SEATTLE — The Seattle Sounders are adding Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and his wife, Ciara, hip-hop artist Macklemore and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella to the Major League Soccer club’s ownership group.
Other investors also are coming aboard while current majority owner Adrian Hanauer is increasing his investment stake in the club. Hollywood producer Joe Roth, who helped bring the MLS to Seattle, is leaving the franchise.
Wilson has been attempting to get into sports ownership. He was previously a partner in an effort to build a new basketball arena in Seattle and also has been part of the project in Portland, Oregon, to build a baseball stadium in the hopes of luring a Major League Baseball team to the city.
“When I got here in 2012, Seattle was a place that I felt I could call home forever. And obviously because of the Seahawks, and now because of the Sounders, it makes that really come to life,” Wilson said in a statement. “We’re really excited about building that winning culture. This city is a special place. The Pacific Northwest is a place we love and we get to raise our kids here and have a lot of fun while doing it.”
While the addition of Wilson and Macklemore will grab attention, other new additions to the ownership group have deep ties to Microsoft. Nadella is the most notable, but former Microsoft executive Terry Myerson and his wife, Katie, are the leaders of the new investment group. Myerson started bringing new investors together more than a year ago.
“What motivated so many of us to come together was to make sure the Sounders were owned here in Seattle for our kids and for our community,” Myerson said. “It was a combination of meeting people involved in the club, the families’ incredible passion for the club, and everything just became more and more positive as we got further engaged and closer to the organization.”
Roth spearheaded the effort that led to Seattle being awarded an MLS expansion franchise in 2007. He served as the majority owner for several years before Hanauer took over the majority share. There had been rumblings Roth was looking to sell his share of the franchise.
“When MLS gave me permission to look at the Pacific Northwest to start a soccer franchise, there was no question that Seattle was the place,” Roth said. “The last ten years watching our Sounders grow with their incredible fan support beat any hit movie I ever created.”
Other notable members of the ownership group, such as actor Drew Carey and Jody Allen, sister of the late Paul Allen, will remain with the club.