Sounders return to Starfire: A First-Timer's Guide/Refresher Course

Ozzie will throw things into the stands! - Steven Bisig-US PRESSWIRE

It's been almost two years since the Sounders had the honor to play a competitive match at Starfire. We'll walk you through it.

Ever had the chance to see a big band in a small venue? Pretty cool, right? Well, that's a lot like what going to Seattle Sounders matches at Starfire Sports Complex is like. You're right on top of the action. You can hear the players yelling at each other. You can literally feel the tension. No one, seriously no one, sits, or at least should feel comfortable doing so. When it gets really packed, it almost seems like the fire marshal should shut the place down. "Intense" would be a good way to describe it, if perhaps understated a tad.

Considering the place only holds about 4,000 people, though, I'm guessing more than a few of our readers have never actually been, either by choice or not. This is your chance to change that. Tickets for the Sounders' fourth-round U.S. Open Cup match against PSA Elite go on sale today at 10 a.m. Do yourself a favor and get some. If you really want to go, I'd get them ASAP. Once you've done that, here's a guide to navigating the unique ecosystem that is Starfire Sports Complex.

I'm sorry, but there's no way I'm paying "handling" fees. Can I just walk up and buy tickets the day of the game (June 18)?

There's some chance of that, I suppose, but I'd really caution against planning on that. Making it out to the old Fort Dent is a bit of a trek and I've heard far too many tales of people trying to do that very thing and coming away empty-handed. Don't be that person. If you really don't want to pay the fees -- and I don't blame you -- you can avoid them several ways.

The best way is probably to get tickets through ECS or one of the other supporters' groups, who started selling their allotment on Thursday night. You need to be a member, but as long as you are there's no mark up. You also get to be in their section, which is pretty sweet, assuming you're willing to sing, dance and generally go crazy for 90+ minutes.

You can also get tickets from the Starfire box office. I'd recommend calling ahead just to make sure someone is there, but they keep regular business hours. I obviously can't guarantee that tickets will remain available after the initial offering, but that's a gamble I'll leave up to you to take.

Let me sum up - it's sold out. Contact friends or search the comments section for people who have spares.

What about getting there? I hear it's a nightmare.

Well, "nightmare" is what we call a loaded word. We prefer, "an unpleasant dream." But, yeah, this is the big downside to Starfire. There's not really a perfect solution.

Here's the thing, you can drive, you can take the bus, you can do some combination of them all. Whatever you do, give yourself time. Plan on getting there early. The main parkling lot is especially big, so be prepared to park in the area around there. One word of wisdom: follow the crowds. There are no "secret" spots near Starfire. Also don't leave Seattle at 6:30 p.m. and expect to catch kickoff.

We got into a bit more detail on this a couple years ago, so feel free to check out that story if you feel like you need a bit more hand holding.

So let's say I get there early like you're telling me to do. How do I bide my time until the game starts?

Do you like pizza? I really hope you like pizza. Once you're inside Starfire, Mad Pizza is basically your only option. The plus side is they have pizza and beer. The downside ... I mean, you like pizza and beer, right?

I don't like pizza.

There are usually some vendors outside the stadium selling various edible goods, but it's a pretty good walk to the closest restaurant outside the grounds. There are concession stands where some "classic" ballpark fare like hot dogs, pretzels and churros can be purchased. There's usually a beer garden in the stadium, too. Lines are long, but it's basically behind the corner flag, which is fun.

Anything else I should know?

Just remember this is not CenturyLink Field. Don't expect anything about this experience to be similar to what you might get for a regular-season game. There's a good chance you'll be physically uncomfortable at times. You're going to have people or flags or kids carrying large replicas of the U.S. Open Cup trophy obscuring your view. Your ears are going to be ringing afterward. But it will be worth it. And then after the game you can hang out with your kids and get autographs.

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