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September 25, 2012 at 2:54 PM

GM Adrian Hanauer on season-ticket packages, international friendlies and more

hanauer mug.jpgTo follow up on news from earlier on the day, Sounders FC general manager Adrian Hanauer discussed a few issues related to season-ticket packages and international friendlies after Tuesday’s practice. Here is the transcript:

* * *

(Can you talk about the decision to remove the friendly from 2013 season-ticket packages?) “We’ve obviously done a bunch of friendlies over the years. They’ve gone really well, we enjoy doing them, but at the same time, we’ve listened to our fans. It’s of course mixed, but some of the feedback is, ‘We’re way more interested in competitive games than exhibitions.’ Although, again, the dichotomy there is Champions League, which is a competition, versus a friendly. But regardless, we decided that we would just go with the 17-game season-ticket package. It doesn’t mean we won’t do a friendly — it’s still possible — but we would sell it as a one-off. Also, for us it helps a little bit not being locked in. If there’s a good opportunity with the right terms, we can do it. If we get pushed into a corner to accept certain terms from a big club in Europe that thinks they can dictate terms, we can say, ‘Thanks but no thanks,’ because we won’t be forced to do a game.”

(Had being locked into friendlies, since they were in season-ticket packages, made it more difficult?) “Not considerable difficulty, but negotiating with a big European club that already thinks they can kind of dictate terms, especially when they see that we have a game scheduled in the summer, and they know we have to do one, it’s negotiating from a position of weakness. We’d love to do those games in the future if the right team comes, but it’s got to be the right terms and the right situation for our club and our fans. We’re too proud and successful to not have more say in how the process plays out.”

(Are you able to say what some of the areas of negotiations have been?) “There are a ton of different issues. There’s the surface. There’s the date of the game and the start time. There are sponsor issues, there are ticketing issues, suite/hospitality things, things that we might want to do in the community related to it that have to be discussed. There was the World Football Challenge — those issues. So, there are any number of areas where we have to come to terms, and it will just be easier if we can say, ‘Look, this is what we need to do a game. If you don’t want to do it, no problem.'”

(Have you talked about adding CCL or Open Cup games to season-ticket packages?) “We really haven’t gotten there. Obviously we’re in the (CCL) quarterfinals, but again, what we’ve tried to do is err on the side of making it up to the fans on how they want to spend their dollars. I doubt that we’ll do any sort of packaging that puts a burden on fans. If it’s a benefit or an option that helps, then I could see us doing it.”

(Do you think you can and build attendance without lure or world club in ticket packages?) “We think there’s a better opportunity by not requiring fans to buy into an 18th game that has a premium price on it to begin with, and for which they don’t know what their buying. We tell them to trust us and eventually we get to a point where we’ve got a team to play against. (The crowds for the three MLS games in this year’s four-pack) will be bigger crowds than the Chelsea game. That sort of tells us that there’s plenty of opportunity to bulk up and improve with competitive games, not necessarily the friendlies.”

(Fredy Montero is on the renew page online and on the FIFA 13 cover, what’s it say about how far he’s come with this club?) “I’m not sure we’ve done anything to take his brand and do something with it. He’s obviously one of the best players in the league — a very marketable player, an exciting player and a good personality. He’s become acclimated into the community and become a big part of Seattle sports. That’s really I guess what’s happened. We certainly are happy to trade on that where possible and use him and continue to help him grow his profile. I think it says a lot about our sport generally in this city and in the country … that an unknown from Colombian can come in and in a few years be a household name within certainly in the soccer circles in this country.”

(Would not having a friendly allow you to put more into marketing a CCL quarterfinal game?) “First, it’s not clear that we won’t have a friendly, but it’s not in the package. Second, I’d like to think that with or without a friendly, we’re going to put the same amount of resources, especially in February towards a March game, comparative to in May or June for a July game or an August game — I’d like to think we’re capable of doing both. That said … there is a limited amount of resources that we have, so the less things you can focus on, theoretically you can do them better. But again, independent of that, I hope we’re able to throw marketing muscle around and drive a good crowd for the quarterfinals of the Champions League.”

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