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March 21, 2013 at 12:32 PM

Q&A: Sounders GM Adrian Hanauer on bringing a World Cup qualifier to Seattle

hanauer mugReporters got a chance to speak with Sounders FC general manager and part owner Adrian Hanauer after Thursday’s practice. The team was involved in bringing the June 11 World Cup qualifier between the U.S. men’s national team and Panama to Seattle.

Here is the transcript of that interview:

*     *     *

(This is an exciting announcement for the fans here and you’ve been talking about trying to do this for a few months now. How did this come together?) “It’s fantastic. I was so excited. (U.S. men’s national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann) called me — it must’ve been a couple months now — and said, ‘We really want to have a game in Seattle,’ and, ‘Let’s start working on it.’ Everybody worked well together to get it over the finish line. It looks like it’s going to be an important game and hopefully our Seattle fans can give the team a big home-field advantage.”

(What went into the attendance cap of 42,000?) “Look, the reality is there’s a relationship between the stadiums and the city that provides a framework for attendance. It relates to traffic, and uses of parking garages, ingress and egress of pedestrians, but for us, we’re sort of making the best of the situation. Sell 42,000 tickets and then see. I hope that we sell those and sell them quickly, but you never know. It’ll be great. We’ll have it be a fantastic, intimate atmosphere, and we think it’ll give the U.S. a big home-field advantage.”

(And you’ll be bringing in grass for that game?) “Yes. Yeah, which means there will be grass for the game before against Vancouver.”

(Will season-ticket holders have a presale opportunity?) “I assume that they will.” [Ed note: Hanauer then asked a Sounders spokesman, who said yes and that that information will be distributed.]

(Not sure if “promise” is the right word, but does it sort of feel like a promise fulfilled being able to bring this game here?) “Not sure ‘promise fulfilled,’ but it feels like another great thing for our fans. I think hopefully our fans know by now that we’re looking out for them and trying to do right by them. We have heard them over the years talk about an important U.S. national team game, and so here we are.”

(Does this have an impact on a friendly, having a game here in June and then also the Gold Cup games in July?) “It could. Yeah. Again, we’ll sort of look at all the different factors and ultimately make our final decision. But yeah, again, we try not to over-saturate the market and expect too much of the soccer fans of the community.”

(How did this process come about? [Ed note: Reporter joined in progress]) “I mentioned Jurgen gave me a call, and said, ‘We really want to do a game in Seattle. We think it’d be really important and a great home-field advantage.’ Then it sort of went from there. I took it to our group. It went back to the business group at U.S. Soccer. Once Jurgen had decided this was something that was important and he knew that we were on board, it sort of went into the business groups to work it all out.”

(Was temporary grass an automatic?) “Yes.”

(Is there any concern over settling time, assuming it’ll be installed after the concert on June 1?) “Correct. We play Vancouver on the grass, and yeah, I mean there’s always concern. You always want it to be as best as possible. We’ve got a decent amount of experience with it at this point. It’ll be the best we can make it.”

(Do you feel confident it’ll be a surface that is up the standard of the USMNT?) “I have confidence it will be an extremely good temporary sod field, but there are realities to a temporary sod field.”

(You could 100,000 combined fans for the Whitecaps games and then the USMNT game in a matter of four days. What does that say about things here?) “It means soccer is alive and well in this region and in the country. It just appears to continue to grow and pick up interest. That’s very exciting for the present and future of our sport.”

(Do you feel like things are trending to having more games here? It’s been 10 years since the last standalone game here and 37 years since the last qualifier…) “I’m not sure I’d jump to that conclusion. Look, I think Jurgen as well as everybody in U.S. Soccer can see that the Northwest is a hotbed for the game and will almost certainly be a great home-field advantage. So I’d be surprised if it wasn’t moving in that direction.”


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