Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Customer “service?”

OnGoal has been the owner of our beloved Kansas City Wizards for two years now. There have been many wonderful things done since they took over ownership: new stadium plans, a temporary home, and they are showing some signs of support towards the group of fans who stand in the Cauldron.

Their stated goal is to grow the Cauldron through a grassroots campaign. Those efforts paid off immensely last season with a huge influx of fans to the section. I admire the work that has been done by both OnGoal and the leadership of the Cauldron, however there are storms-a-brewing which may result in those efforts being for naught.

Customer service should be a primary tenet of OnGoal.

During the middle of last season up to 3:00 pm, the Friday before game day Cauldron tickets were reduced in price, below the level of what Cauldron season ticket holders paid, in an effort to continue to grow the section. OnGoal promised to compensate the Cauldron STHs for this with the offer of a jersey at cost. Here we are, a year later, and we still have yet to see the fulfillment of this promise. And no, free customization does not count.

Community America Ballpark was chosen as the temporary home of our team. To accommodate the Cauldron, the left field berm was paved and bleachered. This cost has been passed on to the Cauldron in the form of higher ticket prices compared to previous years. Not in and of itself a big deal, but the way in which it was accomplished left a bitter taste in the mouth of some fans thus spawning the creation of this collective.

Since the collective started, pressure behind the scenes has been brought to bear on another member of this collective to edit a post critical of the Cauldron in CAB. The tactic was effective and the offending entry was changed. Nothing was said publicly by the blogger but it was certainly noticed by regular readers.

We move to this season and the discovery that it is possible again to buy Cauldron tickets cheaper than STH prices (granted it’s by a minuscule amount but cheaper nonetheless). This, despite claims by OnGoal , they would not undercut their valued STH base like they had done last season.

When this was pointed out on Big Soccer, there was quite a dustup as a member of the organization came in to defend the action. Might this have been the same person referred to in the Collective post: Wizards Employee May Not Support First Amendment Rights. And if it was, perhaps said person has been pressuring others to change posts as well. Or maybe even call in a flash mob of non-employees to help stoke the fires of support for the team.

As the owners of the Wizards, OnGoal should have customer service as one of their top priorities. They have reportedly 10K paying customers for every home game. Keeping those customers happy should be nearly as important as putting quality on the pitch. Currently, OnGoal is not doing so well on the former. I can only hope this situation improves.

This has been,
Baine’s hunt and peck finger.

Monday, June 9, 2008


Looking at all the Wizards information out there yesterday, I came across this post over on Kansas City Soccer Review, with some of the news of the day for the Wizards. After looking at the first link, I had the same view as the author, now you can basically get a berm ticket for the price of a Cauldron ticket? The second thought that crossed my mind is what is this going to do to Cauldron season ticket holders?

Now I'm sure someone in the Wizards front office will say that it's only for a few games, and not the entire season, but that's the same thing the team said last year when they started offering cheaper Cauldron tickets last season as well. At that time, Cauldron season ticket holders were promised some sore of compensation for the fact that tickets for the section became cheaper then the price season ticket holders paid for it. The rumor at the time was that the compensation would be the ability to get one of this years jerseys at cost. Here we are in June of 08 and we're still waiting on some kind of compensation from the team. And no, free customization for ALL season ticket holders does not compensate Cauldron season ticket holders.

What will the Wizards front office say to season ticket holders once this becomes the standard ticket price for the rest of the season? What kind of promise will be made to those of us that have supported the Wizards the past two seasons and have seen them undercut the price that season ticket holders pay?

And in all honesty, who didn't see something like this coming? The Wizards over priced their supporters section, expecting the members of the section to just pay the extra money for a ticket in a minor league baseball stadium. The section hasn't grown at all like the Wizards expected it to. More Cauldronites then the Wizards are willing to mention have moved their season tickets over to the berm from the Cauldron because of the change in price. And I would bet that the team is actually surprised by that. In fact there is talk that the Wizards Argentine supporters, Sudukas, numbers will start to drop off, as their members can't afford to pay the raised prices. Will we see the return of comped tickets to the Sudukas? I won't be surprised.

