Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Mr. Michael Stanfield
Vice President of Ticket & Suite Sales
New Orleans Saints
5800 Airline Drive
Metairie, LA 70003
Dear Mr. Stanfield:
On Wednesday, March 17, nearly six weeks after Super Bowl XLIV, many of your team’s fans were still basking in the glow of the Saints’ Lombardi trophy, especially those lucky enough to be season ticket holders. One day later, a shadow replaced that glow for the approximately 1,200 season ticket holders whose seats were permanently removed to make room for a new press box.
We are writing as The Missing 1200 (www.themissing1200.com), a grass roots group of your displaced season ticket holders that is working to ensure all 1,200 lost seats are relocated before the 2010 season. Our goal is to document every fan that lost a seat and request that the New Orleans Saints:
1. Contact each affected season ticket holder in writing with information about which seats were displaced, why the team waited to call until season ticket renewal invoices were mailed, and the specific process for temporary and/or permanent relocation in 2010.
2. Guarantee that every eliminated seat will be either temporarily or permanently relocated in 2010, regardless of how many season tickets are not renewed.
3. Keep Upper Terrace “neighborhoods” intact by relocating fans in groupings from their displaced sections.
4. Publicly recognize that the organization values the spirited culture that fans bring to the upper rows of the affected Upper Terrace sections, a culture that contributes to the unique game day experience in the Superdome.
Our itemized requests are based on a number of factors. First, while the organization long knew about the impact of Superdome renovations on seating, it did not provide reasonable advance notice to affected season ticket holders. Second, the organization did not contact all of those affected before it sent invoices to its remaining season ticket holders.
Notification phone calls created more uncertainty about the relocation process: fans were told to wait for an individual phone call in May that would update them on the possibility of relocation, presumably after season ticket renewals were calculated. Finally, and most painful, the New Orleans Saints have not demonstrated an appreciation for a core, fanatical group of its supporters, the same fans who answered your call for support after the levees broke in 2005 and who filled the re-opened Superdome in 2006.
We recognize that this is not an easy problem to solve. We appreciate the respectful conversations we’ve had with the ticket office. And we know that a World Champion organization such as yours that is so connected to its fans and their culture will find a way to accommodate us now.
Thank you in advance for addressing The Missing 1200’s itemized requests. We look forward to celebrating with you inside the Superdome on September 9, as the Super Bowl XLIV banner drops.
The Missing 1200
Saturday, March 27, 2010
Friday, March 26, 2010
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
This is the week. More momentum toward an organized effort. Get ready. Here come The Missing 1200.
In an ironic moment, Christian Moises, a news editor at New Orleans City Business, and loyal Section 637 roofbanger, lost his tickets this week. He's not going down quietly. Welcome to the movement, Christian.
Sunday, March 21, 2010
Times-Picayune: firstname.lastname@example.org (200 words or less); Gambit Weekly: email@example.com
Neither paper has published a letter to the editor yet, but if we send multiple letters this week, we might generate interest. Focus on what we're requesting (see below).
CALL THE SAINTS:
If you lost your ticket, you should have received a phone call BEFORE ticket invoices went out. If you did not, call 731-1827 (Thomas Han) or 731-1700 (press 1). Confirm that your seat is lost. Ask when you will be contacted for relocation. Ask how many seats typically are not renewed. Ask where those seats are typically located. Ask how much they cost. If you are not provided with this information, ask to speak to a supervisor. You cannot be expected to make a decision in early May if you don't know how much tickets will cost.
CALL THE SAINTS AGAIN:
Ask to speak to someone about the possibility of a temporary plan for 2010 that guarantees every displaced Who Dat a chance to see the Super Bowl banner drop and other games. Ask about standing room only, ask about temporary bleachers on the field, ask about a pool of season ticket holders donating a game they won't attend for face value purchase coordinated by the Saints. We MUST stay on the front office's radar. They MUST understand that we won't stop requesting information until they deliver it. They must also view us as rationale, loyal fans, not an angry, torch-bearing mob so try to withhold emotion until you hang up.
