City Report Roundtable Volume 2: The Perfect Paper Anniversary Gift - City Season Tickets
On August 12th, 2020 at 10:00 AM CST...I had a doctor's appointment. My doctor's office always sets annual well checks a year in advance, so in August of 2019 when I agreed to the time-slot, how was I to know that on THAT date at that EXACT time would also be the most important #MLS4THELOU club announcement? Needless to say...I canceled the appointment (ironically enough, by telling the front office I was sick).
It's been an incredibly exciting year for the club. With that in mind, Matt Baker, Joe Chambers, Tim Burgess, and Ryan Pulliam discuss what this first anniversary means to them in the latest round table:
1. ...No, but seriously; can you believe it's already been a year?! Thinking back on the big announcement (club name, crest and color palate reveal) what sticks out? What do you think you'll 'never forget' from that presser?
MB: Thinking back on what I remember most and what was the most exciting about the reveal day - it all starts with the build up to the event. From the calls to submit our own name and reasons to the consistent social media posts teasing all of our different neighborhoods, towns, and areas throughout our region. The East/West, North/South, 'ville, 'town, etc teases that had everyone running wild with their theories and speculation, there was so much fuel to the excitement that it truly felt like the proper build to the reveal of our identity.
On the day of, I remember actually taking the day off from work. I was fortunate (and borderline obsessed) enough to just take the entire day off with the thought that I'd be so enthralled with twitter and everything going on that I wanted to just focus on that excitement and not multi task. Well, that paid off in spades given how the day progressed. The first note of the day was just how well of a secret they kept everything. There was so much that could have been revealed but until less than an hour before the reveal event, absolutely nothing had been leaked. Then an hour beforehand, a YouTube video was leaked, and it honestly seemed like someone hit 'publish' when the clock struck 10am eastern, and not 10am central. So for the hour beforehand, a lot of us knew the branding and so personally, I was just taking it all in while trying not to spoil it for anyone who didn't see it yet. There were group chats going crazy with what the crest meant, what we thought of CITY as the name, etc that drove us straight to Danny Mac, CKB and the event itself.
I loved the format of a presser with all of the cardboard cutouts (I still have mine and my wife's in my office) and then a sit down with Danny Mac that dove into reasonings and ideas they had. I'm paraphrasing but I distinctly remember CKB and Lee saying it all started with the STL flag colors, and CKB put her spin on the colors to make them that distinct CITY Red that stands out so much and is like a massive chameleon that is definitely unlike any other color being used in MLS.
The rest of the day was a flurry of online chatter and tracking Audi branded cars all over town. My biggest regret of the day, and this is a true story - I heard an Audi car was at Schlafly Tap Room, so I headed up there mid afternoon, and when I came home, I had two CITY Founder bags hanging on my front door for my wife and me along with a twitter post from the club's handle with a picture of a CITY branded Audi in my driveway and my house actually making it into their video of the day. I was so anxious to find them, I actually missed them finding me! Makes for a really fun story though.
JC: The actual announcement was a blur because I dove immediately into social media discussion of the name and crest. I saw mixed responses from my soccer-loving friends, but I remember my overwhelming feeling being one of relief. I just didn't want it to be something corny or "minor league" looking, and it wasn't.
TB: I think what I remember the most and what will stick is how this is the first majority female owned MLS club. That's a huge accomplishment and is just one of the many things that sets this club apart from the rest. Also the fact in how fan oriented they are. They literally have executives in charge of game day experience before the first ball is even kicked and chefs dedicated to bringing St. Louis favorites to the table. They've proven over and over again that fans are at the forefront of what will drive the success of the Club.
2. Rate the club brass - on a scale of 1-10 - of how successful they've been in this first year. Consider everything - both from a soccer and administrative perspective. How are the folks in charge doing and why?
MB: Now rating club brass... Given where we are a year into the reveal and especially with the blessing/curse of being pushed back to 2023, I don't know how I can give any score lower than an 8/9/10 to any of the brass. This would include all of the C-suite folks on both business and sporting sides, CKB, Matt Sebek, Dennis Moore, and Lutz Pfannenstiel. The amount of CITY merch that I see around town is incredible, especially for a team whose first team is still a year and a half away from taking the pitch. We had ticket reasons absolutely smashed with over 50,000 season ticket deposits requested within a day of those being available and more continuing after that first day. They've gone out into the public multiple times including renting the Mutt Cutts van from Dumb and Dumber to announce their Purina kit sponsor partnership, which in and of itself was an incredible thing to announce so early and to make it a community event. There was a fan experience council put together with 30+ people from various demographics and groups in the region to help the club create and enhance everything about the fan experience. The sporting side has seen extensive development this year with a big mesh of local and international skill being utilized in developing our squads and a dedicated pyramid of growth for individual youth athletes and for the game of soccer itself in St. Louis. I compare what's happened in the past year to the one year period after #MLS4THELOU was announced and the year after it was announced that we had the 28th expansion slot, and especially from that perspective, it's a no brainer 10/10.
