The Interview Series is our occasional look at the Rapids from the eyes of the Front Office, Players, and Supporters. In the past we have sat down with Colorado Rapids President Tim Hinchey, Rapids Striker Kevin Doyle, Rapids Defender/Midfielder Jared Watts, The Flakoglost Podcast and learned the anatomy of a supporter. This time I exchanged questions with KSE Out a small but burgeoning movement hoping for a change in Rapids ownership. Here is what we spoke about:
Burgundy Wave: Why the KSE Out Campaign now? What sparked it?
KSE Out: The Rapids as an organization have been going steadily downhill in the last 4 years, both on & off the field. We are being left behind in all areas as new clubs join the league & are putting decent soccer teams together that play in packed out stadiums. Fan frustrations have been growing steadily over this time as we are now being asked to accept 3 seasons out of the last 4 being terrible due to a team that is 'rebuilding'.
The spark was the 'fan forum' held just over a week ago, on a Tuesday lunchtime, by phone that lasted strictly no longer than an hour. Collectively the Rapids fanbase realized 3 things that day about the team's management. The first was that the Rapids Front Office sees dealing with its fans as a task in criticism & blame deflection. They organized the 'fan forum' on their terms & ran it their way meaning it didn't feel like a genuine 2-way relationship between the club & its biggest supporters. The second thing was the revelation that missing the play-offs was not a big deal & only a 'small piece' of the end of season evaluations meaning that the club does not make winning a priority. And the third thing, most importantly, was that left to themselves, the Rapids Front Office would not be doing anything major about the multiple problems they have. They came across as believing that everything is just fine when to everybody else, things most definitely are not.
BW: What are the goals of KSE Out?
KSE Out: We believe that between them, owners Kroenke Sports & Entertainment (KSE), club president Tim Hinchey, VP of soccer ops Paul Bravo & head coach Pablo Mastroeni lack the capabilities in their various roles to truly build a great soccer team that can represent Colorado at MLS D1 level. Therefore we are asking for them all to replaced with an owner & personnel who put soccer & winning at the heart of everything they do in order for the Rapids to fulfill their potential.
That said, & particularly relating to the KSE giving up the team, we are realistic about what could happen. Knowing that we do not have direct control over any of the things we want, we would like to unite the Rapids fanbase in sending a message to ownership & management that we are fed up with all of them & want major changes made to the way our club is run. We feel that by highlighting the issues on a local, national & even international scale, we will apply the pressure to get the club's failings taken seriously & properly addressed.
BW: Do you feel that Tim Hinchey as President should shoulder a fair amount of blame for the debacle that is the Rapids? Or is it more ownership at fault?
KSE Out: Yes we do. He is the public figurehead of the Rapids & the culture in the front office & out on the training fields is ultimately set by him. Ownership & Tim Hinchey are failing at putting the will to win & soccer at the heart of everything they do. At the moment everything seems to be about the business side of things & making the numbers stack up. While we agree that this is important, we feel the club has lost touch with the game of soccer & it's poor decisions reflect that.
Hinchey also has direct control over the soccer technical & playing staff. He has the power to do something about the problems on the field & make the changes to the staff that are clearly necessary. Instead he has stood by as our team has become the laughing stock of the league and can only tell the fans to be patient & wait for next year. It just isn't good enough.
BW: How would you define success of KSE Out?
KSE Out: Very simply, when KSE puts the team up for the sale & Tim Hinchey, Paul Bravo & Pablo Mastroeni all move on.
However, as we have previously stated, we are realistic about the probabilities of events happening that we have no direct control over. We would consider the KSE Out movement a success if it is apparent that major changes are being made throughout the KSE & Rapids organizations that put winning & soccer first. While we are calling for current people to go as we believe they are incapable of creating a great soccer club for Colorado, if by some miracle they made vast improvements in their performance for the good of the team, we would consider that a success too.
BW: How would someone support KSE Out?
KSE Out: At first, and in an effort to unite the fanbase, we are asking Rapids fans to wear green to games & any other occasion (tailgates, viewing parties, soccer practices etc.) where they would usually wear Rapids gear. We would like the color green to signify that a fan supports the players & wants the team to win, but has no confidence in the current ownership & management's abilities to run the club to it's full potential meaning they should be replaced. Green was chosen as it was the color the Rapids wore in their earlier year & has no connection to KSE's ownership of the club. We hope that the simple act of wearing green will be attractive to Rapids fans as it is a non-confrontational form of protest & is reasonably easy to join in with.
We would also ask Rapids fans, if they chose to attend games, to keep their ticket purchases down by buying off the secondary market & exchanging tickets with their fellow season ticket holders. We would also request fans do not purchase items from concessions at DSG Park or other Kroenke venues such as the Pepsi Center & avoid the team stores. There are plenty of other options such as other bars & supporters tailgates to help fans avoid the concessions & if they are wearing green they won't need the team store in any case.
As a final note, we would like to stress that this is not a hate campaign & we would wish KSE, Tim Hinchey, Paul Bravo & Pablo Mastroeni the best of luck in all their future endeavors if they (hopefully!) moved on.