Just The Crew and Us: An MLS Discussion Between Friends

Chris GiffordContributor IAugust 14, 2009

That ugly little blurry cam photo up there was taken last night at the 2009 Columbus Crew Supporters’ Summit. It was a chance for we the fans to come out to the stadium and have an open forum with the management and a few players from the only thing we love as much as breathing: The Massive.

I won’t go into specifics since Kristina has a pretty good write up over on The Offside, but I will tell you that, for a bunch of sports executives and minor celebrities (except Frankie, he’s played in the Olympics and World Cup, therefore he’s a certified BFD), they were pretty candid and open.

Everyone had a beer in hand, jokes were told, Danny O was made fun of, and we the fans got to vent. The honchos may have even been paying attention.

I’ve chatted with General Manager Mark McCullers a number of times in the past, and he’s a really nice guy—always quick to buy your drink or listen while you tell him how he should be doing his job. Last night was no different, he and the rest of the gang sat and took our questions comments and criticisms in stride.

Comments from the peanut gallery were all over the spectrum, from strategic questions for Coach Warzycha to where Brian Carroll is going to tailgate during his one-game suspension this week.

Some people should have kept their mouth shut because they were just wasting oxygen with their questions (I swear one guy said he couldn’t hear the National Anthem from his seat), but most of us added to a lively discussion and made suggestions that really should (and probably will) be implemented—McCullers was most impressed by the suggestion to have signs by the gates reminding exiting fans when the next home game is.

You would have been amazed, as I was, at the quality of questions and suggestions about increasing attendance and turning Columbus into a real soccer town.

I was most pleased to hear that the front office recognizes that in order to grow the team’s popularity in central Ohio the emphasis on marketing to youth soccer teams, and their mom’s, is not really the way to go.

McCullers was quick to point out that he and the rest of the organization are working hard to tap into the market at and around Ohio State and draw from it’s students, faculty, staff, and fans.

He acknowledged that to put the most “butts in seats” the demographic that needs to be captured is the young professionals and college students—but he also admitted that they’re the hardest to bring in.

All in all it was a candid discussion between to very different groups of people who are whole-heartedly invested in the same goal: making the Columbus Crew the most successful MLS team, both on the field and off.