The San José Earthquakes and their fans have seen some rough times. There have been many losing seasons, bad trades, an allocated player who should have gone to San José off to their bitter rivals Lost Angeles, and lousy ownership. Seriously. How often do owners lie about a team's attendance to reduce the attendance numbers? Really.
So a couple of days ago, Lew Wolff, the new owner was quoted in the local San José Mercury News saying that he expected more season ticket holders, more seats sold, and basically better fan support. To make matters worse, in response to a question about fans howling for the coach and general manager's heads (that would be me) Wolff said that he did not give a damn about fans opinions on the matter. That he thinks and John Doyle are good guys and very dedicated.
Naturally, this caused a ---- storm online. Many fans complained about Lew not caring about us, or our opinions, frustration with the delay in the stadium project, and downright anger that he should feel that there ought to be more season ticket holders. Go back and re-read the first paragraph here.
MLS and the previous owners of the Quakes treated the fans very badly. We were run down by MLS suits, the Krafts when they owned the team, and AEG when they owned the team. They complained that we were obnoxious (guilty!) and that there were not enough of us (blatant lie). I could go on at length, but that's for another day.
So Lew Wolff and his Earthquakes Soccer LLC need to make an effort to rebuild the fanbase. MLS could help here. Afterall, most of the bad behavior lies at their feet and AEG's.
Today, David Alioto (there's a picture of him on the Stadium Plans Delayed article) posted a very long, very nice note to Quakes fans on the Big Soccer forum. In part, he wrote:
DA: I did talk to Lew yesterday regarding the article. Lew was not trying to attack the fan base but instead he was defending two highly regarded people whom he employs. Not that anyone on this board cares but I thought it was very admirable of Lew to not just give the old “vote of confidence” line. I will let Lew speak for himself, but I can tell you that he does care very deeply for the fans. Do not let his backing of John and Frank change Lew’s desire for a winning team now and holding them accountable for this.
DA: On September 19th, we will unveil some spectacular stadium designs at the Soccer Silicon Valley dinner. We will let the designs speak for themselves and hope that even the biggest stadium critics will agree that this is a place they would be proud of. We are all committed to making the stadium a reality in San Jose and San Jose only!
Mr. Alioto is a nice guy. I am sure that the team are doing their best. However, the on-field performance is horrible. I expect Wolff to defend Yallop and Doyle, but as a fan, I want them sacked, seven or eight weeks ago would have been good.
The original "problem" in San José was a poor business plan and excessive rent at Spartan Stadium. The new problem is a downturn in the economy that hurts attendance and sponsorships. Unlike Toronto, Seattle, and even Salt Lake City, the media in the Bay Area are downright hostile to the Quakes and MLS. Combined with broken promises from ownership and the league, there is some serious fence mending to do.