On top of all there, there is also the fact that the Wizards are using two of their "special game" tickets on what are amounting to reserve games. The first was the Wizards Open Cup qualifier, at a HIGH SCHOOL stadium. I mentioned previously my distaste in having to use a special game ticket for a reserve game. Special Game ticket B will be used for the upcoming friendly against Atlas, the day after a league game against New York. You can expect very limited minutes to be played by the starters since this is the day after the game. So we'll be using our special game ticket ($16.52 for a Cauldron ticket) for what will amount to seeing the Wizards reserves play. Call me underwhelmed.

This has been,
Baine's right leg.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Our Needs

It's been too long, but time for another post. The US Open Cup is upon us, and surprisingly, the Wizards will get to host either LA or Colorado in their qualifier on June 4th. For season ticket holders they can use their Special Game A ticket. For people that want to buy tickets, it's $20.

$20? For a US Open Cup game? The US Open Cup has been a tournament that has been notoriously undervalued by MLS sides, as they normally throw reserve teams out until the semifinals or finals. And in fact, we aren't even talking about the real Open Cup, we're only talking about qualifiers to get into the Open Cup. $20 to watch the Wizards play at a high school stadium with permanent football lines on it. Talk about trying to get a hung bang for your buck, how many people who aren't season ticket holders are going to drop $20 on a game that will likely be mostly reserves. In the past these games have been $5-$10. A double to quadruple increase in ticket prices from years past for US Open Cup games. What has changed so drastically that they can justify having fans pay that to go to a game? You can get cheaper tickets at Wizards league games then you can for this game.

The Wizards front office better be hoping and praying that LA beats Colorado so that they can play up the Beckham possiblity. He won't be there though if they get through. As has been pointed out on bigsoccer, England plays Trinidad and Tobago in Trinidad 3 days before the match, and they play the US 3 days before that. Beckham's been called into camp for the matches. The Wizards won't care though, they'll still advertise Beckham possibly being there. In the end when he doesn't show up, they'll alienate a few more possible fans who were led to believe Beckham was going to be there.

As for season ticket holders and their Special Game A ticket. How does this justify a “special game”. In the past when special game tickets have been used for US Open Cup games, there has been some kind of deal involved with it, usually a 2 for 1 type of deal where your ticket got you and someone else into the game that night. But that's ok they'll say, we're still waiting for that international friendly tournament we've heard about this offseason. I just can't contain my excitement waiting for that announcement (end sarcasm).

The front office is already spinning this site towards the positive, saying it best fits “our needs.” This is the same kind of talk we heard when CAB was announced as the temporary site, and there has only been 1 sell out at the stadium, only ONE game over 10,000 in a stadium that seats just over that amount. That doesn't sound like a site that fits all “our needs”. The site has really poor site lines for much of the paying customers, and the team has already realized that by making the part behind home plate GA along with the berm, because those seats were ALWAYS empty in the 4 games so far this season.

Forgive me for not being overly excited about spending $20 or my Special Game A ticket to watch a QUALIFER for the US Open Cup. The Wizards front office have shot themselves in the foot again and are overestimating their fan base's willingness to pay $20 for what will amount to a reserve game for the most part. As I said though, it won't be advertised as such. Should LA win it will be advertised as “Come see David Beckham on a high school field” cue my rolling eyes.

As always, this has been
Baine's Right Leg.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Wizards Get 3rd Billing.

Today the Wizards released their promotion for the first game of the season. This fact has caused quite a stir on bigsoccer, with many people not in favor of the idea. The team has come back with a response on their official blog, Hillcrest Road.

To me, the team completely misses the point of many of the people's arguments against it. In the press release that the Wizards sent out to the media, the team says "Kansas City Wizards to Host Dora the Explorer, Scooby Doo, DC United Saturday March 29 at Community America Ballpark in KCK." The problem is the order at which the game appears in the release. To posters like AndyMead and kuhnscoot on bigsoccer the game looks like it is playing third wheel to the two cartoon characters that will be at the game. I have to agree with those two, and I'm sure we're not the only ones. The fact that the opponent on that day appears third on the list of things hosted by the Wizards says to me that the team cares more about the outside activities then the actual event.

This is a press release that the team sent out to the media. What's that say about the importance of your product in the eyes of the people that read that release?

