Sounders general manager Adrian Hanauer filled in a few details on the MLS Reserve League match between the Sounders and Orlando City, which will be played May 12 at Cheney Stadium in Tacoma.
The game has been viewed as a kind of trial run for the possibility of Tacoma hosting a Sounders-affiliated USL-Pro team as early as next season.
We asked Hanauer today about the Sounders desire for to have a USL-Pro affiliate in the Puget Sound region, and specifically about Tacoma and Cheney Stadium.
Here's some of what he had to say:
"I think there are more advantages to a local affiliate, as opposed to an affiliate in another state, or even quite possibly Spokane – which would be fantastic from a marketing standpoint and build fans. But if we call a player at 8:30 in the morning and need him at 10, it’s not going to happen in Spokane. So then you look at the possibilities – there aren’t that many – there’s Tacoma, there’s Everett, maybe there’s Olympia, maybe Kitsap; potentially even doing something here are Starfire -- but then it gets harder from a business standpoint to create a separate pool of fans and maybe separate sponsorships. So it’s not like we’re having a giant bidding war and an open competition, but we are willing to explore alternatives to Tacoma and if there were a very good alternative in Everett – or I didn’t mention Mount Vernon or Bellingham or something like that – we would definitely be interested.
"We’ve had very good conversations with the people at the Rainiers. They obviously know what they’re doing in terms of sports marketing and delivering a good entertainment value at Cheney. So we like the idea of Tacoma. There are a lot of positives, especially working with the Rainiers' group.
"That said, I think after this exercise, my hunch is that we will come to the conclusion that Cheney Stadium – although a fantastic facility – probably is a bad long-term stadium solution for a USL franchise in Tacoma, first because of the work and money that you have to put into configuring the stadium for soccer, and the time required, there could be potential issues to their field, the conflict of a second franchise in Cheney, the size of the field, what you can actually do, the sighlines, so on and so forth.
"So, not to sound like every other pandering professional sports organization in the world, but having a really good stadium solution – whether in Tacoma or somewhere else – probably ultimately will drive where we end up. We’ve kicked around concepts with various groups and cities about whether there are solutions. And that may be an existing facility that’s out there – just putting a little bit into something like that – or starting from scratch."