I want to start by dedicating this column to the legends out there fixing the power grid. They got my electricity back up after only 21 hours in the dark, and without their hard work, you wouldn’t be reading this right now.
1) This is the seventh column in a series that might make Merritt Paulson angry, but will more likely make him howl with laughter. In this series, I tell you what I’d do if, one, I owned the Timbers/Thorns, and two, I was absurdly rich. Not Jeff Bezos-rich, but richer than Merritt Paulson. Rich enough that the team wasn’t my main source of income, but was more of a hobby. Rich enough that I didn’t need the team to make a profit, I just needed them to break even.
First week, we talked about TriMet. Second week, we talked about food. Third week, we talked about drinks. Fourth week, we talked about open practices. Fifth week, we talked about youth soccer. Last week, we talked about T2. This week, we’ll talk about posters.
2) The idea. I’m gonna be honest, all the ideas I’ve been tossing around each week? None of them would have much effect on the team’s performance. Good food and good beer and a monthly open practice, none of those things would lead to wins and trophies and championships. But you know what they would lead to? Fan satisfaction. Fan happiness. And call me crazy, but I think doing nice things for the fans is a Good ThingTM. This week’s idea is a perfect example of this. Handing out 25,000 posters at each season’s home opener won’t lead to trophies, but it will make the fans happy.
3) The details. How many of you were at the final Timbers home game of 2012? I remember it for three things. One, it was the only game I’ve been to with my friend Stacy. Two, we had to watch Chris Wondolowski score his then-MLS record 27th goal (on a bullshit penalty, if I recall correctly). And three, the Timbers gave everyone in the stadium a poster.
It looked like this. (I took this photo, actually, since I’ve still got the poster on my wall.)
Pretty friggin’ awesome, right?
From left to right, that’s Sal Zizzo, Hanyer Mosquera, Darlington Nagbe, Donovan Ricketts, Bright Dike, Danny Mwanga, Diego Chara, and David Horst.
I can’t decide what’s amazing. Is it amazing that only one of those players is still on the team? Or is it amazing that any of them are still on the team after nine years? #DiegoCharaForever
So here’s my idea. When I’m owner, we’re handing out these posters every year. And we’ll do it on opening day, not closing day. A week or two before the season starts, we’ll already be shooting headshots of all the players for the team website. Shooting a few full-body shots should be no big deal.
Here’s a general idea of what this year’s poster would look like.
Why, yes, I am a goddamn black belt at Photoshop. Thanks for noticing.
Weak skills aside, this mock-up gives you the general idea of what we’re talking about, and the general idea kicks ass. If someone handed you a professional version of this poster as you were leaving Providence Park on opening day, you’d be pretty damn happy, wouldn’t you? Me, too.
4) The positives. Fan happiness. That’s literally the only positive of this. No wins, no trophies, just fan happiness. But is that bad thing? Is making your fans happy a bad thing? I think not.
5) The potential negatives. The cost of the poster and the difficulty of handing them out as everyone leaves the stadium.
When I was planning this column, I thought the cost might be brutal, something like a dollar a poster. Paying $25,000 for posters each season might be a non-starter.
But then I went to the Vistaprint website and discovered that I can get 20,000 posters for just $2,100. That seems crazy-cheap to me. Crazy-cheap. You can spend more than that buying a friggin’ mattress, for crying out loud.
As for the difficulty of handing out posters as everyone leaves the stadium, the team already hands out t-shirts and patches and stuff before games now and then. They could just as easily do posters after the game, couldn’t they? I mean, the ushers are already there at the gates, saying goodbye to everyone.
6) In the real world, where Merritt Paulson still owns the team, could this actually happen? I gotta be honest, this seems like a really easy way to make fans happy. And for $2,100, it’s not even that expensive. Let Widmer Brothers put a little logo down in the bottom corner, and I bet they’d pay for the whole thing.
Actually, come to think of it, I bet one of you owns a business. Do any of my readers want to sponsor this? Send a $2,100 check to the Timbers and your company’s logo could be on every fan’s wall this upcoming season. Send ‘em another $2,100 and you can sponsor the Thorns poster, too.
I make no predictions on whether Merritt will make this an opening-day tradition, but if I were owner, I’d definitely do it.
What do you think? Bad idea? Good idea, but slightly flawed? What flaws do you spot? Gimme some ideas to fix them. Let’s see if we can make this happen – in our imaginary world, at least.