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Nine months of mayhem
No one could blame Peter McLoughlin if he opted for his own version of a pregnant pause any day now.
McLoughlin has been on the job for all of nine months, and the president of the Seahawks, Sounders FC and First & Goal already has had to deal with the NFL lockout, a change in the name of the venue where both teams play and the extension of a sponsorship deal with his old bosses.
And his first season with the Seahawks also was the first for coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider, who completed 284 transactions but still managed to produce an NFC West title and that stunning upset of the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints in the first round of the playoffs.
“To come in at a time when Pete Carroll was really getting it going, and John Schneider and he were putting together a whole new team on the field, and then to win the NFC West,” McLoughlin said this week, “that’s been exciting.
“So it has been a good, and not-difficult, transition.”
McLoughlin was hired on Sept. 23 to replace Tod Leiweke, who resigned last July to become CEO and part owner of the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning.
McLoughlin took the opposite route, coming to the Seahawks after serving as CEO of the NHL’s St. Louis Blues. Out of necessity, as well as by nature, he hit his new turf running – despite being unsure of just how many tasks awaited him, but knowing that any one of them could become an obstacle.
“Things have been really good,” he said. “But we’ve got such a great staff, and we’ve got such a great fan base and there’s such respect for (owner) Paul Allen and the organization.
“No doubt, the staff is just superb – I mean, really professional, really committed, really hardworking. I think I would depict everybody I work with as really loving their job. When you come to work every day and you’re having fun, people work hard and it doesn’t feel like work because you’re passionate about it.”
That was evident Thursday, as McLoughlin was on hand when the logo for the new name of the team’s stadium – CenturyLink Field – was unveiled, and a five-year extension of the naming-rights deal announced.
“To get the long-term deal on the stadium naming rights is huge,” McLoughlin said. “The financial stability that provides from a sponsorship standpoint is really, really important. You don’t want to be out in the market really looking for a new naming-rights deal in this economy.”
McLoughlin also just completed a sponsorship extension with Anheuser-Busch, where he worked for 21 years before joining the Blues.
“That was kind of fun for me, because I got to negotiate with my old buddies,” McLoughlin said.
Then there’s the NFL lockout, which began in March but is starting to show signs of ending as the owners and players continue to narrow gaps in their talks to reach a new CBA. McLoughlin has represented Allen at the league meetings – and all that that represents – during the arduous process.
“I think the unknown was what was going to happen with the CBA,” McLoughlin said. “But frankly, the learning that we’re all going though in terms of this CBA process is really positive because whatever deal we come out of the negotiation with will be a good deal for the long-term health of the league and we’ll understand it really well because we’ve all been a part of the process.
“It’s going to be a smart new deal. So to me, it was all upside.”
Yes, his plate has been overflowing. But you’d never know it by the way McLoughlin has gone about his business. Unflappable? He was on Thursday, when pressed about the name fans might hang on the stadium now that it goes by CenturyLink Field.
“What name do you think fans are going to take to?” a reporter asked McLoughlin after the news conference.
“CenturyLink Field,” he said.
“What name do you think fans are going to take to?” the reporter asked again.
“I honestly think they’re going to take to CenturyLink Field,” he said.
Would the third time be the charm, as McLoughlin was again asked the same question?
McLoughlin cracked the slightest of smiles before offering, “When the reinforcement comes from the announcers on national TV for Seahawks and Sounders game, and local TV and radio for Seahawks and Sounders games, and when it’s written in the press for the name that it is – which is CenturyLink Field – I think that will clearly be the name that sticks.”