My fellow Loons,
On October 29th, some members of the Wonderwall were fortunate enough to tour Allianz Field with a group from the MNUFC front office (FO). We were there to ensure various aspects of matchday would be given consideration from the supporters’ perspective. The team, once again, displayed a deep commitment to hearing from the supporters and putting things into action, as evidenced by the beautiful view from the ADA seating (among others).
We weren’t allowed to take pictures or else I’d probably have let them do the talking, but suffice to say, Allianz Field already looks gorgeous and it’s not even finished. I honestly don’t have the space right now to cover what we saw, but I will relay that I have heard the concerns about tailgating and brought them to Chris Wright. I have also heard many concerns about both the price and variety of food and beverage options in Allianz and relayed that a certain way to get more people inside the stadium earlier would be $5 domestic beers and affordable concessions. It’s up to the FO to execute, but they are aware that it’s not enough to build a shiny new home for professional soccer in MN if many of us can’t afford to eat or drink there.
One aspect of my role as President of Wonderwall is working with the FO on fun things like the tour I mentioned above. Another is helping the front office understand the perspective of the supporters. Many of you seem disappointed in how Chris Wright appears not to grasp just how badly we need to see growth on the pitch and not just behind the scenes. This base of support is patient in some regards but not if we are taken for granted or spoken to as though our own eyes do not work. The on-field product the last two seasons has pin-wheeled about from entertaining to aggravating and has definitely tested said patience. That said, our relationship with the FO and their openness to our honest and frank discussion of their faults is wonderful to observe, and they really do know they need to do better, regardless of how it is stated in the press.
Last spring, supporters from across the Wonderwall took part in two strategic planning sessions to map out our next few years. One issue highlighted during those sessions was the formation of a leadership structure for the Dark Clouds (supporters group) independent of Wonderwall (the corporation), which I am happy to see is taking shape. The Matchday Code of Conduct, supporters conduct review board, creation of a plan for shared space within the section, and establishment of a matchday capo strategy, are all things that came from those strategic planning sessions. These strategies are all essential to easing any tensions that may arise from the rapid growth of the supporter section and are a part of the continued collaboration with the MNUFC FO to make sure the section is safe and welcoming.
Speaking of safe and welcoming, I’m incredibly proud of The Keepers of the North and the Silver Lining for earning L’Etoile du Nord from MNUFC for their continued excellence in community involvement. They have done a wonderful job representing our supporter community in the larger MN community through volunteer efforts and it's great to see MNUFC recognize that with an award. If you haven’t yet found time to volunteer with either group, please find it. It’s not only fun, but very rewarding to work to make a positive impact in our community.
Finally, the affiliate process is better read about here, but it starts with a vote on the merits of the application that the prospective affiliate SG submits, and continues with affiliates continuously contributing to the effort of the Wonderwall. I am happy to announce that the vote on the Dark Glitterati application was unanimous in approving their application to provisional affiliate status. We are doing a separate post soon covering their background, as their introduction deserves its own post.
We still haven't found the people responsible for throwing beers onto the pitch. It is my hope that if you are one of the two people who did it, you know it was an unacceptable thing to do. As a group, we hold ourselves to a standard of behavior above that which you displayed, and it is our sincere hope that it’s a thing that does not repeat.
On the issue of cultural norms, our volunteer organizations are doing fantastic work in our communities, both Keepers of the North (KOTN) and Dark Clouds Silver Lining (DCSL) are upholding our long-established tradition of making a difference in our surrounding communities. KOTN recently raised $411 for Special Olympics of Minnesota, and are currently raising funds for My Very Own Bed. DCSL did an event with Cookie Cart since my last update, which you can read about here, and I was honored to have been a part of that day because it was incredibly rewarding to be able to talk to such inspiring young people while they were learning valuable job skills that will help them in their professional lives. Finally, the Second Black & Blue Supporters social is happening on the 21st, with proceeds going to support The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and open to all (even Portland Timbers fans).
The next several months are going to be a very busy time for the board as we have several high priority projects to address. The move to Allianz Field comes with doing all we can to communicate the needs of our membership to the MNUFC front office. This is a wide-ranging effort encompassing everything from tifo and capo stands to concessions. We also need to prepare for the 2019 Wonderwall Board of Directors Election; it is our goal to have the candidates known much earlier this year in order for members have time to find out who they are and what they stand for. Also, it will give the Wonderwall Board more time to inform the candidates of the needs of our organization to better craft their campaign platforms and better serve our members. Finally, budgetary planning for next year starts in earnest in November and we need to gather some guidance to help them through our admittedly “work in progress” budget process.
As always, nothing happens in this section without the tireless work of the many volunteers who are literally the lifeblood of the supporter’s section and our organizations. Thank you for all that you do, and will do, as we’d be nowhere without you.
COME ON YOU LOONS!