FOXBORO, MA - APRIL 10: Fans of New England Revolution show their support before a game between the New England Revolution and the Toronto FC at Gillette Stadium on April 10, 2010 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
In the Putnam Club suite at Gillette Stadium last night, New England Revolution front office executives and vocal members of Revs supporters' groups the Rebellion, the Midnight Riders, and the Rev Army met for their annual Supporters' Summit. Revolution President Brian Bilello and General Manager Mike Burns sat in front of a small crowd of fans and answered questions on all topics, from offseason roster moves to regulation in the Fort to plans to implement new community initiatives for the LGBT contingent in New England.
I attended in a media capacity, hoping to pick up important points and get some quality interview time with Mike and Brian afterwards. Instead, my voice recorder died and I got a nice buzz going, so I came away with zero quotes but several somewhat-foggy impressions, which I will share with everyone now. I will be paraphrasing some things that I heard, both during the supporters' question-and-answer session and in interviews with Mike and Brian afterwards; none of these are direct quotes. I do not remember the direct quotes, as I could not record them and didn't write them down. I am paraphrasing, so don't dissect the language too much. This is all about general impressions.
- Jose Moreno's loan agreement does not actually start until March 1st, so although the snafu surrounding him right now is still very real, the fact that he is not in Foxborough isn't an indication of anything getting worse.
- The Moreno documents are, in fact, signed and sealed. He has a binding loan agreement with MLS to play for the New England Revolution with an option to buy at the end of the year.
- Brian mentioned that the Revs are in talks with people about a particular location for a soccer-specific stadium. They can't name names. My bet is Wonderland, but who knows? It could be Somerville again.
- Pursuant to the stadium talks, a fan brought up the question of a re-brand or a logo change, and Brian said that if they do something like that, it would be hand-in-hand with the new stadium. I specifically remember him mentioning that they might not even be "New England" Revolution at that time, so why re-design a logo that they might have to re-design yet again? Again, not a guarantee that they are thinking re-brand or name change, but he put it out there.
- Mike Burns talked up the progress of the youth academy and said that while there's little chance of another Home-grown signing in the next few weeks, the goal is to have another one by the end of the year.
- Mike also had a funny quip about the weird dichotomy between academy players and college players who are eligible for the Home-grown tag (this is not an exact quote, but it's close): "I don't understand why high school players can train and play with professionals [in the reserve league] and college players can't, but you'll have to take that up with the NCAA."
- Jeremiah White will be rejoining the Revs for a second trial spell in Arizona
- An impassioned fan brought up the lack of vocal support in the Revs organization for the LGBT community, and Brian expressed total willingness to work with any initiatives thrown his way. Fran Harrington then mentioned that there would be a major initiative among supporters' groups across the nation, and the club may become a part of that as well.
- The Saer Sene signing was not a reaction to the Moreno debacle - he impressed the technical staff enough to earn a deal on his own merits.
Jonathan Kraft was a notable absence, although he hasn't attended this event in the last three years it's been run. Apparently he does attend the Season Ticket Holders' event that is held within the first few weeks of the season. His busy schedule is the reason for this, but it doesn't look good when the team owner appears to take little interest in his team's fans. It looks worse in the era of vocal and involved owners like Merritt Paulson and Joey Saputo. Like I said, though, I'm not sure why he was absent, and there could be a very good reason.
It is, I'm sure, far too much to expect Robert Kraft to be there, but that's another story.
Overall, nothing totally groundbreaking was revealed here, but it was a good exercise in PR for Burns and Bilello. The turnout wasn't great, but those that attended were more than vocal enough to fill the hour or two they were allotted to voice concerns and ask questions.