JC: Currently, I'd say an 8, but there's a long way to go. Lutz seems like a good hire. The stadium should be done in plenty of time. The jersey sponsor seemed to go over great with everyone. They're starting to contact future season ticket holders. All of that seems right on schedule.
They've started the academy and they've kept news trickling out, which is what you want at this stage, but all of the biggest decisions that the brass will need to make are still yet to come: first-team coach, first-team signings, ticket prices, kits, building up hype going into season one, etc.
TB: In my mind, they get a solid A+ (maps to a 10/10, for those keeping score at home) due primarily to them keeping the fans up to date on developments. Of note, the reveal of the supporters' section during the Louligan Roundup was perfect. They held a focus group of what supporters needed and, as far as I am aware, delivered on every aspect of what we wanted.
RP: No rating - I don't have any expectations nor understand the complexity of their jobs. Overall happy for them to get the positions they are in. I hope they continue to be positive and kind voices for the team. I have enjoyed the brass who are friendly and fun the most (Sebek, Dan D, Vin)
I do wish they could open things up a bit more to all who are interested rather than limit to a select group (fan council, steel beam signings, etc).
3. The recent U16 and U17 squad announcements nicely marked the start of year 2, when we'll get to see some real City soccer (albeit not first team). While this is undoubtedly exciting news, what else are you most looking forward to seeing happen over the next year?
MB: Over the next year, I'm excited to go watch CITY games, first and foremost. I cannot wait to see the U16/U17 squads compete in MLS Next. I hope to see them in the MLS Next Cup competition next summer but also to see how the players develop, who stands out, and who you can picture on our first team come 2023. Also the continuing evolution of the Academy pyramid. I cannot wait to see our MLS2/Lower Division League (LDL) team be put together and take the field in March. Also interested in whether MLS received their sanctioning by USSF for Division 3 status in that league, which would mean that is the first pro club that CITY puts out on the field. I am extremely excited to see who our first head coach hire will be, hopefully finding out early in 2022, and then finally I am very excited for our first player signing. All of these things are something I expect to have done and achieved by August 2022 and it kind of blows my mind that all of these are right around the corner in the next year. It is going to be an incredible year ahead of us.
JC: I'm looking forward to seeing what the new MLS reserve league is going to look like and seeing who we sign for that, because some of those players should be part of City's first MLS first-team roster.
TB: Over the next year, I would like to see the Club deliver on some more major sponsors and trying to keep them local if possible. The team store is another thing I hope to see. Getting merch out before the first season starts will be huge and people are craving it. I hope to see some kit development. Not necessarily what they will wear on Day 1 but at least some concepts that they are seriously considering. Lastly, but probably most unrealistic, transfer targets. The most exciting news is always new players and people lust over the rumors.
RP: I'd love to see an evolution with the branding & merchandise - More merchandise & a variety of fun designs. I'd love to see things get wild and less corporate. Peter Wood's portfolio is great; will fun to see his influence.
It's going to be fun to have City development teams playing from now on. I hope there are plenty of games/events fans can attend.
4. Put on your best Johnny Carson 'Carnac The Magnificent' impression and predict the most significant and/or outlandish news headline from the club over the next 12 months...
- Our head coach will have MLS experience, which is very important to me, as that is one area missing from any sporting hire made so far. The academy is much less important to have this, but MLS is a unique league so there needs to be some MLS experience as part of our sporting department. There are countless cautionary tales including FCC when this approach is not taken.
- This is a wildly specific prediction, but I am going to predict that Bob Bradley will be the first head coach of St. Louis CITY SC. There is a rumor that his contract is up with LAFC at the end of the 2021 season, and while not coaching in the 2022 season may be interesting, it would give him a full year dedicated to working with Lutz and building our first team. His credentials speak for themselves and he did amazing work to get LAFC started. This seems like a new and exciting challenge that Lutz could easily sell him on.
- The first match played at CITY SC Stadium will be announced in the next year and it will be a USWNT match next Fall and it will be a 2023 World Cup Qualifier match.
- By this time next year, season tickets will be sold out for our first match.
- The stadium will be named by this time next year, and for extra specificity, it will be called Bayer Field.
JC: The stadium naming rights will be bought by Panera and they'll name it "The Bread Bowl."
By Jordan Durlester