RENTON, WASH. – In conjunction with Alliance Council, Seattle Sounders FC today announced the voting results for its 2022 General Manager Vote, the third in the club’s history. Of the 31.4 percent of eligible voters casting ballots, 90 percent gave Sounders FC General Manager & President of Soccer Garth Lagerwey a vote of retention. The outcome of the vote was announced at this evening’s Annual Business Meeting, held at the Sounders FC Center at Longacres in Renton.
“The club wishes to thank all Alliance Members who took the time to cast their Sounders ballot this year, making their voices heard on several matters, including the retention of Garth Lagerwey,” said Sounders FC Owner & President of Business Operations Peter Tomozawa. “Voting serves a critical role in our society and the Sounders ballot gives our Members a unique way to support the club. We are proud of upholding the guiding principle of Democracy in Sports within Sounders FC through this vote.”
With the results of the vote, Lagerwey is reconfirmed as Sounders FC’s chief soccer decision-maker. Hired in 2015, the club has seen its greatest successes under his tenure, amassing a 117-87-56 MLS regular-season record and 17-5-3 postseason record, including four MLS Cup Final appearances and two league championships. Additionally, the club became the first MLS team to claim the Concacaf Champions League – and thus qualify for the FIFA Club World Cup – earlier this year. On its development side, Sounders FC’s Academy has enjoyed a strong run, producing multiple First Team contributors and winning Generation Adidas Cup titles in 2018, 2019 and 2022, the U-17 U.S. Soccer Development Academy championship in 2018 and the Youdan / Sheffield Cup from 2016-2019.
“It is truly an honor to have the affirmation of the best fans in MLS,” said Sounders FC General Manager & President of Soccer Garth Lagerwey. “Leading this club is a privilege I don’t take for granted. 2022 brought us immortality and incredible highs, but was not without its challenges. Through it all, I am grateful to our fans who tirelessly support the Rave Green. We win championships for you.”
The 2022 General Manager Vote took place this fall as part of the Sounders ballot for Alliance Members, providing the club’s Season Ticket Members – collectively known as the Alliance – with the opportunity to cast votes on several referendums related to team and Alliance business as part of the club’s belief in Democracy in Sports.
Championed by Drew Carey as a condition to joining the newly minted Sounders FC ownership group in 2008, Democracy in Sports is a pillar of the franchise that believes that fans of the team are empowered to have a real, tangible say in the organization with the right to determine the overall course of the team. This ethos is highlighted by the General Manager Vote, which takes place every four years of a given executive’s tenure. Current General Manager & President of Soccer Garth Lagerwey, hired ahead of the 2015 season, was retained following his first General Manager Vote in 2018 and has been retained once again following the 2022 vote.
GENERAL MANAGER VOTE QUICK FACTS
- Alliance bylaws require that 40 percent of eligible Alliance Members participate in the General Manager Vote for the final result to be considered valid. This requirement evolved following the first General Manager Vote in 2012 from a 10,000-vote validity threshold to a percentage-based model to account for the growing volume of Sounders FC’s fan base.
- Under the original bylaws, the club’s first-ever General Manager Vote in 2012 saw 41.6 percent of all eligible voters cast a ballot, retaining then-General Manager Adrian Hanauer with a 96.3 percent vote of retention.
- In 2018, with the franchise’s second vote and updated bylaws, Lagerwey was retained with 37.2 percent of eligible voters casting ballots and a 87.3 percent vote of retention.
- This year, of the 31.4 percent of Alliance Members that participated in the 2022 General Manager Vote, 90 percent cast a vote of retention for General Manager & President of Soccer Garth Lagerwey.
Additional information about the Sounders FC General Manager Vote process can be found here.
MARCH TO THE 50th BRAND EVOLUTION PROCESS MOVES AHEAD
Beyond announcing voting results, this evening’s Annual Business meeting gave Alliance Members the chance to hear from club and Alliance leadership regarding the state of Sounders FC both on and off the field, reviewing the past season and looking ahead to the future.
As part of this future outlook, Sounders FC leadership shared further details regarding the club’s March to the 50_th_ campaign – the Rave Green’s official celebration of its 50th anniversary in 2024. A major milestone for the organization, March to the 50th was first announced in February, when the club introduced a brand identity discussion between Sounders FC and the community. With this discussion, the club aimed to connect with various groups – from fans, Alliance Members, club stakeholders and the greater Seattle and Washington State communities – in conversations to determine if the club’s brand should evolve, and, if so, in what ways.
“We said this back in February when introducing this project, and we say it again now: ‘our club is what our fans say it is,’” said Sounders FC Owner Adrian Hanauer. “Listening was always the most important part of this process, and over the past eight months, we have actively heard from our fans and community about who the Sounders are, what the Sounders stand for, and why this franchise stands apart. We have been humbled by the feedback and interest that we’ve received and are excited to continue these discussions. As we look ahead to 2024 and celebrating 50 years of Sounders soccer on Puget Sound, our goal is to evolve our brand in a way that honors our proud history while also setting a strong foundation for the future.”
