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Originally published Monday, January 21, 2013 at 8:00 PM

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Sounders GM Adrian Hanauer honored as Seattle Sports Star Executive of the Year

Seattle fans spoke loudly regarding Sounders FC executive and part-owner Adrian Hanauer — 96.3 percent voted to keep him as the team's GM.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Seattle Sports Star of the Year

What: 78th annual MTR Western Sports Star of the Year

When: Friday, VIP reception and Sterling Bank silent auction, 5:30 p.m.; award show, 7:30 p.m.; Stella Artois after party at Hard Rock Cafe, 9:30 p.m.

Where: Benaroya Hall, 200 University Ave., Seattle

Tickets: $35 award show only; $80 award show and VIP reception; $100 premium award-show seating and VIP reception

More: To buy tickets or for information, www.seattlesports.org/site446.php

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How well has Adrian Hanauer served as Sounders FC's general manager? Just ask the fans.

The team did.

After four seasons, the Sounders put the fate of their GM — removal or retention — in the hands of season-ticket holders with a vote. The process, unique to American professional sports, drew international attention. The results were staggering: 96.3 percent approval.

And for his contributions to the MLS team's astounding success on and off the field, Hanauer has been named Seattle Sports Star Executive of the Year.

"These awards are always team awards, and I have a fantastic group of people that I work with on the sporting side and on the business side," said Hanauer, also a part-owner. "For me, it's a reflection on the organization, not necessarily me individually. But I'm certainly honored to accept any award that gives me the indication that organizationally we're doing the right things."

Gary Wright, Sounders FC's vice-president of business operations, won the award last year.

Seattle, despite playing in a league driven toward parity, has been able to maintain consistent success over four seasons in part due to roster management. Two of the most impressive transactions in the 2012 league season, in fact, involved the Sounders.

Faced with the daunting task of replacing goalkeeper Kasey Keller, a local legend who retired in 2011, the team filled the spot ably with Austrian veteran Michael Gspurning, who boasted the MLS's best goals-against average and drew Goalkeeper of the Year consideration.

The Sounders also acquired struggling forward Eddie Johnson in a somewhat-controversial preseason trade that ended up heavily tilted in Seattle's favor by year's end. Johnson set a franchise record with 14 goals last season and has reestablished himself as a member of the U.S. men's national team.

Off the field, the Sounders broke the league's record for average attendance for the fourth straight season at 43,144. The team also boasts the best television ratings and merchandise sales in MLS.

While the early years of the franchise were focused on, among other things, building an organizational structure and team chemistry, these days are more about maintenance and optimization.

"I think we do lot of things better and in a more innovative way than some of our competitors," Hanauer said, "but I want to always push that envelope, whether it's in sports science, medical issues, statistics, the way we communicate with our players and staff, the way we travel and treat our players, just continuing to get better."

Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or jmayers@seattletimes.com

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