At Thursday night’s Annual Business Meeting, the Sounders FC’s retention of general manager Adrian Hanauer grabbed the headlines as the club announced Hanauer would return after an overwhelming 96.3% of the 13,775 votes were tallied in favor of retaining him.
However, that wasn’t the only interesting moment of the night, as owners Joe Roth, Drew Carey and Hanauer took the stage along with club president Peter McLoughlin and representatives from the Sounders FC Alliance Council.
A crowd that filled the seats at the WaMu Theater south of CenturyLink Field erupted in cheers when the Sounders were touted with the 26th highest attendance in world football, a statistic that was later elaborated upon by McLoughlin. However, it wasn’t enough for Roth.
Seattle’s majority owner took it as a point of pride that Seattle ranked so high in the world rankings for attendance and so far ahead of the next highest club in Major League Soccer, but hopes to soon eclipse the 50,000 mark. In 2012, Seattle averaged 43,144 and getting over that 50,000 barrier would put them in the top ten in the world.
The bigger goal for Roth, however, is to win MLS Cup.
“We got further,” Roth said, noting the team’s advancement to the Western Conference championship series, where they lost 4-2 to the LA Galaxy. “But it’s still one step from where we want to be.”
In something of a pre-emptive strike, Roth also addressed the fan concerns about what the organization is doing to seek out Designated Players in the ilk of LA’s Robbie Keane, who had three goals and an assist in the series against Seattle.
“If the equivalent of Robbie Keane is out there, we’ll go get him,” he said.
Hanauer added that the club won’t spend money for the sake of spending money, but will continue to be diligent in their pursuit of the right player to help the Sounders reach their goals of an MLS Cup.
“We’ve gotten close to the mountain top, but we haven’t reached the top of the mountain,” Hanauer said. “We are prepared to now spend more and more to have the quality necessary to win MLS Cup. We are ready to commit financially if we think it will help us win a championship.”
Roth displayed plenty of passion on the stage, saying he would rather win MLS Cup than produce another movie that grosses a billion dollars. He also spoke about the US Open Cup final. For the second time in four years, the Sounders played the final on the road. In 2009, DC United outbid the Sounders in the sealed bid and Roth noted that in 2012, Sporting Kansas City hosted after winning a coin toss.
That, Roth said, won’t happen again because the Sounders will go to lengths to be sure that they win each bid to host when those opportunities arise.
In addition to the MLS-record attendance figures, McLoughlin also applauded the club’s local television ratings, which were much higher than any other MLS club.
In another demonstration of the club’s motto of Democracy in Sports, Council member Kevin Zelko introduced Dan Roe, who unveiled the club’s season ticket holder scarf, which was voted on by fans and will be included in the season ticket package for 2013. That was one of several efforts outlined by Zelko in his presentation of the Alliance Council report.
In his presentation of the team report, Hanauer noted that in future years the Reserve Team will play in a league more similar to the USL than the ten-game schedule they have played in recent years, though he did not give a timetable for that change to take place.
Although the event was well-attended and Hanauer was overwhelmingly voted to keep his general manager position, he emphasized that the ownership group, staff and players would not become complacent because of their support, but remain driven to succeed at the highest level.
“This doesn’t change one iota our passion … drive … or commitment to bring trophies to this team,” he said. “We WILL win an MLS Cup in the very near future.”