Wednesday, September 2, 2015

KSEOut - A Bit Misguided

Its not secret to regular readers that I'm fed up with the Front Office and have been for a couple a few many years.  I'm not alone and a group of fans who can't take it anymore have banded together to start the KSEOut movement.

The problem I have is that they're a bit misguided.  Here's one of their goals from their website (and the title for their whole movement:
We just want KSE to put the Rapids up for sale.
To me, this is a fool's errand and not something they should be attaching "success" of their movement to.  Quoting their Burgundy Wave interview when they were asked what "success" would be:
Very simply, when KSE puts the team up for the sale & Tim Hinchey, Paul Bravo & Pablo Mastroeni all move on.
Quite simply, this is never going to happen.  When was the last time an American sports owner sold a team due to just fan pressure?  I can think of none.  Team sales come when the owner gets bored, the owner needs money, or the owner does something so heinous that the other owners in the league step in and say "You have to go" (think Donald Sterling, Marge Schott, or Jorge Vergara).

Their current "media strategy" isn't helping.  Right now it feels like "Lets throw every bad thing we can think of about the Rapids at the wall and see what sticks".  Looking at some of their tweets:
By 2010, it was clear stadiums should not be in the suburbs. Not that KSE was with the program.
As this blog has covered on multiple occasions, the location is not the significant issue with the Rapids attendance and the "once size fits all" stadium ideas that some MLS fans have don't actually work.
We accept that some of the 1,524 ‘empty’ seats are sold as single game tickets. But they are counted as 100% sold in the attendance figures.
One of dozens of tweets about the attendance numbers.   A. Who cares?  Does it really matter what number the Rapids report? and B. This is pretty standard practice in sports attendance reporting for all the major leagues.
What could we do to indicate to TransAmerica our displeasure? Boycott not really an option as most fans don’t buy off them directly.
I get the general idea with this one, use the sponsors to bring pressure on KSE, but I don't see how it works.  I think Transamerica, O'Dells, etc. are more likely to just walk away from the sponsorship than actually put any pressure on KSE.  That just leaves the team in worse shape.

Oh, and if you're going to represent yourself as a group of die-hard fans that want change, you've got to get the basic facts right:
Well done to the team yesterday. 6 wins out of last 8 is the sort of records we want to see at DSG Park.
Its 6 wins in 9, not 8.

What their focus should be is getting massive changes to the Front Office and showing KSE what KSE could gain by putting more investment (not just money but interest) into the team.  We had a perfect example last weekend.  Sporting KC is what the Rapids should be modeling themselves on.  To the credit of KSEOut, they recognize this too (again from Twitter):
Sporting KC has a big football team, baseball team & plays in a stadium located out of town. What’s the difference? Engaged ownership.
This is absolutely correct.  Look at the payoff for SKC.  Their ticket prices are almost exactly the same as ours yet they're averaging almost 25% more fans per game than we are.  Think KSE would like that kind of increase in ticket sales?  Not to mention that once demand outstrips capacity then the ticket prices can start to be increased.

The interesting thing is that Sporting is doing this without making big money player splashes.  They don't have a million dollar salary on the books.  They aren't spending big money off the field.  What they are doing is putting competent people in charge of soccer operations, working with their fans, and making a name for themselves in KC.  They do have the advantage of not competing against a NBA and NHL team, but its not like the Rapids have much competition from those sports since their seasons are opposite each other and they're also owned by KSE.  Yes, there's still limited sporting funds to spread around 5 pro teams, but the Denver-Boulder metro area is about 50% larger than the KC metro area.

What this movement should be aiming for isn't KSEOut, its KSEInvest IMO.  That means replacing the current Front Office (I could actually see keeping Hinchey in a strict financial-only capacity but no influence on soccer or PR decisions) with competent executives that can both watch the bottom line and climb the table at the same time.  It means having metrics for the executives that are more than how little can you spend and still make money.  And it means not treating the fans as the enemy as often as you treat them as the customer.

One other note to KSEOut.  Stop the anonymity.  A week or so ago when I mentioned I was going to write an article about the movement I was contacted by them and asked not to reveal any names for fear of retaliation from the FO.  The email to me didn't include a name (it just came from a KSEOut address) either.  I know one person in the movement and I will not reveal their name here but really, its not getting you guys anything.  I've been very open about my issues with the Front Office and outside of a couple of emails and my name being brought up in some meetings (I've been told) there's been no retaliation.  The Rapids may not like you, but even they aren't going to do something that would blow up in their face unless you provoke them by doing something bigger than complaining.  Also the implicit threat about critiquing any blog entry I make?  Unnecessary.  I'm always open to critiques.

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