COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — Cole Bassett and Calvin Harris each scored a second-half goal, and the Colorado Rapids held off the New England Revolution 2-1 on Saturday night for their first win since July 8.
The Rapids are currently tied for last place in Major League Soccer (MLS) with 22 points.
Some of the Rapids' biggest supporters missed the end of Saturday's match, walking out of Dick's Sporting Goods Park in protest of the club's management.
Centennial 38 wrote an open letter Thursday to the Colorado Rapids front office and ownership.
"This is without question the worst year we have experienced as supporters in our Colorado Rapids history," said the letter. "While there have been too many seasons in the past that have been disappointing, 2023 has surpassed these in numerous ways. The shortcomings go far beyond results on the field and extend to the facilities and infrastructure of the organization. It is a culmination of years of underfunding and limited resources."
The letter took aim at Kroenke Sports & Entertainment as well as the club's facilities at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
"It is very telling that the most recent Forbes valuation estimates the Rapids at $350 million, yet the expansion fee for new MLS owners is reported to be $500 million. The Rapids are valued less than clubs that don’t even exist, or just exist in name only," part of the letter says.
"Our club’s frustrating mismanagement is coupled with substandard facilities. The stadium is outdated and negatively impacts the fans’ game day experience, and the training facilities are subpar and negatively impact the players’ ability to do their jobs and to play for the fans and the badge."
"This indifference from ownership must stop," ends the letter. "We can no longer be silent like our owner, and it is long past the time to say so. We await a response from KSE acknowledging our frustrations. The badge, the players, and the fans deserve better."
> See the full statement from Centennial 38 at the bottom of this article.
"We respect our supporters and are grateful for the passion they demonstrate for the Club, while also acknowledging and understanding their frustrations," Kroenke wrote. "We are committed to the Rapids' long-term success within the core principles of the club and to being a club that our fans and all Coloradans can be proud of.
"On the field, we are focused on returning the team to the level of competitiveness we expect and have seen in recent years.
"Off the field, we have already engaged Legends, Civitas, Perkins & Will, and Turner Construction on a number of feasibility studies and analyses around potential infrastructure projects as we assess a future vision for DICK'S Sporting Goods Park and the Club's training environment. We are also actively evaluating additional ways to enhance the gameday experience inside and outside the stadium.
"Over the next few months, we will be finalizing the master plan for our exciting Victory Crossing Project. When this is ready in early 2024, we will be hosting several open forums with supporters and members of the community to gather feedback on our plans for the club, stadium and entire project.
"Our supporters will always be the lifeblood of our club. We hear you and we look forward to having an ongoing dialogue with Centennial 38 over their concerns and our plans for the future," Kroenke said.
Letter from Centennial 38
This is without question the worst year we have experienced as supporters in our Colorado Rapids history. While there have been too many seasons in the past that have been disappointing, 2023 has surpassed these in numerous ways. The shortcomings go far beyond results on the field and extend to the facilities and infrastructure of the organization. It is a culmination of years of underfunding and limited resources. This was underscored last week in Pádraig Smith’s press conference after firing our manager, Robin Fraser. Pádraig was quite careful to avoid any questions focused on investment in the team and facilities, or engagement from ownership. It was apparent from what Pádraig didn’t say, that the quiet part was quite loud, that ownership is not going to meaningfully invest time, effort, or finances into our Colorado Rapids.
The organization’s record on the field speaks for itself. Without going into extensive detail, it is abundantly clear that too many mistakes have occurred under Pádraig Smith even while considering the limited resources provided. However, we should not pretend the problems begin and end with the team president. The common denominator of the Rapids’ many problems is Kroenke Sports & Entertainment. Winning seasons are infrequent, and the few good years are followed by multiple consecutive years of poor results. The organization’s record off the field also speaks for itself: talking down to fans and providing no meaningful connection to the club outside of token press releases; persistent issues with security and stadium staff; raising season ticket prices while the stadium experience and team underperform; general mistreatment of press and bloggers covering the team, among many, many others.
Our club’s frustrating mismanagement is coupled with substandard facilities. The stadium is outdated and negatively impacts the fans’ game day experience, and the training facilities are subpar and negatively impact the players’ ability to do their jobs and to play for the fans and the badge.
DICK’s Sporting Goods Park has been neglected, and without proper maintenance and periodic upgrades has become tired and run-down. Numerous issues include a scoreboard that has more non-functioning pixels than not, an electrical system that barely functions and often leaves fans to find their cars in darkness after games, a PA system that is inaudible in large portions of the stands and concourse, and signage that is shabby and faded. While there have been some small aesthetic improvements, the building itself remains drab and colorless. DICK’s Sporting Goods Park is simply not up to the standard of a modern professional sports venue. While there are plans to address the stadium’s condition, these measures are long overdue and taking far too long to implement. Moreover, future measures seem to be more at the league’s behest rather than KSE’s own initiative. The stadium is well below the standard for MLS and compares unfavorably to minor league stadiums such as the Switchback’s home in Colorado Springs.
These are the results of an ownership group that has failed to properly invest in this club. KSE seems perfectly comfortable investing in their other endeavors yet proportionally less so with our Rapids. Stan and Josh can count on their four hands the number of games they’ve been to. Pádraig Smith claims they are “categorically” involved, even though there is scant evidence of this over the 19 years they have owned this club.
Our club is given minimal resources, and the resources it does have been used ineffectively as evidenced by the results on the field. Even if the club were in the hands of trusted management, our club lacks many of the basic resources that would allow them to be successful and competitive. The basic resources every other MLS has.
It is very telling that the most recent Forbes valuation estimates the Rapids at $350 million, yet the expansion fee for new MLS owners is reported to be $500 million. The Rapids are valued less than clubs that don’t even exist, or just exist in name only.
The Colorado Rapids, and the fanbase, are nothing more than an after-thought of ownership. KSE seems more concerned with other ventures, and taking advantage of a loyal fan base, over producing a Rapids product that could be considered even average compared to other teams in Colorado and across MLS. The way the club has been handled is an utter embarrassment and a total abandonment of its fiduciary duty to the badge and the paying fans.
We are not demanding a team that wins MLS Cup every year. We are not demanding record sums spent on players. We are not demanding signing a Lionel Messi. What we are demanding is a team that is competently run, has a genuine connection with the fans and community, provides an enjoyable stadium experience, and strives to be relevant in the local Colorado sports market.
This negligence from ownership must stop. We can no longer be silent like our owner, and it is long past the time to say so. We await a response from KSE acknowledging our frustrations. The badge, the players, and the fans deserve better.
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