So way back when we were announced as the 2009 expansion team, there was some whining in MLS circles that Seattle got a pass when it came to providing a soccer specific stadium. Other cities were being asked to make a commitment to building new stadiums, but Seattle got permission to use the same one we use for football (American-style.)
Seattle placated everybody by saying, "But we'll only use the lower bowl, so it will be nice and intimate. Just like a smaller stadium."
From the Tacoma News Tribune:
The Sounders will use only 24,500 seats in the lower bowl for their MLS games. They will cover the unused seats of the upper decks and parts of the end zones to reduce awareness that the stadium can seat 67,000.
But hold on a sec. How many season tickets have we sold at this point? Over 20,000. Yeah, 20,000, which you know, if you follow MLS attendance numbers at all, is amazing -- the best in the league. (Take that, Toronto.) Average attendance at all games for all MLs teams in 2008 was 16,459. The LA Galaxy, at the top of the heap, had around 26,000.
But that 20,000 puts the lower bowl at very close to sold out, even before individual tickets have gone on sale to the general public.
From coach Sigi:
"I think if we can convince another 10 or 15,000 to come to our games, we're not only going to be a success story for soccer in the U.S.," Schmid said, "I think we'll establish some benchmarks for any sport. But the main thing for me right now is that when we walk out on that field on March 19, there is going to be a caldron of noise.
I'm way beyond thrilled that we may actually have one of the few franchises capable of turning a profit. This is what the league needs. (I haven't seen recent stats, but in the pre-Beckham years there were only a couple.)
But would selling an extra 10,000 tickets on top of the season tickets mean opening the upper bowl for 5500 people? Curious how they'd do that. Open one or two sections only?
I had an upper bowl seat for the DCU-Real Madrid game in 2006 and the seats and view were fantastic, so I'm not all that worried about this particular "problem." Except that I hope the upper deck folks get the same great experience that the rest of us do.
What it comes down to, though? Too many fans. I can think of a lot of teams who would like to have the same problem.