In most nations around the globe the soccer teams grew out of local athletic clubs. This means that either through history and even in the modern day many soccer teams are clubs with portions owned by the fans. Seattle Sounders FC as part of MLS can not do that. Instead there is Democracy in Sports and the Alliance Council. When Council asked about owning part of Sounders FC that ownership was intrigued, but forced to say no. When Council heard about Sounders 2, they asked again. Ownership said "yes."
The Sounders Community Trust is the path to ownership for Sounders fans. While the team's primary soccer goal is the development of players and coaches, it will also include a massive increase in fan empowerment. The Trust will be developing a building on the Starfire Sports campus that will include rooms for the team, but also rooms for the fans. Other opportunities exist around scholarships for needy youth soccer players and improved stands in the stadium. It will also have a member sitting on the board of the team and voting powers that go a bit beyond what the current Alliance Council does.
Paul Cox, Angelica Mendoza and Kyle Boyd were the fans that spear-headed the creation of the trust. They are currently working to establish how the Trust works, but also need momentum and interest in the Founders Club to grow. SoundersFC.com will have the means to purchase memberships.
"They [fans] should know that they are getting a piece of the team," Boyd told Sounder at Heart, "and it's not ceremonial. Everybody knows about the Green Bay Packers and a lot of people's conceptions about that ownership. It's largely seen as ceremonial. This is not that. This is actual equity in the team."
That cost is $250. The list of things that go along with ownership is still growing. Equity is the foundation. There will be swag, but the key is the opportunity for a kind of real ownership.
"For the first time in North American professional soccer, people have this opportunity. It's being in that moment with a historic move," Mendoza said. "It's also thinking about that relationship between club and fans with the relationship going forward not just from the club, but also in making soccer more successful here."
The next few years are going to be a period of growth for the organization. "It's more of a process," Cox said. "It's a new step in the evolution of the fans' relationship to the fans and community."
There will be several things that show whether this new concept works - when the team takes the field, when the building ribbon cutting happens, and when local soccer organizations take advantage of new facilities. For now, it's a thing that is more possibility than it is reality.