Sounders FC Business Meeting Q&A
Posted by: Sounders FC Public Relations
Q. Why does the club begin season ticket renewals so early?
A. The club begins the renewal process in late September every year. It takes time to renew 32,000 season ticket-holders, and honor requests to move, upgrade, add, drop or change seats.
Q. What was the rationale for not opening the Hawks Nest to season ticket holders for the first round of the playoffs?
A. The Hawks Nest was not open for the first round of the playoffs due to the tight turn-around from the end of the regular season. The team focused on creating a more intimate environment.
Q. Why was the all-inclusive option removed from the first four rows of the upper bowl this season and will it return next season?
A. The all-inclusive option was removed from the upper level last season based on feedback from season ticket holders in that section. Most season ticket holders did not find that the benefit outweighed the price. There are currently no plans for the all-inclusive pricing to return. Based on the per ticket savings of over $10, this logic was implemented for the North End, and fans renewed at a 93% rate in that section.
Q. Will the 30% MatchPass discount still apply for food and beverage in 2013?
A. The MatchPass program is currently under evaluation. The team will alert season ticket holders in early 2013 about MatchPass savings.
Q. Will the Sounders continue to charge filing and administrative fees to season ticket holders?
A. The $5.00 handling fee will continue. This nominal fee does not cover the cost of distributing tickets.
Q. Will the upper deck be open for more games next year? What are the plans for further expansion of available seats?
A. The club plans to offer a four-match pack in 2013. The pack will include four MLS regular-season matches. We would like to keep a healthy demand for Sounders FC tickets. The club had ticket availability for each home match in 2012. The club evaluates the demand for Sounders FC tickets at the end of each year, which ultimately determines seat expansion moving forward.
Q. What are the long-term plans for the grandfathered pricing that 2009 season ticket holders receive today?
A. We hope to be able to maintain a separate price point for season ticket holders who purchased season tickets in the inaugural year to reward them for their loyalty. Season ticket holders who joined after 2009 are rewarded as well by being offered pricing that is significantly lower than game-by-game pricing. The price point is reviewed at the end of each year and we consider all factors in determining the price of tickets for the following year. All season tickets are significantly lower than buying an individual game ticket.
Q. Will MatchPass and other ticketing ever go completely digital?
A. As MatchPass technology expands, the team will continue to evaluate options, including NF technologies. The team will introduce a fan loyalty program in 2013 and offer MatchPass holders a chance to load value on their cards to have a cashless experience at the stadium. Regarding a timeline for going completely digital, all season ticket holders will be on a MatchPass in 2014. Season ticket holders will have a choice of paper tickets or card in 2013.
Q. What are the benefits of having a MatchPass?
A. The MatchPass allows season ticket holders to have all 17 regular season home matches on a single card, and can be loaded with additional games such as Open Cup, Champions League and MLS Cup Playoffs. The MatchPass also features in-stadium food and beverage and merchandise discounts. The MatchPass also allows fans to load stored value on the card to have a cashless experience at the stadium, and the club will offer a new loyalty program that provides benefits for simply attending games. The MatchPass results in less paper and waste without sacrificing flexibility.
Q. Why is confetti no longer used during home matches?
A. Confetti was discovered throughout Pioneer Square due to wind and weather so the club transitioned to streamers to maintain a similar effect.
Q. Many Sounders FC supporters choose to stand during home matches while other fans prefer to sit. How is the club handling this issue to ensure all fans have an unobstructed view and quality match day experience?
A. There are sitting only sections available at CenturyLink Field and fans are encouraged to contact their ticket representative to find seats that best fit their needs. The majority of the fan base prefers to stand but the club is sensitive to the needs of all fans in attendance and will continue to work with stadium staff to prevent any incidents.
Q. What happened to the Emerald City Supporters removing the profanity from their chants?
A. The Sounders FC management continues to meet and work with all supporter groups to ensure they are helping the atmosphere in the stadium and not taking away from it with their songs, chants or actions.
