When the Seattle Sounders launched their USL affiliate in October 2014, it was supposed to be something more than a reserve squad. A major component of that "something" was a 20 percent fan ownership stake through a supporters trust.
Although the ownership stake was effectively a gift, memberships to the Sounders Community Trust were sold to fans with the promise that the money raised would be put toward "capital improvements" at Starfire Sports Complex. All told, $250,000 was raised through fan contributions.
The Sounders have since put a "pause" on Starfire improvement plans, leaving the money sitting in a bank account. With plans still in limbo, the Sounders announced on Thursday that they'd be returning the money to the individual members who pledged it. Nos Audietis had reported the basics of this plan on Wednesday.
Here's an excerpt from the email Sounders majority owner Adrian Hanauer sent to Trust members:
"What does this mean for you? Most importantly, you are still a Founders Club Member in the Sounders Community Trust. All of your benefits - including legacy pricing for season tickets - remain the same.
"All refunds will be issued to the original purchaser in the full amount paid, and will be mailed by April 15, 2016. We encourage you to reach out to your account representative if your mailing address or contact information has changed. "
Around the same time, the Trust sent a separate email outlining some of their plans moving forward. Apparently, the process toward becoming a membership-based nonprofit has proven far more complicated than anticipated and even basic elements like governing bylaws were not public until now.
The Trust released interim bylaws on Thursday, as well as a road-map toward becoming a fully functioning organization.
The roadmap includes:
- Finalizing the process toward becoming a 501c(3), commonly referred to as a nonprofit organization.
- Drafting a Memorandum of Understanding that will formalize the relationship between S2 and the Trust.
- Formalizing the bylaws that will make the board a membership-driven organization
- Announcing a town hall meeting, which will be held on April 16 from 3:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. at The Ninety.
- Plans for an annual general meeting, tentatively scheduled for "mid-June."
"We understand if there are frustrations in the pace of our progress and in the lack of communications in 2015," an email from the currently unelected board read. "We also hear you that this can be a great organization, with many positive impacts on our local soccer community. Meeting notes for 2015 and the first two meetings of 2016 will be available for your review in the near future. Moving forward, we are committed to delivering SCT board notes within two weeks of our meetings."