When Bill Predmore was considering the possibility of launching his bid to start a professional women’s soccer team in Seattle, one of the first calls he made was to Adrian Hanauer.
Predmore had been a Seattle Sounders season-ticket holder and had a casual relationship with Hanauer. He wanted to both get Hanauer’s opinion on the feasibility of launching a team, but also wanted to make sure he wouldn’t be stepping on anyone’s toes if he did. Without Hanauer’s blessing, Predmore reasoned, the project was virtually doomed to fail.
“I felt like he’s the soccer godfather of Seattle — in a good way — and I wanted it to be OK with him for us to do this,” Predmore said, noting that he made the call to Hanauer while appropriately picking up a pizza from Mioposto in Mt. Baker.
That would prove to be just one of many conversations Predmore would have with Hanauer over the years. Each one them built a level of trust — sometimes leading to collaborations between the two teams, sometimes just to share ideas — and eventually paved the path to Wednesday’s announcement that Hanauer, along with his mother Lenore, would be taking a minority ownership stake in Reign FC. The Tacoma Rainiers also took a separate minority stake.
“I don’t think anyone could have imagined what the path would be from that conversation to where we are now,” Predmore said. “He was there at the very beginning and honestly without his blessing, I wouldn’t be standing here today.”
The possibility of Hanauer taking some level of ownership of the Reign had been discussed many times before. But Hanauer had always been somewhat reluctant, first because he had his hands full with the Sounders and more recently due to the uncertain nature of where the Reign would play games once they were inevitably forced out of Memorial Stadium.
In making the clearly hard choice to move to Tacoma — where they’ll eventually be playing in an appropriately-sized soccer-specific stadium — the Reign now have the sort of stability that made investing in them feel like a smart move to Hanauer.
“The conversation I had with Bill was I’m committed if there is a path to a stabilizing this business,” Hanauer said. “There’s some hope for a longterm solid foundation and this stadium project played into that conclusion.”
There was a higher-minded part to the equation, as well.
“My mother has been enthusiastic about trying to support the Reign and women’s soccer, providing role models for young girls,” Hanauer said. “Today’s political climate more than ever requires and begs for leadership in equality and diversity and so it felt like the time was right to get involved in some small way.”
Still, Hanauer cautioned that too much should not be made of his investment, making it clear that it was something he and his mother were doing, not the Sounders. There will continue to be collaborations between the two clubs and those could certainly expand, but the Sounders will not be involved in the day-to-day operations of the Reign.
“I get there will be assumptions but this is very specifically my family that will be investing,” Hanauer said. “We have a relationship and we’ll have a relationship and it’s possible that my knowledge of the organization will help grease the skids. But my personal involvement should not be read as the Sounders partnership with the Reign beyond what exists today. I think that partnership is strong and there will be growing opportunities to work together.”
For Predmore’s part, he was clearly thrilled to add some local financial heft. There have long been rumors that the Reign’s situation was only viable as long as the Predmores had the stomach for the losses. It might not be the future Predmore envisioned back in 2012 when he made that fateful phone call, but it is a future.
“That conversation built trust and ultimately led us to this day and hopefully gave him enough faith in us,” Predmore said. “It feels good to be here.”