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5 June: Money Problems in Seattle

The Article was called "Sounder Owner Concerned - Soccer team having financial troubles"

The majority owner of the Seattle Sounders says the A-League soccer team is losing more money than expected and that he is concerned about the future of the league.

Scott Oki, the former Microsoft executive turner philanthropist who owns 85 percent of the club, said he hopes Sounder attendance picks up this year and that the A-League expands from six teams to at least eight next season.

"We need an eight-team league and we need more fans to come to the games," he said.

"We fully intended to lose money last year, which we did," Oki said, denying rumors that the Sounders lost nearly $1 million in 1994. "We intended to come close to breaking even the year. That will not happen. ... I'm hoping that the loss will be less than half a million dollars."

The Sounders have pledged that any profits will be returned to the community. Even though they aren't making money, the club donates 2 percent of the ticket revenues to charity.

Sounder tickets range from $8 to $16.

"You can't get any more pure in terms of motive than saying if you make money you're going to give it all back to the community," Oki said. "Why we aren't getting the kind of fan support I think we have earned is questionable."...[snip]

... The article goes on to talk about low attendance compared to last season ...

"I'm not worried about the league folding, at least not this year," Oki said. "There is obviously concern going forward in 96 because I think most is not all of the owners are of the opinion we really need to have an eight-team league. If we can't assure ourselves that that is going to happen, who knows what's going to happen."

A big-bucks, higher-caliber league known as Major League Soccer is due to start play nationally next year, but Oki remains uninterested in joining.

"For me, it just doesn't make any sense," Oki said. "The operating model is one where each (MLS) team is expected to operate on an annual budget of $3 million to $4 million, plus the league is going to be assessing each of the teams another $2 million to $3 million. You can't start charging $50 a ticket."

Oki said the Sounders are operating with a budget of $1.5 million this year but probably will "scale back" to about $1 million next year.[snip]...

... Article ends talking about new local indoor team ...

By Craig Smith (Seattle Times staff reporter)

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