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 Seattle Sounders FC

Ownership Group of Sounders FC and Global Investment Firm Carlyle Invest in Three-Time NWSL Shield Winner Seattle Reign FC

June 17, 2024 - Major League Soccer (MLS)
Seattle Sounders FC News Release

SEATTLE, WASH. - Following the completion of a final Purchase and Sale Agreement, the Ownership Group of Seattle Sounders FC and global investment firm Carlyle have come together to invest in and operate leading National Women's Soccer League club Seattle Reign FC. This blockbuster agreement unites the topflight teams in women's and men's professional soccer for the first time in Seattle history, keeping the club firmly rooted in the Pacific Northwest for generations of fans. Owned and operated by France's OL Groupe since 2019, Reign FC is one of the leading clubs in the NWSL, which is widely considered to be the most competitive women's soccer league in global football.

United in a foundational belief in the future of women's soccer, Sounders FC Ownership is partnering with leading global investment firm Carlyle to invest in Reign FC. Carlyle brings its significant expertise and experience to this new venture, with Reign FC and Sounders FC joining forces to open the next chapter of Seattle's storied soccer history. As part of this new structure, Sounders FC Owner Adrian Hanauer is serving as Governor of Reign FC on the NWSL Board of Governors. Carlyle's Head of Private Credit, Alex Popov, will serve as Alternate Governor.

"Today is a milestone day for soccer in our city and I am humbled to be a part of it," said Hanauer. "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. 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."

Hanauer continues, "I'd also like to take this opportunity to thank the NWSL Board of Governors and Commissioner Berman for their partnership in this process and their belief in our bid, in addition to John Textor and his counterparts at Eagle Football Holdings and OL Groupe."

Carlyle is united with Sounders FC Ownership in a vision for the ascendancy of women's soccer, the NWSL and Seattle Reign FC. From connecting with strategic partners, to making the right capital investments, to ensuring high-quality experiences for fans and players, Carlyle brings the commitment and resources to this partnership to drive future growth for Seattle Reign FC. Since 2018, Carlyle's Global Credit business has deployed more than $4 billion into the sports, media and entertainment sectors, including investments into Atalanta Bergamo FC, Infront, a global sports marketing company, and Deltatre, a technology and media solutions provider to the sports and entertainment industries.

"Today marks a significant occasion for professional women's soccer in the United States and the greater Seattle sports community," said Popov. "It is also 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. 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. Reign FC is a storied club that has seen tremendous on-field and off-field success, and we're committed to being a steward of that success for the team. We'd like to thank Commissioner Berman and the NWSL Board for their support and partnership during this process."

"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. We look forward to the continued growth of the club."

Reign FC's women-led leadership team is being helmed by Maya Mendoza-Exstrom, who steps into the role of Chief Business Officer following 10 years with Sounders FC in Major League Soccer. Partnering with General Manager Lesle Gallimore and Head Coach Laura Harvey, Mendoza-Exstrom is leading the club's business operations, strategic growth and off-field impact. She most recently served as Chief Operating Officer for Sounders FC, where she was charged with leadership of 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. Previously she served as the club's first General Counsel and has been an active community leader and board member supporting several local organizations, including serving on the board of RAVE Foundation.

A product of Washington Youth Soccer, Mendoza-Exstrom is a Seattle native and has extensive experience across the youth, collegiate and professional soccer landscape. She has been a principal stakeholder in key civic matters, including Seattle's successful bid to become an official host city for the FIFA World Cup 2026™, working in a leadership role on Seattle's local organizing committee. An All-American soccer player at the University of Puget Sound, Mendoza-Exstrom is also a graduate of the University of Washington School of Law.

"I am excited and deeply honored to step into a role of leadership for Seattle Reign FC," 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. My commitment and one I make alongside two incredible teammates in Lesle Gallimore and Laura Harvey, is simple: 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. I believe in this club, its brand, and in the profound ability for soccer to impact our community off the pitch. I look forward to working hard along with our players, staff, partners and fans to build upon the strong foundation that has been laid. 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."

Mendoza-Exstrom continues, "I'd also like to thank outgoing CEO Vincent Berthillot for his years of service leading Reign FC here in our market."

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