Some of the biggest names in Seattle sports and entertainment are joining the Seattle Sounders ownership group while one of the biggest names left on Tuesday. Combined, it’s by far the most significant change to Sounders ownership since the team was unveiled at the George & Dragon Pub in 2007.
Headlining the rather lengthy list of 11 new families in the ownership group are Seattle-born rapper Macklemore, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and his wife, the Grammy-winning singer Ciara. As part of the ownership shift, Adrian Hanauer has increased his share through the newly formed Hanauer Futból group — which includes his mom Lenore and Paul Barry, who had previously held a minority stake in the team. The new shares appear to have come out of previous majority owner Joe Roth’s stake, as he officially left the group.
“Today we begin another chapter in the story of Seattle Sounders FC, this proud club that means so much to so many people,” Sounders Majority Owner Adrian Hanauer said in a statement. “We are doubling down on this community and growing our local roots even deeper. Sounders FC was born right here in Seattle, and for more than 40 years, the club has forged a meaningful legacy that is deep and far-reaching. Today’s news is a testament to what our community has accomplished, as 11 new families have joined with the broader Sounders family as fans and invested stewards of our club.”
Filling out the new ownership group are Soma & Akila Somasegar; David & Sabina Nathanson; Satya & Anu Nadella; Terry & Katie Myerson; Brian McAndrews & Elise Holschuh; Amy Hood & Max Kleinman; Chee & Christine Chew; Joe & Kristina Belfiore; and Mark & Tomoko Agne. Drew Carey and Jody Allen — Paul Allen’s sister — have also retained their ownership stakes.
Former Microsoft executive Terry Myerson was apparently the driving force behind bringing together the new group of owners. In a blog post, Myerson says that a California equity firm had been planning to buy out Roth’s stake in the team and possibly attempt to take controlling interest of the team. While it seems unlikely that this group would have sought to move the Sounders — they are still one of the most successful soccer businesses in North American history — it did seem to be a sort of rallying call.
“What motivated so many of us to come together was to make sure the Sounders were owned here in Seattle for our kids and for our community,” Myerson said in a statement. “It was a combination of meeting people involved in the club, the families’ incredible passion for the club, and everything just became more and more positive as we got further engaged and closer to the organization. The people, the staff — it’s just an incredible organization. And we see the impact on the community. We just had to make this happen.”
While there were no announcements of how this infusion of money will be spent, the Sounders have long been teasing the possibility of a dramatically revamped training facility. An announcement on that front is expected to come sometime in the coming weeks or months.