We had a wide-ranging conversation with Sounders’ general manager Adrian Hanauer today. Here’s how that went:
On Sounders season-ticket renewals: It’s going well. We were, I think, maybe slightly above our pace from last year’s season-ticket renewal. We won’t know for sure where we end up until probably early March.
On the CenturyLink seating configuration: Same configuration. No thought of changing, but for four games where we open the whole stadium instead of three. I think we know (which games), but I don’t know that we’ve announced that. (They will not necessarily be the four Cascadia Cup matches.)
On if the club expects an attendance plateau: I think that it would be naive of us to think that we’re just going to keep growing season tickets 3,000 per year until we need to build a 100,000-seat stadium. … So for us, the way to incrementally potentially keep increasing our average is we can open up more games for the whole stadium. So that might be a route go, rather than try to peal away two rows of seats around the stadium.
On if the club hopes to increase overall attendance again: Yeah, for sure. We’re a normal business, and we’re trying to increase revenue every year, increase participation for our fans, increase interest, find new fans, make sure that we retain our old fans. So, yeah: For sure.
On if there’s a decision on an international friendly: We’re in conversations with clubs. But again, not having the pressure or being forced to do one because of a ticket in the ticket package, it’s given us more time to step back and again, talk about it from a technical standpoint, what’s good for the club, and talk about it from the business standpoint.
On if the club’s absence from 2013-14 CCL is a factor in the decision on friendlies: It’s one factor in that decision-making process.
On if today’s Gold Cup announcement factors in: I think it’s fair to say that all that factors in. We don’t want our fans to have soccer-sales-ticket-people fatigue and feel like they’re always being bombarded to buy something. So, we’re trying to pace it. Again, we think to some degree as being may protectors of our fans in some way, and not jamming all these games and letting people come in and suck money out of this market and suck dollars out of our fans’ pockets all the time. We just want to be sensitive to that.
On if the club was involved in the Gold Cup decision: The Sounders were not that involved in the Gold Cup decision. We were involved, but really it was more of the U.S. Soccer-CenturyLink Field discussion. But we are very involved in discussions regarding a (World Cup) qualifier. … A qualifier, you just don’t get that many opportunities to host a qualifier, so that was something that we prioritized.
On his long-term efforts to improve Open Cup: I’ve stuck my big beak in there and tried to push some things around and have some influence. No one’s invited me to be on any boards yet, or some to a meeting in Chicago and talk about it. But there’s more and more talk without our league office – within the MLS league offices – about trying to again, improve it, build it, or kill it. Again, that’s not picking on U.S. Open Cup. We feel the same about – well, we’re not going to kill our league play – but improving it. CONCACAF, same thing. I’m not hugely optimistic that this year you’re going to see a massive change.
On the status of Sounder Cordell Cato: Last that we talked he was in Trinidad. We’ve been in conversations, and we’d like to have him out here. But to date we haven’t been able to come to some understanding and get him out here.