The Sounders FC Alliance and front-office representatives of their soccer club met for their annual business meeting on Tuesday.
The Alliance was established in 2008 and is recognized as the first of its kind among U.S. professional sports. Sounders season-ticket holders are automatic members – putting enrollment around 30,000. The supporters participate in business meetings while members of the council have a hand in details like designing the team’s uniforms and campaigning for better food options at CenturyLink Field.
In past years, the annual meetings were in-person affairs at the Paramount Theater, CenturyLink or the team’s headquarters in Pioneer Square. Tuesday’s was a hackneyed conference call with video livestream where Peter Tomozawa, the club’s new president of business, was squished on a sectional couch with Garth Lagerwey (general manager/president of soccer), Bart Wiley (chief operating officer), Alliance Council president Martin Buckley and council member Alex Eagleton with Sounders majority owner Adrian Hanauer on speakerphone from New York.
The impersonal format was among the first items of business and gripe from Alliance members. Buckley was supported by the club’s leadership when stating the Sounders winning the MLS championship on Nov. 10 created most of the conflicts. Mid-November was the time frame of previous meetings.
“Every answer should just be ending with, ‘And by the way, we won MLS Cup,’ ” Wiley said in one of the lighter moments of the meeting.
Wiley shared that replica championship rings for fans are being considered but the 2020 Sounders jersey will roll out in step with MLS’s plan to begin celebrating its 25th season next year.
Tomozawa stated the 18-match season-ticket package will include a CONCACAF Champions League game. Lagerwey reiterated the club’s mission is to be the first MLS team to win the tournament.
Training camp opens Jan. 11, 2020.
The only question posed in the hour-long meeting that really couldn’t be answered was one regarding the collective-bargaining agreement between the league and its players. Negotiations are ongoing, and Lagerwey mentioned not knowing the salary cap has slowed offseason player movement.
“This is one of those subjects that really is off-limits,” Hanauer said. “There’s optimism but realism. We’re hopeful that we get a fair and equitable deal … there’s still a bunch of time left before the existing deal expires (in January 2020), so the league will take the lead on that from the owners’ standpoint and, again, I’m hopeful we’ll get something done.”