fire someone. You have to do something crazy to get the fans attention. It doesn't have to be awesome, it could even be stupid, just something to say "what the hell? This guy is different, he's doing something."
Maybe wake the club up from it's three to four year hibernation.
Promote Hejduk, bring Schelotto back in some role, get a media department that can put some stuff on the interweb that might excite, bring in a controversial new coach to stir the pot (Eric Wynalda for example would make everyone interested, give him until the end of the season to turn it around). I don't know I'm aching for some story line.
Part of the reason I write less these past few seasons is because nothing terrifyingly interesting happens; or gets to the press; or is taken from the mouth's of the players and put on a video or on the internet.
It doesn't have to be scandalous, no not at all but you could try something new to at least make things interesting, a little more exciting.
Do anything to make the rest of 2013 have a little more zip to it, other than this collective until the end of the season.
If Precourt sits on this team (with probably a big losing streak) until November, that won't make the best impression either. This franchise has been playing it safe for a little while too long.
3.) We Don't Need Moved For You To Profit. Review Sporting Kansas City, were at a better starting point than they were a few years back.
Sporting Kansas City, a team rebranded, now has a beautiful new soccer stadium, filled to capacity.
A few years back their colors, their logo, their minor league baseball stadium used to be the laughing stock of MLS.
There is passion here, just like there is there.
I've seen it in the Nordecke. For example, who the hell wouldn't want to be in there->
Mr. Precourt, if your intentions are to eventually try to move my team, our team. You're going to have a hard time creating the above scenes in Miami, San Francisco, or Las Vegas.
This is the reaction of working class fans going nuts for their local team, seems to match the Columbus Crew "hard hat" mantra.
But, when you start to wonder if the players, coaches, owners, managers, ticket people share that same passion day in, day out as the fans; it's trouble. When you have the above, there are ways to grow it more, and I think the ball was dropped a bit.
Sure, some have stepped in and picked up the pieces but I would have imagined more when it grew out of nowhere five years back.
And, sure, Mr. Precourt you could flip Columbus to Miami in 3-5 years down the road, sell the franchise outright to Beckham or do a co-ownership? But how exactly will that lead to more sells or passionate fans? The first Miami wasn't a success. They have gorgeous sun and beaches and hot ladies in bikini's, I don't even think I would go to a MLS game if I was in Miami.
See Miami Marlins. Beach and bikinis --> 4 hrs of (in the case of the Marlins) questionably talented professionals holding bats.
All joking aside, a talented owner with a talented group could even make soccer a sell out there, anywhere.
So, make the Crew the biggest headline success here. A story again. Now that you bought the Columbus Crew, which is a risk, now isn't the time to play it safe.
There is passion for the Columbus Crew, just a better job has to be done of conveying that passion on a weekly basis from the organization to the current fan base; as well as conveying that passion to greater Columbus to expand that fan base.
4.) Can't Stop At A Rebrand. A rebrand is fine. I'm extremely content/would prefer just sticking with Columbus Crew. But, wouldn't mind a few cosmetic changes to the badge.
Except not the awful robo cop, Crew badge from a few years back.
Also, I wouldn't mind Columbus 96', where as another fan mentioned on Bigsoccer, Columbus could be fan nicknamed the Crew as Arsenal is the Gunners. As long as the colors stay the same and the history stays, the badge isn't my number one concern.
A packed soccer stadium that enjoys the history, colors, team is.
I don't think anyone today would name a team Cleveland Browns, and make them brown and orange, but hey works for Cleveland.
So, just because you change the outside look of the organization, won't floor people. It's the inside of the organization that counts even more.