Q. Has the club worked with public transportation to add bus routes to the East side on game days?
A. The club has a good relationship with Sound Transit and will continue to ensure fans have easy access to CenturyLink Field before and after matches. The club has worked with Metro to expand their service to the Eastgate park and ride at the end of each Sounders FC home match, as well as Northgate and Kirkland park and ride.
Q. Will CenturyLink Field begin to display stoppage time on the game clocks in-stadium?
A. Major League Soccer does not allow the team to display stoppage time on the game clocks in the stadium. Stoppage time is at the discretion of the head referee and the stoppage time announced is only a minimum, which can be further altered.
Q. Can the supporters clubs post their chants on the Sounders FC website so that all fans can follow along?
A. The Emerald City Supporters (ECS) website does post lyrics and videos of their songs, encouraging everyone to learn them and join in at games. http://www.weareecs.com/media/songs/
Q. Can the club turn down or get rid of the artificial sounds played in-stadium during home matches?
A. The Council wrote a noise resolution early in 2012 and our game day entertainment group toned down the artificial sounds played during the match. The club is open to further discussing artificial sounds in-stadium with supporters.
Q. What steps will the club take to provide a world-class halftime experience for home games?
A. Soccer matches worldwide typically do not feature any halftime entertainment. The club has a contest with corporate partners at the beginning of halftime but the field must be clear in order to water, which is a league requirement.
Q. Is there any way that the only drums allowed in the stadium are those provided by Sound Wave and ECS?
A. The club will work with all supporters on the timing of their drumming. The club is aware that there is a group of drummers in the Hawks Nest. The group preferred to sit in that area rather than with supporters in the south end in an effort to involve more people in the game day experience.
Q. Has the club looked into providing healthier beverage options at CenturyLink Field?
A. We are constantly evaluating the food and beverage options and service at CenturyLink Field. The club will talk to our in-stadium concessionaire about the healthier drink options. The club will work with the stadium’s new food and beverage provider, Delaware North Companies Sportservice, to provide healthier options.
Q. Can we have better ways to dispose of waste after the games?
A. CenturyLink Field is an award-winning facility when it comes to green initiatives and sustainability projects. The stadiums recycle and compost program has received great recognition in recent years. The club will make sure to continue to work with the stadium to ensure that all waste (garbage, recycle, compost) can be disposed of efficiently and environmentally safe.
Additional Soccer Matches at CenturyLink Field
Q. What actions is the front office taking to bring USMNT games to Seattle?
A. The club is in constant discussion with US Soccer and Soccer United Marketing and will consider any potential soccer games at CenturyLink Field.
Q. Why no international friendly in 2013?
A. We have heard from the Council and our fan base that supporters would rather see a MLS match against a heated rival than a friendly. There is still a possibility for a friendly in 2013 but the club did not include it as part of the season ticket package.
Q. Have the Sounders FC made any bids to host a MLS All-Star Game?
A. We will consider potential soccer events coming to CenturyLink Field, including the MLS All-Star game, but it will have to be appealing to our fan base and make sense financially.
Q. When will the club commit to providing natural grass playing surface for MLS games?
A. We’ve done a significant amount of research and studies on this issue. Natural grass is not a viable solution for the climate in this area of the country, and the amount of events that take place at CenturyLink Field impact this issue as well.
Q. Why did you play the first-round playoff game with football markings on the field?
A. We did promise our fan base we wouldn’t play with football lines. The playoff dates this year presented a tough challenge for the club. We had the option to play on a clean field (no football lines) on Monday, November 12, which would force both teams into a quick turn around since the second leg was schedule for Thursday, November 15 at Real Salt Lake. With the limited time between games and travel issues, the team decided to play the match on Friday, November 9 with minimal football markings on the field. The club believes that this option gave the team the best chance to win the playoff series and will continue to research methods to turn the field from soccer to football as quickly as possible.
Q. Are there any plans to update and expand seating at Starfire?
A. We are always looking at ways to improve our business and perhaps it makes sense to increase capacity at Starfire. We are not ready to expand the amount of seats in that venue right now, but it is something that the club will consider moving forward.
