Just finished reading "Southern Culture on the Skids" talking about the dying demographic of NasCar fans. Ben Austin describes the early beginnings of NasCar and tracks it through an ill-fated pit row spat that rocketed Racing's popularity and now NasCar is left with a model that is indeed broken.
Competitive stock-car racing has its roots in moonshine-running, NASCAR president Mike Helton has said "The old southeastern redneck heritage that we had is no longer in existence. But what NASCAR has done is that it has strayed away from its roots. NASCAR had grand ideas of tracks in New York City, fans have now complained that drivers are too corporate and bland and that the racing is now boring. The cars no longer look like the cars the fans had driven as kids. In another odd move NASCAR moved race times to later in the day that no longer coincided with the traditional time when people where arriving home from church. What NasCar has done is to get away from its traditional base. They now screen off entire sections of Daytona grandstands so the track appears full to sponsors and fans.
What does that have to do with the Portland Timbers one may ask.
Well the Timbers have had similar success with a campy comfortable product with a real feel good approach to its success. It has been a grass roots word of mouth growth where the the team now is drawing 10000 fans a night to see their beloved team play in a league that is truly bad. Not really the players but rather promotion and opponent fan base.
Well the Timbers have been awarded an MLS franchise and start playing next year in what looks like a beautifully renovated PGE park. It is estimated the 10000 figure next year will be 20000 and that is not a stretch. That will happen in the short term. Now the challenge is to produce those numbers in the long term and the Timbers will do that by sticking to their roots.
A recent uprising against the new crest was a result of a perceived lack of management insight into sticking to their roots. Out sourcing the logo design to an out of state firm was not a great start. Hopefully that public relations hiccup was merely that.
But change is constant but change need not be chaotic. The Timbers must keep with what got them here.
The Timbers are not NASCAR and they are not the Portland Trail Blazers and there is no need for cheer leaders or for gods sake (NASCAR term) please keep out the pumped in music. Footy fans are spur of the moment and don't need cues as when to be fired up. The Timbers Army is doing a great job in talking with the field office and vise versa. This needs to continue as the fans understand the direction of the teams just as well as the field office much like the fans of the Oval sport.
But it is the teams money and resources. It is preferred to put a winner on the field, but it just as important to stick with tradition. Little traditions such as "Green is the Color" playing before games, sales reps stopping by your seat and asking for feed back, plenty of bike racks for those riding to games and may i repeat NO PUMPED IN MUSIC. Sorry a little pet peeve of mine but we are fans and not customers and we like seeing PGE park filled to the brim. We have great tradition, a great city and it what got us here and will help us grow in the future.