Some Revolution Questions That Needed Asking

So there’s this little competition called the World Cup going on and yet I’m writing about the New England Revolution – a team that’s not even actively playing right now.

How could this be?

Well, there are too many pundits talking about the World Cup already, some of which even make sense.  (Some.)  And something came up about the Revolution that interested me.

The Revolution offered an online question/answer time with Revolution Chief Operating Officer Brian Bilello and VP of Player Personnel Michael Burns.

Being a cynic, I might call this damage control for an increasingly disinterested or frustrated fan base, but given the floodgates that will likely open on them, it is indeed a generous offer.

The offer is appreciated, and I know many fans who hope the answers are more than a simple  “you don’t get it,” “we tried that before” and the ones that nearly say, “hey, this is really hard you know.”   Yes, we know.

But first, here’s what I’d really like to know, and this round – at least – I humbly send to  Mr. Bilello.  I’ll skip the Soccer Specific Stadium questions, since that just hurts my head.

Question: Do the New England Revolution have a “mission statement” – from an overall perspective?  (not specifically on the field)

Why I ask: Sometimes the fans could use a sense of what you are trying to accomplish.  Here are a couple examples of what those mission statements might be.

  • Create the USA’s most respected professional soccer club in terms of results, fan energy and involvement, youth development and management operations.
  • Create a respectable MLS club that allows us to maximize our assets like Gillette Stadium and business-operations staff in the NFL offseason.

Without stating that a driving mission like the first one exists, many fans will continue to believe it is the latter.

Question: Do you have more roles for the Kraft organization than C.O.O. of the Revolution?  If so, could you say what they are?

Why I ask: There’s been much speculation, even within the comments section of this here blog about how many jobs you currently hold for the Kraft organization.  The presumption here, it goes without saying, is that perhaps the Revolution isn’t your main focus.  This is quite possibly an unfair accusation, so please shoot it down if possible.

I tried to get the information from LinkedIn, but that had me confused, as it suggested you were: “COO New England Revolution, Director of Strategic Initatives [SIC] and Retail Operations New England Patriots” and also had “COO / Director of Strategic and Business Processes at NE Revolution / NE Patriots” as current.

Question: Relative to your role for the New England Revolution, what does your direct management  measure to determine your success?  Additionally (or alternatively) do most of the Front Office staff work for you and how are you judging their success?

Why I ask: Frankly, given the plummeting energy level of the fan-base and attendance, the poor on-field record, the scary health record of the team and an inconsistent web/digital strategy, I would imagine some pretty tough staff meetings.  Or let me rephrase, I would HOPE there are some pretty tough staff meetings.

Question: How many of the Revolution “business-side” employees are actually dedicated to the Revolution, and not shared with other parts of the Kraft business?  I’d also be curious how many speak Spanish or Portuguese.

Why I ask: Frankly, it doesn’t seem like there are many soccer-loving, full-time, dedicated people driving this bus all the way down to the interns working at events that claim they work for the Patriots.  Half-hearted work brings results in line with the input.

Question: From a marketing perspective, what would you say has been your biggest success this year?  What creative efforts have you attempted that maybe fans are not aware of?  Anything at local colleges?  Anything during the “special” matches?

Why I ask: I’ll offer that Jeff Lemieux’s work and the Revolution Blog are probably the two items that most stand out as valued.  Beyond that, local awareness seems to be at an all time low.

We are in the middle of a recession and I still don’t think a casual fan knows there’s free parking.  (“Best Value in New England Sports” might help.)  Family packs are a decent start, but here’s a crazy idea… kids get in free.  Maybe after the second kid, the rest in one family gets in free?   Let’s face it, there are an atrocious amount of empty seats at the stadium, and you still can recoup money (or vendors can) via concessions.   It would certainly help expose the game to new fans, (“sure little Tommy, you can bring a friend…”)

At the recent Benfica and Cruzeiro matches there were (I believe) about ~14K and ~12K fans in attendance – most of which did not appear to be Revolution regulars.  Despite, what needs to be seen as disappointing attendance to both games the atmosphere in cavernous Gillette Stadium was much more electric than during a regular MLS match.   Getting more of those fans back in the stadium – even at some sort of cut-rate price – would go a long way in solving the library like atmosphere of most matches.   Maybe a Brazilian night?  Something…


Well, on the note of dragging fans into Gillette by any means necessary, I’ll stop.

Sitting here on Father’s Day, I’d like to get time to also address some thoughts to Mr. Burns, especially regarding what kind of soccer those fans will get to see and the player-choices the team makes.

But much like watching the Revs this year, it’s a tough schedule and there’s certainly no guarantee of success.