Perhaps the most enduring dream of many Seattle Sounders fans has been around the potential of converting Lumen Field to a permanent grass pitch. Once part of the original plan when taxpayers were asked to foot the bill for the stadium, grass has only been used temporarily to accommodate various friendlies against the world’s biggest clubs and for things like World Cup qualifying or the Copa America Centenario.
Seattle’s bid to be one of the hosts for the 2026 World Cup has given grass enthusiasts another glimmer of hope.
Sounders President of Business Operations Peter Tomozawa provided some mixed messages on that front during his recent appearance on “Drinks with Daniels” when host Chris Daniels asked if the Sounders would ever have a grass home field.
Tomozawa first jokingly asked “are you a FIFA plant? I think you are” before answering: “The honest answer is I don’t know, but the world is fast evolving.”
When pressed about how that would impact Seattle’s World Cup bid, Tomozawa was more reassuring.
“All I can say is it will not be an impediment to getting World Cup games.”
There’s plenty of evidence to suggest Tomozawa’s confidence is well placed, starting with the reality that just 8 of 17 remaining U.S. host city candidates and 1 of 3 Canadian host stadiums have permanent grass fields. Barring a massive change in the landscape, there will be host stadiums selected that require temporary grass fields to be installed. The Sounders have successfully installed temporary grass numerous times, most notably when hosting a U.S. World Cup qualifier in 2013 and several Copa America Centenario games in 2016. Virtually every prediction made about the likely U.S. host cities prominently mentions Seattle as among the favorites and the city checks virtually all the boxes that make it attractive.
Tomozawa’s statements were also consistent with what Sounders majority owner Adrian Hanauer told Sounder at Heart last October.
“There will be a grass pitch for the World Cup, that’ll be a requirement,” Hanauer said. “The technology is good enough, though, to do a temporary field and maybe the Sounders play a few games on that grass field.”