Sounders FC ownership shift headlines 2015 Alliance Annual Business Meeting

SEATTLE, WASH. - At Thursday evening's Alliance Annual Business Meeting, Sounders FC Owner Joe Roth announced that Adrian Hanauer is taking over as the club's Majority Owner. Assuming the role from Roth, who has held the Majority Owner position since the club's 2009 inaugural MLS season, Hanauer continues his stewardship of the club he has led since 2001, dating back to the organization's USL era. Roth remains an integral part of the Sounders FC ownership group, alongside entertainer Drew Carey and Vulcan Sports and Entertainment Chairman Paul Allen.

"Adrian and I, when we started the franchise, we had almost exactly the same percentage, and I just thought that once Garth Lagerwey came in and took over Adrian's General Manager duties, he would be free to run the club," said Sounders FC Owner Joe Roth. "It was time to pass the mantle. 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."

In the MLS era, Hanauer has served as part of the club's ownership group since Sounders FC launched as an expansion franchise in 2009, while also holding the position of General Manager from 2009-2014 prior to Garth Lagerwey's arrival in early 2015. Under Roth and Hanauer's leadership, the Rave Green have captured four Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup trophies and the 2014 Supporters' Shield, in addition to the club recording the seven highest single-season attendance totals in MLS history. Prior to MLS, Hanauer has been associated with the highest level of soccer played in Seattle since 2001. He first joined the ownership group of the Sounders franchise in the United Soccer League's First Division, and later became Majority Shareholder and General Manager, leading Seattle to the USL championship in 2005 and 2007.

"I've loved and tried to nurture and build this club for a long time now, back before the MLS days," said Sounders FC Majority Owner Adrian Hanauer. "Joe Roth has 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 continues, "For me, all that said, not much changes. I'm going to treat Joe as a partner exactly the same way 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."

Sounders FC Chief Operating Office Bart Wiley also announced at Thursday's event that a new turf surface is set to be installed at CenturyLink Field for the 2016 season, replacing the existing surface that has been used since the start of the 2012 season. The new field is being installed in time for the club's first match across all competitions in 2016, when Club America comes to Seattle for the first leg of the 2015-2016 Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinals. Wiley announced that this pivotal Champions League Knockout Round match is part of the club's 2016 Season Ticket Member package. The specific date and time for that late February contest have yet to be announced.

Additionally, Sounders FC and the Alliance Council announced an amendment clarifying the process for the Alliance vote of retention for the club's General Manager, which arises every four years during the tenure of the General Manager.  General Manager & President of Soccer Garth Lagerwey's position would not face a potential vote of retention until the end of the 2018 season. The previous vote was held in 2012, with fans electing to retain then-General Manager Adrian Hanauer. In the event that the club hires a new General Manager prior to four years elapsing, this amendment also added the right for the Alliance to undertake a vote to recall two years into the newly hired General Manager's tenure. Lagerwey would not face a potential vote to recall until the end of the 2016 season. The entire text of the amendment governing both processes can be found here.

This year's meeting marked the seventh edition of the Alliance's Annual Business Meeting, and the second occasion held at the historic Paramount Theatre. Hosted by Michelle Ludtka of Q13 FOX, the event saw Sounders FC ownership, front office staff, as well as additional club personnel and Alliance Council Members present a state of the club address before a question-and-answer session with Season Ticket Members moderated by the Alliance Council.

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