Said Chief Revenue & Marketing Officer Taylor Graham of the process, “We heard loud and clear from our community that the Sounders are not a club that needs reinvention. We heard that our history and heritage dating back to 1974 set us apart. And we heard a willingness and appetite to embrace our history and heritage fully as we plan for the next 50 years. We plan to fulfill this promise to our fans, and tonight we confirm that the Sounders brand identity will evolve heading into 2024 to more deeply connect with our past as we prepare for our future.”
Tonight the club shared with the Alliance a summary of that process, including an overview of participants and key findings, and confirmed that after concerted engagement with these audiences, a brand evolution has been confirmed and is in the process of moving forward, inclusive of a new crest and associated marks.
"Seattle Sounders FC is a club with a long, rich history that deserves to be celebrated. And, as most people know, the March to the 50th anniversary of the club has begun,” said Alliance Council President Cameron Collins. “We at the Alliance Council were invited to take part in this, most notably as part of the brand identity process that will shape what the Sounders become for the next 50 years.
Collins continues, “Throughout this process, the club has gone above and beyond in doing the research, as well as including the public and the Alliance Council in helping decide the direction moving forward. The club has been open and honest throughout, involving us in discussions, listening to our feedback, and applying our perspectives in meaningful ways.
“My biggest takeaway from all of this is that we have a club devoted to creating the best possible brand identity and fan engagement in the world, and we couldn't be more excited for what is to come. As part of the group tasked with speaking on behalf of Sounders fans everywhere, I'm proud to be see Democracy in Sports in action."
Further details regarding the brand evolution and the March to the 50th are forthcoming. Current information can be found via SoundersFC.com.
SOUNDERS FC’S 2022 SOCIAL IMPACT REPORT
Sounders FC also unveiled its 2022 Social Impact Report, outlining the club’s efforts in the community this year that further the promises made in the club’s Social Justice Framework; a long-term commitment to ensure a more equitable future for all. The club’s Social Justice Framework focuses on four arenas for change: Fight Racism, Defend the Right to Play, Stand for LGBTQ+ Equality and Protect Our Planet. The report highlights stories of intersectionality, intentional partnerships and collaborations with community experts, and a look ahead to 2023 as we are committed to our Social Justice Framework for the long-term.
“Sounders FC’s Social Justice Framework is a long-term commitment to making our community more equitable and a strategy screen that can be utilized across the club. We are proud of our work this year, and this year’s Social Impact Report is a snapshot of our work in 2022,” said Sounders FC Chief Operating Officer Maya Mendoza-Exstrom. “For me, the highlights include kicking off our multi-year partnership with the Center for Equity and Inclusion, investing $200,000+ with local BIPOC and minority-owned small businesses in collaboration with Intentionalist, opening our 12th and 13th RAVE mini pitches in Yakima, marking the halfway point for the 26 by 2026 campaign. Personal to me was the opportunity to celebrate both the 50th anniversary of Title IX and 50th anniversary of girls soccer in Washington State. We also continued the work to convene Seattle pro sports teams to celebrate shared values, aligned home matches to educate our community around the systemic impacts of bias, elevated our experts and much more. We know there is further work to do and look forward to working together to create an equitable community for all.”
FIGHT RACISM – Sounders FC is committed to intentionally investing in youth in historically marginalized communities, aligning our platform to educate our community around the systemic impacts of bias and using our platform to amplify the voices of experts. The club also supports local BIPOC and diverse-owned small business by teaming up with Intentionalist, an online guide to intentional spending that makes it easy to find and support small businesses and diverse local communities.
DEFEND THE RIGHT TO PLAY – RAVE Foundation, the club’s charitable partner, envisions a region abundant with free play, where all work together to use soccer to inspire youth and support communities. RAVE’s 26 by 2026 initiative is committed to building 26 fields in communities where access to free play is limited by the year by 2026, when the United States hosts the FIFA World Cup.
STAND FOR LGBTQ+ EQUALITY – Sounders FC strives to make Washington the most inclusive, safe state to play youth soccer in the country, and focuses on serving gender-diverse youth. We work with experts to craft, amplify and share gender-inclusive policies with youth teams, coaches and leagues.
PROTECT OUR PLANET – Sounders FC is proud to be the first carbon neutral professional soccer team in North America and the first carbon neutral pro sports team in the United States. We commit to measuring, offsetting, and working to reduce our footprint every year. The club collaborates with community partners to educate youth most affected by environmental injustice and empower them to improve community health outcomes.
Sounders FC finished the 2022 campaign with a 16-17-5 record across all competitions. The Rave Green became the first MLS side to win the Concacaf Champions League title in the spring, before a regular season that fell short of the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs for the first time in the club’s 14-year history. Seattle heads into the offseason with its sights set on the 2023 campaign, which begins with the FIFA Club World Cup. Prior to the start of 2023, Sounders FC has a team-record four current players participating in the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™, which begins on November 20.