SBD/September 27, 2012/Franchises

Sounders FC To Exclude International Friendlies From Season-Ticket Package

Sounders FC has led the MLS in attendance the last four years
The MLS Sounders FC season-ticket package for the first time will include "no international friendly," according to Don Ruiz of the Tacoma NEWS TRIBUNE. Sounders GM Adrian Hanauer on Tuesday said that "such friendlies may continue to be scheduled, but they will not be part of the season-ticket package" for the '13 season. Hanauer: "We've listened to our fans. We've heard -- it's of course, mixed -- but some of the feedback is 'We're way more interested in competitive games than exhibitions.' It doesn't mean we won't do a friendly, it's still possible." Ruiz notes in terms of attendance, the friendlies "have been successful." EPL club Manchester United's visit last year drew 67,052, the "largest soccer crowd ever in the Pacific Northwest." Chelsea this year "drew 53,309 to CenturyLink Field," which ranks as the fourth-largest home crowd of the team's season. The Sounders "have led MLS in attendance in each of their four seasons." Attendance averages have climbed each year, and Hanauer said that the club's decision to drop friendlies from the season-ticket package "makes it more likely that the upward attendance trend will continue" (Tacoma NEWS TRIBUNE, 9/26).

THE PEOPLES' CHOICE: SPORTING NEWS' Brian Straus writes the Sounders "are going to historic lengths to ensure that fans still matter." Starting Oct. 7, season-ticket holders and members of the MLS club's fan association, called the Alliance, "will have the opportunity to vote on whether to 'retain' or express a 'lack of confidence'" in Hanauer. If "lack of confidence" wins, the club "actually will hire a new GM." For the most part, this is a "no-lose situation for the Sounders and for Hanauer," as it is "great publicity and makes for fantastic fan relations." As a minority owner of the club, Hanauer "won't be on the unemployment line if voted out." But it is "unlikely going to come to that," as Hanauer is "a Sounders institution." At least 10,000 votes are "required for the Oct. 7-Dec. 7 election to be valid and the results will be authenticated by an outside accounting firm." The club's Twitter feed "already has featured #AdrianIN and #AdrianOUT hash tags -- a sign the Sounders will have a bit of fun with this election" (SPORTING NEWS, 9/27).

HITTING THE RESET BUTTON? Sounders Majority Owner Joe Roth said of the team's Xbox jersey sponsorship, which expires after next season, "We don't have anybody. We're looking. ... They're not out of the running, they've just had a very unimaginative conversation over the course of the past year. They see things differently than we do" (SEATTLE TIMES, 9/27).
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