The Save The Crew team held their first event of 2018 this past Saturday January 13th at Land Grant Brewing. About 200 members of the Columbus community packed into the brewery to hear an update from the STC leadership team.
Adam, co-owner of Land Grant, started things off by welcoming everyone and emphasizing Land-Grant’s passion for the Columbus Crew. They have been a partner with Crew SC for 3 years, but have been long time fans of the club. Determined to keep the team in town, they have offered up their facilities for Save The Crew events, including tifo painting for College Gameday.
Next, Morgan Hughes gave a highlight of STC’s 2017 efforts and mission. Save the Crew is determined to destroy the false narratives surrounding the team’s fan base while maintaining transparency for everyone involved. Over the past 90 days, STC has organized a rally at the statehouse, where over 2000 individuals showed up to demonstrate their passion for their team; created and mailed hundreds of banners all over the world; gained national attention at College Gameday; accepted several city resolutions passed in support of STC; created a documentary, allowing this story to be shared with the whole world; created targeted ads for both Columbus and Austin, imploring both cities to support the cause. In just 3 months, STC has shown the world what true ambition looks like.
John Zidar spoke next, giving a brief overview of the STC team structure. STC uses an app (Slack) for a majority of its communication. Slack is essentially a glorified chat room comprised of separate channels for each team that allows the 50 users to easily share documents. Each channel has a leader, and these leaders meet weekly. If you feel that you have a specific skill or idea that contribute to STC, please email the team to get involved.
The next speaker was Tom Davis, creator of the Save the Crew website. The website is the best way to sign up for STC news and email updates. There is a business allies page, which displays the 200+ logos of local businesses who want to keep the team in Columbus. Tom’s web team has also created ad app for both iPhone and android so users can stay up to date with news and notifications.
Donny Murray, head of the business affairs team, spoke next. In just 3 months, over 200 businesses have signed up to be STC allies, destroying the narrative of no local business support for the team. STC business allies have been given window clings and yard designs so they can proudly display their support. Several business have pledged monetary support of the STC movement as well. Keep it Simple socks have been the largest contributor to date, so a special thanks goes out to them.
Blake Compton from Compton Construction graciously donated several billboards in town to display STC ads in November. Looking into the future, STC has a few specific plans in the works. STC is working with Flag Lady to create a STC flag, which will be for sale at the Flag Lady store and website.
Next month, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams is encouraging customers at the Columbus scoop shops to create Valentine’s Day cards, which will be sent to Columbus Crew team players. STC is also hosting a youth soccer clinic on Monday January 15th at Resolute Athletic Complex, who is donating field time for the event.
The messaging team, comprised of John Zidar, Tobias Roediger, and Mark Vuchenich, spoke next. It quickly became apparent to this team that we needed another message besides #SaveTheCrew. In an effort to reach a broader audience, 2 specific ads were created. The first ad was an animated graphic that aired for 2 weeks in late December at AMC theaters in Columbus before every movie. Increased traffic from the holidays and the new Star Wars film maximized viewership. John created the illustrations, Tobias animated them, and David Foust worked with the sound.
The ad’s goal was to emphasize that this team is part of the city’s identity, just like other landmark buildings and community assets. A second ad was created, which targeted the residents of Austin, Texas. The “Dear Austin” ad allowed STC to share Columbus’ side of the story and implored Austinites to empathize with supporters. The ad was shot at Kino Picz and included approximately 15 volunteers. The social media ad campaign reached 300,000 individuals, and ESPNFC featured the ad on their website. The messaging team revealed that STC is making a jersey, which will be a brand name and have a local sponsor. There will be a release party for the jersey where jerseys will also be for sale.
Darby Schaaf spoke last about volunteerism. The first volunteerism event was a tifo sweat event at Land-Grant for College Gameday this past October. Volunteers have also helped distribute window clings and signs to business allies. For the Eastern Conference Finals against Toronto FC, volunteers worked countless hours to create the Respect Your Roots tifo, On the day of the game, volunteers handed out 15,000 STC cards, which won Best Tifo or Fan Display on the /r/MLS subreddit. He emphasized that this grassroots movement belongs to everyone, and he encouraged people to take action and be the catalyst for their own ideas.
The event then opened up to a Q&A session:
Q: How is STC addressing the owner operators?
A: There is a contact list for all MLS owners of the website for everyone to contact. A hard copy of the letter and its nearly 18,000 signatures will be delivered to all MLS owners and to MLS headquarters.
Q: Any plans for the She Believes cup?
A: STC will have a presence at the USWNT match.
Q: Has Save the Crew heard anything from the city lately?
A: City council were early adopters of the STC mission, and Morgan says that the city officials know exactly how we feel, and they legitimately care about saving the team. Councilmember Stinziano will be at the soccer clinic on Monday.
Q: Eric Wynalda is in town tomorrow. Do they anticipate Save the Crew questions at the forum?
A: Yes, in addition, his campaign manager reached out to STC and he and Wynalda will try to attend one of the weekend’s events.
Q: Have you had any talks with Mike Dewine?
A: STC’s goal is to be a voice for the movement and alert those who operate in arenas in which they don’t. Registered voters are encouraged to reach out to Mike Dewine in that effort.
Q: How do you expand to other cities?
A: STC has reached out to every supporter group from all the MLS clubs, emphasizing that if this can happen to Columbus, it can happen anywhere.
Q: Have you had any communications with the players?
A: They have it tough right now and care as much as the fans.
Q: Have you heard from MLS, Don Garber, or Anthony Precourt?
A: No, the silence has been deafening and we are waiting for “parallel paths.”
Q: Are you reaching out to Austin in ways other than the “Dear Austin”ad?
A: STC wants to stay positive and solicit empathy, so it’s a fine line to walk. Austinites are not the enemy, so don’t be rude to them on social media because it just paints Columbus in a negative light.
Morgan concluded the event, indicating that he is more optimistic and energized than before. Looking into the Periscope broadcast camera, he spoke directly to Garber and Precourt, saying that this is the time for them to cement their legacy. He challenged them to stand up for what is right and that it is never too late to do the right thing.