SEATTLE – The Sounders FC ownership group made something of a surprise announcement on Thursday night, with Joe Roth revealing that Adrian Hanauer is set to become the team’s Majority Owner.
Roth, the Los Angeles-based film mogul who has served as the club’s Majority Owner since 2007, made the announcement during the club’s Annual Business Meeting with Season Ticket Members at the Paramount Theatre.
Hanauer said the group is currently “papering the final bits” of the ownership change into place, but the move has been in the works for some time.
“I’ve loved and tried to nurture and build this club for a long time now, back before the MLS days,” Hanauer said. “And for sure I would have always liked to have been the Majority Owner. Thankfully Joe had been a fantastic partner and really benevolent in a lot of ways, and very generous.
“He called me about this a while back and said, ‘This is what I think the right thing to do is,’ and I gladly accepted,” Hanauer continued. “For me, all that said, not much changes. I’m going to treat Joe exactly the same way as a partner as I always have, and I’m going to be as vigilant and devoted to this club as I have been, and try to do right by the fans, players and staff, and try to run a topflight organization.”
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Hanauer has been with the club since its USL days in 2002 and served as both Owner and General Manager until January, when Garth Lagerwey took over as General Manager and President of Soccer.
“Adrian and I, when we started the franchise, we had almost exactly the same percentage, and I just thought that once Garth came in and took over Adrian’s General Manager duties, [Hanauer] would be free to run [the club],” Roth said. “I am overwhelmed by movies I’m making back in Los Angeles, and I thought it would be a really good idea for [Hanauer] to take it over. We’ve been talking about it for six months.”
Entertainer and comedian Drew Carey and Vulcan Sports and Entertainment Chairman Paul Allen will also both stay on as part of the Sounders FC ownership group. Neither was in attendance on Thursday night, but Carey sent a video message to those in attendance at the annual event.
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"It was time to pass the mantle," Roth said. "I'm a very big believer in my other business of having people moving up and giving them opportunity. And there certainly was nobody in this organization that deserved that opportunity more than Adrian."
Hanauer said he did not necessarily plan on taking over the Majority Owner role even after Lagerwey’s appointment, but he knew that his duties would change after the Sounders broke away from the Seattle Seahawks in 2014.
“I knew my attention would probably get divided a little too much,” Hanauer said. “I needed to spend time on building the business overall, and that’s what I’ve done. Now I spend 95 percent of my time focused on the business.”
Roth, meanwhile, admitted that this year was the toughest as an owner for him personally since joining the club. The Sounders finished fourth in the Western Conference during the regular season and ultimately lost to FC Dallas in the Western Conference Semifinals.
“If we were lousy all year that would be fine, but we were the best team in that first third,” Roth said. “And then, watching all these guys doing down with catastrophic injuries and playing for two months without six of our very best players, I just wanted to shoot myself. I’m glad we put it back together, I just wish we held on for another three minutes against Dallas."