UPDATE: The Sounders formally announced that two parts of the stadium will be at full capacity to vaccinated fans. In addition to sections 121-123 — otherwise known as the Brougham End — sections 304-309 will also be fully opened. This should push capacity to close to 15,000 for the May 23 match against Atlanta United.
Seattle Sounders fans longing to get to know their neighbor will be able to do so again very soon.
The Sounders are planning to open a vaccinated GA section on May 23, when Atlanta United pays a visit to Lumen Field, Sounder at Heart has learned. In an email sent to fans who have tickets in sections 121-123, the Sounders announced that the team has partnered with the Emerald City Supporters (ECS) to make the lower portions of those sections available for anyone who has been fully vaccinated.
ECS is the supporter group who has resided in those sections since the team’s entry into MLS in 2009. When the Sounders allowed fans back into the stadium in April, only limited numbers of fans were allowed in the section, in line with the limitations imposed by government officials at the time. ECS typically controls a limited number of tickets which they sell directly to members, but it is unclear if they will sell tickets or otherwise limit them to members.
The Sounders will require that fans provide proof of vaccination in order to sit in the sections. What form that will take is unclear. There is a standard card given out as part of the vaccination process, but there are also third-party apps that provide verification. “[I]n order to sit in these sections, all attendees will need to be prepared to show proof of vaccination at the match,” according to the email.
The Sounders declined to comment on the record, though an official on background confirmed the plans to open those sections to vaccinated fans. According to that official, the email was sent to a small number of ticket holders in the section that would be affected by the plans. An official announcement could come as early as next week. A statement from an ECS official confirmed that talks were ongoing with the Sounders about expanding the section to vaccinated fans.
The plans to open those sections still has several moving parts according to the official, including the ticket allotment ECS would control, and how the parties would work to ensure that only vaccinated ticket holders could enter the section. Additionally, the Sounders have not finalized capacity for the section, though they expect to provide more clarification when the official announcement is made, according to the source.
Pursuant to Gov. Jay Inslee’s announcement earlier this week, teams may add outdoor vaccinated sections under the following conditions:
- Outdoor facilities may add vaccinated sections until their total capacity is 50% maximum or 22,000 people, whichever is lower, inclusive of both vaccinated and unvaccinated sections.
- Outdoor unvaccinated spectators cannot exceed 9,000 people.
Additionally, under the updated guidance, the following are acceptable as proof of full vaccination:
- Vaccination card (which includes name of person vaccinated, type of vaccine provided and date last dose administered) OR
- A photo of a vaccination card as a separate document OR
- A photo of the attendee’s vaccine card stored on a phone or electronic device OR
- Documentation of vaccination from a healthcare provider electronic health record or state Immunization Information System record.
Self-reported vaccination records that are not verified by a health care provider cannot be accepted. According to the email, the Sounders will work with those fans who have not received vaccinations or wish not to sit in the unvaccinated section. It is unclear if fans will be able to receive refunds for those tickets.
King County is currently experiencing what has been termed a “fourth wave” of Covid-19 infections — although it does appear to have plateaued, and perhaps is even declining — with a rate of about 250 infections per 100,000 residents over the most recently completed 14-day period. But the county is also among the most aggressive in terms of vaccinating residents, with nearly 70% of adults having received at least one dose and nearly 50% of adults considered fully vaccinated. Vaccines are currently freely available throughout the county for walk-in appointments and the Sounders are offering free vaccines to anyone who attends games.