The newest Sounders FC owner and club president is also a garbage collector.
Most weekends you can spot Peter Tomozawa and his wife, Donna LeDuc strolling the Highway 520 bridge with a sack and a grabber, picking up trash. It’s part of Peter’s philosophy to make the world a better place.
A principle he plans to carry into his new position with the Sounders. The club appointed Tomozawa president of the business operations and announced he and his wife are the 12th member of the new ownership group.
For Tomozawa, 57, the role is part of his third phase in life. The first for the University of Michigan grad was tech based and the second a 17-year career in banking with Goldman Sachs, ultimately becoming partner and global head of foreign exchange sales.
“It’s all about trying to make the world a better place,” Tomozawa said Wednesday during a roundtable with local media at the club’s front office headquarters in Pioneer Square. “I really feel like that’s the driving force for why I’m in the current phase of what I consider community. I would consider working at the Sounders as part of that community phase.”
Tomozawa’s executive position mirrors the Sounders’ leadership format on the sporting side with Garth Lagerwey, the club’s general manager and president of soccer, both reporting to majority owner Adrian Hanauer. The business side, which officially began for Tomozawa on July 1, is a fractioning of duties Hanauer previously handled and visions the latter would like a leader with more business acumen to execute.
Increasing revenue is the obvious goal for the club whose averaged season attendance could dip below 40,000 for the first time since 2011. Tomozawa sees the financial aspect needing to grow from reenergizing and reengaging the current season-ticket holder base and attracting new fans from estimations that Seattle’s population increases 2 percent annually.
“Other clubs would love to have the problems the Sounders have today,” Tomozawa said. “I was just at the MLS (New York) offices and they showed me these amazing charts. We track at the highest level in every single category MLS measures. So, this is about the opportunity to take something that is great and making it greater. How do you do that? You deepen relationships…and you allow people like Adrian to think about what do the next 10 years look like.”
Tomozawa moved to Bellevue from Honolulu in 2014 because his youngest of five children was accepted to the Sounders Academy. Kei, a midfielder, is currently a redshirt sophomore for the Stanford men’s soccer team but Peter and his wife remained in the region – moving to Belltown – because they like the area.
The couple are Sounders season-ticket holders. Talks with Hanauer about working for the Sounders began about two years ago, although neither knew that’s what was being discussed. Tomozawa was first looped in as part of the new ownership group.
Led by Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and his wife, Grammy Award-winning singer Ciara, hip-hop star Macklemore and his wife, Tricia Davis, the new investors form Seattle Futbol Club LLC that partially bought out Hollywood producer Joe Roth’s stake in the team. The latter was a founding father in 2009 with Hanauer, Paul Allen and Drew Carey, operating primarily from California.
“When we first started, I was the general manager and ran soccer operations, then shifted over to the business side kind of always envisioning a moment where I would hire someone to run the business operations,” Hanauer said of the club’s beginnings in MLS. “As the league evolves, gets bigger, more complicated and more competitive, where can I best use my limited talents?
“We (Tomozawa) spent hours together talking about strategy and philosophy and these cultural issues and how to become a bigger, better, greater club. At a certain point it was clear to me he was the right guy and we started having conversations about how to deploy that.”
Tomozawa has more than 30 years of experience in the sports business world. He most recently served as vice president and executive director for partnerships and board relations for Los Angeles’ successful bid for the 2028 Summer Olympics and Paralympics. He is also a minority owner in the Vegas Golden Knights and has investments in ownership of the English Football League’s Swansea City and Barnsley.
The Sounders (11-8-7) travel to play rival Portland (11-10-4) at Providence Park on Friday. The matchup not only has MLS playoff implications but will also decide the Cascadia Cup winner. Seattle is 1-2-2 in its past five matches and fifth in MLS Western Conference standings with Portland in the seventh and final playoff spot.
“Leadership is about listening,” said Tomozawa, who plans to publish his email address to personally engage with anyone who writes. “When you go into the world of sports, that’s not a normal thing. People tend to lose their minds. They were really great, successful business people, they go into sports and all of a sudden they’ve lost their mind about everything that they learned about building a successful organization – they’re now going to tell everybody what to do. That doesn’t work, that doesn’t fly.”