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January 23, 2013 at 2:21 PM

GM Adrian Hanauer on season-ticket sales, attendance, friendlies, the Gold Cup and more

hanauer mug.jpgReporters got a chance to chat with Adrian Hanauer, Sounders FC general manager and part owner, after Wednesday’s practice. Here is a transcript:

* * *

(How are season-ticket renewals going?) It’s going well. We were, I think, maybe slightly above our pace from last year’s season-ticket renewal. But we won’t know for sure where we end up until probably early March.

(And the seating configuration at CenturyLink Field will stay the same? Was there any thought of changing?) “Same configuration. No thought of changing, but (there will be) four games where we open the whole stadium instead of three.”

(Do you know which four those will be yet?) “I think we do, but I don’t know that we’ve announced that.”

(So it’s not just automatically the four Cascadia Cup games?) “No.”

(Did you expect a plateau there at some stage?) “I think that it would be naive of us to think that we’re just going to keep growing season tickets 3,000 per year until we need to build a 100,000-seat stadium. … For us, the way to keep potentially increasing our average is we can open up more games for the whole stadium. So that might be a route go, rather than trying to peal away two rows of seats around the stadium.”

(Is that a motivation? To keep increasing average attendance?) “Yeah, for sure. We’re a normal business, and we’re trying to increase revenue every year, increase participation from our fans, increase interest, find new fans, make sure that we retain our old fans. So, yeah, for sure.”

(Are you any closer to knowing if you’ll host a friendly this year?) “No. We’re in conversations with clubs. But again, not having the pressure or being forced to do one because of a ticket in the ticket package, it’s given us more time to sort of step back and, again, talk about it from a technical standpoint — what’s good for the club — and talk about it from the business standpoint.”

(Does not having a CCL game this summer factor in?) “Sure, it does. It’s one factor in that decision-making process.”

(Does today’s Gold Cup announcement, and the potential for other international games, factor in?) “I think it’s fair to say that all that factors in. We don’t want our fans to have soccer-sales-ticket-people fatigue and feel like they’re always being bombarded to buy something, so we’re trying to pace it. Again, we think to some degree as being maybe protectors of our fans in some way and not jamming all these games and letting people come in and suck money out of the market and suck dollars out of our fans’ pockets all the time. We just want to be sensitive to that.”

(Were the Sounders involved in bringing the Gold Cup games to Seattle?) “The Sounders were not that involved in the Gold Cup decision. We were involved, but really it was more of the U.S. Soccer-CenturyLink Field discussion. But we are very involved in discussions regarding a (World Cup) qualifier.”

(Did those not really impact each other?) “No, not from our standpoint. You just don’t get that many opportunities to host a qualifier, so that is something that we’ve prioritized.”

(You had mentioned last year wanting to help improve the U.S. Open Cup. Have you been a part of anything new in that regard?) “I’ve stuck my big beak in there and tried to push some things around and have some influence. No one’s invited me to be on any boards yet or come to a meeting in Chicago and talk about it. But there’s more and more talk without our league office — within the MLS offices — about trying to, again, improve it, build it or kill it. Again, that’s not picking on U.S. Open Cup. We feel the same way … well, we’re not going to kill our league play … but we want to be continually improving it. CONCACAF, same thing. I’m not hugely optimistic that this year you’re going to see a massive change.”

(What’s the status on Cordell Cato?) “Last that we talked he was in Trinidad. We’ve been in conversations and we’d like to have him out here, but to date we haven’t been able to sort of come to some understanding and get him out here.”

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