Commentary

Drew Does Seattle

He's shot pictures from the sidelines of many U.S. national team games. He pondered being part of a Cleveland MLS expansion franchise before that attempt withered. He played a drag-out video-game duel with Landon Donovan to raise money for a worthy soccer cause. Finally, Drew Carey has put his money where his heart is. He's a minority partner in the expansion MLS Seattle franchise scheduled to start play in 2009.

Carey has already broken new ground by announcing plans to a) sell shares in the club to fans, a la some European clubs like Barcelona, and b) organize a team marching band.

The "other" investors are movie producer/entertainment executive Joe Roth, Seattle Sounders managing partner Adrian Hanauer, and Vulcan Sports and Entertainment, Inc. which operates the NFL Seattle Seahawks and NBA Portland Trailblazers under the direction of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. The group paid $30 million to secure the franchise.

Roth is listed as the majority owner but MLS didn't divulge if that means he owns more than 50 percent of the ownership group's stake or he holds the largest share. (Under the league's single-entity structure, it retains control of each team.) His net worth is estimated at between $750 million and $1.2 billion. Hanauer will be the team's general manager and will oversee soccer operations.

Carey announced his plans to a group of fans Monday at the George and Dragon Pub in Seattle, a day before the official announcement that Seattle will become the 15th MLS team was made by Commissioner Don Garber.

"We are proud to award our 15th team to Seattle, a world-class city and tremendous soccer market," said Don Garber. "Seattle's rich tradition of support for major soccer events combined with the ownership group of Joe Roth, Adrian Hanauer, Drew Carey and Vulcan Sports and Entertainment were the driving factors in our decision to award this expansion team."

As a Premier League match between Reading and Arsenal played on the pub's television, Carey outlined a fan ownership scheme. Fans broke out in a chant of "Sounders! Sounders! Sounders!", the nickname of the NASL franchise that played in Seattle from 1974 to 1983 as well as that of Hanauer's entry in the USL. [VIDEO]

 

 

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