Yesterday's announcement that the Seattle Sounders games would no longer be called by Ross Fletcher after this season was a surprise. Fletcher is a relatively new voice in Seattle, but one with which both hardcore and casual fans are familiar. Initially the reports were that this was a cost cutting move.
Did a little digging around on the Sounders and Ross Fletcher deal. Another cost-cutting decision from the Sounders.— Kevin Shockey (@KevinShockey) October 22, 2015
As the cost-cutting rumors started gaining momentum the Sounders responded, contacting media that covers the sport for casuals and die-hards declaring that this was not a financial decision.
Following up, the Sounders deny that Ross decision was a financial one. Obviously an expected response but... that's what they're saying...— Kevin Shockey (@KevinShockey) October 22, 2015
Fletcher's contract was up, club says it just decided to go in a different direction— Matt Pentz (@mattpentz) October 22, 2015
Oshan had similar statements in the comments in our story on Fletcher's departure.
And this is where a larger problem becomes apparent. Somehow people who are supposedly experts in sports business and marketing in the Pacific Northwest think the fans in this area want change in their play-by-play voices. This is the same ownership group that hired their first pbp voice, Kevin Callabro, when his sole qualification was that he was a long-term and loved voice of a different team.
Having once used the leverage that only decades within the Puget Sound can earn you they are now casting that aside as if it has no worth.
Upon seeing Pete Gross inducted into the Ring of Honor in the stadium they call home, the Sounders are casting aside their third voice.
Looking across the street and seeing a statue built to honor Dave Niehaus and seeing adoring fans remember his stories and calls, the Sounders seek a "new direction."
Having watched the former Sounders broadcaster leave the Cougars and the sadness the Coug fans had losing his voice, even as his best days were behind him, a Sounders executive thinks that change is what area fans want.
Rondeau, Niehaus, Blackburn, Jackson, Callabro, Robertson, Gross, Raible
These names are legend. They are our lore.
Losing Arlo was understandable. The Seattle area has seen other broadcasters leave for greater things. It was a constant danger for KC and a path that Jackson took. What we aren't used to, and what someone in the Sounders organization thinks we want, is losing a beloved voice for the sake of change.
Frankly, that's out of touch. A business decision revolving around finances is understandable, and regrettable. But no, someone within the Sounders organization either honestly thinks, or thinks it is better PR, that change for change's sake will be better than having the voice of the Sounders join the hall of legends we've been blessed with in the Puget Sound.
They are wrong. Whether it is an honestly held belief that has completely forgotten their own hiring practices, or from a public relations standpoint, their dismissal of Ross Fletcher is not just an error in practice it is an error in fundamental sports business philosophy.