Agnes Stewart Middle School, which is directly south of Lane United’s home field at the Willamalane Center, sent its soccer-playing students to watch practice on Wednesday as part of a field trip. Fans will be able to donate match tickets to students of the school in exchange for a merchandise discount voucher.
The Red Aces and Lane United are very pleased to announce an initiative to provide tickets for Lane United home match to local soccer-playing youth. Matthew Auxier, a Red Aces member and social studies teacher at Agnes Stewart Middle School, directly adjacent to the Willamalane Center, combined with Lane United managing director Dave Galas to launch the initiative: fans will be able to donate tickets to students at the middle school in exchange for a voucher for 10% off all Lane United merchandise at the club store.
“We were well aware through Matt (Auxier) of the huge interest in soccer among the Agnes Stewart student body,” said Dave Galas, Lane United’s managing director. “However, we also knew that a lot of kids in the neighborhood and the school might not have the luxury of being able to buy tickets for all of the games. I knew this was a win-win situation the moment Matt suggested it to us.”
Several busloads of students from Agnes Stewart, all of whom play soccer, got to attend Lane United’s training session on Wednesday, May 14 as part of a field trip. At the conclusion of the session, they met Lane United players, got autographs signed and were given six soccer balls by the club.
Fans who want to donate tickets are encouraged to contact Dave Galas at Lane United for the time being. Donation centers will be set up at home games and at the Oakshire Public House in the future; updates will be posted on the website and Lane United’s social media outlets when that is the case.
Lane United’s fan club, the Red Aces, will plant a western redcedar for every goal scored at home at the Willamalane Center in the 2014 inaugural season. Each young tree will be about eight feet tall (initially).
When Lane United FC midfielder Christian Dietrich was a teenager in Germany, he trained in the youth academy for FC Union Berlin, whose home ground is the uniquely named Stadion an der Alten Försterei — the Stadium by the Old Forester’s Shed. But when he plays for Lane United this summer, he’ll be performing in front of a veritable army of foresters in the form of the Red Aces, Lane United’s official fan club.
The Red Aces have begun an initiative to plant western redcedar trees at the south end of the Willamalane Center’s fields for each home goal that the Reds score there this year. Dave Galas, Lane United’s managing director, said that the Willamalane Center had at one point intended to plant a row of trees at the southern boundary of the property, adjacent to the train tracks, as part of the facility’s expansion plans. However, budgetary restraints ended up scuppering that part of the project. A local commercial nursery recently stepped up to donate the new trees to the Red Aces, he said.
The initial hope was that the Red Aces would be able to plant only dawn redwoods for the project. The dawn redwood is the tree symbolically represented on the Lane United crest, adopted as an official icon of the club for its rareness and local historical significance. However, Galas’ wife, Arica Duhrkoop-Galas, a landscape architect who teaches planting classes at the University of Oregon and has been leading the initiative, said that the availability of dawn redwood saplings from local nurseries was limited compared to that of the western redcedars.
The dawn redwood, the official tree of Lane United FC. The Red Aces will plant one dawn redwood at the Willamalane Center for each year of the club’s existence.
A western redcedar will be planted for each home goal, and a dawn redwood will be planted for each year of the club’s existence. Duhrkoop-Galas said that the trees will be four to seven years old and about eight feet tall at the time of planting. The dawn redwoods will grow faster, but both types of trees will be mature after ten or fifteen years, she said. The planting will take place all at once in November or December at the onset of the rainy winter season.
Dave Galas said he came up with the idea for the initiative from similar projects that the Timbers Army has undertaken, planting trees in neighborhoods around Portland. According to him and his wife, there are no plans to cease the trees-for-goals initiative on Lane United’s end; if space runs out at Willamalane, they may consider other sites such as state parks. Duhrkoop-Galas added that any dawn redwood that grows to maturity makes an important contribution to the genetic variation of the species, since the local population is currently so small.
About 60 Lane United FC fans were on hand last Tuesday night to meet current Portland Timbers and former Manchester United star Mikael Silvestre and enjoy complimentary tastings of his award-winning St. Barth’s Rum. The event was held at the Agate Alley Laboratory in South Eugene and was open to all comers. In addition to the refreshments and camaraderie, guests also got to enjoy a raffle of four posters and two vintage Manchester United jerseys, all autographed by Mikael himself. The evening was a blast and we were thrilled to see so many members of the Eugene community out to support the Reds and enjoy the company of such a world-class athlete.
Thanks are in order for Mikael for making the drive down from Portland to support LUFC, the Lab for allowing us to use their excellent facility, and South Liquor for organizing the tasting itself.
How grassroots support for a nonexistent club can build pro teams from scratch in the U.S.
“If you build it, he will come.” It’s the most iconic line from the Kevin Costner classic “Field of Dreams.”
Costner’s character, the farmer Ray Kinsella, hears it as he walks through his struggling cornfield one evening in Iowa. Soon after, he builds a baseball diamond, waits a bit, and then one day, his father’s hero Shoeless Joe Jackson walks out of the corn, soon to be followed by several other ballplayers of yore.
Scene from the Kevin Costner movie “Field of Dreams”
Have the stadium ready, and the team will follow — at least that’s how it works in fictional American baseball.
In real-life American soccer, the situation can be exactly the opposite. The MLS’s Philadelphia Union, which started playing in 2010, started — literally — with three guys in a bar in 2007. They were all soccer enthusiasts and sensed that Philly had the right market to support a professional franchise.
But without the investment capital to start the team themselves, how were they going to convince the powers that be of MLS that this was the case? Answer: they started a fan club and aggressively expanded it.
They traveled to NY Red Bulls and DC United games and sang extremely antagonistic chants. They created a massive presence on social media and message boards. In 2008, Philadelphia was awarded a franchise largely on the strength of a supporters’ group that had spent an entire year supporting nothing.
Indianapolis’ Brickyard Battalion represents a similar success story. A few years ago, two men named Brett Corbit and Derek Richey started a Facebook page for Racing Indy FC, the nonexistent and hitherto-not-even-conceived-as-a-possibility local soccer franchise for Indiana.
After rallying support through Facebook and membership drives, they drew the attention of the Chicago Fire’s owners, and in January 2013, Indy was indeed awarded an NASL franchise for the 2014 season.
In the absence of a viable stadium plan, ownership group, or any sort of cohesive agenda whatsoever, a professional soccer club in the U.S. today can sprout up on the strength of local shows of support alone.
And in Eugene, the situation isn’t nearly as desperate as it was in Philly or Indianapolis. In Lane County, we have the stadium plan, the ownership group, and the cohesive agenda. And we have the local support to convince the USL that we can host a team — it just hasn’t been shown in one time and place yet.
Even though all that Eugene has is an amateur team this summer, show up anyway. Come up with some chants, make new friends, drink some Ninkasi beer or Opine wine in the fan zone.
Best of all, become a member of LUFC so that you can have the voting power to shape the pro franchise when it does arrive in 2014, and be privy to special perks in the meantime. Let the rest of the region and the USL see the scope and passion of Eugene’s soccer community on full display. We will come, and they will build it for us.