Sometimes, the smallest little detail tells you everything. And in the case of Bill Predmore, the owner of the new Seattle Reign women’s soccer team, it’s this: he named his daughter Mia. After Mia Hamm, the celebrated forward for the United States women’s national soccer team. The Olympic gold-medalist. The founding member of the Washington Freedom and the player who has scored the most international goals of anyone, male or female, in the history of soccer.
Need more? Predmore’s wife, Teresa, played soccer at Oregon State against stars like Julie Foudy and Tiffeny Milbrett.
And there’s this: Predmore named one of his dogs “Zizou,” after Zinedine Zidane, the French football star.
“For me, there is a scrappiness,” Predmore said of the players, and the game. “Never say die is important to me.”
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That’s apparent, when you consider the growth of Predmore’s Seattle-based digital marketing agency, POP!, founded in 1996. Last year, it brought in $35 million in revenues and caught the attention of Advance Publications, the parent company of Condé Nast, which bought it earlier this month.
The work — and the sale to Advance — have allowed Predmore, 43, to indulge his love of soccer and start a women’s team: The Seattle Reign FC, which will play under the National Women’s Soccer League.
It all started when POP! did some work with the Seattle Sounders, and Predmore joked that he would give the team a discount in exchange for a piece of it.
It didn’t happen, “But it planted the seed,” he said, “and I started to think of owning a club.”
A Major League Soccer team was out of Predmore’s financial reach, so he started to consider a women’s team.
“From a financial perspective, it was achievable,” Predmore said. “But I also thought I could actually make a difference.”
The Reign FC, which makes its debut mid-April, will play at the 4,000-seat Starfire Stadium in Tukwila, about 12 miles south of Seattle. Predmore thinks the place will fill up for every match.
“It’s the right size for what we are trying to accomplish,” Predmore said. “Ultimately, my goal is to build the best women’s club in the world. That won’t happen tomorrow or this year, but in 10 years or 20 years that’s where we want to be.”
Clearly, Predmore is in it for the long haul. He and his wife are raising four kids — 7-year-old twins Mia and Zoe, 5-year-old Katie and 3-year-old Henry — in happy chaos in Seattle’s Mount Baker neighborhood.
They’re staying put, with their kids in schools and yes, on the soccer fields. They’re invested in this place.
When Sounders season tickets first went on sale, Predmore bought six with the intent of bringing the whole crew to every game. They didn’t always get there, “But I definitely have the Sounders in my heart.”
When it came time to name the new team, Predmore made a list that briefly included “The Seattle Sirens,” then remembered those bad girls of Greek mythology who lured sailors to their rocky deaths. Scratch that.
Predmore finally settled on Seattle Reign, a nod to the women’s basketball team that played in Seattle from 1996 to 1998 under the American Basketball League (ABL) before it shut down. (Two years later, in 2000, the Women’s National Basketball Association awarded Seattle the Storm franchise.)
“I was inspired by what the Reign had done,” Predmore said. “It’s a fitting tribute. Women’s professional sports has had a tough go, and without the work that they did … They built the foundation that we’re able to take advantage of now.”
They’re also taking open advantage of the city’s love of soccer, thanks to the Sounders.
But those who head out to Tukwila will see a different game being played. Less diving, for starters, and that’s fine with Predmore.
“There’s a purity that doesn’t exist in the men’s game,” he said.
The most noticeable difference, Predmore said, will be the quality of the players.
He loves the Sounders, “But they have a hard time attracting the world’s best talent,” Predmore said. (Say, the kind of player you might name your dog after.)
Lucky for Predmore, the world’s best women soccer players are right here in North America.
“We think we will have the most professional team in the world,” Predmore said. “That’s an opportunity. As awesome as it is to watch the Sounders, you can’t say that they are playing at the same level as the European teams.
“The women’s league will be competitive.”
Days earlier, Predmore had signed Hope Solo, a gifted goalie who married former UW and NFL football tight end, Jerramy Stevens, just hours after he appeared in court on assault charges.
Predmore sees past the TMZ-worthy aspects of Solo’s personal life, and is focused on her role on the field.
“I think she’s the best woman keeper on the planet,” he said. “She’s a true believer in the game and I was compelled by her wanting to make women’s soccer work in Seattle.
“She could have gone to Europe,” he said. “She is choosing to stay here and make less money. It demonstrates that her heart is in the right place.”
So is his. Women’s soccer is one of his wife Teresa’s lifelong passions. She played “every waking moment” all through college.
“She is more excited than I’ve seen her in a very long time,” Predmore said. “She will be the No. 1 fan, for sure. And as the kids get older, she will get more and more involved in the club.”
But it’s also time for Predmore to find a spot somewhere between entrepreneur and soccer player. Team owner.
And what kind will he be?
“Huh,” he said, then thought for a moment. “I don’t know yet. This is new to me.”
He has consulted with Sounders general manager, Adrian Hanauer, on the nuances of the role.
“What he has done here so quickly is unprecedented,” Predmore said of Hanauer. “If we can emulate that …”
Predmore has started by cracking open the operations manual for the league. (“Not the most compelling book.”)
And he continues to play soccer every Saturday and Sunday morning, to know how it feels to be a player.
“It’s a sedate group,” he said with a laugh. “It’s a gentleman’s game.”
Starting in March, though, Predmore will be on the sidelines in Tukwila.
“It’s about time for the girls,” he said. “The time is now for this.”