Presented without comment.
DLH: Andy’s here at my side, we’re here at the Real stadium.
ANDY CARROLL: It unraveled from market-to-market, so we were paying attention to other clubs. We were having conversations with regard to other clubs. Orlando was going to go off, and they went off and played, and then Atlanta, they were a couple hours ahead of us, they didn’t play. So there was frankly a lot of confusion around it.
DLH: The real thing that we want to say is that Real was preparing in the most profound way. As an organization, we view that we’re a community builder, a uniter, we bring things together. We work with our fans to be, while we’re very different, when we’re here united, we’re a family. Obviously, there’s a profound disappointment that the spirit that is Real was abandoned last night. We brought back 40 employees last week, sat for about six hours, reinstated full wages and moved people back, so we could serve the food, greet the guests, make sure they were safe. We made sure we could greet 5,000 fans in a very safe, effective manner. Our staff here worked 60, 70 hours putting up protective shields, signage, making sure we did dry runs for two weeks with the USL team.
We went through a profound amount of preparation during the COVID era to still be able to create our sense of community where people could be invited. Obviously we failed at a profound level. I’ll have Andy tell one story — there’s hundreds these — about a fan from Idaho. That story is illustrative of the disappointment that our organization caused people.
AC: We had a fan from Idaho who had taken a couple of days from Idaho, who brought his son down to a game — his first RSL game — last night. It was obviously a lot of disappointment about the timing of this event. A lot of work went, as you guys know, into preparing for it. The timing was unfortunate. We had fans come up from St. George, same situation. People were really looking forward to it, and that was really disappointing. We apologize to our fans and to our sponsors and to our staff that we were not able to have the game.
DLH: I’m more profound than Andy on that. A lot of people who had looked forward to reinstating their career, coming back from COVID, and we looked at kind of the comeback kids to be a leader in the community to show a path safely within a COVID environment to do that. This was a test. Could we do that? Could we invite the community safely into a group event? Obviously, the importance of bringing community together during COVID was not respected.
HOST: How did that happen? Where did it happen?
DLH: LA decided not to take the field. I think it was a lot of pressure that was coming from leagues. The NHL played their games, the very night, Portland and LA in the USL played at the same time. I think there was pressure through various groups, and there was a lot of indecision. Our team was fully prepared to play until 6:10. At 6:10, communication came through Zac MacMath and people were, “what should we do?” I’m sadly disappointed that we didn’t weigh the effect for $12/hour employees, who we shook hands with an hour later and said you won’t have a job here. We will not be inviting fans back to the stadium in the future. Monday, I start having to cut 40, 50 jobs again. We would not go through the risk of inviting people back to have that kind of an outcome.
The question that comes in, the sad part, I’m very, very supportive of an inclusive, fairly liberal agenda. That is who I am. I have been strongly in favor of that. Maybe that agenda has gotten so far that we’re punishing all sides of society who would love to support an inclusive society. But then when you do that, the fact that saying, because maybe you’re so accommodating, or you’re caring, that you can be easily slapped, and I take it as a profound slap at our community values structure of trying to build an organization that develops youth, supports the community through our foundations, that reaches to employ 250 people here. And then when it says, there’s another issue in society, why don’t we punish you? While I don’t know that’s the direct intention, that’s the end result. A lot of people will be punished. We’ll have to lay people off from our foundation today. We’ll have to lay people off from Levy, our food, Real Food. The implications become profound. We don’t know if players will go to Portland. We don’t know that. We’re all sitting here at an organization trying to build support and love around a team that supports the city. All I can say is they supported other issues nationally; they clearly did not support our city or our organization. That’s fairly clear.
It’s a moment of sadness. It’s like somebody stabbed you and you’re trying to figure out a way to pull the knife out and move forward. That’s what it feels like. The disrespect is profound to me personally.
We’d like to apologize. When I looked at Blake Smith and Craig Martin, people who did prodigious amounts of work. They put in 60, 70 hours. They were not light-weights. They were under a lot of pressure and stress. They had numerous details that had to be followed. So when at the Herculean effort, and I was akin to that, and to find that the sense of building community and supporting each other took a back seat to other important social issues. There was a decision somehow to punish local fans, local businesses and a local sense of community pride, that’s pretty hard to take. If we don’t communicate as we cross the issues — we were prepared after hours of discussion to have the team come on the field, kneel during the anthem, knowing that a great number of fans expressed that would be a profound disrespect to them and the flag. We said our organization represents inclusion, we’re going to say they have that right, and we’re going to support that even as many as 300 fans threaten to cancel tickets. But we count the fans that, to be who Real is, we have to be inclusive. They say, “can we bring our Blue Lives flag?” We’re not trying to stick the needle in the eye of everyone and point that. We’re trying to take a moment of respect and understand these profound feelings. We say, “we have them too.” We don’t think Real should be the battleground. We think we should be the place where people quietly observe respect and understand our differences. For them to take that slap at the organization with that attitude toward the players, toward that respect is profoundly disappointing.
It’s taken a lot of wind out of my sails, what effort I want to put into recruiting players and building a great team. It just seems that’s not a very good path to take.