With the first Sounders fan vote on the fate of general manager Adrian Hanauer starting Sunday, the idea's mastermind -- minority owner Drew Carey -- recently told this story about the the literal pains he went through to pitch the idea to Sounders majority owner Joe Roth:
"The (idea for the Sound Wave marching band) was not a deal-breaker, no matter what Joe says. But the voting thing, that’s the only reason I ever wanted to be in a sports-ownership group in the first place. … I was doing a “Price is Right” rehearsal, and I was meeting him for lunch. One of Joe’s pet peeves is people who are late. … So we were rehearsing “Price is Right,” and you know that big turntable that comes around when they reveal a thing for some of the games – that platform? Well I was joking around, and I caught my arm in it, and it smashed my arm. I thought I broke my arm. What I did was I crushed some tendons. I didn’t break my arm, but the EMTs came and they put ice packs on it and said, ‘You should go to the (hospital) right away.’ I go, ‘I can’t. I have a lunch meeting with Joe Roth.’ So I showed up like 15 minutes late with a big ice pack on, throbbing in pain – I got some aspirin from the EMTs. I was in really bad shape. But I didn’t miss the lunch because I wanted to talk him into doing this thing. This was my big chance. The lunch was like an hour and a half, and at the end of it I had talked him into it. He offered me a part to be in the ownership group, and then I went straight from there and I drove myself to the hospital. That’s how important this was to me."
"We’re still running the team," he said. "But this gives fans the trigger to say ‘You’re not doing something we like.’ If anything goes awry. Adrian’s really good. He’s going to win, no doubt about it. But with this team I always think long-term. I’m thinking 25, 50 year, 100 years down the road, when I’m dead. I think it’s going to last that long. The NFL has been around forever, baseball has been around forever, the league is strong. It’s got a good base; I can’t think of any reason it can’t grow and be around for 100 years in whatever form. So I imagine that in those 50 years, 25 years, 100 years, there are going to be times when we’re having rough years, we have a GM who’s a (jerk), an ownership group might come in that’s not on the ball, doesn’t hire anybody who’s that great, and the fans are going to be able to get rid of him. I’m really happy that this kind of thing is in place that somebody can do something. I think it’s a rule and a model that would work not only for other sports, but for other businesses. I always tell people that if I owned a grocery store – you know how they keep track of your purchases with a card? – I always tell people if you were in the top 20 percent of purchasers, you would be able to vote to keep or not keep the guy who is general managing the story. If you don’t like the clerks he hires, if he never has your strawberries on Thursday or whatever, you can just voice your opinion that way and get rid of him: fire him. I think that would help my business as opposed to another grocery store, if people know they can do that."
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Carey said he believes other American sports teams also will come to appreciate those advantages: "Right now it’s like a concept to people. We need to have a vote – or even a vote or two – for other teams to go like, ‘Oh, this is a pretty cool thing they have going there,’ to want to think about copying it or considering it. So I’m excited we’re having at least one vote now. It’s going to take a while, like all great ideas."