As you’ve probably heard by now, the Seattle Sounders sent out a release last week essentially asking press to keep their calendars open on Feb. 16. News of that release quickly made its way onto Twitter and Reddit, and was briefly mentioned here, along with just about anywhere else you go looking for “unofficial” news. It should be noted, however, that the announcement was not designed for public consumption; it was designed simply to pique the interests of assignment editors and journalists.
While the Sounders send out press releases all the time, this one was notably different. Not only was a “major club announcement” teased along with the promise to make “several impactful organizational updates”, but the event’s location also was pointedly not revealed.
All of this has led to quite a bit of speculation. I have a pretty good idea of what some of these announcements might be, but I don’t know for sure. These are my best guesses, though, about what to expect and some of the rumors I’ve seen floating around:
New training facility
If you’re a regular reader of this site, you’ve probably noticed that we reported that the Sounders are close to announcing the construction of a new training facility at the old Longacres Racetrack property. I’m pretty sure that’s where this event will be held and is probably the single biggest “news” item that will be shared. (Feb. 14 update: The Sounders just announced the event will be held on the Longacres property and will feature Sounders majority owner Adrian Hanauer, GM Garth Lagerwey, Unico Properties CIO Ned Carner, King County Executive Dow Constantine and Renton Mayor Armondo Pavone.)
Would this be a big deal?: Yes! Going by current trends around MLS, this will be the single biggest investment the Sounders have ever made. For all the benefits of Starfire, it is quickly becoming a relic of a bygone era in MLS. This new facility will, at the very least, be a great recruiting tool for new players, an improvement for those of us who cover the team, and hopefully maintain much of the fan accessibility that Starfire currently provides.
How likely is this?: Very likely. Like I said, I’ve done a fair amount of reporting on this and it checks all the boxes.
We know that the Sounders are due to get a new primary kit this year. (Update: It looks like the Sounders will be unveiling that a day earlier.)
Would this be a big deal?: Eh, depends on your perspective. I don’t think they’d be pulling out all these stops if that was all that was going on, though.
How likely is this?: Very likely. We know the Sounders are getting a new primary kit this year. We know they need to unveil it before the season starts. The timing definitely makes sense. I expect that it will be part of the announcement.
When the Sounders switched from Xbox to Zulily in 2019, there was no timeline given for how long the deal was for and anecdotally it seems like the two brands are not as closely linked as they once were.
Would this be a big deal?: I think it would be and based on how worked up people got over the Zulily deal to begin with, I assume some would find this satisfying. I have no idea who the replacement might be, so it’s hard to make any profound assessment.
How likely is this?: Not especially likely. While the connection between the two teams seems to have dropped off a bit since the summer, I’ve not heard anything like credible rumors of a new sponsor. I wouldn’t be blown away if this change is coming, but I’m not expecting it either.
There’s nothing MLS teams love more than rebranding, but I don’t think the Sounders are going to drop their name or anything that dramatic. That said, people have been calling for a redesigned crest for quite a few years and I would not be at all surprised if that’s on the table.
Would this be a big deal?: It would be a pretty big deal. The Sounders have arguably the most recognizable brand in MLS, so I think the name is safe. But even changing the crest would be pretty impactful.
How likely is this?: Strong maybe. I’ve long been of the opinion that the current crest looked dated almost from the moment it was unveiled. Sooner or later, the Sounders will almost inevitably ditch it for something more timeless and/or modern. Whenever they do it, I would also imagine that they’ll seek lots of “stakeholder” input. Maybe this is the start of that process, perhaps culminating with the team’s 50th anniversary in 2024.
Tacoma Defiance news
We’ve heard precious little on this front since news of the team’s switch to MLS Next Pro was announced.
How big of a deal is this?: Obviously would depend on what it is, but we already know that some of their games won’t be played at Cheney Stadium. I’m not sure what else could be classified as “impactful.”
How likely is this?: Unlikely, if only because it seems like the wrong venue. The timing is right for some Defiance-related news like a schedule and a roster, but I also think that it would get dramatically overshadowed at an event this big.
World Cup bid
Seattle is still very much in the running for its bid to be one of the hosts of the 2026 World Cup.
Would this be a big deal?: Totally! Especially since it would probably come with some details about what all that entails, something they’ve been very tight-lipped about.
How likely is this?: Very unlikely, although I could see other aspects tying into it. While I still think Seattle will be chosen, the timing is wrong. FIFA is going to want to make that announcement on their own and I doubt they’re quite ready to do that.
The Sounders have been steadily altering their ownership structure for the past few years and there’s always a chance of changing this up.
Would this be a big deal?: It would! Adrian Hanauer is, admittedly, not one of the richest people in MLS ownership circles, but the team has been insanely successful since he first assumed control in 2002. Any change at the top would be a massive deal, but change lower down in the structure is probably not.
How likely is this?: Very unlikely. Assuming I’m right about the main thrust of this announcement, it would be weird timing. I imagine it would be akin to finally designing the kitchen of your dreams, finalizing the plans and picking a contractor only to sell the house before any of that gets started.
Expanded Reign partnership
Fans have been clamoring for this for a long time and Bill Predmore did just announce that he’s stepping away from day-to-day activities at the organization.
Would this be a big deal?: Definitely. The Sounders are obviously the biggest soccer brand in the region and now they’re sharing a stadium with OL Reign. Combining their powers does make some obvious sense.
How likely is this?: Seems unlikely. As much sense as this might make from an outsider’s perspective, I’ve not really seen anything to suggest the two organizations are close to actually joining forces in an official capacity, and there’s been no indication that OL Groupe has any need or desire to share control of the team. I do think we’ll continue to see the two clubs working together when it makes sense, just not on an everyday basis and probably not as part of this announcement.
The thing fans have been clamoring for since, well, forever.
Would this be a big deal?: Oh my god yes! Finally a palace the Sounders can call their own. Grass. Lockers. Safe-standing. Signage. It would be the envy of the world!
How likely is this?: Most unlikely. It’s not happening, I’m honestly not sure if the Sounders will ever move from Lumen Field and I’m not even sure we should want them to. Their current lease runs through 2028, so I don’t think we should even expect to hear rumblings about a move for a few more years. I’m also not sure Sounders fans could reasonably expect a better location than the one they have now and any move would surely be coupled with dramatic increases in ticket prices. The Sounders are in a great situation, all things considered, and it will probably get better if Seattle’s World Cup bid is successful. There’s plenty of untapped potential in making Lumen Field more soccer-friendly. I think investments would be better focused on that than building a new stadium.
I suspect there are other things that could be announced that didn’t make this list — maybe some behind-the-scenes personnel — but I feel like this covers the big stuff people have been talking about.