Friday night at Benaroya Hall the best in Seattle sports were recognized in the 78th annual Seattle Sports Star banquet.
The first of those to take home a trophy was Sounders FC owner and general manager Adrian Hanauer, who was honored as the Seattle Sports Star Executive of the Year after putting a team together that made a fourth consecutive appearance in the MLS Cup Playoffs and US Open Cup final. His four-year run since the Sounders opened their inaugural season in 2009 was highlighted last year when he was voted by a 96.3-percent majority of the season ticket holders who took part to retain Hanauer as the team’s general manager.
That vote, unprecedented in American professional sports, displayed not only the success of the organization on and off the field that the club’s fans came out in droves to make sure that there was no change at the top, but also showed the vision to creatively include the fans in important decisions for the team.
Hanauer was introduced at the banquet by Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid, who cited Hanauer’s passion for the game as a driving factor for his success.
Hanauer became entrenched in the Seattle sports community from the moment he became a managing partner in the Sounders of the USL in 2002. That club maintained incredible success in the second division, then Hanauer, Joe Roth, Paul Allen and Drew Carey announced they would own an MLS franchise and the club exploded on the scene in 2009.
Since then, they won three straight Open Cup titles and reached the final in a fourth. In each season, they reached the playoffs, advancing to the Western Conference final in 2012, and set league attendance marks, highlighted by an average of 43,144 per game in 2012.
Hanauer credited the whole organization for that success in his speech, while also noting that he playfully jabbed Gary Wright the previous year when Wright attributed his accomplishments to a team effort when he received the award.
Hanauer became the third executive with the organization to earn the honor, joining inaugural recipient Tod Leiweke at the 2010 banquet and Wright in 2012.