#SaveSector: The Editorial

Where do we go from here?

Where do we go from here?

The kerfuffle appears to have subsided, but what now? OTF’s Ricardo Ortiz gives you his thoughts on the matter…

While it seems the Twitter dust has settled, momentum has been set, battle lines have been drawn, and more questions than answers remain.

First, I invite you to read this article by OTF friend and local man-in-the-know, Guillermo Rivera, who was one of the first to get any sort of statement on the Sector Latino situation from the Front Office in Bridgeview:


The short version? Chicago Fire’s Mike Ernst, VP of ticket sales, operations, and marketing, implied the decision to move Sector Latino out of Toyota Park’s section 101 should not have come as a surprise to Sector Latino:

“Sector Latino is not being eliminated or losing it’s section,” Ernst explained. Based on discussions beginning last October, Sector Latino agreed to move their section for the 2014 season.”

Statements on the Section 8 forums seem to corroborate at least part of that statement by alluding to the existence of several meetings between Sector Latino and the F.O.

NOTE: “Jeff” is new Section 8 Chairman, Jeff Marinacci; “Pattrick” is new Section 8 Vice Chairman; “AK” is Atul Khosla, Chicago Fire’s Chief Operating Officer

TheHarlemEnd February 5

jackparanoia said:

I’m really pissed off, and want a statement. I’d also like that statement to include when you found out, and what steps were taken.

I assume that you’re talking about the ISA.

Jeff and Pattrick were told that the club was doing this late last week at the first meeting between ISA and FO leadership. The ISA was not included in any prior conversations and immediately reached out to Sector Latino leadership.

We received the letter from AK this afternoon.

TheHarlemEnd February 5

The FO and Sector Latino were interfacing directly without our involvement or knowledge. Jeff and Patt passed the tidbit on to other board members at a meeting we had a few days later. The conversations with SL seemed to have a few still possible outcomes and the ISA did not know about the meeting that set off the online blowback.

Essentially, we didn’t have a lot of info, contact outside of personal calls, or a timeline.

Basically, we weren’t included in this.

Source: Section 8 Forums

Clearly, Section 8 should have been part of the discussions once the F.O. decided it would move Sector Latino into the Harlem End. And despite the allegation it has known it would be moved since last October, Sector Latino was indeed recently surprised to learn it would be sharing space with its larger counterpart. 

The points allegedly made to Sector Latino leadership by the F.O. for moving the group (poor attendance in its section last season; the club exercising its right to capture more revenue) are certainly well taken. Ultimately though, the club misses the larger issue at hand.

The issue is not when or even if Sector Latino knew it was to be moved, but rather the way the F.O. chose to go about moving the supporters group, and the proposed area for its relocation.

Let’s break it down.

First, miscommunication, misdirection, obfuscation, opaqueness, lack of transparency, or whatever you want to call it, usually doesn’t work well for media and those in the public relations game. For the Fire Front Office of late, it’s especially not worked. And to be fair, regarding the issue at hand, Sector Latino has done a poor job on this front too. 

Back to the big guys though.

It seems to me that, more often than not, the F.O. has increasingly found itself in an adversarial relationship with different elements of the established fan base by presenting itself in a way that often gets interpreted as disingenuous, and perhaps belittling.

One could argue this dynamic is to be expected.

On one hand we have a corporate entity desperate to find ways to get its operating costs into the black and, if it’s lucky, make a couple bucks. On the other hand, we have committed fans [READ: people] projecting their feelings and passion towards said corporate entity, one that, in the traditional sense, is anything but a soccer Club.

Aside from the conflict theorizing above, the persistence and prevalence of the #HauptmanOut hashtag, and the lazily named (by me) Editorial-gate are two examples of struggle and conflict between the F.O. and the fan base. 

A lot seems to hinge on the idea (in my opinion, mostly warranted) that Chicago Fire’s ownership and most of its Front Office doesn’t seem to have an appreciation, or even a want of understanding, of what it means to run a professional soccer team and, most importantly, support the fans who love it. The #HauptmanOut hashtag is partly about that, and this recent spat between Sector Latino and the FO seems to reflect this sentiment as well.

I think the person who put it best this week is Jeff Marinacci:

Jeff’s statement gets to the core of the issue. Whether Sector Latino leadership knew, or didn’t know, they would be relocated is a moot point. The real issue seems to be the Fire F.O. thinks fan culture is interchangeable and can be “streamlined” into greater “synergy” (no, I didn’t go to business school).

That the F.O. felt moving Sector Latino from 101 to 116 was a good idea appears to underscore its shallowness, and its lack of understanding of what happens within and around its own stadium.

If you’ve spent any  amount of time in either Section 8 or Sector Latino, or both, you could, at the very least, appreciate their distinctive styles, manners of operation, and (seriously) the ontological distinction between them.

Some people very incorrectly interpret their difference in styles, and their (former) physical separation, as the existence of some manner of rift, or conflict between the two supporters groups.

Nothing is further from the truth.

If I must be corrected on the above point, by all means, chew me out in the comments section below, but I’ve never seen anything but mutual support and caring from Chicago Fire’s two most visible supporters groups towards one another.

That said, just because a utopian-lovefest-kumbaya-everyone-hold-hands “synergy” exists between the two groups, this does not mean their ways of being are, in any way, homogeneous and easily absorbed into one another. The two groups thrive because they are distinct.

Fine Chicago Fire, relocate Sector Latino if you must, but don’t insult the intelligence of your fans by assuming the immense breadth and depth of supporter culture is easily summed up in a spreadsheet, or whatever else you crunch on the second floor of Toyota Park.

My personal suggestion? Get rid of the stupidly-named Miller Lite Party Deck (in which I’ve never actually seen any  amount of “partying” ever go down), and move Sector Latino there. What better way to support the Men In Red than by having the beat of drums and chanting of support on both ends of the field? You know, like in soccer stadiums in the rest of the world.

Hell, I’ll even wear a stupid “Miller Lite Party Hat” to keep the corporate sponsors happy. Then, we can all drive around and do (Dunkin’) donuts in a Toyota Camry at halftime while vigorously stuffing our faces full of Quaker Oats.

Now that’s a party.


***YOUR MOM is so fat that when she jumped for joy, she got stuck! Follow Don Ortiz @RickHardTimes

2 thoughts on “#SaveSector: The Editorial

  1. Sounds like another dumb PR move. I can understand both sides in this scenario but it didn’t have to be handled this clumsily. Nothing like shooting oneself in foot – I always say.

    As of this writing I understand that SL may have worked out a deal to stay if they can sell 100 season tickets in their current section. If they like that arrangement and prefer to stay put that is fine with me. But I actually like the suggestion they move behind the goal if front of the “Miller Party” area.

    I think they would get better coverage, more attention and have a better opportunity to possibly infuse some positive vibes and better influence the fans, and the players game day experience.

    But more SL members and better participation would really go far to reduce or eliminate these issues in the future.

    Hey, but what do I know?

  2. Pingback: OTF Preseason Roundtable #1: Looking back, looking ahead | On The Fire

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