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Seattle Reign finally officially sold to Sounders, Carlyle Group

Finished sale and women-led leadership group bring hope and stability to Seattle

Maya Mendoza Exstrom stands next to Adrian Hanaeur, Lesle Gallimore, and Alex Popov.
New Seattle Reign FC ownership and leadership pose together. From left to right, Chief Business Officer Maya Mendoza-Exstrom, Owner Adrian Hanaeuer, General Manager Lesle Gallimore, and Carlyle Head of Private Credit Alex Popox. (Photo provided by Seattle Sounders FC)

SEATTLE — The sale of Seattle Reign FC transferring ownership from Eagle Football Group (formerly OL Groupe) to the Ownership Group of Seattle Sounders FC and global investment firm Carlyle is finally complete. The completion of a final Purchase and Sale Agreement that unites Seattle’s top-flight men’s and women’s professional soccer teams for the first time in the city’s history was announced Monday morning.

“This announcement is about keeping one of the top women’s teams in the world locally rooted in our community for generations of fans to enjoy. I am a deep admirer of the Reign organization, and alongside our new partners at Carlyle, we are excited to steward this incredible club,” Sounders FC Owner Adrian Hanaeuer said in a press release. “Our goal is to be a standard-bearer in global soccer. This means creating a first-class environment for players, staff and fans, while staying authentic to our community. For anyone that loves the sport of soccer and its place in Seattle, today’s news brings everyone together and allows us all to run toward an incredible future.”

Seattle Reign was owned and operated by OL Groupe since 2019 when they purchased the club for $3.5 million. In April of 2023, Washington Spirit owner Michele Kang took over the Lyon women’s team from OL Groupe, requiring then OL Reign to be put up for sale. Nearly a year later, on March 18, 2024, it was announced that this sale was near completion and expected to close after approval by both the NWSL and MLS Board of Governors. Three months later the promised sale has finally come to fruition with a $58 million price tag.

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Hanaeuer will serve as Reign FC governor on the NWSL Board of Governors while Alex Popov, Carlyle’s Head of Private Credit, will serve as Alternate Governor.

“On behalf of the NWSL and its Board of Governors, we’re thrilled to welcome this new ownership group into the NWSL,” said NWSL Commissioner Jessica Berman. “Combining the operational expertise and long-term community leadership of the group led by Adrian Hanauer, with the financial investment of one of the world’s leading investment firms in Carlyle, this group positions Seattle Reign FC for success.”

Carlyle brings significant resources to the ownership partnership, having under $425 billion of assets under management as of March 31, 2024. Since 2018, Carlyle’s Global Credit business “has deployed more than $4 billion into the sports, media and entertainment sectors.” Popov called the move “an exciting moment for the Carlyle organization as we extend our investment expertise into women’s sports.”

“We believe there is a massive disconnect between the excitement and engagement around women’s soccer and the level of investment into the leagues, teams and players that drive this fandom,” Popov said in a press release. “In partnership with Adrian Hanauer, Hugh Weber, Maya Mendoza-Exstrom and the rest of the experienced ownership of Seattle Sounders FC, we are excited to drive investment and growth for Reign FC while engaging meaningfully with the Seattle community.”

Though ownership is mostly male the leadership team is women-led. Seattle-native Maya Mendoza-Exstrom will become Reign FC’s Chief Business Officer after 10 years working with the Sounders. She partners with General Manager Lesle Gallimore and Head Coach Laura Harvey to lead this new era of Seattle Reign soccer.

“I am excited and deeply honored to step into a role of leadership for Seattle ReignFC,” said Mendoza-Exstrom. “This game has been a part of my life since I was four years old. The opportunity to lead this club – my club – at this important moment where the unique value of women’s sports and athletes is being met with investment, interest and visibility is humbling.” 

From left to right, General Manager Lesle Gallimore, Chief Business Officer Maya Mendoza-Exstrom, and Head Coach Laura Harvey pose to announce Seattle Reign FC’s new ownership. (Photo provided by Seattle Sounders FC)

Mendoza-Exstrom most recently served as Chief Operating Officer for Sounders FC but previously served as the club’s first General Counsel after graduating from the University of Washington School of Law. She is a product of Washington Youth Soccer with extensive experience across youth, collegiate, and professional levels of soccer.

As COO of Sounders FC she led “club operations in strategic initiatives, legal and external affairs, people and culture, social justice and philanthropy, government affairs and civic relations, growth and the organization’s impact.” Reign’s new CBO has also been a key stakeholder in local civic matters, including Seattle’s successful bid to become an official host city for the FIFA World Cup 2026.

As CBO of Reign FC, Mendoza-Exstrom commits “to accelerate the growth of our business and build our brand and fanbase to meet the opportunity of this global movement in women’s sports.”

The most important aspect of this announcement is that the sale is finally complete. Though there was hesitancy at the end of the 2023 season to say the ongoing sale would affect the offseason, it became a big barrier. Gallimore noted earlier this week that the effect of the unfinished deal could be seen clearest in the roster’s construction.

During that conversation, Gallimore told The Equalizer that the club is prepared to make roster moves this summer once the sale is complete. The transfer window officially opens on August 1 but deals can technically happen sooner than players can officially join the team. So it is unknown what moves the Reign will make or exactly when but do expect them, backed by official, long-term ownership, to look for impact signings this summer.

Seattle Reign FC currently sits 13th in the 14-team league standings but technically only seven points out of playoff position. Fans may not see the full effect of new ownership until this upcoming offseason but don’t write off this year’s team buoyed by good news just yet.

“I look forward to working hard along with our players, staff, partners and fans to build upon the strong foundation that has been laid,” CBO Mendoza-Exstrom said. “Together we strive to grow Reign FC into a globally renowned club that wins championships and leaves our sport better than we found it for the next generation.”

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