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Sounders, Seahawks split business operations

Sounders part owner Adrian Hanauer says 'It was time to take off the training wheels,' but insists fans won't notice much immediate change.

Might this be the Sounders' new president?
Might this be the Sounders' new president?

Ever since their move to MLS, the Seattle Sounders have been closely linked with the Seahawks. After Thursday's surprise announcement that the two teams would be splitting business operations, that link will be far more tenuous. In a letter to season-ticket holders, the team called this new phase "Sounders 2.0."

"Basically we are taking off the training wheels," Sounders GM and part owner Adrian Hanauer told Sounder at Heart. 'It was always a matter of when, not if."

Although Hanauer insisted that most people would not be able to tell any difference in how the organization works between now and when the move officially takes place on April 30, there will be some not insignificant changes. Chief among them is that Peter McLoughlin will no longer serve as the team's president. It's entirely possible that Hanauer could add that title to his current duties, but nothing has been determined.

Also as part of the move, the Sounders will move their business operations from the Virginia Mason Athletic Center (VMAC) to an unspecified building in Pioneer Square. Hanauer suggested the move will better position the Sounders to interact with their core fan base.

Other than those moves, the changes will be a little harder to spot. Paul Allen retains his 25 percent stake in ownership, with Hanauer, Joe Roth and Drew Carey maintaining the other 75 percent. The Sounders' lease on CenturyLink Field, which currently runs for five more years, is completely unchanged and their future at the facility is unaffected.

That's not to say nothing will change, of course. In the letter to season-ticket holders, the team said in addition to new offices, they'd also be building a Sounders Clubhouse and Fan Innovation Center. Hanauer also spoke of their no longer being any worries about employees splitting jobs between two organizations. This will require some new hires, but Hanauer suggested the vast majority of the people who will populate the Pioneer Square offices are already working for the Sounders.

Mainly, this seems to be a move borne out of the Sounders' confidence to move forward on their own. The Sounders are clearly running a sound business at this point -- boasting 34,500 full-season equivalent season-ticket memberships -- but in order to reach their full potential they were almost surely going to need soccer people making decisions about how to run a soccer business.

"This is a sensible business decision for our franchise," Roth said in a team release. "Our vision is to grow our business to unprecedented levels both domestically and abroad. This move will position us to achieve that goal."

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