Sounders FC

Sounders general manager says elite friendly on tap for ’11

Sounders FC plans to bring one of the world’s top clubs to Qwest Field for its lone international friendly of the 2011 season.

“We have set about to bring a blowout friendly to Qwest - one of the top teams in the world. Those Chelsea-type teams: Real Madrid, Manchester United, teams like that,” general manager Adrian Hanauer said Tuesday without revealing the identity of the club coming to Qwest.

Hanauer said that decision is in response to what he perceives as fan preference for fewer but bigger friendlies than those included as part of the 2010 season-ticket package: Boca Juniors, Celtic and Chivas Guadalajara.

However, the decision instead has generated some pushback from original season-ticket holders, some of whom were taken aback by a 3 percent increase in ticket prices along with a surcharge for the friendly.

Hanauer said complaints on message boards caused him to check into what was promised of season-ticket holders before the expansion season.

“We all along intended to raise our tickets prices 3 percent in this third year for original season-ticket holders,” he said. “I do think there was some confusion about that. … I’m sure we’re partly to blame. I have seen articles online and message board information about us not raising ticket prices 3 percent, but I haven’t seen anything from our club that actually said that.”

Hanauer said the surcharge reflects the expense of bringing any of the top clubs in the world to Qwest Field. However, he suggested that season-ticket holders who don’t want the friendly as part of their package should contact their customer-service representative.

“The most problematic was the overarching confusion on invoices that got to people, where it wasn’t very clear as to how the ticketing was broken out,” he said. “All those things together I think have led to some angst and consternation.”

The 2011 season-ticket package once again includes 18 games; but 17 will be MLS regular-season games, reflecting the increase to a 34-game league schedule due to expansion to Portland and Vancouver.

Because those are nearby rivals with established fan bases, another controversy has arisen involving the number of tickets available to visiting fans.

Hanauer said the three clubs and the league seem on the verge of an agreement that they hope will satisfy most parties, but he didn’t want to discuss it yet.

However, he outlined his top priorities.

“First and foremost is security,” he said. “We have what we think is a spectacular gameday experience at Qwest Field today with 36,000 very happy very safe fans. And we don’t want to compromise that. … The second thing is we along with Portland and Vancouver have capacity issues, and we need this to be equitable. Portland has a 20,000-seat stadium, and if they happen to sell 20,000 season-tickets – I’m not sure they will – but … 150, or 200, or 300, or 500, or whatever the number is, if we’re giving those tickets up, we want to make sure we’re getting them in those markets.”

ADDED TIME

The Sounders practiced in a steady rain Tuesday, while down the coast playoff opponent Los Angeles practiced under sunny skies in 73-degree temperatures. But even with Puget Sound forecasts calling for the cool rain to stick around through the 5 p.m. Sunday kickoff at Qwest Field, coach Sigi Schmid said “those little things aren’t going to bother either team.” … With the game scheduled for Halloween night, Schmid also has said that he will get into the spirit of the evening by coaching in costume. And he encouraged fans to make suggestions. “The No. 1 choice that I saw on the blogs was lederhosen,” he said.

Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808 don.ruiz@thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/soccer

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