From the halls of Foxboro Stadium…

Bilello Responds to Fan Questions

Posted by Mike Marshall on December 26, 2008

Revolution COO Brian Bilello took the time to respond to fan questions on the team’s Official Blog a few days ago.  It’s worth taking the time to read over all of the responses, but I’ll just pick out a few key passages.

Off the field our number one focus is to continue to shift our brand and associated touch-points (advertising, media, grassroots, stadium experience, etc.) more toward the adult soccer fan market.

I sensed the shift last year, and I was glad to see it.  I think the organization is on the right track here.

On last year’s schedule congestion:

We certainly didn’t go into these games looking to lose, but at the same time, our coaching staff had to make the tough decisions of whom to play in which matches. Our approach was to do everything we could to win those other tournaments so far as the coaching staff didn’t feel that it would jeopardize our chances to compete for MLS Cup, which is our primary goal year-in and year-out.

Ugh.  I can’t fight the feeling that last year’s schedule could have been handled so much better than it was.  Maybe if the roster wasn’t filled with players that Nicol and Mariner were petrified to play in key situations then the Revs could have handled things closer to the way Houston did.

And defending the strategy by essentially giving it the ol’ “Brandon Manzonelli and Joe Germanese tried their little hearts out” defense isn’t exactly comforting.  This is the Chief Operating Officer admitting that his team didn’t try particularly hard to win tournaments that a fair number of their fans wanted to win and that people paid their hard-earned money to win.  The Revs did charge admission for those games, right?  I didn’t see anyone outside Gillette offering to give the fans their money back after the Joe Public fiasco, although they probably should have.

On the Salary “budget”:

Back to the salary budget, it’s fair to say that many of our fans are not armed with all of the facts and make incorrect assumptions.  The salary budget is a fluid thing that changes throughout the year as we make a variety of personnel-related moves. Some of those moves are made public and some are not. Additionally, the budget calculation is not as simple as getting a list of publicly-released salaries and adding them up. That figure does not equate to where we stand on our budget number.

I could be a little full of myself, but I kind of get the feeling that this is directed at me since I’m pretty much the only person I’m aware of who keeps fairly close track of these things.

I’m willing to admit when I’m wrong, and I’ve never suggested that the numbers published here and elsewhere are Gospel.  But come on, Brian.  you’ve got to meet me half way.  How about an example of some of these moves.  You don’t have to give us specifics, but if you gave Shalrie Joseph a huge signing bonus that’s not included in the MLSPA’s figures, just tell us.  That won’t put you at a competitive disadvantage – I promise.

The notion that we go every year with significant amounts of unused budget space is just not true.

Again, I’m willing to believe you, as long as you’re willing to explain why when I add up all of those publicly available salaries why your team’s figure has been the lowest in the league for five straight years.

I know trust is hard to come by sometimes, but I hope most of our fans can trust that we are making smart decisions that are strictly in the interest of putting the best team that we can on the field. That’s not to say that we always make the correct decision, but we’re always making the decisions that we think are in the best interest of the team.

I would hope that the COO is not so out of touch that he can’t understand why some fans don’t really trust the personnel decisions the team makes.  Too much goes on that simply makes no sense.  And if you don’t like the fact that some fans fear the worst possible explanation when things don’t add up, try sharing a little information.

On the prospects of a stadium in Somerville:

As far as an update or a timeline, there isn’t anything hard that I have to share at this time.

This process is not ours, it is the city of Somerville’s, and we will continue to follow their lead in terms of how things will progress. The city and its residents need to determine what is best for Somerville, and if they decide that a soccer stadium is something that they would like to explore further, we will be very enthusiastic to do so.

Pretty much the answer he had to give.

On the rumor the team was about to move to Hartford:

I believe I have seen the rumor that people are inquiring about. I’m not sure where that came from, but I assure you that it has nothing to do with the New England Revolution.

I’m shocked.  The web site that posted the original rumor has such a stellar reputation for accuracy.

On getting Public Transportation for home games:

In terms of our current location it is not as simple as making a phone call and ordering up some public transportation. We’d love to have public transportation for Revolution games but we haven’t been able to find a way to make it work as of yet. It is high on our radar and we will continue to work on it.

Allow me to translate: It’s not going to happen.

On getting a potential jersey sponsor:

As anxious as some of our fans seem for us to get a jersey sponsor, trust me we have plenty of motivation to get that done. We are actively seeking one but we want to make sure we get the right deal.

Long time readers will know that one of my theories about the organization is that they suffer from paralysis through analysis.  They spend so much time looking for the “right” deal that end up not getting any deals done.  It’s been two years since MLS gave approval to jersey sponsorships and that’s now two years where the organization has failed to capitalize on a potential revenue stream.

That said, this is one project where I hope you never find the “right” deal, Brian.

On the playoff game:

In terms of worse than expected I would have to say for sure the playoff game this year. I think many of our fans were frankly a little fatigued at he end of the year. Not only was it a lot of games for our players, but it was a lot of games for our fans as well. We realize the weeknights are a tough sell, but we’d love to have more people here for those critical games.

It’s OK to point out that it was friggin’ cold, too.  The second half of that game – and specifically the last 15 minutes – might have been as cold as I’ve ever been in my life.  I agree with him about the fan fatigue factor as well.


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