Year one of the Seattle Sounders’ MLS campaign is concluded, and it has been a success in every way. Here is what we wrote in March:
First Kick 2009 is just days away, and the League’s newest franchise is directly in the cross hairs of MLS fans. They have sold the tickets; more than 20k season ticket sales have been announced for 2009. They have landed the big name sponsor; Microsoft has signed on for $ 4 million for over five years. They have marketed aggressively; billboards, scarves and advertising have been plastered all over the City. They have signed an impressive local broadcast deal, allowing a revered local voice to bring Sounders soccer over the air. They will also have a presence on cable. According to to David Falk, the man in charge of the comprehensive Seattle Soccer website www.GoalSeattle.com, Fox Sports Northwest will sponsor a weekly Sounders show and run game replays. They have spent on players, including a DP, and have created an outstanding website. If MLS Executives were to imagine the perfect off the field scenario for an expansion team, Seattle, circa March 16, 2009 would be the dream. Now it has to continue going forward. Fans have to keep buying tickets, the media needs to keep aggressively covering the Sounders and Seattle needs to make it happen on the field.
Well, check, check and check! The crowds kept coming (they grew), the local media coverage remained oustanding, and the Sounders continued to perform on the field. The Sounders were one of the great American sports stories of 2009; not just MLS. Philadelphia, Vancouver and Portland now have a definite model to follow (TFC certainly works as an example as well). Despite all of the success in year one, Seattle has one more big soccer test to pass. Will the crowd for MLS Cup 2009 bring down the curtain on the campaign with a bang or a whimper? Beckham v. Blanco would be great for attendance (although RSL/LA would be more pleasent to watch. If Seattle can fill Qwest for the final as a neutral site venue, it would be the perfect capper to a wonderful season.