JOIN BOTH OUR FACEBOOK GROUPS:
Save the True Who Dats
We're a bit wary of the Facebook here at the Cafe, but jeez, isn't the cause of the Displaced Roofbanger as righteous as the Unknown Who Dat? If that guy can generate 11,675 group members and an offer to wed a smokin' hot Ukrainian bride, can't we create enough buzz to get some media attention and force the front office's hand?
Saturday, March 20, 2010
On Thursday, March 18, I was a season ticket holder in Section 641, Row 42, of the Louisiana Superdome, the sacred home of the World Champion New Orleans Saints. On Friday, March 19, I was not.
I am not writing to protest the renovation of the Superdome or the placement of the new press box at the top of the Upper Terrace. Nor am I writing to bash the brave ticket account representatives who had the unenviable task of calling 1,200 stunned and hurt fans on Thursday and Friday. I understand these are necessary moves that, while painful to all of us whose game day communities have been removed, will allow the city to attract more Super Bowls and will allow the team to collect more revenue.
I am writing to request the team re-think its process for relocating these 1,200 Who Dats, whose first thought on hearing the news was likely, “You mean I’m not going to be in the Dome to see the Super Bowl banner drop?” I am writing to request that the World Champion New Orleans Saints develop a plan to insure that all 1,200 displaced Who Dats have an option to buy a temporary seat for the 2010 season until more permanent seats are added in 2011.
The current relocation process, as explained to me by a courteous account representative, puts us all at the top of the season ticket waiting list. So, through no fault of our own, we go from “World Champion New Orleans Saints season ticket holder” to “on the 60,000 person waiting list” for a chance to buy seats comparable to the ones that were previously ours. The current relocation process requires us to wait until early May, presumably after the first deadline for season ticket holders (whose seats were not removed) to make payment on their account. I was told we will not receive a season ticket invoice this week, as we are no longer season ticket holders. I am unclear on whether those invoices will give season ticket holders the traditional opportunity to request more seats or relocate their current seats before we are given a relocation offer.
So, the current relocation process seems to make 1,200 displaced Who Dats wait two months until we will receive phone calls, with a representative working individually to relocate each seat lost. As my account rep told me, there is no guarantee that our seats will be relocated for the 2010 season, a season in which our New Orleans Saints will play as reigning Super Bowl champions for the first time ever. There is no guarantee we’ll be offered a single game in the 2010 season.
But, if we are not relocated during the 2010 season, we will be back at the top of the waiting list for the 2011 season, where we will presumably have the opportunity to buy a seat because the Superdome will have 3,000 additional seats. It is possible, the account rep said, that our relocation offers will be for seats that are far more expensive than the ones that were taken from us, which ranged from $30 - $33 a ticket in 2009 and $40 - $43 a ticket in 2010. And any individual game tickets returned by opposing teams will be offered for purchase to the 1,200 displaced Who Dats still on the waiting list. So, in 2010 we’re looking at ticket options for which games? The Browns? The Cardinals? The Bucs?
What disturbs me most is that the World Champion New Orleans Saints have not shown the sort of respect and gratitude for these 1,200 displaced Who Dats that they demonstrated in placing a thank you card in a recent issue of the Times-Picayune. That card read, “World Champion Fans . . . The Saints Salute You. We’d like to thank our World Champion Fans for helping to make this season truly unforgettable. We couldn’t be the Super Bowl Champions without you.” Reading that card a few Sundays ago, I was reminded of Jim Henderson’s call for the NFC Championship game: “It’s a great day to be a New Orleanian. It’s a great day to be a Saint.” By comparison, yesterday’s phone conversation with the ticket office was a Garret Hartley kick to the groin.
