(This guest editorial was penned by Dan Nelson, who can be found on Twitter at @LtDan61350.)
Yesterday was the Media Advertising Club Sports Luncheon and all of Chicago's sports owners were in attendance. This appearance by Hauptman was touted by both the team and by Fire COO Atul Kholsa on Twitter. I say "appearance" because Hauptman is rarely seen at public Fire functions in Chicago. It is assumed he is usually in LA running his private investment firm, Andell Holdings.
Yesterday's event ruffled a few feathers after Hauptman was a no-show at the club's 17th anniversary party. The coaching staff, Kholsa and multiple players attended. Even Mike Magee, who had undergone hip surgery a month before, was there in crutches talking to fans, but Andrew Hauptman was not there.
For years we have been told by management that Hauptman is passionate about the team. However, I have yet to see him at a watch party or Section 8 board meeting, and he was a no-show at both of the last two anniversary parties. I'm not saying he needs to be in the Harlem End every game for 90 minutes, but there is a major disconnect between him and the fanbase. I can understand why he's hesitant to interact with fans, as we've have had very little to be happy about.
Throughout Hauptman's tenure, we have seen a decline in the quality of the team on the pitch culminating in our worst season in team history this year. Under the ownership of AEG, we won an MLS Cup, the Supporters Shield and four US Open Cups. Under Hauptman's stewardship, we have missed the playoffs 5 times including the "play-in game", been eliminated from Open Cup play by a 4th division team, the worst team in MLS League play last year and lost 6-0 to Seattle this year. But hey, we won a Carolina Cup and a Desert Diamond Cup, that's something, right?
Hauptman needs to step up and show the fans that he's here with us, that he feels our frustrations, and reassure us that he has a plan for the future. That's going to mean taking some deserved abuse from fans. After our dreadful exit from Open Cup play this year, I called his office at Andell and left a message that - as a four-year season ticket holder - I was unhappy with the performance of the team. I gave my phone number and email address and requested a response. I heard nothing. I wasn't really expecting a personal reply, but I was surprised I didn't get even an automatic reply of some kind.
It is along these lines that I issue a challenge to Andrew Hauptman: Attend the town hall meeting at the end of the season. Show the fans that pay your salary that we matter and begin bridging the divide.