"It's the beginning of a new era." That's how KNKX sports commentator Art Thiel describes the new names added to the Seattle Sounders ownership group this week. It's the topic of his most recent chat with Morning Edition host Kirsten Kendrick.
The Sounders announced this week that several of Seattle's best-known movers and shakers are replacing Hollywood producer Joe Roth in the team's ownership group. Thiel says there was no reason given for Roth's departure, but that it's not a sign of any trouble with the team.
As part of the move, owner Adrian Hanauer increased his shares in the team, as did comedian Drew Carey.
SOUNDERS AND THE TECH WORLD
Among the 11 new owners announced this week: Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and his wife, pop star Ciara, hip-hop artist Macklemore, and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.
Thiel said the team is trying to increase its branding in the tech community.
"Soccer is very popular in the tech world because many of the newcomers in the tech world come from international backgrounds where soccer is number one," he said. "So, there's a natural affinity for the game."
"I think a fresh infusion of cash will give ambition to Hanauer to do something that I think he thinks is important: create the club's own practice facility," Thiel continued. "They're using the Starfire Sports facility in Tukwila, which is OK but it's small and kind of aging."
Thiel said Hanauer wants to replicate what's happening with Seattle's incoming National Hockey League team, which means having a practice facility that not only serves the interest of the team but also can be a community asset.
WILSON ACHIEVING 'MOGULDOM'
Thiel added that Sounders ownership is another feather in Russell Wilson's "mogul cap."
"I do think this fulfills Russell Wilson's passion for moguldom," he joked. "He's already got interst in the potential NBA franchise that still is alive in Sodo, at least a chance for it down the road. And he also has a share of Portland's aspiration for an MLB expansion franchise.
"I don't know where all these things are going, but Russell will be in the forefront of each of them, including the Sounders now."