Every section in the Superdome considers itself the “best section,” “the most passionate section,” “the loudest section,” “the most loyal section,” “the most colorful section.” Every section will tell you it has built lifelong friendships in its seats; celebrated births; mourned deaths; and in 2006 and 2009, cherished special seasons. I’m biased, but I believe that this happens more easily in the Upper Terrace.
I know it happens in Section 641, which we call Café 641, where fans costume as Chef Who Dat, Denim & Diamonds, Ms. Shootz to Kill, The Entity, Hold-that-Line Cook, Adult Industry Chef, Dirty Dog, even Nacho Libre and Joe Dirt. We distribute satirical menus for every game that poke fun at the opposition: Dirty Bird Rice; Pants on the Ground Fumbalaya; Warmed-over Warner Schnitzel. We award golden spoon awards to the most spirited fan in our section each week. We apply eye-black to as many kids’ faces as parents will let us. We wave rubber chickens costumed as “The Real Housewives of Atlanta.” We bring boxed Barbie Ken dolls: Tom Brady as “The New England Ken Doll” and Tony Romo as “Romo the Rodeo Clown.” We make buttons that proclaim “Roofbanger” and distribute them hundreds at a time. We travel, as a group, to the airport to tell Our Saints, “thank you.” We distribute “Roofbanger’s Creed” prayer cards and recite them in unison before kickoff: “We believe in the New Orleans Saints . . .” And we are gracious hosts to opposing fans (ask Arizona Cardinals running back Beanie Wells, whose fiancé sat in a Café 641 seat that has now been removed: she was offered drinks, food, and congratulations when Beanie scored). Most importantly, we support each other, our city, and Our New Orleans Saints.
I do not blame the New Orleans Saints for placing a press box at the top of the Upper Terrace. I do not blame the New Orleans Saints for breaking up one of the Superdome’s truly great sections and core group of fans. But, I am disappointed that our World Champion franchise:
• did not give these fans considerable advance notice,
• did not follow-up a phone conversation with a letter or e-mail that details the relocation process,
• did not develop a creative strategy to insure they will be in the Superdome when the Super Bowl banner drops,
• did not recognize that being a World Champion New Orleans Saints season ticket holder means more than having a physical seat to watch a football game; it’s a bond with one’s team and city.
The current relocation process puts these dedicated fans in limbo. We do not know when we’ll be contacted in May because we do not know when season ticket invoices are due. We do not know who, specifically, will contact us, and how that person will “work with us individually to relocate us.” We do not know the process used to determine if an available seat is offered to us: Will we only be offered comparably priced seats? Will we be offered the first available seat regardless of location? Will we be priced out of the Superdome?
The World Champion New Orleans Saints know something about improvising. They did it after the levees broke in August 2005, and home games were played in Tiger Stadium. They did it in re-opening the Superdome, balancing a tribute to the stadium as a site of tragedy and rebirth. They did it after winning the Super Bowl, accommodating fans at the airport, in an unforgettable parade, and throughout Mardi Gras.
Will you not improvise now? Call an audible. Create a temporary solution for 2010:
• standing room only sections (we’re used to standing at the top of the Dome);
• bleachers placed on the field separated by section;
• fewer seats offered to the opposition.
We all recognize that this is not an easy problem to solve. We all appreciate the respectful conversations we’ve had with the ticket office. And we all know that a World Champion organization who is so connected to its fans and their culture can find a way to accommodate us now.
Thank you in advance for re-considering the process you use to relocate us, providing more specific details about that process, and committing to finding a seat for all of us when the Super Bowl banner drops on September 9.
Ross Louis, New Orleans
Section 641, Row 42, Seats 9-10
Thursday, March 18, 2010
UPDATE: Another casualty of the pressbox that will soon replace the roofbangers: our St. Baldrick's auction for two Saints/Bucs tickets. Sean Niehus is pulling the auction because, well, the seats don't exist anymore. But, if we both retain seats elsewhere, we've agreed to put up tickets for auction to benefit St. Baldrick's. And you can still support Sean's shave-a-rific campaign on Saturday from 3 - 7 p.m. on Oak St. with the 610 Stompers.
