So, the Timbers played yesterday. It wasn’t the worst game ever played but, left to our own devices, the internet-savvy masses that comprise a large percentage of Timbers support would have spent the whole day making it a much bigger loss than it actually was.
We should have spent the day discussing the disarray our back line is in. We should have wondered out loud (or onscreen, as it were) why our bazillion-dollar striker spent so much time in the midfield or why, at one point, it appeared that he was trying out for a gig at left back. We should have been talking about why our bazillion-dollar striker-midfielder-left back looked more like a captain than the guy wearing the armband. And what was that armband, anyway? Some generic black band with white block lettering? Where’s our armband?
If nothing else, we should have spent some time extolling the virtues of dropping Eric Alexander into the middle to see what he can do there.
But we didn’t.
Because we weren’t angry enough before, what with the fired coach and controversial interim coach/gm and the wristbands and the seat-savers and the effing spiced IPA that just. won’t. go. away. Because of all these things added together and multiplied by a masterful PR stroke by the Timbers front office this morning, we lost the plot.
The email went out from the FO a little before 10 this morning, closely followed by a call to arms from the 107ist. For those out of the area (or just out of the loop), the 107ist is the organizational arm of the Timbers Army, supporters of the Portland Timbers and widely regarded as a model for supporters groups everywhere. You wanna be Timbers Army? You already are. But if you want something done, you go to the 107ist.
The Timbers front office, it appears, is gauging interest in changing the North End of Jeld-Wen Field, currently filled almost entirely by general admission seating, to some sort of reserved-GA hybrid with the possibility of a price differential between the upper and lower bowls. This comes not quite a year after they expanded general admission seating in the North End to accommodate the growing desire for tickets.
I don’t get it.
I understand that folks have complained about the long lines and the land-grab when the gates first open. I still don’t get it.
What I do get is this: without general admission in the North End, the Timbers Army wouldn’t have grown into what it is today. With 2,300+ paid members of the 107ist, 5,500 scarf-swinging crazies in the North End and, by my estimate, with more than 19,000 Timbers Army No Pity scarves sold over the years (and many of us in possession of more than one), there may be as many as 8-10,000 people who identify as Timbers Army. Let’s keep in mind that Jeld-Wen Field currently sells out at a touch above 21,000.
Hmm. Perhaps instead of talking about changing general admission seating into more reserved seating, we should be talking about further expanding GA.
No, actually, we shouldn’t. We should be talking about the team.
I don’t often stand up and yell about things the front office does. It was, after all, a partnership between the Army and the FO that got us to this place. And it should be that partnership that carries us through when the on-field product is lacking.
I see things like what’s happened with The Fort or Teddy Montoya’s lifetime ban in Colorado and I’m grateful for what we have. But with the fight over general admission seating heating up here, I’m reminded that the lack of GA has been stifling for Vancouver.
I had reserved seats last season in a faraway land called 221. The weather was lovely there though some of the neighbors were sketchy (case in point: Asshat McDoucheypants in 220, but that’s a story for another time). When the time came, we moved into the North End to take our places among our own. While I’ve considered moving out of the North End to accommodate a lingering back injury, the thought of leaving my TA family is much more painful than anything even the best health insurance would cover. And the idea that my beloved Del Boca Vista might be split if we’re prioritized by STH number is, simply, unbearable.
So, I’ve filled out the survey the FO sent me this morning. I’ve emailed my ticket rep who, bless him, is probably being bombarded by people like me. I’m writing this thing, this uneven, poorly thought out thing, that I will toss out into the inter-world. I’m doing my best to be part of the discussion without escalating the problem.
What happens now?
As of this moment, we’ve had twelve hours of the Timbers Army on high alert. The story as I know it, as told through Twitter posts from both sides, is this: the FO is looking for a change. The 107ist didn’t want the survey to go out as this is a non-negotiable piece of the TA’s identity and, if the FO isn’t intending to change the status quo, the survey would be unnecessary. The survey (incredibly biased toward making this change happen, by the way) went out and the TA is shooting back.
From accounts I’ve heard, the FO has been surprised by the pushback they’ve received thus far. They’ve spoken to the 107ist board. They were warned. Perhaps they’ve forgotten MLS2PDX. The TA is adept at mobilizing when necessary.
If you haven’t made your voice heard, now is the time to do it. Keep up the pressure. Be civil, but let them know that this is the exact wrong point at which to pick a fight with the Timbers Army.
I was going to end here by calling on the FO to let this thing go. Tell us it was a silly idea and there really isn’t any sort of plan in the works to assign us seats and charge us more to sit in the 100s than in the 200s in the North End.
But then Merritt started posting on Twitter again. Dammit, Merritt. I’m tired.
More tomorrow. Probably.
Or maybe we’ll go back to talking about the Timbers.