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Crew Fan Forum Followup

March 24, 2009

I was one of the “Smart Fans” that the Dispatch’s Shawn Mitchell blogged about at tonight’s Crew Fan Forum. These are some of my favorite events. The core diehard fans come out and ask some great questions to the players and staff alike. I did happen to ask a few questions about the state of the team on the business side and how the team will address the coming schedule issues.

Fans at the Fan Forum

A Good Turnout for the Forum (Fahmi – Studio 79)

Injuries – The first question on everyone’s mind is the health of the injured Crew players. Rogers said his hamstring felt pretty good today, but an MRI will reveal any damage. Moffat is training and needs to regain fitness. He is a couple of weeks from seeing some game time. Noonan still is recovering and will need a couple weeks before he can even thinking about training.

Competition and Scheduling – Coach Warzycha did not tip his hand when asked about how the team will prioritize the many competitions that the Crew are involved in, but did respond to my question on how to keep everybody fresh by saying there would be a more aggressive rotation policy compared to how D.C. United and the New England Revolution handled the situation last year.

Lastly, Mark McCullers mentioned that there probably won’t be any summer friendlies this year. The Open Cup and Champions League would be some of the extra games that Crew fans can see this year. So the Boca Juniors testimonial will have to wait, though they are still trying to work something out.

Facilities – A couple questions came up in regards to the Crew’s facilities. Crew Stadium is still troubled by a poor parking situation. The conditions are consistently poor and could lead to the Crew looking for a new stadium location, 5-10 years down the road.

It certainly sounded like the Crew are looking to make Obetz a semi-permanent home for their training ground. Obetz is interested in keeping the Crew and it looks like the team will stay put for 2009 and beyond (perhaps on a year to year basis).

Sales Pitch – The big thing I wanted to hear more about was how well the team was doing in regards to putting fans in the seats. Last year was a down year in attendance and I hoped that a championship will bring in the people. Season Ticket sales may end up being 20% up. Renewals are at 93% for full season and 84% for half season packages. McCullers was proud of these marks.

I followed up on how sponsorships are doing. The Crew have been solid in this area for several years, however the Crew are suffering like many other businesses. A best case scenario was having sponsorships come in 10% below last year’s numbers. That will have a dramatic impact on the bottom line financials of the club. This was the most troubling news of the night.

Players and Staff at the Fan Forum

McCullers, Warzycha, Carroll, Rogers, and O’Rourke Face the Fans (Fahmi – Studio 79)

I am sorry I don’t have time to go a little deeper into the full range of topics covered. Again, it was a great event and I am happy that the Crew, Claddagh, and the rest of the fans could come together in a setup like this.

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