It’s the time on the calendar when we take a look back at the year that was. We will have a few of these retrospectives over the next week, but the big story in American Soccer for 2009 was the introduction of the Seattle Sounders to MLS. 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.
The Sounders also continue to do the little things right; the Sounders’ web page is second to none in the League. While other teams have deviated from the MLS web template, the Sounders have done an outstanding job of creating an interactive destination for their fans. Live chats with the Team are offered, links to multiple blogs, an outstanding ticket engine, promotion information and more. In addition, the presence of the Sounders’ band offers a unique element in MLS. They landed the big name sponsor; Microsoft has signed on for $ 4 million for over five years. They marketed aggressively; billboards, scarves and advertising have been plastered all over the City.
More is promised for 2010, when the Sounders will open up even more seats. Seattle is reporting a waiting list of at least 6,000 in addition to their 30,700 average. According to team president Adrian Hanauer, existing season ticket holders are renewal at an extremely high rate and requesting additional tickets. The team is again considering offering an 18 game plan for its fans that will include 15 MLS matches and other high profile matches like the Barca game this year.
It was a great year for soccer in Seattle. Congratulations to our 2009 business team of the year.