January 18, 2015
MY TWO CENTS
Red Bulls' Town Hall failed in every way it could have succeeded
Long-time Red Bulls fan Bill Balduino felt both sides did not fare well at the club's Town Hall meeting on Friday.
"The opinions reflected in the My Two Cents columns do not express the views of the editors or management of BigAppleSoccer. com"
By Bill Balduino
Special to BigAppleSoccer.com
So I was in attendance at the fiasco they chose to call a town hall meeting. Unlike many of the “fans” that were there, I went in with a different intention. Yes, I was angry because of a year over year lack of progress with this club. I was not there to bemoan Mike Petke’s firing but rather to learn why and hear more about the future.
I am a business professional and when one organizes such an undertaking you usually have an agenda and of course desired set of outcomes. In essence you have a plan. You know what information you are going to share, and in what manner; and offer detail that helps the audience understand the historical events and how the present and future will evolve. Nothing magical – just professional, business like and anticipatory.
The chaos that was the Town Hall was lacking in all of the above. In fairness not all of this can be laid at the feet of Red Bull. The majority of the crowd was ignorant in purpose and juvenile in their understanding of what was to transpire – and in the end, they ruined the event and meeting for everyone. There are more fans and customers of the NY Red Bulls than just the South Ward – actually, significantly more fans/customers. I am using both words because this was one point that was raised (ridiculously) at the session. The nomenclature is just that – the Red Bull management put a product on the field and we as consumers/fans have the ultimate option, which is simply to watch or purchase the product or not. It is a business!!!! Sports is a business!!!!
While I am as frustrated as most I take a pragmatic approach to things – I have choices and when making a choice I like to do so with as much knowledge as possible - that and only that was my reason for attending; but the circus of boisterous audience participants and the circular responses the management group offered prevented that outcome – I left as uninformed as I arrived.
The cursing throughout proved or evidenced little in the way of anything other than hooliganism – when you are invited to someone’s home you show some form of respect, manners and courtesy. Alternately when you are the host, you have a reason for the invitation. Both sides failed and failed miserably. Red Bull management knew full well why people were there and should have addressed the primary questions with candor and honesty from the onset; then, they could have moved logically to the present and the future.
From the fans perspective – the decision has been made and there is no reversing it – let’s get real! The primary objective should have been to uncover what will be different since we have seen this script before. We did hear that Cahill is “holding them hostage” ... which is at least an admission. He should be gone – his attitude alone deserves that outcome. We learned that there will be a USL PRO connection and that is about it.
Management asked for patience – wonder if they would be patient if the situation with their primary business was reversed. Would they be patient with their management if sales were flat at best and their product was lost and drifting against other brands?
Sporting director Ali Curtis was the dominant speaker because general manager Marc de Grandpre was so angry he sat sideways in his chair throughout –his body language was horrible (then again, I beg – why do this; what did you expect) but Ali offered little more than idiotic philosophical extracts from a 300-page plan. There were iterations of an integrated system amongst all the Red Bull clubs and an athletic team of equivalent type players that would play direct. I am assuming that this is where new head coach Jesse Marsch comes in but we were never offered why – what in his history offers evidence of that. We are willing to learn but help us.
So in the end – the event failed in every way it could have succeeded. There was the promise for more of these but who would go – not a question of being an elitist, or having more or less passion than the South Ward, but I expect more from such things and with this format you are guaranteed only failure. Change is called for – yes on the field, yes by management and in approach to communication as well. After 18 years as a season ticket holder I know my options.
In the end, If you are trying to create advocacy for the changes that have and are about to befall us – then acknowledge that and approach an event like that in a different manner or chose an alternate venue and approach and clearly spell out what will and will not be tolerated behaviorally in such sessions.
A frustrated and still uninformed
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