Happy New Year From HTIOT!

One thing I want to see in 2013? How about a true Chicago Flag jersey? - Jonathan Daniel

I know this comes a day late, but all of us here at HTIOT would like to wish our readers and everyone in Fire land a Happy New Year. We greatly appreciate your support and have some good plans in the works to make HTIOT even better in 2013. Between a new face here and there, as well as some new article ideas, HTIOT should be even better in 2013 as we strive to provide the best #cf97 coverage to all of you

Before I go any further, I would like to wish all the best to two valued member of the HTIOT team- Gregg Mixdorf and Nick Fedora. They will be leaving the site to pursue other opportunities and we just wanted to take a second to heartily thank them for all their contributions in their time here at HTIOT. We wish you guys the best in your future endeavors.

With that being said, the official Fire site posted a nice gallery of photos from 2012 for any of you wanting a bit of wistful nostalgia before the 2013 season arrives. Just 2 months and 2 days until the Fire are back in action! Here are those photos for your viewing pleasure.

Our friend Jeff Crandall posted his New Year's Resolutions as well and I wanted to share his article too. Some of us make personal resolutions but I liked his idea of resolutions for the Fire in 2013. After all, the idea of a resolutions is to try to make yourself or something/someone else better. I certainly agree with all 5 of Jeff's wishes, as I am sure most every Fire fan will. I figured I would post up 3 of mine for 2013 as well. Feel free to post your own as well. Hat tip to you Jeff!

I could have picked an MLS Cup, Supporter's Shield, etc. but that is something pretty common that I think we would all pick. So I tried to shot for a few things that could really help take the club to another level in 2013. Although these things may not be as obvious as winning games and trophies, I feel that they are an integral part of helping our club to be even better in 2013.

1. As my photo caption says, a true 3rd jersey of the Chicago Flag (done right) would be a huge step in the right direction by the Front Office. I am starting my list off with something that we all want. I had a lengthy article on this in the past, and the desire by fans has not changed. As I have said before, I think the Fire tie into the culture of Chicago better than any other MLS club. It's time to really capitalize on that and give the fans a truly unique symbol of our club and our city that no other team has.

One other change harkening to the subject of jerseys- change the stripe on the home kit back to white. This is a common request from the fans that I have read a lot. And I agree with it 100%. The white stripe is part of the tradition of our home jersey and shouldn't ever be changed. If the club wants to try something different with the jerseys, that is what the away jersey and 3rd jersey (a true Chicago Flag jersey nudge, nudge, hint, hint) are for. The Quaker logo will still look good on a white stripe in black text.

2. Increased communication from the Front Office, as well as increased collaboration with fans and Supporter's Groups/Associations. I know, I know, this may sound futile at this point. I have hammered this point home many times but increased communication to the fans would be great on may levels. Apart from not feeling in the dark in terms of most aspects of club functionality, it would be a good way to build trust with fans too. Right now, the word "trust" seems to be a fragile term between fans and the Front Office.

The club working with fans and Supporter's Groups/Associations could definitely be improved as well. The fans are the lifeblood of the club, as well as groups and Independent Supporter's Association Section 8. Section 8 does so much for the club, fans, and the city. I think that Andrew and the rest of the Front Office can greatly improve their efforts in listening to all of these voices and ideas to make the team, the stadium, and the city even better for everyone. The fans an supporter's shouldn't be viewed merely as customers. They should be viewed as important partners and advisors too. This goes hand in hand with communication and trust. Let's hope we see an improvement in this category in 2013.

3. Maximize Bridgeview. Yes, I know all the downsides when brought up in the argument about the location of Toyota Park. Location (especially from downtown), lack of public transit, as well as many other factors commonly stated. While these points are all valid and there may be a limited amount in terms of what the Fire can do on some of these points, I would like to see a new and different marketing push. While it would be awesome to be able to get a perfect spot near downtown that is easily accessible for private and public travel, that's easier said than done. Toyota Park is a very nice venue that is still fairly new. Apart from contracts keeping us in Bridgeview, the honest truth is that we will be there for awhile.

Rather than lamenting these facts, I would like to see a push made to market the Fire and Toyota Park like never before. I know the club and the fine people in the marketing office already work hard at this. I will admit, I am not a Marketing Major so I can only offer my ideas. But, if we could think out of the box and make Toyota Park a destination despite the obstacles, it would be a sight to behold. We know the die hard fans will go anywhere. It's about tapping into the casual fan and getting them to make the drive. Tweed has talked about this in the past here on HTIOT as well.

Again, this is a case of something easier said than done. Things like trying to cross-promote more with some of the other professional Chicago teams could help. There are plenty of people in the Chicago market that could be tapped in to. I would love going to my first Blackhawks game but paying $200 for a decent/nosebleed ticket vs. taking a family of 4 to a Fire game for half that (or less depending on the awesome Fire deal you get)? I always make a few Cubs games a year and likely always will. But will the casual fan always shell out $90 for a bleacher ticket for a 61 win team? Or get a premium ticket for a 3rd of that and see a playoff caliber soccer team? There are definitely people out there that see the value in savings like this even if they have to drive a little. The final step is actually getting them to take action rather than just say it or think about it. I stayed at the round Hilton hotel off Cicero (near Midway) last year and was shocked to hear the hotel attendant tell me she had never heard of the Fire despite being relatively close to them. So clearly the word can still be spread out about the value of the Fire and Bridgeview.

I'm not trying to take anything away from Chicago's other teams either. But it's about showing the incredible value and experience of going to a Fire game in person. Where else can you see a professional sports team in a city like Chicago for a deal like that? And the atmosphere adds intrinsic value you can't get anywhere else. I know people that originally went to a game with a friend of just because they were curious. And they got hooked because of the passion. Let's hope that stories like this become the norm more in 2013.

All in all, I am excited and looking forward to covering the Fire in 2013. We are bringing back a good team, and it's my hope that we can bring in 1 or 2 more players (as has been discussed in our running positional analysis) to truly take the Fire up another notch or 2 in 2013. I think we are closer to being a top tier team than some are giving us credit for. We know what our strengths are, and what can be improved in 2013. And that's all we can ask for right now. It's up to Frank to continue to shape and fix/fortify the roster to take the Fire to the top again. There are lots of things to be encouraged about from 2012, and 2 months from now we will likely have roster news to talk about as well.

So, thanks for the fun ride in 2012 Chicago Fire. Let's go to the top in 2013!

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