RENTON — Music blared over the loudspeakers to start the second day of Seahawks training camp at team headquarters as 12 season ticket holders from varied backgrounds and cities trickled into Virginia Mason Athletic Center's open-air hospitality suite, an indoor meeting space for club management which overlooks Seattle's three practice fields along the shores of Lake Washington.
The Seahawks fans in the room were joined by a throng of high-level Seahawks executives, including President Peter McLoughlin, Chief Operating Officer Chuck Arnold, Chief Financial Officer Karen Spencer, Senior Vice President of Human Resources & Administration Cindy Kelley, Senior Vice President of Operations/General Manager of CenturyLink Field David Young, Vice President of Business Strategy & Analytics Jeff Dunn, Vice President of Venue Operations & Guest Experience Zach Hensley, Vice President of Marketing Jeff Richards, and Vice President of Technology Chip Suttles.
The occasion? A welcome meeting for members of the President's Fan Advisory Council, a program McLoughlin and the Seahawks launched in 2013 to give fans an open forum to share thoughts and ideas with those who can implement change.
"I feel so empowered hearing the Rocky theme song," Fan Advisory Council member Robyn Hendrickson of Renton observed with a laugh as she walked into the room, taking note of the inspirational movie tune being played over the practice fields below.
And at its simplest level, the Rocky theme song coupled with Hendrickson's comment provided a good measure for what Monday's meeting was all about: empowering 12s to assist team executives in the evaluation and enhancement of the overall Seahawks fan experience.
"We're just really happy to hear from all of you," McLoughlin said. "We've got a big responsibility with 61,000 season ticket holders, a totally sold out stadium, we've increased the number of suites and they're fully sold out, we've got a really strong group of sponsors, and we take all those responsibilities very seriously because without the fan — without you all — we don't have a business that's as successful as it is.
"We think that those of us who work for the organization take the relationship with the fan very seriously and are always looking to improve it."
That's not to say the Seahawks' fan experience has been lacking of late. In fact, the opposite is true, with the NFL's 2016 Voice of the Fan survey ranking the Seahawks overall gameday experience No. 1 in the League. With the help of the President's Fan Advisory Council, the Seahawks are hoping to remain at the helm.
"Once you're No. 1, you've got to work hard to stay there," said Arnold. "We want to maintain that No. 1 ranking, and you guys will play an important role in that."
Playing an important role in that process will be six men and six women from across the state of Washington. Three Fan Advisory Council members hail from Eastern Washington (Kennewick, Clarkston, and Moses Lake), one from Tenino, one from Poulsbo, and seven from the Seattle area. Selected after sifting through nearly 2,000 fan applications, the group is comprised of season ticket holders with varying degrees of tenure, from first-year members to those with 30-plus seasons under their belt, who will serve two-year appointments with the club.
"It's great to hear the impact that we'll be able to make," said Fan Advisory Council member Angelica Buri, who noted she hopes to positively impact the female fan and future female fan. "It puts a lot of pressure on us because it's only 12 people representing a lot of fans out there. I think I'm pretty smart and analytical, and can hopefully bring a viewpoint that will help."
Added David Halley, a 31-year season ticket holder from Clarkston who traveled 300-plus miles to attend the sit-down with Seahawks execs: "I'm the representative from the east side [of Washington], clear over there. That's huge. To come here and actually see this in person, it's a big responsibility to actually come up with something in the next couple of years."
In what will look to become a series of quarterly meetings as the season goes on, the President's Fan Advisory Council found time Monday to openly discuss a number of key issues important to fans, with members coming away impressed by the valuable back-and-forth with Seahawks management.
"On the field and off the field, behind the scenes, they're always trying to figure out what they can improve on," said Buri. "I think it's evident that it's all the way through the organization, it's not just Pete Carroll on the field."
Said Halley: "Those guys obviously are paying attention. It shows me that they have been paying attention to those surveys and that they're looking for continuous improvement. I've been with corporations that have done those programs and some of them give it lip service and some of them don't. [The Seahawks] are trying to be the best at everything."
Here's the 12 members of the President's Fan Advisory Council:
Brittany Barker, Bellevue
Angelica Buri, Newcastle
Stephanie Daud, Seattle
Robert Emmingham, Kennewick
Aaron Fields, Puyallup
*David Halley, Clarkston *
Robyn Hendrickson, Renton
Patrick Judge, Kirkland
Bobbi Lloyd, Moses Lake
Michelle Lorenz Odell, Poulsbo
Patrick Lawrence McDonald, Mercer Island
*Michael Minion, Tenino *
The Seahawks held a welcome meeting for the 12 new members of the President's Fan Advisory Council on Monday, July 31 at Virginia Mason Athletic Center.