Q&A with Union president Tom Veit
A transcript of my interview with Philadelphia Union president Tom Veit from this past Saturday.
Q&A with Union president Tom Veit
The loyal readers among you may have already listened to the audio of my interview with Philadelphia Union president Tom Veit from Saturday. I decided that Veit's remarks were worth their own post, so I've transcribed the interview below.
There's a lot of good information here, from a potential third jersey next year to the latest on discussions with Villanova about hosting the Wildcats' football program at PPL Park. There's also more than enough for those of you who like reading between the lines of business-speak and generalities.
Q. First of all, just your general thoughts on how things have gone this season?
A. I think it's been everything we could have asked for and more. With that said, we've got a lot of work to do. We want to get better in every facet of our business. But for year one, we think at the end of the day our fans are happy, and if they are, we are.
Q. Have you set any goals yet for what you want to do during the offseason, specifcally?
A. Get better. I think we want to work out some of the bugs that we've had with the stadium. Just little things to make it better. We want to go back to our fan base and get a read on what they think needs to be changed. So I don't think there's one thing that we say, 'This needs to be fixed.' There's a lot of little things, and we want to get better on and off the field.
Q. At what point will you have some ideas of what you want to do on the field?
A. You'll have to ask Peter Nowak on that. I think Peter probably already knows, has a good idea of things he wants to do.
Q. One of the things that's been discussed this year is your discussions and negotiations with Villanova about hosting their football team at PPL Park should they move up to the Big East. I have heard that you've said to some people associated with the Villanova program that if there's a way to get the football lines down, you'd be happy to have them. How much discussion have you had with Villanova and at what stage are they?
A. We really haven't - other than our first discussions of saying 'we're willing to look at it.' Once we get to the offseason, we're going to look at some stuff with the grass, and see what we can do with football lines. There's still a lot of questions to be answered.
Q. Such as?
A. Can you get the football lines down, and can you get them off? Would the constant play on the Patriot Bermuda [grass surface], would that disturb the field? Can it be done? Our groundskeepers, we've been focused on playing soccer. Now that we're through the season, our grounds crew can look at things, we can talk to our fan base.
So we're probably in the same position we were before. We're willing to talk about it; we've got to look through the different things. We're first and foremost a soccer facility. If we can be a soccer facility at a top level and accomodate Villanova, we'd be glad to look at it and try to make it work.
Q. Can you explain, for people who don't know, who owns PPL Park and whether, if it's not the Union, that entity would have any say in what would happen?
A. The stadium itself is handled by the authority within Delaware County. We have a lease right to handle running the building. So we always talk to our partners about everything, in regards to doing that. But we haven't even gotten to that level yet.
Q. If the Delaware County authorities said they wanted it to happen, given Villanova's relative proximity on Interstate 476, what would you say?
A. We'd say what we've been saying. We're a soccer facility first and we're open to making anything work. If we can make it work with the primary mission of the building, we'll do it. If we can't, then we can't.
Q. If your fans say they don't want it, how much would that matter?
A. That would matter.
Q. Every once in a while, people have asked me about whether Union games are really sold out when they see many empty seats. What is your technical definition of a sellout?
A. A sellout is every ticket sold. If you have a party and everybody RSVPs but not everybody shows up, it's the same thing. Tonight, we know a lot of fans were deciding between going to us and going to the Phillies. So a sellout for us is having every ticket sold. From there on, not everybody shows.
If you go to the Phillies game tonight, I'm sure if you go to that game, you'd find some empty seats.
Q. What are you looking forward to next year in terms of accomodating away fans? I'm sure Portland and Vancouver fans will be just as interested in traveling here as Seattle, New York and all the other teams' fans.
A. I think that you see a great crowd from New York tonight. Next year we'll play D.C. United here instead of at the Linc, and we'll see what Toronto will travel. I think we'l see a fair amount of visiting clubs travel, and we're excited about that. And we'll work through it. Now that we're in the building and we see how it works, we'll talk to our fans again and see how we can accomodate them.
Q. What's the status of a jersey sponsor?
A. Ongoing. As we've been, we're in some very good talks. We're starting to get ready for next year, so I think some things could be heating up with a few different groups.
Q. Any hint as to maybe what industry they're in, or what size or scale of company you're looking for?
A. Philly.com is one of our favorite ones.
Q. Lastly, I know some of the teams in the league are going to change their jerseys next season. Do you expect any changes for the Union?
A. No. We're on a two-year jersey cycle, but there possibly could be a third strip coming out.