By John Boyle
When the Seattle Sounders launched in 2009 and quickly became one of the most successful expansion franchises—on and off the field—in American sports history, one of the key elements to that early success was their partnership with the Seahawks.
As of April 30, however, the Sounders will run their business operations independent of the Seahawks and move their offices from the Seahawks’ Renton headquarters to Seattle’s Pioneer Square neighborhood.
The split should not be seen as a negative for the Sounders, but rather a sign that they’ve grown to the point where they no longer need the support of an NFL team. While Sounders ownership and management would be the first to credit the Seahawks with helping their early growth, their long-term goal has always been to run the club independently.
The Sounders will obviously continue to share a stadium with the Seahawks, and Seahawks owner Paul Allen does maintain his minority ownership share in the Sounders.
Here is the joint release put out by the two teams:
RENTON, Wash. – Seattle Sounders FC and Seattle Seahawks announced that the Sounders’ business operations will become independent beginning April 30, 2014. The teams have shared business operations since Sounders FC was admitted to Major League Soccer in 2007.
“This is a sensible business decision for our franchise,” said Sounders FC Majority Owner Joe Roth. “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.”
Sounders FC began play in March of 2009 and have led MLS in average attendance each season. The franchise currently has 34,500 full season equivalent season-ticket memberships. At the end of the 2013 season, Seattle ranked 22nd in the world in attendance average.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for Joe, Adrian and Drew,” said Seahawks President Peter McLoughlin. “The Sounders will continue to be part of our family as we share CenturyLink Field and will work together on mutually beneficial projects.”
The Sounders will move business operations and full-time business staff to the Pioneer Square neighborhood in downtown Seattle. The team operations and practice facilities will remain at Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila.
“This move further demonstrates our commitment to our passionate fan base and our staff,” said Sounders FC Owner and General Manager Adrian Hanauer. “We’re excited to plant our flag in Pioneer Square and continue to grow our brand under the banner of Sounders 2.0.”