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Sounders, Carlyle Group complete purchase of Seattle Reign

The long wait is over. The Reign can now move forward under a new ownership group.

Last Updated
7 min read
From left to right: Maya Mendoza-Exstrom, Adrian Hanauer, Lesle Gallimore, and Alex Popov | Sounders FC Communications

The sale of Seattle Reign FC is finally complete, concluding a process that spanned more than a year. As OL Groupe (now Eagle Football Group) announced early Monday morning, Seattle Sounders FC and global investment firm Carlyle will now own and operate the Reign, formally uniting Seattle’s top-flight professional soccer teams for the first time.

The Sounders will be the Reign’s managing partner, with Sounders FC owner Adrian Hanauer serving as the Reign representative on the NWSL Board of Governors. Carlyle’s head of private credit, Alex Popov, will be the alternate representative. Carlyle will officially be the majority owner.

“Today is a milestone day for soccer in our city, and I am humbled to be a part of it,” Hanauer said in a statement. “This announcement is about keeping one of the top women’s teams in the world locally rooted in our community for generations of fans to enjoy. Our goal is to be a standard-bearer in global soccer. This means creating a first-class environment for players, staff and fans, while staying authentic to our community.”

A brief history of Sounders’ involvement with Reign
Despite what you may have heard, the Sounders and Reign have a long history of working together.

The large ownership group on the Sounders side and the addition of Carlyle, combined with the team's former ownership group being in another country, were key reasons for the sale’s delay, as there were a lot of details to figure out and lawyers to sign off. But all those details have been approved, and the Reign can now move forward under new ownership.

According to OL Groupe’s press release, the Reign sold for $58 million — a significant increase from the club’s prior sale in December 2019, when OL Groupe purchased an 89.5% ownership stake at a valuation of $3.51 million. Former Reign majority owners Teresa Predmore and Bill Predmore maintained a 7.5% stake in the club while Tony Parker purchased a 3% stake. OL Groupe’s 2022-23 annual report noted that the Predmores later sold their remaining stake for $2 million. It would appear that Parker has retained his 3% stake. There was no announcement as to how much cash each entity put into the sale.

The news follows several high-profile NWSL team sales, including the Portland Thorns finalizing their sale to RAJ Sports — led by siblings Lisa Bhathal Merage and Alex Bhathal — for $63 million, which was briefly a league record before the San Diego Wave were sold to the Levine Leichtman family for $120 million in March. The Chicago Red Stars sold for $36 million in September, with an additional $25.5 million investment in the club pledged by the new owners. Meanwhile, Bay FC paid a $53 million expansion fee to join the league this year.

Women-led leadership structure

Maya Mendoza-Exstrom, who spent 10 years in leadership positions with the Sounders, will leave her role with the Sounders to serve as the Reign’s new chief business officer — leading the club’s business operations, strategic growth, and off-field impact. Her role will be similar to the one filled by Hugh Weber, the Sounders’ president of business operations, and essentially replaces the CEO position that was held by Vincent Berthillot, who joined the Reign from OL Groupe in 2020 and has served as CEO since 2022.

Mendoza-Exstrom most recently served as the Sounders’ chief operating officer, leading strategic initiatives, legal and external affairs, people and culture, social justice and philanthropy, government affairs and civic relations, growth, and the organization’s impact. She also served as the club’s first general counsel and is an active community leader, including service on the RAVE Foundation board. Mendoza-Exstrom also helped lead Seattle’s successful bid to become an official host city for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.

“I am excited and deeply honored to step into a role of leadership for Seattle Reign FC,” said Mendoza-Exstrom, who was born and raised in Washington state. “This game has been a part of my life since I was four years old. The opportunity to lead this club – my club – at this important moment where the unique value of women’s sports and athletes is being met with investment, interest and visibility is humbling.”

Mendoza-Exstrom was an All-American soccer player at the University of Puget Sound and went on to coach at UPS, at her childhood soccer club, and in the Olympic Development Program (ODP) before graduating from law school at the University of Washington.

