Going the extra mile for the Crew
For Alan Prochazka, moving eight hours from Columbus wasn’t going to stop him from making frequent trips to Crew Stadium.
At least eight to ten times a year, he makes the journey to Columbus to cheer on the Black & Gold.
“My schedule is planned way in advance to make sure game dates and times are taken into consideration,” Prochazka (left) laughs. It’s no small feat, considering the fact that he lives more than 500 miles away. So far this season, Prochazka has already made about half the home matches at Crew Stadium—as well as two away matches, traveling to both DC and New York donning his black and gold.
“I always proudly wear my Crew jersey when I set in the DC United supporter’s section [at RFK Stadium] with my stepson, who is a DC United fan.”
While attending all 34 games simply isn’t possible, he makes sure he doesn’t miss any of the action.
“I subscribe to MLS Live so I don’t miss a single game if I cannot make it to the stadium,” says Prochazka. “My wife’s birthday party this year was scheduled to start after the Crew match finished so that we could watch the entire match.”
As Prochazka plainly puts it, “passion about my teams is who I am. I live and die for the Crew.”
Prochazka isn’t alone in those sentiments. Anyone who visits Kevin Artman’s Facebook page can easily decipher which club he lives and dies for. His page is completely decked out in Black & Gold with photos of the Nordecke.
“I plan on keeping my season tickets for life,” says Artman, who is on his sixth year as a Nordecke season ticket holder.
While words are easily spoken, actions are hard to question—nine months out of the year, Artman lives in Buckland, Alaska. His job as a teacher enables him to return to his home state of Michigan during his summer break.
“It all depends on the schedule, but I make every game from the middle of May to July, which ends up being anywhere from five to nine games a season,” says Artman.
Artman attended his first match at Crew Stadium in May of 2007, where the Crew battled then-expansion side Toronto FC to a 2-2 draw. After that, Artman was hooked.
“I loved the passion that the fans brought to the Nordecke; I just wanted to be a part of that,” Artman continues.
Though his hometown of East Lansing, Michigan is actually closer in distance to Chicago than Columbus, there was no question in his mind which club he wanted to support.
“Crew Stadium has the best atmosphere around; they provide a great experience,” says Artman. “It means a lot to me to have a team that will go out there and play for the fans and put it all on the field.”
For both, what started as a way to spend time with friends and family has evolved into a lifestyle.
“Being a Crew ticket holder has always been more than just going to games,” Prochazka explains. “Tailgating has become a huge part of the process. The relationships I’ve made through coming to Crew games have become so strong that I would have a hard time stopping coming.
“These people open their homes to me and my family whenever I come for games. I also love the Crew staff I have worked with over the years. I have become good friends with my account representative. Her parents have joined me at my tailgates and we’ve gone to away games together. The whole experience is just like being a part of one big family.”
The same goes for Artman (right). His Crew family takes care of him—not just when he’s visiting for games, but year round.
“I always make sure to send random care packages of things from Crew Stadium or t-shirts we’re making for special events or games,” says Lisa Phillips, a long-time Crew fan. Phillips notes that Artman’s fellow supporters lovingly refer to him as the “Crew nomad”.
“When [Artman’s] around during the summer, he comes to every home game and goes to every away game. He essentially travels around couches,” says Phillips.
Not many classrooms in Alaska know which MLS franchise they support, but there is no question to anyone in Artman’s class who they’re fans of—and it’s a team far, far away in Columbus, Ohio.
“Kevin has actually taught some of the Crew chants to his class. Prior to taking a test, they all chant [popular Crew supporter chant] ‘I believe that we will win,’” Phillips reveals.
When it comes down to it, Artman is an inspiration to all Crew fans—from those who sit with him in the Nordecke to fans who live more than 1000 miles away.
“He cheers and cries with the passion of someone that lives and breathes Black and Gold,” says Phillips.
From Alaska to New Jersey, Crew fans are everywhere—and they’re more than willing to do what it takes to prove their loyalty. When asked what he’d do if faced with the issue of his first-born’s wedding falling on the same day as the Crew play in MLS Cup, Prochazka laughs.
“Wouldn’t happen. She’s a big fan--she’d never schedule her wedding during the playoffs.”