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June 6, 2013 at 12:45 PM

Q&A: GM Adrian Hanauer on ticket sales, the Open Cup, DP rumors and more

hanauer mugReporters got a chance to chat with Sounders FC general manager and part owner Adrian Hanauer after Thursday’s practice. The conversation covered ticket sales, the Open Cup, Obafemi Martins, the summer transfer window, DP rumors, keeping Mario Martinez and more.

Here is a full transcript:

*     *     *

(People are trying to make judgments about Seattle’s soccer support based on tickets sold for Saturday compared to Tuesday’s qualifier. What would you say to that?) “I add 50- and 37,000 or whatever it is and say 87,000, and probably 90,000-100,000 by the time it’s said and done. That’s a lot of people going to soccer games over a three-day period. I’m glad that more of them are coming to the Sounders game.”

(A lot of people saw the four teams eliminated from the Open Cup, including the Sounders, were Western Conference teams that had to go all the way east on short rest. Did you notice that, as well?) “Well, that’s simplifying it, but certainly getting on airplanes with layovers and playing in different time zones, statistically there is plenty of data to support — in every sport — that it’s a recipe for less success. That said, it’s also an excuse, and we try not to throw the excuses out too often or whenever we can avoid it. It is what it is. We didn’t score more goals than them, and they move on and we don’t. At this point, now that it’s done, we have to try and turn a negative into a positive and say, ‘OK, in the first time in our existence we don’t have massive amounts of fixture congestion heading into the summer and toward the playoffs.’ Hopefully that means we can keep some guys fresh and have momentum heading towards the playoffs.”

(Is it particularly rewarding to see a big signing like Obafemi Martins have success?) “I’m not sure that Obafemi, for us, is any different than any other signing. We always feel a massive sense of accomplishment when a guy, first and foremost, performs for the team, but then secondarily fits in well and is a positive in the locker room with his teammates, in the community. And so far, Oba has been fantastic that way. We’re really, really happy to have him.”

(Do you still feel the Open Cup can be improved, e.g. travel?) “I was on with the ExtraTime guys earlier, and I’m still convinced that there are many things that can improve the Open Cup — some of which cost money, some of which don’t. I haven’t been shy about saying it, I think they need more smart people in the room thinking about it and strategizing and executing. That said … I don’t have all the answers and I don’t have enough information to really have some good solutions to, for instance, the travel issues. And it’s conceivable that it was the absolutely best scenario, but I guess I’m not quite willing to concede that. I know Bruce (Arena) mentioned regionalizing it completely, and again, I think that’s simplifying it also. The issues are complicated, but I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if we the tournament to be as big and successful as I think it could be, I think more smart people need to be thinking about it.”

(The summer transfer window opens in a month. Is it one that could be affected by you already having three DPs?) “I think you answered the question to some degree. The roster as it’s currently formulated doesn’t leave a lot of room for maneuvering. That said, we’re always looking to get stronger, and like a lot of other teams, we’re in the situation where if we add something, something is going to have to go. We’re not unwilling to make some difficult decisions if we think we can get better and if we can find the right solution, but the roster today… there isn’t a pile of cap room sitting there and a bunch of roster spots empty that we’re just looking to fill.”

(Will it be intriguing not being involved in so many DP rumors?) “The fact that we have three DPs hasn’t seemed to stop the rumors as to adding two more to date, so I’m not sure it’s really going to affect it as is — quite frankly because in many cases the agents in countries around the world are propagating these rumors. They don’t really understand our rules, nor do the people in their countries reading these rumors. … The objective is for them to get more money for their clients, wherever that might be in the world. So that’s in a lot of cases the way these rumors starts, is an agent who really doesn’t care about the MLS rules thinks it’s a great way to get his client some more money, and you might as well throw it out there.”

(Does this include Felipe Melo’s agent?) “(laughs) … It could. I just heard about that one this morning. Yeah, I mean it could.”

(The deadline on Mario Martinez’ loan is coming up. Is the team looking to keep him?) “We’re not going to give a lot, or any, specifics, but we’ve started that dialogue. We would like to keep Mario. We’re currently in conversation with his representation and the club to try and keep him.”

(Do you have the flexibility to trade him in MLS if you couldn’t come to a deal?) “No, we could. It’s a deal with MLS, not Seattle.”

(When did they start installing the grass at CenturyLink Field for these upcoming games?) “I think yesterday. Early yesterday.”

| More in Stop and chats


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