Another Seattle icon joined the Sounders FC ownership group as the club announced Ken Griffey Jr. and his family, including wife Melissa, as co-owners Tuesday afternoon.
During an interview with Sounders broadcaster and former player, Steve Zakuani, Griffey said Melissa being a former soccer player was key to joining the organization.
“My wife, we’ve been together for 31 years,” Griffey said. “This is a family decision, but it’s mainly she’s been with me and I know she loves soccer so much. And it all comes back to one city where we all started.”
The former Mariners star follows the October announcement of Kraken CEO Tod Leiweke and wife Tara as minority owners of the Sounders. In August 2019, 11 families formed the Seattle Futbol Club LLC that also invested in the Sounders. The list included Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and his wife, Grammy Award-winning singer and actor Ciara, as well as hip-hop star Macklemore and his wife, Tricia Davis, as new minority owners.
“This is a meaningful day for our entire family,” Griffey said in a statement. “We are joining a first-class organization, and we are so proud to give back to the city we love. To the Seattle Sounders community: we are inspired to become part of what you have created. Like you, we are excited to get behind our incredible team as the players prepare for this year’s playoff run.”
Griffey, 50, retired from Major League Baseball in 2010 as a 13-time All-Star who won 10 consecutive Gold Gloves as a center fielder. Since his retirement, Griffey has focused on following the athletic careers of his children, son Trey (football) and daughter Taryn (basketball), formerly playing at Arizona. Tevin, a three-star cornerback, recently committed to Florida A&M.
The Sounders said the Leiwekes and Griffeys finalized their ownership stakes in the club prior to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Sounders’ ownership change was sparked last season when Hollywood producer Joe Roth sought to sell his stake in the team. He was a founder in 2009, operating primarily from California, along with entrepreneur Adrian Hanauer, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, and comedian Drew Carey.
The additional owners since 2019 are marketed as “Family.”
Leiweke told The Seattle Times in October that he agreed to serve on an eight-member Sounders advisory panel consisting of other team ownership members. The focus is helping Hanauer navigate some of the bigger business decisions for the franchise.
“We couldn’t be more proud to welcome Ken and his family into our club,” Hanauer said in a statement. “As a lifelong resident of this great city, bringing someone like Ken into Sounders FC holds a special significance to me, as he is truly a part of Seattle sports’ heart and soul. We value the contributions that he will add as a partner in our club and welcome him and his family with open arms.”
When the pandemic hit in March, Hanauer said Major League Soccer would lose millions in revenue. The Sounders primary source of money is the game-day operations, but the club has been unable to entertain fans due to state government and health restrictions in effort to help slow the spread of the virus.
The Sounders are one of the most successful clubs in MLS. Seattle is preparing for its league-record 12th consecutive postseason appearance. The Sounders have advanced to the MLS Cup finals in three of the past four years, winning the championship in 2016 and 2019.
The No. 2-seed Rave Green will meet the seventh-seeded Los Angeles FC in the opening round on Nov. 24 at CenturyLink Field.
This story will be updated.