Board Member Jim Crist opens the proceedings

2011 was in many ways an unprecedented success for the Dark Clouds capped off by a Stars championship which saw 200+ Dark Clouds standing and singing for the first leg and more than a dozen making the trip to Ft. Lauderdale for the second leg.  As outgoing board member Teresa Petersen reminded us, we had many other highlights along the way.  The Dark Clouds donated over $1500 in 2011 to The Sanneh Foundation, Team4Sly and in support of relief efforts for the fires in Slave Lake.  The latter effort launched a friendly rivalry with the supporters of FC Edmonton in the form of the Flyover Cup.  In return, ESG made charitable contributions to the Twin Cities Red Cross is support of the North Minneapolis tornado relief efforts that began the same weekend as the Slave Lake fire.  This was not the only new partnership struck up during 2011 either.  Ian Leonard, Fox 9 meteorologist, Fantasy Camp Keeper extraordinaire and all around good egg, became a friend of the Dark Clouds and the Stars after a nasty European Champions League weather snafu.  And perhaps most fortuitously as will be discussed later, in the wake of the unexpected demise of the beer garden, Surly Brewing Company stepped in to contribute some of their excellent product to the playoff game tailgates. And of course there were many others.

With 2011 firmly affixed in our memories we moved on to the matters for 2012.  Unfortunately, we weren’t able to hammer out all of the details in advance, but their will be an option to be a card carrying member of the Dark Clouds beginning this season.  While anyone who stands with us will still be a full member of the Dark Clouds, those that pay for membership will get Dark Clouds swag, discounts in the teams’ online store and many other perks that will more than pay for the price of membership. Membership funds and other revenue will be used for several priorities this season in addition to the normal tifo and tailgating.  The board is in discussion with the artist who created the Dark Cloud for us when the group was founded about acquiring the rights to the image we’ve used to brand ourselves. Also, our good friend Ludwig, the drum that’s been a part of the Dark Clouds since essentially the beginning, is getting some much needed off-season repairs thanks to incoming board member Neal Logan.  Look for a story about Ludwig and work done on him when the repairs are complete.  We also need funds for the website and associated activity on Facebook and Twitter which we think helped to swell the numbers in the Dark Clouds section.  Finally, as always and according to bylaws, any money remaining on the books at the end of the year will be donated to a charity chosen by the board.

Outgoing board member Andy Wattenhofer and Nessie Drool brewer Rich Harrison

Rich Harrison and Andy Wattenhofer discuss developments with Surly

introduced some exciting new developments in our relationship with Surly.  First, we are working on an official Surly sponsorship of the Dark Clouds which will hopefully result in a continuing tradition of Surly available to Dark Clouds who are over 21 at all tailgates this season.  Second, Rich is working to found a Dark Clouds affiliate of Surly Gives a Damn called the Silver Lining.  These partnerships are still works in progress, but hopefully we will be finalizing details soon, certainly before the April 7th Dome Opener.

Which brings us to our most immediate concern, kicking off the Stars title defense in the Metrodome!  Wattenhofer, Stars CEO Djorn Bucholz, Friedland and incoming board member Ben Pfutzenreuter discussed several aspects of the event.  Here’s what we already know.  The day will start at the Local with board members Crist and Jim Oliver doing weekly trivia with tickets for the opener and other great prizes.  From there the action moves to a 350 space parking lot outside the Metrodome that is being dedicated to tailgating.  Metro Transit will be providing free transit to the dome for anyone with a game ticket.  Food trucks have been approved for the tailgate and other details will be announced as they are finalized.  For the game itself the Dark Clouds will be sitting in section 101 of the dome.  All of our normal tifo will be in effect, from the flags and the banners to Ludwig and his musical accompaniment.  There will be one minor adjustment due to the desire of everyone involved to continue not being burned to death by a flaming canvas dome. Unfortunately the Metrodome is requiring we leave the incendiaries including smoke bombs and flares out.

The team also stressed that they will be reaching out to us to help them.  Newly appointed front office member Andy Lorei will be forming a street team.  In addition, we will be working hard to fill in the gaps so the Stars can do things like have a booth at the State Fair, an endeavor the team has always wanted to undertake, but never had the staffing required.  Many other projects in planning.  For instance, if you have carpentry skills and experience you’re encouraged to contact Stars assistant coach, defender and front office member Kevin Friedland to assist the production of something like Bud Pool Ball.

The final major piece of business conducted on the evening was the election of this years board of directors.  Carrying over from 2011 to 2012, Jim Crist, Jim Oliver and Jesse Erdmann will continue to serve as at large members of the board.  Ben Pfutzenreuter will be joining as the remaining at large member and Neal Logan will be joining as the owners representative of Blue Sky Soccer LLC. We offer our whole-hearted thanks to outgoing members Teresa Petersen and Andy Wattenhofer for their dedicated (and continuing) service to the group.

With all of this ahead of us, we’ll be needing your help in several regards.  If you think you have anything to offer from game day operations setting up tifo or tailgating, outreach to members of the press, time to give in support of the Stars at events such as the State Fair or technical skills to help run the website please contact Jesse Erdmann.

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