Fire Team Writer Jeff Crandall

Jeff is All-In for 2011

 I’ve never been a season ticket holder.

To be fair, I’ve never had a great enough love for a team, or at least not one I could justify buying season tickets for. To be brutally honest, given some of the jobs I had before joining the Fire, I couldn’t justify the expense to my bank account either.

That all changed today when I bought two season tickets for next year. Effectively, I can now say that I’ve gone “All-In for 2011”.

This morning I called the club’s ticket hotline and was met by a kind and familiar voice. It was that of Natalie Doak (photo right), a season ticket representative who literally sits kitty corner across from me in the Fire office.  Strange as it was hearing the response first across the way, then over the phone, I continued with the call.

The idea of a team employee buying season tickets to their own team’s games seems foreign – the sentiment isn’t lost on me at all. It’s further complicated by the fact that I’m busy in the press box during home games – overseeing a stats crew, tweeting and causing other general mischief. That’s all by way of saying, I likely won’t be able to enjoy my 2011 Season Tickets in the traditional sense.

As I explained to Natalie on the phone today, that has nothing to do with my reasoning. Like I said, I’ve never owned season tickets and though I’ve long followed the Chicago Fire, I’ve lived in (gasp) Detroit  for most of my 25 years.

I’m here now though and beyond that, I’m doing something I often dreamed of but sometimes seemed far out of reach.

Disappointing as this season has been, I love this club and while coming to work every day is a joy and a privilege, I felt it appropriate to express that love beyond collecting my paycheck every two weeks.

INTERJECTION: As I write, my new Fan Relations Coordinator Katie Waldin, who sits just a row to the right and a few cubes north, has called to welcome me as a new Season Ticket holder! Making first contact within hours of my purchase, I feel pretty confident that I’ve made the right move here.

My desire to purchase was compounded by the steady outpour from a certain Season Ticket holder and Section 8 Chicago regular, Mr. Jack Paciolla.

 If the name looks familiar, you’ve probably seen one of his hilarious comments on our Facebook page -- more recently his comedy has been pointed towards an effort to spread the word among fans about how great the 2011 Season Ticket pricing and benefits are.

Why does Jack so vigorously tout what the club is doing?

“It’s the amazing experience of a Fire game,” he said Tuesday afternoon. “I’ve never been to anything like it in my life. Aside from the atmosphere at a game, next year the team is giving me no reason to not have season tickets. The perks, whether it’s the reduced parking or a payment plan -- they’ve pulled out all the stops and so I want to make sure people understand how groundbreaking and impressive the club’s plan is.”

One perk Jack failed to mention was the Build the Club referral program.  In essence, if you’re referred to buy season tickets by a current holder, you receive 5% off your purchase while they receive 20% of what you purchased off of their 2011 total.

Because of his exuberance and dedication, I can quite clearly say that Jack is the one that edged me from wondering if I should buy, to actually doing it. He is in fact my referral.

So what are my savings and what are his?

With Jack’s referral, I bought two $200 tickets in the Supporters Section, for a total of $400. Given the 5% taken off through the Build the Club Referral program, my tickets are costing me $380 – I also paid in full before October 22, which tacked off another 5% making my grand total for tickets $361. While I don’t know what Jack has spent on his own, I do know that 20% of my total is $72 – that’s nearly half of one Supporters Section season ticket for next year.

I know what you’re thinking… This is all well and good, but you’re not going to be able to use your season tickets. To answer it plainly, you’re right. Though just because I’ll be busy when the games are going on doesn’t mean I can’t help others enjoy the experience that Jack so aptly talked about.

Sitting up in the press box and hearing Section 8 sing their lungs out to “Vamos, la maquina roja”, getting all of Toyota Park involved in the “Who’s the Best?” chant or carry out a world-renowned tifo display -- it gets you going just as much as seeing the guys walk out of the tunnel to the MLS anthem (yes I appreciate the MLS anthem), before every game.

So instead of gifting my tickets and parking pass to friends or family – I’ll be giving them away via Facebook and Twitter and working in concert with Section 8 to find other unique ways for new fans to come to a Fire game and Fire fans to experience the Section.

Having been on Section 8’s road trip to Columbus this past July (see us huddled in front of my laptop watching a World Cup match at the tailgate), my other hope is that this in a small way pushes the Independent Supporters Association towards their goal of increasing their numbers to 800 for 2011. The club has promised if they do so, they’ll give all Section 8 season ticket holders a free bus trip and game ticket to next season’s away match in Columbus – I plan to be there.

So there it is. It’s like the old Hair Club for Men ad, I don’t just work here, I’m also a member.

Will you go All-In for 2011? Click here for 2011 Season TIcket Information.

 Jeff Crandall is the Team Writer for the Chicago Fire. Follow him on Twitter @JefeCrandall.