New England season-ticket holders packed into the Fidelity Investments Clubhouse on Wednesday night as if they were there for a regular Saturday night match between the Revolution and a hated Eastern Conference opponent.
Instead, the Revs fans in attendance took a break from supporting their team on the field and listened to key figures within the organization discuss the team off the field during the Revolution's annual season-ticket holders welcome event.
The event – emceed by veteran Revolution broadcaster Brad Feldman – featured extended remarks from Revolution investor/operator Jonathan Kraft and chief operating officer Brian Bilello, as well as a glimpse at the Revolution's 2010 rookie class and a question and answer session with Bilello, vice president of player personnel Michael Burns, defender Cory Gibbs and coach Steve Nicol.
Bilello said afterward that the event originated last year as a way to help fans connect with the team they support week after week. New England also holds a Meet the Revs event every year where players visit with season-ticket holders and sign autographs.
Bilello, however, said he envisioned this night as a way for fans who want to learn more about the club and voice their opinions.
“We wanted an event for our season-ticket holders that is about the team and what is going on,” Bilello said. “We can talk about being a season-ticket holder and how you get the chance to talk to the coach and the chance to talk to the vice president of player personnel to see what's going on (with the team). We can make this a more serious event for the season-ticket holders who want that and for those who want autograph sessions, well, we're going to have that too. It's something we thought was missing for our fans.”
The event provides another way for the club to reach out and remain accessible to its fans, according to Bilello. Developing those connections – Bilello maintains Facebook and Twitter accounts and fields questions on defendthefort.net, the Revolution's social networking site – relies on maintaining that availability, Bilello said.
“Last year was great,” Bilello said. “This year was great. We know it's tough sometimes to get out here on a weeknight, but the questions keep going. We want to be (accessible). We want our fans to have a relationship with us and interact with us. We don't want to just to be somebody out there. … We want to be there for our fans. That's important to us.”
The overarching goal is to develop the fan culture surrounding the team and expand the burgeoning community of Revolution supporters, Bilello said.
“There's a real sense of community about our fans and who they are with each other,” Bilello said. “We want that to extend to us. It's a cool thing. I think it's something that's really unique and it's something we really like.”