Even in their own blog entry, the team seems to miss the point. The post talks about the fact that the team has events planned out for people of all ages and that this is just one of the things that is planned out for younger fans. They also mention that there will be an event for the 18-35 year old crowd in Lawrence coming up (the fact that the Kansas City Wizards are having their big party for that age group in Lawrence is a completely different thing). But as I said, the team misses the point. The fact is, it's the importance that the team appears to put on this event instead of the game. Even on their website when they talk about the event, is it a picture from a Wizards-DC game last year or some other thing about the team? No it's a picture of Scooby Doo in the article, and on the main page is a picture of a Dora balloon.

OnGoal and MLS have said in the past that they are in support of the "Game First Initiative " yet this seems to go against that.

This has been,
Baines Right Leg

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Fire Sale

On 14 January Cerner Corp. cuts 97 jobs in the KC area. Company spokeswoman Kay Hawes said that the local layoffs were part of global job eliminations totaling 152 positions. This is not good news for Cerner Stock holders. As if the 3rd quarter report of Cerner shares losing $5.93, or 9 percent was not bad enough.

I know you all are thinking this has no effect on us or the Wiz. Or does it?

That's 97 former employees that will not buy tickets for themselves or their family. I might go as far as to say some will probably never have anything to do with any of Mr. Neal Patterson's holdings.

As for the the Wizards they are saving money by trading away Nick Garcia and Jose Burciaga . And look at the cash they save in salary and make in transfer fees by letting Eddie Johnson go with out a fight.

Now we hear that Sasha is out the door too. Who will be next, Jack Jewsbury , Kerry Zavagnin or even Jimmy? Will we have any experienced starters left?

Now if we can have a moment of silence for those Wizards you may not have ever heard of. Yes I mean our waivered Youth.

Edson Elcock - waived
AJ Godbolt - waived
Chris Konopka - waived
Willy Guadarrama – waived

I would like to thank you all for your service to the Wizards and the community. Some of you have been kind enough to volunteer your time to this community. Some have taken leadership roles, others have sold themselves.

Strange how both Cerner and On Goal LLC. seem to be cutting costs.

This has been,
Baines Breath.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The season is right around the corner.

Yes, believe it or not, the fans are getting excited about the draft.

Lets be brutally honest, the fans opinions really mean nothing when it comes to player personnel decisions. What am I really saying? Peter and Curt could care less what you and I think. Just send the sales department your money for those tickets and Sing and Chant. Face it you and I do not know what is best for the Club. If we did we would be working for them.

I have to say that BenC1357 might be right. " I mainly have this feeling because the top players in the draft usually use MLS as a stepping stone toward Europe and MLS never sees their best days, or they simply flop. " And Curt's is quote in the Star, “We want to be a franchise that’s selling players all the time” makes BenC1357 correct.

But lets look at who we might get anyway.

Patrick Nyarko He is 21+ and a 6 footer. Not bad height for a MLS but a bit short for most European teams. Comes with ACC honors and could develop into something special. Conclusion Curt would sell him.

Sean Franklin Nice career at Cal State, does have international experience. Short but fast. Can play DM or D. Current Club San Fernando Valley Quakes

Julius James All-American honoree and collected BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year. Nice size for a physical defender and has the potential of representing Trinidad and Tobago. What does this mean? If he wants to play for MLS, he will only be a Youth International (YI) for one season. This is a serious problem for him and undercuts his value.

Chance Myers First-team All-Pac-10 honoree. Another DM and has been chosen to Participate in under 23 service. Hello Beijing. Could be a problem. I as a fan hate to lose half the team to national call up.

Eric Avila A true midfielder, M.A.C. Hermann trophy candidate. Someone who might step up in Davey's absence.

What the Wiz need is are forwards, defenders, wing and center back (now say goodbye Nick and Jose). And anyone who went to a match last season knows they need a Midfield. Just watching the ball go from a defender to a forward was getting pretty boring.

Lets Face the facts. We have traded away talent and are rebuilding. This means as fans we may as well admit that we have the potential of losing a lot of our games, although the Wizards will find a pretty way to package the truth and won't admit to rebuilding.

All of this really does not matter because Peter and Curt have already made their decisions. They will pick the players that have the most value, or should I say resale value.

Enjoy the baseball stadium, Stand a chant, and watch us rebuild this team for a winning inaugural season in the SSS.

This has been,
Baines Breath.

