The Seattle Sounders and the Alliance Council said farewell to the 2022 season on Wednesday night with the club’s 14th Annual Business Meeting. This was the first in-person edition of the ABM in several years, and the event was held at the Longacres facility.
Following an odd season that included both historic highs (winning CCL!!!) and the low of missing the playoffs for the first time in the club’s MLS era, there were two major points of interest. The first was the result of the General Manager vote, which was a resounding vote of confidence for Garth Lagerwey with 90% of voters approving off his performance.
“It’s a good pressure test. Is the organization healthy? Do the fans feel like they’re getting good value for their money? When you see 90% approval, I think that’s a good reflection that we’re doing something right,” Lagerwey said of the vote.
The vote proved to be something of a futile gesture, though, as only 31.4% of eligible voters participated, a bit short of the 40% participation required for the vote to be binding. Still, it’s a good indication of the trust in Lagerwey from a fan community perspective, despite the team missing the playoffs.
The second major point of interest was the March to the 50th campaign, a project focused on evolving the club’s brand and visual identity to coincide with their 50th anniversary in 2024. Jeremiah Oshan wrote about the updates provided on the project, but the major takeaway is that there will be a new crest in 2024. It will probably feel pretty familiar, as the name and colors won’t be changing, but the new crest should meld elements of the one we’ve known for all of the MLS era up to this point with aspects of the club’s history and foundational elements of the region.
Outside of those major points, a number of other topics of interest were covered over the course of the evening. Owner & President of Business Operations Peter Tomozawa and GM & President of Soccer Garth Lagerwey, among others, discussed at various points the newly announced broadcast agreement with Apple TV. Lagerwey focused on the potential reach and impacts of the deal, as the plan makes broadcasts available in many places around the world where MLS has been much less accessible. Tomozawa for his part was, unsurprisingly, more interested in the business side of the deal. The key takeaway from his discussion was hopes for the club to be able to sell subscriptions directly to fans, which could potentially mean special offers for Sounders fans or possibly even a more Sounders-centric version of MLS Season Pass at a different price point (note that this is the author’s speculation, not anything assured off happening).
The evening included a period where attendees could choose one of four breakout sessions: one with Chief Revenue & Marketing Officer Taylor Graham discussing the March to the 50th campaign and the updates on the new crest, one with VP of Player Development Henry Brauner on player development (duh), one with Chief Financial Officer Tom Riley focussing on the Longacres project, and one with Chief Operating Officer Maya Mendoza-Exstrom focusing on the Social Impact Report and the RAVE Foundation.
Some highlights from the breakout sessions and the rest of the evening:
- Brauner made a point of the organization’s emphasis on developing good people, not just good players, highlighting Danny Leyva as an example of what the club looks for.
- Lagerwey said that there’s limited roster space, but that the team has room to sign one or two TAM-level players. He also teased that a member of the 2022 GA Cup winning U17 Academy team will be signing in the coming weeks.
- We “may or may not” get a new front of jersey sponsor for next season, according to Adrian Hanauer, but either way Zulily is expected to remain a partner in some capacity going forward.
- Tomozawa confirmed that the Fan Funded Field project is roughly 75% of the way to its goal of $50k, with additional fundraising events coming up around men’s World Cup games.
- A new Sounders app will be launching in the next month or so, according to Graham.
- Mendoza-Exstrom indicated that the club is working towards being able to offer free or subsidized public transit with the purchase of Sounders tickets, similar to programs already offered by the Kraken and Storm.
- With the success of Samuel Adeniran’s loan to San Antonio in 2022 and the growing ranks of youth players between the First Team and Tacoma Defiance, expect to see more young players going on loan in 2023 and beyond.