Behind the MLS Ambition Rankings: Seattle Sounders
• How much money has your team spent in the past five years on youth development? How much in the past year?
• How many homegrown players have you signed? How many have played in MLS league games for your first team?
Seven Homegrowns in club history, including Jordan Morris over this past offseason. While Morris hasn’t yet played in MLS, he started the club’s first two CCL matches. Jordan Schweitzer was just signed to S2, but everyone else has played in MLS (DeAndre Yedlin, Aaron Kovar, Darwin Jones, Vic Mansaray, Sean Okoli).
• Who pays to play on your youth teams? And how much do they pay?
Sounders FC bears the cost.
• How many season-ticket holders do you have? How many did you have in 2015?
We won’t be disclosing an exact number at this time, but the amount of FSEs has grown since the last ambition rankings (2014). Sounders FC owns the top seven single-season attendance totals in MLS history, and last year saw a record 44,247 fans per match attend games at CenturyLink Field. The club’s active sellout streak stands at 127 matches across all competitions–also an MLS record.
• Where does your first team train? Did you build the training facility yourself? If so, how much did it cost?
Starfire Sports in Tukwila, Washington. The facility pre-dates Sounders FC’s MLS launch, and the club has trained there since joining the league.
• Do you have a model for integrating your academy with the first team? How closely do your academy teams resemble the way the first team trains and plays?
There is vertical integration across the club. The scope of this focus ranges from the Academy ranks to S2 and the First Team.
• What’s your philosophy on the use of technology in your training and preparation for matches?
Sounders FC is a leader in this space, with one of the best minds in sports science heading that department for the club (Sounders FC Director of Performance and Sports Science Dave Tenney). Additionally, the club hosts an annual sports science seminar, led by Dave and featuring club representatives from around the globe.
• Who is your jersey sponsor? What’s your total income on sponsorships this season?
XBOX has been the club’s primary shirt sponsor since Sounders FC’s MLS inception. We won’t be disclosing a specific value.
• Local TV deal: How many of your games this season are shown on local television? How much is your local TV deal worth per season?
We won’t be disclosing a numerical amount here either, but the club’s broadcast package is robust. For any non-nationally televised games, Sounders FC is available throughout the region on free-to-air television via its partnership with Q13 FOX (and its affiliate JOEtv). Additionally, ROOT SPORTS is the out-of-market home of Sounders FC, delivering the club’s broadcasts to central and eastern Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Alaska. Additionally, a minimum of 10 matches air in Spanish on Univision-Seattle. All of the agreements with Q13 FOX, ROOT SPORTS and Univision-Seattle include various forms of shoulder programming.
Ratings note: Over the past two seasons, Sounders FC has set regional television ratings records in MLS, with a 32% increase in year-over-year viewership between 2013 and 2014, and an 11% uptick from 2014 to 2015.
• Local radio deal: How many of your games this season are broadcast on local radio? In English? In other languages?
All of the club’s games are on local radio, both in English (KIRO Radio 97.3 FM) and in Spanish (El Rey 1360 AM)
• How many front-office employees does your team have? How many have you added or subtracted in the past year?
Between the club’s Pioneer Square front office and its Starfire Sports technical staff, Sounders FC has a little over 100 full-time employees. Since moving business operations across Lake Washington from the Seahawks in April of 2014, the club has roughly doubled its headcount.
• Have you hired any additional technical staff over the past year to reduce doubling-up roles? Are you planning on expanding your technical staff in the near future?
Yes, per the above point. Areas of emphasis include sports science and adding a coaching staff for last year’s launch of S2 in USL.