Fans were invited to submit questions to the Alliance Council to put before the Sounders FC front office for the 2011 annual business meeting. The Council selected the questions to ask. Due to time constraints, some of the questions were not addressed so responses are provided below.
Front Office related Questions
Q. Can we have more in stadium replays?
A. The team will evaluate the opportunity to increase in-stadium replays while remaining faithful to league rules and staying true to the goal to provide uninterrupted live action.
Q. What is the plan for the new Field Turf? How often will it need to be replaced? What about grass in the future?
A. The new FieldTurf will be installed in February, weather permitting, and will be ready for the March 7 CONCACAF Champions League match.
The FieldTurf Revolution system is built with the Revolution fiber and is the result of innovative science, engineering and technology that will provide a playing surface that features a soft and strong monofilament fiber. A proprietary fiber polymer formulation resists splitting and degradation and includes an industry leading ultraviolet inhibitor technology. A state-of-the-art extrusion process provides intricate concave and ridged construction to eliminate breaking points in each fiber blade. Specially sized cryogenic rubber particles and washed silica sand granules are layered, in a patented installation process, surrounding the Revolution fibers. This provides player safety and outstanding durability and longevity. The FieldTurf system is the only turf product in the world with independent long-term and real-life safety data backing up its claims.
At present time, a grass field is not a viable solution due to installation and maintenance challenges; however, the team will continue to research and monitor new technologies as they become available.
Q. When will the Sounders app be released on Android? How do we make suggestions for tech improvements?
A. The Sounders FC launched their first mobile app for iPhone in early April. The app was recognized by Seattle Weekly as "Best Sports/Fitness App" and FWA Featured App. The Windows Phone app was released by the team in late October The next platform to be developed for will be for the Android OS. For more information and to suggest additional platforms visit click here.
Q. Who makes the sizing decisions on merchandise, i.e., lack of third kit for females, small blankets, etc.
A. adidas is the official apparel company of MLS and determines sizing on merchandise. adidas did select the Sounders FC to feature both women's and children's alternate kits, the only MLS team. The team will continue to work with adidas to ensure a wide-range of merchandise is available.
Q. I sit in a section where I'm not happy. How do I move?
A. Please contact your ticket representative and they will be happy to review alternate seating locations.
Q. If shale is the secondary kit why is it not the second most worn kit?
A. Rave Green is the Sounders FC primary kit. The team preference is to wear the rave green kit in every league match, home and on the road. The shale kit is now the secondary kit and will be worn when the rave green is in color conflict or if the rave green color is similar to the home team's primary kit.
Similar to previous seasons, the third kit will be worn for Champions League, U.S. Open Cup and friendly matches in order to differentiate these competitions from a MLS league match.
Q. Will Seattle ever have a soccer specific stadium?
A. CenturyLink Field is a world-class sports facility that was built with soccer in mind. The team is extremely happy with their relationship with the Seahawks and CenturyLink Field. In addition, CenturyLink Field provides the flexibility to host international matches with a capacity of 67,000.
Q. What does the team do to connect with the Hispanic community?
A. The local Hispanic community is very important to the Sounders FC. The team created a position for a full-time international outreach coordinator to help the club connect with all the international communities in the region. The international outreach coordinator hosts Hispanic officials at matches and serves as a liaison to the Sounders FC Spanish-speaking players to attend events and promotions in the community.
The club's website is also available in Spanish and most games are broadcast on Spanish radio, with several games carried by local Spanish television.
Q. Can we get a higher profile radio station to carry play-by-play?
A. The team is extremely happy with current media partners.
Q. What are the Sounders doing to support women's soccer?
A. The Sounders FC continue to establish themselves as an integral part of the community. The team anticipates the opportunity to take on more soccer-related projects in the region. A partial list of those projects include the following: women's soccer, increase the number of playing fields, increase the number of youth playing soccer, more diversity among youth soccer participants, broader reach and diversity in youth soccer, programs for disabled soccer players and the development of elite players.
This past year the Sounders FC partnered with the Sounders women's team to help promote the W-League Final at Starfire by providing promotional messaging on stadium video boards and during radio and TV broadcasts.
Q. Can the team release an annual DVD?
A. The Sounders FC will certainly evaluate the opportunity to release an annual DVD if there is strong interest from fans.
