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May 16, 2011 at 11:59 PM

An unforgettable tifo Saturday: “Decades of Dominance”

RM1_3968_E.jpgPhoto credit: Rod Mar,

Moments before kickoff Saturday the Emerald City Supporters unveiled a spectacular tifo I’ll never forget. The nine-part production (captured perfectly above) has been raved about by MLS followers around the country, even by the so-called enemy. I caught up with ECS director of tifo Rob Scott on Tuesday to talk about the standard-setting display.

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(How and when did the concept for that tifo come together?) “I probably started thinking up concepts a good month or so ago, month and a half. Ideas just kind of generate themselves on our website and our message boards. Members kind of kick around ideas and come to a consensus on what we think the overall message should be.”

(I think including Roger in the display speaks for itself, but how did you narrow down the list of the other five Sounders to be honored?) “The whole theme was ‘Decades of Dominance’ so we wanted to incorporate players all the way back from the ’70s to now. It was about who has played well against the Timbers. Levesque for obvious reasons. Schmetzer, not so much for playing but coaching great teams against them. We thought that was a nod to him that we could throw in there. Montero for obvious reasons. Burpo and Hahnemann were very good goalkeepers in their times here. It was just a general discussion on who we thought would be good.”

(Let’s shift a little to the execution of this massive display. It’s such a huge undertaking, do you have a warehouse somewhere to create these banners?) “We’ve used a couple different places. We’ve got a place in Seattle we use to make displays, which is where this one was done. We’ve also made previous displays in a location in Federal Way.”

(So they’re just like big garage-types?) “Pretty much. Partial open-air areas. Just big open spaces.”

(How many people do you think had some hand in this one?) “If you’re talking just numbers in terms of painting and sewing, you’re probably looking at about 45-50. Other people were involved with getting the supplies and finalizing the art work.”

(Any rough estimate on how much it cost?) “A lot. Multiple thousands, I can tell you that.”

(I saw some facts on Twitter regarding square feet and man hours put into this. Can you verify those numbers?) “[Ed note: Scott provided updated figures via email after the phone interview] I was a bit short with the 23,000 sq. ft. estimate. It was closer to 26,000. And the 2,000 man hours was just in the sewing/painting. If you take in to account all the conceptual work, artists’ renderings and supply pick up, it was around 3,200.”

(How much did you work with Sounders FC to put this together? I noticed the Roger display came up on the netting for field goals and extra points in Seahawks games…) “Obviously some. They’re not going to allow us to do whatever we want, but they trust that we’re not going to do something terribly offensive. The field-goal banner we definitely had to double-check on. There was some back and forth, but they trust us that what we’re going to do will be quality.”

(I’ve been getting a lot of feedback and comments about the display. What have been some of the coolest things you’ve seen or heard?) “The praise from our members and the team is what’s most memorable. But I’ve seen posts on BigSoccer saying it’s the best display people have seen in MLS and even North America for that matter. We’ve been doing big displays like this since ’09 and it’s nice to get a little. It’s not like we’re these praise-mongers or that type of people, but it’s nice for MLS to get some recognition in this regard. Hopefully it will bring more attention to the league.”

(Did you see the Timbers Army tweet some kudos?) “Nice. Wow, I hadn’t seen that. Right on. What I saw on BigSoccer was a lot of posts claiming it was probably manufactured, that we probably outsourced it, which I think is too funny. For some people, if it’s not their own piece, they can’t accept that anyone could do something bigger.”

(There might’ve been a crazy rumor floating around that it was all manufactured by the Sounders FC…) “Of course, of course. We get that every time we do a big display it seems like.”

(How much was big Portland game, and all the attention around it, a motivator to remind folks around the country about Seattle’s soccer support with a display for the ages? Especially since Jeld-Wen and Timbers fans have been getting a lot of love…) “I’m not going to say the Timbers don’t have a good supporters group because they obviously do. I think they’ve been forced to up their game because of what we’ve been doing for the last couple years. The display that they did for their home opener, don’t get me wrong, it was a very good display. I don’t want to sound arrogant, but I think we have better supporters and better displays, and the atmosphere and the noise that we generate at Qwest proves that.”

(How long have you been the director of tifo and how did you get involved in that?) “I’ve been more of less the director since the end of ’09. I’ve been involved in making all the displays since the beginning of ’09. I don’t remember when exactly it was but I was heading to the bar after one match and turned to Sean McConnell, our head capo, and said I’d like to be in charge of all the large-scale displays. I had already been involved in leadership at that point. The first one that I was actually in charge of was the final display in 2009, the “Sounders Forever” tifo if you remember that one.”

(In your opinion, what is it about tifo that creates and adds to the atmosphere at a stadium so well?) “It’s designed to up the crowd involvement and participation — get them psyched, get the team psyched, of course. The bigger that we can go and the more support that we can show to get the crowd involved and the team amped up, the better it’s going to be.”

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