OL Reign Legend: Maya Mendoza-Exstrom – Senior Vice President of Legal & External Affairs for Seattle Sounders FC — Seattle Reign FC
The Legends Campaign, a partnership between OL Reign and Starbucks, honors women for their extraordinary contributions to our community in the Pacific Northwest and beyond. Prior to our July 11 match against Kansas City, OL Reign recognized Senior Vice President o

Mendoza-Exstrom joins a women-led leadership team that includes General Manager Lesle Gallimore and Head Coach Laura Harvey. The new Reign chief business officer told Ride of the Valkyries that she is thrilled to be working with Harvey, who now calls Seattle her second home, and Gallimore, someone she has looked up to and respected for a long time.

“Lesle and I also go way back,” Mendoza-Exstrom said. “She was a very, very, very prolific and present female leader coach for me growing up in the community. So I look at it now and see the opportunity to come at this moment in time — where the movement of women’s sports, the investment, the independent inherent value of women’s sports is being invested in, its visibility is on the rise, and we have these three women leaders with direct connections to this community and the soccer community here. I’m just really proud to be a part of it.”

Starfire remains the Reign’s home

Just as the club initially planned before they were put up for sale, the Reign will continue to train at Starfire Sports Complex, which was home to the Sounders for 15 years. The Reign began training at Starfire in 2023 but became the primary tenant this year with the Sounders’ move to Longacres.

At Starfire, the Reign have their own grass training fields, locker rooms, workout and fitness area, and offices for the coaching and technical staff. In a conversation held earlier this year with Ride of the Valkyries, Gallimore expressed her excitement about the club's new, dedicated space at Starfire.

“It’s going to change the amount of space we have and the type of space we have. It will professionalize this club exponentially in a really, really short period of time. From performance, medical, locker room, meals, it’s all just going to be much, much better than it’s been, and we’re only going to go forward from there.”

While the team’s training operations will stay at Starfire, the Reign’s business operations will move to the second floor at Longacres alongside their Sounders counterparts. The Reign will continue to rent space in a business park immediately adjacent to Starfire for staff who want to use it.

Several leaders within the Sounders organization will now be available to support the Reign. Over the next few months, these leaders will look at how they can build the most effective partnership that sets the Reign up for long-term success. For Mendoza-Exstrom, this means examining how Reign staff who have been doing multiple jobs can get more resources and support.

“I think the simple stuff is a desk in an office, meeting rooms and printers, and things like that,” she said. “The harder stuff is what is the most optimized long-term structure for this new enterprise. How it all should be put together. Those will take time to sort of assess, but we won’t shy away from things that can be highly impactful in the short term and that can add resource.”

Building upon a strong foundation

Reign FC is one of the most successful clubs in the NWSL’s 11-year history. They have won three NWSL Shields and advanced to the NWSL Championship three times, including last season. While this season hasn’t started as the club had hoped — they’re just 2-9-2 and sit 13th in the 14-team league — the new ownership and leadership group is committed to furthering the long-term investments that former OL Groupe owner Jean-Michel Aulas had envisioned for the club.

While OL Groupe experienced significant challenges tied to the pandemic, they were able to move the Reign to Lumen Field, double the club’s average attendance, increase staff, and move the Reign into a permanent training facility this year. Mendoza-Exstrom is ready to build on that progress.

“I look forward to working hard along with our players, staff, partners and fans to build upon the strong foundation that has been laid,” Mendoza-Exstrom said in the team release.

In a conversation with Ride of the Valkyries, she emphasized the additional support and investment they can get from Carlyle's portfolio.

“We’re scratching the surface on the ways in which the Carlyle Group could help support not only investment in women’s sports — which they are really passionate about — but our locker room and our athletes just in terms of all the businesses that are in the portfolio of the organization.”

Mendoza-Exstrom and the Reign are balancing a long-term vision with a desire to win and get results this year. She believes in what this current squad can still accomplish this season, while also recognizing that the league is evolving and there may be moves the Reign can pursue this year that are both short- and long-term wins.

“My commitment — and one I make alongside two incredible teammates in Lesle Gallimore and Laura Harvey — is simple: to accelerate the growth of our business and build our brand and fanbase to meet the opportunity of this global movement in women’s sports. I believe in this club, its brand, and in the profound ability for soccer to impact our community off the pitch.”