Sounders GM Adrian Hanauer talks scheduling, Starfire turf and keeping Obafemi

SEATTLE — Adrian Hanauer, Sounders FC part-owner and general manager, spoke to reporters about recent issues after Wednesday’s practice. Here are some highlights (some answers edited for clarity and/or brevity):

Q: Can you explain how the Galaxy home game got moved from a Saturday (July 26) to a Monday (July 28)?

Hanauer: “Look, we’re not naïve. It’s not optimal. We understand, and (it was) just sort of a series and sequence of events that led us to Monday night. But largely, we have a TV partner in ESPN that we love; they just signed a longterm extension with us. They think this is a huge game coming out of the World Cup — two big teams, World Cup players. The significance of that was not lost on us. If there had been better days/times to do it and fit all the pieces together, we would have.

“There are some sports fans around the world that are mad when their team doesn’t get to be on Monday night, so we actually thought in some ways it’s kind of a cool badge of honor and something to try and hopefully turn a Monday night into a festive night.”

Q: So was ESPN the main driving force behind the change?

Hanauer: “And Saturday is Mariners and Torchlight Parade, so Saturday was going to be a disaster. Saturday just wasn’t going to happen. For sure it wasn’t going to happen on ESPN. Sunday, there weren’t any good windows where we could work with ESPN, and it ended up on Monday.”

Q: So did ESPN approach you?

Hanauer: “The city came to us and said, ‘This is not going to work.’ “

Q: Are their plans to replace the oft-criticized artificial turf at Starfire Stadium?

Hanauer: “No firm replacement plans. Obviously if we end up with a USL team playing in that stadium, if it continues to be an Open Cup venue, it needs to be addressed. …Those fields do come to the end of their life span, and we need to look at that surface and start to figure when we’re going to make that change.”

Q: Do you have the ability to just pay for it?

Hanauer: “It’s not as cut and dried as that. Starfire is a 501c3. It’s a nonprofit organization and they’re not allowed to be dictated to by a professional for-profit entity. Now in the field case, I think they understand that it’s not optimal either. I think we’d be able to work something out.”

Q: Obafemi Martins has talked about other clubs being interested in him and being unsure of his future with the Sounders. Is there any update you can offer about wanting to keep him here?

Hanauer: “He has a (guaranteed) contract through the end of this year as well as the end of next year with an option for (2016). We love Oba. We hope that he wants to be here and that we can have him be here for a lot of years. But again, you guys know as well as I, in the world of football, anything is possible. Money talks, and players have limited careers. If there is an opportunity for a player where they feel they can get compensated at a higher rate, and if the team that has the contract can be compensated in a way that they feel is appropriate, then sometimes players are transacted. We are talking with Oba and his representation, we want him to be here, but you never know in soccer.”


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