Friday, March 12, 2010
The hits keep on coming. Cafe 641 announces a charity auction to raise money for St. Baldrick's, a foundation that raises money for children's cancer research.
Here's the details:
Sean Niehus, an original Cafe 641 patron from Row 40, is participating in the St. Baldrick's event as a shavee. Sean has agreed to shave his fleur-de-locks AND grow a mustache in an effort to raise money for the St. Baldrick's foundation. His goal? $3,000.
How can you help?
Bid on Saints tickets!
Cafe 641 is sponsoring an e-bay auction for a pair of tickets to the 2010 Saints/Bucs game (Section 641, Row 40, Seats 13 & 14). Bids start at $100 (an amazing deal!) Auction ends Friday, March 19, when Sean will remove all hair from his head and face except a suave fleur-de-stache!
And these aren't just ordinary tickets. These are tickets in the heart of Cafe 641! They come with a commemorative Super Bowl menu, a Golden Lombardi Spoon, and a XLIV Cafe 641 button! ALL proceeds of the auction will go to Sean's St. Baldrick's fundraising campaign. Tickets will be mailed as soon as they are delivered to season ticketholders this summer.
Donate to Sean's St. Baldrick's campaign. Donate as little as the cost of a 12 oz. of Dome Foam or as much as a single game ticket. Do it for the kids. Do it for the stache.
Spread the word!
Let your friends & family know about St. Baldrick's and the Cafe's "Sean Goes Bald & Grows a Stache" campaign.
A little about Sean:
* After debuting in the Cafe in 2006, Sean led multiple post-game trips to Molly's on the Market for celebratory drinks. Remember Sean buying you a drink after Reggie's punt return to win the Tampa game? I do. Remember Sean stumbling down Decatur after Deuce's playoff demo of the Eagles so he could buy you another drink? I do.
* Sean has been active in the Jefferson City Buzzards and now is an ordinary man with extraordinary moves in the 610 Stompers.
In this, our Lenten Lombardi season, let's give a little something to the kids and celebrate the power of the stache.
Monday, March 08, 2010
With Scott Fujita spending more time with Drew Carey at the Mistake on the Lake these days, it's time to re-direct our attention to other worthy agents of charitable change.
Stay tuned for a Cafe 641 patron's very special St. Baldrick's mission. You'll have the opportunity to donate to his cause and win two tickets to the 2010 Saints-Bucs game.
Sunday, March 07, 2010
Scott Fujita's $20K might inspire a more meaningful Lombardi Gras memento.
Imagine a lit up miniature Superdome surrounded by a topographical map of an eroding Louisiana coastline. Imagine three easy payments of $19.99. Imagine all proceeds directed toward coastal restoration.
Thanks, Scott! Bob Marshall does you right:
"You always hear about southern hospitality, but I experienced it from my first days here, " Fujita recalled. "I was living in a residence hotel for the first few weeks while we looked for a place in town, and spent that time just walking around the city and bar hopping, getting to know the place.
"Well, when people found out I was moving here from another city, I couldn't pay for a drink. They didn't know I was an NFL player. They just knew I was a guy who had
come to join them, and that was it - I was a hero. I don't think I paid for a drink for the first three or four weeks."
As the months passed Fujita said his family fell in love with the idea of New Orleans.
"It's just such a unique place, with a unique character and way of life, " he said. "It has a blend of the Old World and the Caribbean.
"My wife and I have traveled extensively, and this is the perfect blend of cultures, great food and great music."
"I read somewhere that we're losing a football field every hour, and for a kid from California, that sounds like a whole lot, " he said. "Then I read somewhere else where a certain amount of vegetated wetlands could reduce storm surge by a foot, and to me that sounds like a lot, too."