Q. Can the east side advertising boards be moved back from the field so fans can see the touchline?
A. The LED boards are positioned in the specific location due to league regulations.
Q. Is the team moving to paperless tickets? Can I opt for paper based season tickets?
A. The team is currently evaluating ticket options and will keep fans informed on the progress.
Q. Capacity is expanding again this year, how are sales going?
A. The Sounders FC season ticket members are renewing at 92%. As of today, the team has sold 1,000 new seats.
Q. Will the Sounders Reserves play games against the PDL teams this year?
A. Additional games for the reserve team, outside of the MLS Reserve League, will be determined by team management and the coaching staff at a later date. Once the schedule is finalized the team will announce the matches open to the public.
Q. Can the team stream Reserve League games?
A. It is possible in the future but as of right now streaming is not cost effective nor has there been strong interest from fans.
Q. Where is the team putting revenue besides player costs?
A. The Sounders FC are committed to maintaining the standards of a world class soccer organization which includes a top-flight staff, training facilities, stadium, marketing and promotion, etc. This commitment will result in a higher quality product prepared to compete for championships every year.
Q. Who sets concessions prices and why are they so high?
A. The team in partnership with Levy Restaurants, the stadium concessionaire, continually review pricing for all in-stadium food and beverage options.
Q. Can the team have a beer garden in the North Lot?
A. The Sounders FC provided a beer garden in the North Lot for one game in 2011 and are evaluating the feasibility of a beer garden for a few matches in 2012.
Q. Does the team have a discount ticket program for schools or youth teams?
A. Yes. There are group prices available and the ticketing team is happy to work with all youth teams and groups.
Q. Can the club advertise Champions League games more?
A. The team spent significant resources to fund a large advertising campaign for the Champions League games in 2011 which resulted in four of the top 10 CCL crowds at CenturyLink Field. The Sounders FC will continue to educate fans about the tournament in preparation for the CCL quarterfinal against Mexico's Santos Laguna on March 7, the official kickoff to the 2012 season.
Q. How does the team balance supply/demand in order to maintain ticket prices and still increase attendance?
A. The Sounders FC strategically open seating based on demand. In 2009, additional seats were added in the south bowl. In 2010, seats were added in the upper level loge seating and in 2012; seats will be available in the Hawks Nest.
Q. Why isn't soccer stats provided live in the stadium?
A. The team is working on the technology to meet this request.
Q. What is the team doing to increase local TV ratings?
A. The Sounders FC television ratings continue to improve each season. The team will continue to work with local TV partners to ensure maximization of advertising and promotions.
Q. Why doesn't the team produce a match specific program?
A. The Sounders FC will produce a match day program in 2012. In past years, the league provided a quarterly publication to distribute at all MLS home matches.
Q. Can the tarps not have opposing team's players on them?
A. All the artwork featuring the player silhouettes for the upper bowl tarps were due in the summer of 2008, well in advance of the 2009 MLS draft and the Sounders FC roster being set. The team continues to evaluate production costs, artwork and installation of all in-stadium signage.
Q. How do I submit my team to be the pre-game youth escorts?
A. Xbox 360 and the Sounders FC have partnered with area Boys & Girls Clubs to create the "Xbox Dream Team". Xbox host's 50 children from Boys & Girls Clubs throughout King County to attend each Sounders FC match throughout the season.
Q. Can there be healthy food options?
A. Levy Restaurants has added fit-friendly, nutritious offerings at CenturyLink Field. Options include: Vegetable Chop Salad, Grilled Chicken Sandwich, Vegetable Cup with Hummus, and Fruit.
Levy Restaurants also offers a portable cart on the main concourse dedicated to freshly prepared, gluten-free sports favorites that any fan can enjoy. Fan favorites and snack offerings include: Hot Dogs, Chili Cheese Dogs, Nachos, Red Bridge Beer, Gluten-Free Carmel & Cheddar Popcorn Mix, Eden Organic Pumpkin Seeds, Eden Organic Berry Mix, Larabars, NuGO Free Dark Chocolate Bar, Skittles, and gluten-free gummy bears.
Q. Can there be higher quality local beers?
A. The Sounders FC have partnered with Redhook Ale Brewery to provide craft beer at CenturyLink Field.
Q. When does the relationship with Ticketmaster end?
A. Ticketmaster is the Sounders FC ticket vendor. The team is committed to ensuring the fan's buying experience is as pleasant and efficient as possible.
Player/Personnel related Questions
Q. LA and New York spend money on high profile players, why doesn't Seattle do this? Where is all the revenue going?
A. The Sounders FC are committed to building a championship team every season not only on the field, but as a great corporate citizen, an organization in which the entire State of Washington will be extremely proud. The Sounders FC are also committed to running a healthy business that can be maintained for generations to come.
