Tod and Tara Leiweke have joined the Seattle Sounders ownership group, as the veterans of the local sporting scene add their expertise to the MLS mainstay.
For Tod Leiweke, it’s a return to MLS. The St. Louis native led the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks from 2002-2010 as Chief Executive Officer. Leiweke also oversaw Sounders FC’s expansion into MLS in 2009, helping the club make its wildly successful jump into the top tier of American soccer.
Following his first stint in Seattle, Leiweke served as CEO of the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning from 2010-2015 before joining the National Football League as Chief Operating Officer, the righthand position to Commissioner Roger Goodell. Leiweke returned to the Pacific Northwest in 2018, hired to serve as CEO of the then-unnamed Seattle NHL expansion franchise.
Now dubbed the Seattle Kraken, Leiweke is set to lead Seattle’s newest professional sports team as it hits the ice in 2021.
“As a family, we have been privileged to enjoy an incredible journey through the professional sports world, but anyone that knows us understands that Seattle is home, and our fondness for Sounders FC runs deep,” said Tod and Tara Leiweke via press release. “Our friendship with Adrian dates back to a time when the idea of launching Sounders FC in Major League Soccer was just beginning. The launch of the club was a truly special moment in our lives, and seeing the organization thrive from the very beginning is something we take a lot of pride in. In our time away from Seattle, we always followed this great club, and to be able to return to it now is significant for us.”
“It is a proud day for Sounders FC, as we officially welcome the Leiweke family as partners in our club’s future,” said Sounders FC Majority Owner Adrian Hanauer. “When Tod and Tara returned to Seattle two years ago to lead the Kraken, I was thrilled on a professional level to have Tod back in the Seattle sports scene, but also, more personally, to welcome back some of the finest, most caring and genuine people I’ve ever had the pleasure to know. Given Tod’s history with the club, I couldn’t have been more enthusiastic when the Leiwekes expressed interest in reinvolving themselves with Sounders FC on a deeper level. Their ownership stake was finalized earlier this year, though we chose at the time to delay the official announcement due to the gravity of the issues being faced throughout the world. While these issues certainly remain, as a club we felt it was time to share the news.”
One interesting side to this: whether this addition will spur talk of the Sounders pursuing their own facility. The Sounders share CenturyLink Field as a tenant of the Seattle Seahawks, and there’s been quiet talk for years that the Sounders could be run more profitably playing in their own facility, rather than sharing an NFL stadium. We know MLS prefers teams control their own facilities, and although Seattle is a great draw, it would be interesting to see if an analysis of the numbers indicates better finances for a dedicated MLS stadium.
Photo courtesy Seattle Sounders.
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