Year one for the Portland Timbers front office was marked by the immense success of the We are the Rose City campaign. Without an actual team to sell, the team decided to sell the fans back to themselves, borrowing images and motifs developed by the Timbers Army over the previous decade. The giant images, draped from downtown highrises and scattered along Portland's more heavily traveled East Side surface streets, not to mention the thousands of photos ordinary fans contributed, whipped Portland into a frenzy of anticipation before the team's inaugural MLS season.
In the offseason after the first year the Timbers replaced Fernando Machicado's scowl on Southwest Broadway with some of the fan favorites on the team, including Coach John Spencer, Troy Perkins, and Jorge Perlaza, hoping the team might build on the relative success of the first year.
It did not. But that's beside the point.
The team's performance on the field aside, the front office still managed to make some progress with the fans and the community. It made some important mid-year decisions, including keeping season ticket prices level and firing the intolerable TicketMaster as the team's ticket dispensary. It also demonstrated that it has one of the most creative and competent video production staffs in MLS at its disposal. Not that that's any huge accomplishment.
At the same time, though, replacing TicketMaster with a Comcast subsidiary is like cutting your ties with Satan and doing business with Beelzebub instead. And then there was the "idiots and morons" tweet (thanks for reminding me of that, Leverage). And dang it, why is my subscription to the season ticket holder mailing list a license to send me spam for Ruth's Chris Steak House?
Ryan Gates: B+
Portland's on the field record and the soccer side of the FO took steps back during their second year but the non-soccer side of the FO continued on their upward trend. Judging by comments from Mike Golub and other articles out there, Portland once again saw quite a bit of support from companies around Portland and will probably once again be cash positive because of it. Not only did they do well in terms of business sponsors -- they also nailed it with their inclusion of local food carts at the games. I could see the line from the press box and every time I looked at the food cart alliance concessions the 4-6 lines were 15-20 deep and on numerous occasions sold out before the half.
All of those combined with not raising the ticket prices have earned the business side of the Portland Timbers a B+.
Andrew Wheeler: B
Definitely a step down from the public relations coup of the first season, the Portland Timbers' front office is still showing a strong capacity to innovate -- the food cart program as a particularly strong example. But they are also falling into some of those tired tactics unbecoming of Portlandia -- the Ruth's Chris spam, for example, or the frying pan/fire ticket distribution issue. But hey, if they were to solve every problem by year two, what would they do in year three?