OK, one last ripple to our Tuesday story on the Sounders members Alliance. In preparing for that, I spoke with general manager Adrian Hanauer, and that interview produced more interesting stuff that I was able to get into the original story.
So, here's more of interest from Hanauer:
Q: If you were a member of the Alliance, would you vote to retain yourself?
Hanauer: I think I would. I think I’ve done a good job. I think there’s always room for improvement. But I think the team has had a decent amount of success over the first two years. I still think we have a great team assembled, a young team that can be together for a long time. Clearly we have to continue to improve to keep the team together, but coming out as an expansion team, maybe over the first two years there might be three teams that have better records than us – more points. Two trophies. I think there are a lot of teams around the league that would trade places with us. That doesn’t mean I’m satisfied or think that I’ve done everything right. Clearly, I/we have made wrong decisions along the way, and I guarantee we’re going to make some more. But again, I’ll let fans – the season-ticket holders, the stakeholders, the people who vote with their dollars – can make their decisions.
Q: Have you ever altered a decision because you are answerable not only to ownership, but also to the Alliance?
Hanauer: Personally I think the setup with myself, with me in this position has been a great way to start the franchise – maybe a great way to do it for a long, long time. I’m a full-time employee who doesn’t earn a salary, who is an owner in the team. I think that in a lot of ways it keeps my motives very pure. I’m not trying to make decisions that keep my salary in place or get me a raise. I’m an owner. So if I get fired or voted off the island I still retain my ownership position and some level of influence over the franchise. I have a great partnership with my co-owners, to whom I can tell the honest truth with no question as to my motives other than to have a great franchise that increases in value, that’s good for the community, and a winning and entertaining product on the field. So I think that generally my decisions are made for absolutely the right reasons. That doesn’t mean they’re always the right decisions.
Q: Is the Alliance/team relationship playing out the way you envisioned?
Hanauer: It’s for sure a work in progress. And parts of it have been fantastic; parts of it haven’t gone that smoothly. It’s new for all of us. It’s new for our ownership/management team, and it’s new for the fans, the alliance. So, currently a group from that alliance is off working on a charter or constitution – working with us, but basically we gave them perimeters where we said here’s what we thing democracy in sports means, you may have a slightly different opinion, but let’s work together to create a document that lays it out.
Q: Did the stated goal of democracy in sports -- starting with the vote on the Sounders' name -- contribute to the club's success in the stands?
Hanauer: To me it’s a list of 20 things – maybe more: 30, 50. The democracy in sports positioning (is one). But if we just said it and didn’t believe in it or try to live it, then it wouldn’t have had any impact. Again: To some people I know we’re not living it quite the way they’d like us to be living it, but we’re trying and it’s going to be a long-term process to get it right. So yes, I think that it has had an impact on our overall success, and the vibe and the connection to the players and the team and sort of the love affair of the first two years. But we also understand that that love affair, that vibe, can dissipate quickly and we need to do the right things to keep it alive and keep growing it.