Monday, October 02, 2006

FBO: 'Tributes Failed San Franciscan Civic Interventionists'

At least one FBO member partook in a San Francisco collective in 1998 that eyed excessive pricing in minor-minor sports leagues -- and intervened, as a positive gesture.

One of the most exciting sports stories of the 1990s is of the San Francisco Bay Seals, a 'division three,' 'professional' soccer team in San Francisco. In 1997, the Bay Seals knocked off TWO division one soccer teams in the US Open Cup, prompting the USA Today to call them the 'sports team of the year' and the New York Times to applaud their 'David and Goliath' effort. Remarkable endorsements from far-reaching sports pages. A year later they became the first US sports organization to play in communist Vietnam (they played the Ho Chi Minh City Police Department).

SuperPublico, interested, checked out a 1998 game, but found unrealistic skyscraper-high prices ($12) keeping them out of the stadium. If $12 doesn't seem like a lot, consider that it was higher than the cheap seats to watch the Golden State Warriors or Oakland A's play (thus meaning it was cheaper to go watch Derek Jeter, Shaq or Allen Iverson play than semi-pro ball players who keep the day job). Attendance was terrible -- ranking 26th of 27 teams, and charging nearly double the league average. The sports story of 1997 brought in only 375 people per game in 1998.

Knowing the history-making Seals could not survive with this flawed business method, SuperPublico's two members returned to the next SF Bay Seals soccer game in desperation and handed out these salmon-colored leaflets, suggesting to fans (most of which were on the free list) that if they were worried about the team's extortionate prices that they say something BEFORE THE TEAM FAILS. The next day a current FBO member recieved a beligerent call from Bay Seals coach Tom Simpson, furious, about the leaflet that correctly showed the damning BS' attendance and ticket prices in comparison with the league. 'Where did you get such junk?,' Mr Simpson demanded. Superpublico responded, 'Actually we contacted all 27 teams directly -- these averages are 100% accurate. We can show you the Excel documents.' The phone conversation ended after that, as did Superpublico's relationship with this unthankful organization.

Shortly thereafter SuperPublico attended a book reading of Doors' keyboardist Ran Manzarek, asking him, 'Ray, what do you think of [minor-minor soccer league] ticket prices?' An enraged Ray immediately responded, 'They're too high.'*

What ever happened to the Seals? New ownership took over the team a couple years later (unfortunately we don't know what happened with ticket prices) and changed the name to the pitifully optimistic 'Bay Area Seals,' as if soccer fans from Berkeley or San Jose would make the drive to Kezar for low-grade soccer at high prices. The team folded after the 2000 season.

The FBO hopes to pick up this sort of positive interaction with failed enterprises and art collectives.

FBO Admin
Mobile/Semi-Permanent HQ -- Brooklyn, NY

* This is true, as is the whole story

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