Sounders Insider

Reign owner hopes for close ties to Sounders

The club held a media event today. I'll pass along quotes from players and coach Laura Harvey as game-day gets closer.

However, he's some of what owner Bill Predmore had to say.

Overview: Looking back, maybe somewhat naively I think it was going to be somewhat less difficult than it has proven to be. I think I underestimated the task at hand in so short of period – four months – really. We learned right before Thanksgiving that we had been awarded the franchise, and we had to do everything from getting a business license to getting the phones hooked up, so really everything you do to start a business. It has been on one hand super-exciting. There is an intensity to that and an excitement to going through that progress. It’s an invigorating process to go through.

Ultimately I feel very good about where we’re at today. The team – at least in practices and the games we’ve had – has been performing brilliantly. I think they’re doing what we want them to do. I kind of like at some level the scrappy attitude that we’ve had to overcome some of the challenges that we’ve had putting the team together very quickly.We are essentially creating something from nothing here. We have tried to embrace that and understand that we’re going to get some things wrong, we’re going to drop some balls, and it’s not going to be perfect, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be perfect. It just has to be at the end of the process, hopefully we’re shooting for greatness, we just have to be taking steps in that direction. On ticket sales: We’ve seen spectacular response, really, down in Portland and all that they’ve done down there. I think we’re probably more in line with what the rest of the league is at in terms of season-ticket sales. I think I would say I’m probably disappointed that we’re not further ahead on that. Probably part of that is just my expectations were too great going into it. Part of it, quite frankly is we – and by ‘we,’ I would say me – we have not done a great job of building awareness of the club out there. People are still figuring out who the Reign is, what we’re all about. So I would say our biggest issue is just one of awareness.

On reception for Reign at Sounders-Santos game April 2: What it made me believe is that if people know about us a and we have an opportunity to expose the team and the brand to them that there is going to be a huge reception. I hope people will go to the website, buy a season ticket or at least a single match – give us a shot – and I think it’s going to be exciting. The players have worked very very hard, and I think they’re going to put on an impressive display. We’ll see on Sunday in Chicago, but I think we’re going to surprise some folks.

On if the league should have waited until 2014: It certainly would have been easier if we had waited a year. In spite of all the challenges of moving quickly, I’m actually very glad that we’re making it happen for this season. ... It’s been a painful process, probably for the league and teams; but I’m very glad we did it.

On success for league: We think if we set it up right from the start it will both be sustainable and it will also produce results on the field. … I think there’s a desire from all the clubs to try and make this work over the long term. We’re trying to be level-headed about it and try to make smart long-term investments, as opposed to I’d say some of the less-productive short-term investments that may have been made in past leagues.

On Portland Thorns' advantage of link with Timbers: It’s hard to know exactly what they’ve done right down there. Clearly they’ve done a ton of very smart things. They’re obviously a very button-up organization. I think even they would say that they’ve benefited in a significant way from being able to build on top of the infrastructure that they’ve got, the fan base that they’ve got. So I don’t want to make excuses for us or any other team in the league. They’ve certainly been very successful. We just need to do a better job on our end of getting the word out there. I think when people get to see the team on the field there’s going to be some excitement. We just haven’t had the opportunity to graft off another organization. I think that’s OK, it’s just going to take more time.

For us, I think long-term we’d very much like to see a close relationship between the Sounders and the Reign. I think there are small steps being taken in that direction: the Sounders allowing us to be in the stadium for the Santos match was something they did not have to do. It was very much appreciated, and I think it’s an indication from them that they’re supportive of us, they’ve supportive of the sport. I think figuring out the right way to work together potentially as partners, that’s something that we’re working on now, and I think that probably is a multi-year process as opposed to what the Thorns and the Timbers have together where from Day One they’re tied at the hip.

On sharing Starfire Stadium with W-League Sounders Women: This is a facility that’s used by a lot of groups, so I think we’re going to see advertising from a lot of organizations. There are some things that are stadium-sepecific and that have to stay. I think for instance the addidas sponsorship is a stadium sponsorship. None of that will go down on game day, but we will have additional material up there for our sponsors. (Jersey sponsor) Moda will certainly have a presence in the stadium. There will be others that do as well. I think it’s fine. We’re all going to have to figure out how to get along. I don’t have a problem with (Sounders Women banners) being up there. Megan Rapinoe is one of them, so to the degree that they’re going to pay to advertise one of our players, I’m happy to have them do it.

On if he accepts the possibility of a slow start on pitch until Hope Solo and Rapinoe arrive: We know that we’re going to get a boost at mid-season. Megan Rapinoe, we know that her contract’s up with Lyonnais, so we expect to see her in the back half of June. One of the best players in the world is obviously going to make a difference with the club, so that’s exciting. We’d expect Hope back sometime around then. Having the best keeper in the world playing for us is also going to be an obvious boost for us. So long term we’re excited about that. In the short terms, honestly I guess I’d say no, I’m not prepared for a slow start. I think Laura and the players have worked extremely hard, and I think the absence of Hope or Amy is probably being over-rated in an overall sense of the impact that they would have with the team. We wouldn’t have wished this upon the club, but I think the absence of those players has brought the group closer together. Some of the players who may not have had the visibility that a Hope or a megan have have really stepped up in their absence. Keelin Winters, for instance, I think has really become a leader on this squad. Jessica Fishlock as well. These are players that have every bit as much quality as a Hope or a Megan but maybe haven’t had the spotlight in the same way. Again, I don’t’ want to make any predictions about Sunday, but I think at a minimum, you are going to see a very well prepared squad, and I credit Laura for making that happen. She’s done a brilliant job, I think.