Q. Would it be possible for supporters to design the team’s next third kit in 2014?
A. Yes, it is possible. However, the design of the 2014 third kit is already underway. The team has discussed the idea of including supporters in the design process with adidas and the retail team. We are heavily dependent on adidas during the design process. The LA Galaxy and Sporting Kansas City have had fan driven design contests. Based on sales of those designs adidas has forgone that process. That being said, the team will continue to work with the Council on this process.
Q. Why do season ticket holders get a scarf every year along with our season tickets? Has the club considered offering a different item?
A. Scarves are an iconic part of the game and now an integral part of the Sounders FC fan experience. However, the organization has discussed giving season ticket holders the option of receiving a scarf or not. If they opt out, perhaps stored value on their MatchPass can be made available for concessions or merchandise at the stadium. Season ticket holders are encouraged to share ideas with the Council.
Q. Will Sounders FC have a new uniform design in the 2013 season?
A. Yes, the team will wear a new home uniform in 2013 per adidas jersey cycle.
Q. Does the club have plans to expand the selection of women’s apparel?
A. We have expanded the selection of women’s apparel in past years and will continue to look at ways to improve. There is an Allysa Milano line of women’s clothing available and we will continue to work with adidas to ensure a better selection of women’s apparel.
Q. Do you anticipate changing jerseys every two years or will the cycle time depend on when sponsorship deals expire?
A. The cycle is not dependent on sponsorship. The jersey cycle is determined by adidas.
Q. Can the club schedule Sunday games for 1 p.m. rather than 6 p.m?
A. Kickoff time is often dictated by television partners and potential conflicts with other events. Of the four Sunday home games in 2012, three were national broadcasts on ESPN or ESPN2, and the one local broadcast fell on the same day as a 1:10 p.m. Mariners home game.
Marketing CCL Matches
Q. What will the club do to improve attendance at Champions League matches?
A. Sounders FC continues to experiment with CCL matches to increase attendance while maintaining a healthy advertising budget. The club will continue to modify advertising plans for CCL matches.
Q. Will the west side of the stadium be open for the quarterfinal match against Tigres next March?
Champions League Preparation
Q. How will Sounders FC prepare for the CCL quarterfinal round?
A. The players will report to preseason training earlier in 2013 than years’ past to allow more time for preparation, and many players were able to train throughout the offseason either at Starfire or abroad. We are looking to play a Mexican club prior to the quarterfinal match to with Tigres, and the club will also draw from its experience in last year’s quarterfinal.
Open Cup Bid Strategy
Q. How were the hosting rights for the US Open Cup final determined? And how have you changed that process to ensure we will make a winning bid in future finals?
A. The bidding process for the US Open Cup changed this year to a draw to see which teams would host early rounds of the competition. However, the semifinal and final continued to be determined by a blind bid. Sounders FC was able to host the semifinal but Sporting Kansas City won the rights for the final. Sounders FC has always placed a great emphasis on the Open Cup and submitted a very competitive bid. The organization is committed to hosting as many Open Cup games in the future.
Q. What investments were made in sports medicine and training technology and have those investments had intended results?
A. Fitness Coach Dave Tenney and the rest of the coaching staff implemented the Catapult GPS program which measures player movement in games and practice, as well as the OmegaWave technology that tests players’ heart rate and analytics before and after playing. General Manager Adrian Hanauer is committed to integrating sports science into the team’s strategy, stressing the importance of “uncovering every rock and making sure we’ve provided every possible tool and resource to allow everybody to thrive and be successful.”
Q. What is the relationship between the Sounders and Seahawks?
A. The relationship between the Sounders FC and Seahawks has been incredible. Paul G. Allen and the Seahawks operate a first-class organization with top level executives. The partnership has allowed Sounders FC to accomplish unprecedented success for an expansion team. The partnership allows Sounders FC to use the same resources and facilities to create the same first-class culture.