As soon as I learned about the Save The Crew movement, I wanted to be part of it. And I knew that our agency needed to support it however possible.
In case you aren’t familiar with Save The Crew, it is the fully volunteer, grassroots movement that sprang into being when the investor/operator group of the Columbus Crew SC signaled their intention to move our MLS team to Austin, TX in mid October of 2017. I won’t be going into why I believe this is a dirty, underhanded deal by the league. Instead I’ll focus on why I fully committed RAVE to this cause.
Context and Some History
I made the decision several years ago to purchase Columbus Crew season tickets for RAVE. Starting with just two tickets on a 10-match plan, I immediately secured a full season ticket membership following year and have increased the value of the seats we held each year since. For the upcoming 2018 season I decided to improve our seats selection yet again and secured season tickets in the coveted Center Circle area. Even though it would nearly double our yearly cost, this was a move I was very excited for. Season tickets for the Columbus Crew had been a great investment.
Additionally, I’m part of the inaugural Columbus Crew SC Season Ticket Advisory Board. There are 14 board members, selected by the club from more than 500 applicants. The advisory board met three times in 2017, to date, and provided the front office with insights on a variety of issues and concerns facing the club in general and season ticket members (current and potential) in particular.
Shock and Outrage
When I first heard the news that the Columbus Crew might be moved I was in Chicago attending the Sprout Social Agency Partner Day.
Initially I was confused, then angry. Our team was on a wonderful unbeaten streak and was poised to enter the playoffs with a very hot hand. The only question was where we’d be seeded. The news broke days before the final game of the season and seemed designed to knock the wind out of everyone. Instead it did the galvanized a community. But that’s getting a little ahead of myself.
Since I was traveling and in conference sessions for the first couple days immediately following the news release, I didn’t have much time to process what was happening or if there was anything at all that could be done about it.
When I got back to Columbus I saw an Instagram post from co-working space Haven Collective, one of our clients, showing a small meeting in their brand new conference space. But it was the first part of the caption that riveted my attention: “The conference room is getting some really good use already as the #savethecrew team comes together for a strategy session.”
I didn’t recognize anyone in the room but instinctively knew that if people were strategizing to save our team then I, and our company, had to get involved immediately.
“Save The Crew isn’t just about soccer… This is a fight to protect the very essence of the city we call home.”
Taking Action for Club and City
I’ll spare you the rabbit trail of Instagram messages, texts, phone calls and emails that it took to get connected with the leaders in that photo. Suffice it to say that we finally connected in person on the day of the 2,000+ person rally which took place on the steps of the Capitol building.
I first met with some of the leaders at Endeavor Brewing. They told me that everyone was volunteering their time, scrambling like mad to hopefully save the team that they all loved.
Go big or go home is one of our eight core beliefs.So I went all-in, promising I would do whatever possible to help save the team. I pledged RAVE would immediately donate seats on Sprout Social, help to organize the social media team and develop the messaging strategy. I made sure that RAVE provided advanced analytics and reporting solutions to the cause. And finally, I committed significant time resources (both mine and agency hours) to assist the effort.
Our Home and Our Future
At this point you might be asking yourself, why did I essentially write a blank check to help save the Columbus Crew? Isn’t it a lot to risk? After all, those resources could be used for R&D, internal projects and business development.
The short answer is I love Columbus.
I believe that Columbus is a world-class city. Winning the US DOT Smart City Grant, city population growth projections and consistently topping numerous Best Places to Live/Best Places for Startups’ lists all prove that to be the current case.
But being an elite place to live doesn’t happen by accident. It requires constant planning, dedication and care. City officials, business leaders and the community must consistently work together to ensure good stewardship of our home and future.
Save The Crew isn’t just about soccer. It’s not even a discussion about what place soccer holds in Columbus. This is a fight to protect the very essence of the city we call home.
Columbus an amazing place to live. This is due in-part to the wide array of food, art, culture and entertainment options available. Now, try to imagine Columbus without the Museum of Art, our incredible library system, COSI or the zoo. It’s not good picture. The collective fabric of our community is what draws and holds people here.
Loosing any of our sports teams would be equally damaging. For more than 21 years the Columbus Crew has been part what makes Columbus special. We would be foolish to let it go without a tremendous fight.