The Daily Wave is a slice of opinion from a Burgundy Wave contributor, released every weekday morning.
#OneClub, Year of the Fan, Bronco Nation, and Suck For Seth are only a few of the local team marketing slogans that sports fans hear on a regular basis in Colorado. Clearly Year of the Fan didn't work. Even local soccer fans know this is a Broncos town. But which team increased its season ticket base more than 100% ?
I dare to say that sometimes in our town the fans only show up when you win. If you remember the Bill Hanzlik era for the Nuggets or Jim Leyland, Jim Tracy, or Buddy Bells Rockies. Then maybe their marketing departments would say it's hard to sell tickets in Denver. Especially in the summer months when all you want to do is not sit in place for several hours.
So we clearly know that last years plan was the start of a rebuilding project for the second oldest team in the league. But more importantly, a visionary image change, which sought to bond fans to the club. Now you could say the Rapids home shirt is a gimmick. I personally don't agree, but it worked. Who wouldn't want their name to be imprinted with their favorite players during the game. The Rapids alternate shirt is an old idea new again. Find me a Rapids fan that doesn't want to own one.
What does the every guy that has been in charge of the Rapids before Tim Hinchey III have in common? They have never run a Soccer club before. What does everyone who ran the Rapids have in common now? They are all out of the business of running sports teams. It was essentially having a restaurant run by guys who have only operated for profit colleges. They say if you can sell, then you can sell anything. They could sell soccer, but didn't understand the fanaticism of some food places like in-n-out. That's what soccer clubs should strive for. The mere mention of the name Rapids should be like a double-double animal style. Yes they fielded a championship team. I will not go into the numbers, but that team from an age and offensive stand point, looked like an aberration. The previous regimes didn't understand supporters groups. They thought any play-by-play guy would do until this year. Marcelo Balboa is a fine analyst. What do you want from him? He's had to carry the broadcast forever. That's not his job. His job is to tell you why the goal was scored, and why things happen on the field the way they do. Not to explain the rules of the game to his broadcasting partner.
The MLS had and still has financial backing thanks to franchise fees and billionaire owners. It takes time for a new owner to figure out how to run a sports franchise or any business. Colorado fans should remember when we thought Denny Neagle and Mike Hampton would lead the Rockies to the promised land, only to curse when a second year team, the Arizona Diamondbacks, won the World Series. That was Dan O'Dowd's first big splash as GM of a baseball team in winter 2000 (and he still has a job)! Last summer I thought "year of the fan" meant that we would be seeing exciting baseball. When all we got was an oxymoron's poor mans Moneyball-like 4 man pitching rotation that became the laughingstock of baseball.
The Rapids and Rockies finished in the same part of the table in their respective leagues. What are your feelings on where these teams are going? I was fooled by the Rockies marketing campaign. Maybe that was their plan. But what have the Rockies done in the last year to get me excited? Hiring a high school coach? I think the only thing to save the Rockies season this year is to have Todd Helton announce that he is retiring after the season and having a year long celebration for that fact.
What have the Rapids done? First, they gave more power to the unified supporters group C38. The supporters sell their own tickets and get a commission from it to further their interests. So now they have 1000 ticket agents wanting to keep their pre-match tailgate parties running smoothly. Last week we had a rookie score and several other players under 25 play in the rivalry game against RSL. Dillon Powers controls the mid-field and watching the game in person and on tv he is the player that is really making the difference on the field. Even though DeShorn Brown gets all the glory. Having a kit that identifies with our locality is a brilliant move. I pine for the days when the Colorado Avalanche can wear the Rockie Hockey sweater.
In these days when league commissioners play Cities against each-other like Seattle and Sacramento in the NBA, and every town and Los Angeles in the NFL. Making real ties to the community and setting downs roots is different. The entire Rapids operation could be putting one over on us. But I don't think so. That's the lesson. The Rapids are onto something "new" for a professional team in Colorado. Integrate with the community the way no one else has. It looks like the effort on the field matches the effort in the Presidents box. What more could we ask for as fans? #OneClub