Call it Sounders FC 2.0.
At least that’s how Adrian Hanauer, part-owner and general manager, referred to the news Thursday that Sounders FC’s business operations will become independent from the Seahawks starting April 30.
The teams had shared operations since 2007, when Seattle was awarded a Major League Soccer expansion franchise.
With the Seahawks’ invaluable help, the Sounders hit the ground running as a professional franchise. The team’s brand, with its flashy Rave Green uniforms and a familiar name that drew on decades of local soccer history, quickly grew into one of the biggest in MLS.
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Astonishing attendance numbers continue to compare favorably with any league, as the 2013 average of 44,038 ranked 22nd worldwide.
The Sounders likely will break that record again this year with an equivalent of 34,500 full-season-ticket holders, by far the most in MLS, when including all ticket packages.
Such stability has enabled the Sounders to break free, as was the organization’s intention all along, in pursuit of even larger goals.
“This is a sensible business decision for our franchise,” said majority owner Joe Roth in a news release. “Our vision is to grow our business to unprecedented levels, both domestically and abroad. This move will position us to achieve that goal. The Seahawks have been vital to our early success, and we thank Paul Allen and his organization for their support.”
Allen will continue to hold his 25 percent ownership stake in the Sounders franchise, and fans shouldn’t expect to notice much change. Home games still will be played at CenturyLink Field.
“The Sounders will continue to be part of our family as we share CenturyLink Field and will work together on mutually beneficial projects,” said Seahawks president Peter McLoughlin.
Sounders team operations and practice facilities will stay at the Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila, but as part of the change, the Sounders will move their business operations and full-time business staff from the Virginia Mason Athletic Center in Renton to a new location in Pioneer Square.
“This move further demonstrates our commitment to our passionate fan base and our staff,” said Hanauer. “We’re excited to plant our flag in Pioneer Square and continue to grow our brand under the banner of Sounders 2.0.”
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184
On Twitter @joshuamayers