Friday, January 11, 2008

The Cauldron

There's been a lot of talk lately in blogs and on message boards about the Cauldron and it's location at Community America Ballpark. The arguments have gone from the pricing of the Cauldron season ticket to the support of the section.

The price for one season ticket in the Cauldron for this coming season is $299 for a 15 game regular season, and apparently 3 special game tickets. So over the course of the season, people are paying $16.61 for a ticket to the game. Of course that's if the Wizards use all 3 special game tickets this season. Which personally I don't see happening. Usually you get 2 special game tickets, 1 for the first round of the playoffs and one for the conference final. Does this mean the Wizards have a friendly with a team on the horizon for the coming season, or are they just adding the extra ticket so that they can make the ticket prices per ticket for ALL season tickets look lower?

Since we haven't played a friendly at home since 1997. I have my doubts that it's for a friendly.

Many people that have been part of the Cauldron for years are now having to look at possibly relocating to the berm where the tickets are cheaper. They aren't doing so without complaining though. A big part of the Cauldron's growth this past season was the fact that the Cauldron was the cheapest ticket for the games. Will it still be so without that fact this season? That's hard to tell.

What can Cauldron members who are pissed about the price and the move out of the section do? Accept it? Or do like La Porra has done and be organized? Kansas City's Argentine supporters group received discounted tickets last season for the Cauldron, and I would not be surprised to see them receive it again this season.

My suggestion is to get organized. Start the push for dues or to get the Cauldron more organized. Supporters groups all around the league are able to have some kind of pull with the front office because the group is organized. Paying members of the Red Bulls, ESC get discounted season tickets as a perk of being paying members of the group. Barra Brava lists some of their benefits on their website. Included in their benefits are discounted tickets and even discounted parking among other things. I'm sure that other supporters groups have similar benefits too. Why can't the Wizards work with the Cauldron's leadership to try to get similar benefits for the paid Cauldron members if and when they start collecting dues?

That can't be the only benefit for members though. There has to be more to it then that. And all of it can't come from the team. Barra Brava has t-shirts, the Midnight Riders list their benefits on their website. Those extra benefits have to come from the group itself.

This is not to say that the section should become a reserved section for only those paying dues, no. The section should still be GA for the group of the group.

If you agree, contact the Cauldron leadership, all their emails are on the website, and tell them you want the group more organized.

This has been,
Baines Right Leg

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Sense For the Centsless

Thank you Dave (Ficklin) and Dave (WizardsCharter) for making the most sense out of this yet. I am a firm believer in communication. I believe this to be true of most people that if you explain the reason(s) behind decisions most people will accept the decision easier than handing it down as law.

This being said I want to say I was originally quite frustrated by the new costs to sit in the Cauldron. I do not have a lot of disposable money and my entertainment dollars go almost entirely to the Wizards. It was pretty hard to understand how the FO was doing us a favor by charging such a price for metal bleacher seats that the T-bones are getting to keep.

I could begin to justify this more in my mind if I believed that part of the 2008 STH Cauldron price was to begin to pay for a new stadium. I wish it were more about building on our future and less about covering construction costs for upgrades to a minor league ballpark.

I am grateful that Kansas City still has a soccer team and we didn’t have to see them leave only to have to bid on an expansion team once we finally had a SSS built, assuming that Kansas City would have continued to prove that it loved the beautiful game enough to make this happen. Perhaps its easier to be short sighted and complain about costs than to look into the reason for the price hike.

I accept this price hike like swallowing a double-edged sword. On one hand I see the need to cover the construction costs at CAB and to begin to build the Cauldron foundation outside the “hallowed” walls of Arrowhead. (Alas this foundation will cost quite a bit to move yet again.) On the other hand I also see the FO for the crafty foxes they are. Similar to the oil companies it’s easier to stomach today’s fuel prices after having paid in the low 3s earlier this year. Raise the price, knock it down, raise it again. By the time we move into the Three Trails SSS we won’t choke quite so quickly on the price they will want the 12th man to pay.

Oh but the price would be greater without a home team. The price of silence, beauty lost, aspirations fading. I will pay to keep the cacophony of the Cauldron, the beauty of the game and the dreams of the youth who play to one day be a Wizard.

"As long as Qi flows freely through the meridians and the Organs work in harmony, the body can avoid disease."

This has been,
Baines Qi