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Getting to Starfire: A frustrating dilemma

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UPDATE: The game has sold out.

Reviving a tradition started last year, Sounders-hosted U.S. Open Cup matches will be back at Starfire Sports Complex for the foreseeable future. The Sounders' will host Wednesday's quarterfinal match against the Los Angeles Galaxy at the Tukwila facility and they have already announced that a prospective semifinal match (against the Chivas USA-Houston winner) would also be hosted there as well.

As someone who has never watched a game there, I'm actually kind of excited about Wednesday's match at the approximately 5,000-seat (plus standing room) facility. The intimate setting seems like it will be a nice change from the enormity of Qwest Field.

I'm considerably less excited about trying to get there. Although I've been to Starfire many times, and maybe because of this, I know that getting there can be quite a hassle. Parking is limited (there aren't nearly enough spaces to accomodate the number of cars that would normally be expected for a crowd that size) and relying on the Internet for directions can be more complicated than you might imagine. Although there is an Amtrak station somewhat nearby and a light rail stop within the city limits, neither is particularly convenient for getting to the stadium.

Believe it or not, taking the bus may be the most convenient mode of transportation.

What would be great, though, is if the Sounders front office could figure out a way to partner with Sound Transit or some other organization to provide relatively inexpensive shuttle service, either from Qwest or from the Tukwila light rail stop. Considering attending USOC matches at Starfire seems to be something we should all get used to -- Wednesday will mark the fifth time the Sounders have hosted there -- it would seem to make sense to have a solution that makes getting to the facility as hassle-free as possible.

In the meantime, I've compiled a how-to guide for attending matches at Starfire (if you have other tips, feel free to share them in the comments):

Driving

Let's just start with the simple attempt to get driving instructions. If you type "Starfire Sports Complex" into Google Maps, the first place you'll get is located near Everrett, which is obviously not what we're looking for. If you happen to be coming in from outside the area and don't know any better, this could be quite a problem.

Tip No. 1: Make sure the place you get directions to is located in Tukwila. The proper address (no matter what else you might find) is 6840 Fort Dent Way, Tukwila.

If you bought a $15 parking pass, good for you, but make sure to get there early and be prepared to stay late on your way out. Other parking options involve parking on Interurban Ave. S and walking in via the Green River walking trail, which actually runs almost all the way to the Boeing field.

Train

The Renton Amtrak station is actually pretty close, only about a 14-minute walk according to Google Maps. The big problem here is that the schedule is really not set up for this kind of travel. While there is a train scheduled to leave Seattle at 5:30 p.m. and one on its way back at 9:11 p.m., those are literally your only two reasonable options for using that mode of transit. The 15-minute ride sounds great, but if you miss either train, you're basically stuck. Plus, at $16 per roundtrip ticket, it hardly seems like an economical option.

The light rail offers a much cheaper option (about $4.50) but it's really not walking distance (51 minutes according to Google Maps) and it doesn't seem to make a lot of sense to hop a bus from there (14 minutes total travel time). In any case, if you wanted to take the light rail to Tukwila and then connect to Starfire it would take at least 45 minutes if you were able to get all the connections perfectly.

Bus

For my time and money, the bus is really the best option. If you catch the 150 near Qwest, it's only about a 25-minute trip and costs the same as the light rail. I would still much rather take a shuttle, but this is probably the next best option.