SEATTLE – Inside a voting stall adorned with all the usual trappings of the election process, Bill and Chris Schlittenhart let their voices be heard.
The Schlittenharts spent their time before a recent Seattle Sounders home game helping decide the fate of general manager Adrian Hanauer, whose future employment is in the hands of season-ticket holders and fans.
“It makes more of a complete team. We’re all part of the team,” Chris Schlittenhart said. “It’s not a matter of other people telling us what we can do.”
As part of the bylaws the club instituted when the franchise started was a stipulation that every four years the performance of the general manager would be put to a vote of season ticket holders and members of the Sounders fan alliance. All season-ticket holders, or those who pay $125 per year to be part of the fan alliance, get to have a say in the direction of the organization, which means voting to keep Hanauer or kick him out of office.
Consider it a bit of democracy in the sporting world.
There are no stump speeches for Hanauer to make or political ads. The product he’s put on the field, coupled with incredible fan support not seen in a North American soccer market since the early days of the NASL, can be seen as a strong enough argument for giving Hanauer another four years running the organization.
Seattle again smashed attendance records this season, averaging 43,144 per game. The Sounders drew more than 66,000 for a home game against rival Portland and reached the MLS playoffs for the fourth straight season. In four MLS regular seasons, the Sounders are 59-32-37 with a playoff trip each year, not to mention three U.S. Open Cup titles.
Along with being the GM, Hanauer’s a part owner of the franchise. So no matter the outcome of the voting, he’ll retain a role in the organization. The voting results will be announced Dec. 7.