The drama surrounding the Seattle Sounders isn’t going to let up any time soon. Is a 4th DP coming soon to a stadium near you? Will the offense get its groove back? Have we seen the last of Marco Pappa? When will Oba come back? All of these questions beg answers, but in today’s post I am going to explore a different inquiry.
Remember those old Marvel What If comics? (The best was when Wolverine became “Lord of the Vampires,” that was a great comic!). Earlier in the month I ran a stadium series. In the first post I explored the economic impact of CenturyLink Field, in the second, the utility and value of the stadium. To conclude I ask a simple question: What if the Sounders were the sole tenant of CenturyLink Field?
The Seahawks rule the stadium roost. Paul Allen and First and Goal Inc., are the final arbiters of the pitch at CenturyLink. The Seahawks refuse to play on grass (or even fresh FieldTurf), and so be it. Most soccer purists want the Sounders to play on natural grass. It is simply a better surface and carries the cachet that a #hellagreedy club desires. Difficult? Yes, but so is winning 4 US Open Cups in 6 years. Expensive? Yes, but so is signing Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins. Logistically impossible? Hell no, the Green Bay Packers play on grass on the 44th parallel in the snow. If the Sounders want to be the Packers of soccer, they need to make grass work. Problem is, the city of Seattle will never vote for another stadium.
Seattle has a fraught history with funding stadiums. It started back in the 1960s when the public refused to fund the Kingdome, not once but twice!, continued through the ‘90s when the public refused to fund Safeco Field (before the State Legislature rammed the funding through) and into the 2000s when the Sonics held the city hostage for a new arena before… well we all know how that ended.
Therefore I submit a modest proposal. Since Seattle won’t foot the bill for a separate soccer-specific stadium, we need Renton to step up. Not for the Sounders but the Seahawks. Remember when I noted that CenturyLink is over the hill? Let’s say the Seahawks get jealous of the 49ers’s new big digs in the ‘burbs (Levis Stadium sits 68,000 but can expand to a whopping 83,000! CLink is only 67k to 72k). So maybe Paul Allen wants a stadium big (80k) like he likes his yachts. We don’t have room in city limits, so the Hawks (like the Niners) look to the ‘burbs. The Seahawks’ headquarters and training complex is already in Renton, the stadium would be a final complement. King County votes (flush with the Seahawks’ recent success) and the unjaded (stadium-wise) citizens of Renton are more than happy to have the Hawks in their backyard.
All of a sudden, downtown Seattle would belong to the Sounders (sorry baseball fans). With First and Goal Inc. out of the picture, there’s nothing to stop Adrian and Co. from finally getting grass. Imagine that: a franchise looking to soar firmly planted on solid ground.