On the team side, the Sounders FC are one of the few teams that spend money on transfer fees for young players, which have been in the range of multiple millions of dollars. On the business side, resources are allocated to coaching and scouting, training and sports sciences, medical services, facilities and youth system. As a result, the operating costs are higher than other teams but the end result is a higher quality product prepared to compete for championships every year.
Q. How will we replace James Riley on and off the field?
A. The Sounders FC take great pride in all their players and will continue to scout the globe to find the best players.
The Sounders FC have a number of players who are very active in the community.
Q. Who makes the decisions on players protected in the expansion draft?
A. Personnel decisions are made by the general manager, technical director, coaches and front office.
Q. Will Steve Zakuani and O'Brian White be ready for the start of the season?
A. The team is very hopeful both Steve and O'Brian will be ready for the 2012 season.
Q. What benefits are there to playing for the Sounders that are not salary-related?
A. The Sounders FC have a great ownership group, experienced coaching staff, an exuberant fan base, quality training facilities and a great location in the Pacific Northwest, all of which are benefits to playing for Sounders FC.
Q. Can we get a weekly radio show with Sigi, similar to those with Seahawks/Husky coaches?
A. Coach Schmid did have a weekly segment with Bill Swartz on KIRO radio.
major League soccer related Questions
Q. What can the league do to protect star players from injury?
A. The league continues to work with U.S. Soccer to improve officiating in MLS games.
Q. Why are Timbers local TV games blacked out on Match Day Live? Can MDL carry both sets of announcers?
A. The Timbers matches are blacked out on Match Day Live because they are broadcast locally by ROOT Sports.
Q. Why was the higher seed forced to play a midweek game?
A. Several factors affect the playoff schedule, including stadium conflicts and the overall playoff structure. MLS works with its televisions partners to come up with the best possible schedule.
Alliance/Council related Questions
Q. Can we vote on a Sounders name for the Hawks Nest?
A. Renaming the Hawks Nest is a possibility. We are currently working with our sponsor to determine how they would like to move forward.
Q. How do I designate family members/friends in my other seats as members of the Alliance?
A. Please contact your ticket representative and they will be happy to help assist.
Q. Do you foresee the team eventually hiring someone from Council to a staff position? Should there be a gap in service to maintain integrity and independence of the Council?
A. Programs and staffing needs are evaluated after each season. If additional staffing is needed, the goal is to always hire the most qualified individual.
Q. Can the Alliance recognize the best media outlet?
A. The Sounders FC are very pleased with all their media partners.
Questions submitted via Twitter during the business meeting
Q. Can the team create more front office job opportunities for young professionals?
A. All Sounders FC jobs are posted on the team's website.
Q. Can the team bring back the glitter machines?
A. In consultation with the Pioneer Square Neighborhood Association, the Sounders FC found other options to create a similar effect and substantially decrease, if not eliminate, floating confetti outside the stadium.
Q. Will there be any Cascadia gear in team stores?
A. The Pro Shop offered a Cascadia t-shirt in 2011.
Q. Is there any way to make the CONCACAF game on March 7 part of the season ticket package?
A. 2012 season ticket packages were already on sale when the match was confirmed through CONCACAF but it is something the team will keep in mind for future years.
Q. Can the team ban vuvuzelas from entering CenturyLink Field?
A. The use of vuvuzelas has been stopped at CenturyLink Field due to fan feedback.
Q. If the team can't provide U.S. Open Cup tickets at Starfire to season ticket holders, would the team commit to televising those games?
A. The team has provided a live stream on the website for most of the U.S. Open Cup matches and plans to continue this service in the future.
Q. What is the progress with expanding Starfire Sports Complex?
A. The team has had a few conversations in past couple of years but there is nothing planned to date.
Q. Is there concern that adidas is allowing Portland to have more say in uniform design than the Sounders or other MLS clubs?
A. adidas is a league sponsor and work with each team individually.
Q. In terms of alliance council votes, what is the reason for the current rule: one vote per season ticket account versus one vote for each season ticket?
A. Council is currently reviewing this policy.
Q. Original season ticket holders get a discount on their tickets. Do you have plans to extend that to other longtime ticket holders?
A. There are no current plans. The team is committed to ensure all Sounders FC season ticket holders feel they are receiving value.