NFL Stadium #11: CenturyLink Field

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See all my pictures from this visit at my Flickr account.

I arrived in Seattle late Sunday night and tried to take the Link to my sister’s friend Kyle’s apartment, but because it was the last train it stopped in Beacon Hill. Fed up with public transportation, I got an Uber the rest of the way. The following morning I woke up early and bought my ticket from Ticketmaster. After my problems with Vivid Seats, I wasn’t looking for problems. I received some feedback on Twitter from a few other people who have had issues with Vivid Seats as well. They emailed me that a manager would get in contact with me within 48 hours, so I’ll keep you updated. I ended up paying face value from the Seahawks for $140, plus $22 in service fees. Not bad for a team that’s been in the Super Bowl the last two years.

Being on the West coast, Monday Night Football would be at 5:30 pm. I had a few hours to kill and decided to walk around the city and explore. Coffee from Starbucks was my obvious first stop and I was so overjoyed to be in Seattle, I went a little crazy and got a couple of pumps of pumpkin in my dark roast. Now I’ve never been big on pumpkin in my coffee, but I must’ve been feeling super white girl walking around and went right ahead. That cup reaffirmed my belief that pumpkin is for beer, not coffee. In respect to the Starbucks corporation, I drank it anyways (most of it settled at the bottom anyways) and walked around the Pike Place Market and surrounding area. This city is amazing. I would move here in a heartbeat.

Though I had no intention of walking all the way to the stadium, it was a beautiful day and I ended up joining the steady parade of fans down 1st Avenue. There were 12 flags on many of the buildings and it felt like the whole city was pumped up for that night’s game. A fair amount of Lions fans joined us and I even struck up a conversation with a couple next to me. They were bar hopping their way down to the stadium, which would be a great way to pre-game for this city, as there isn’t a tailgate scene. In our brief encounter, the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry did come up and our parting words to one another were “Go Blue,” “Go Bucks!”

I was blown away by a number of people near the stadium around 3:30 pm on a Monday. Most of the surrounding bars were packed and had people waiting in lines to get in. They do work in Seattle, right? CenturyLink Field is a very unique looking stadium. It’s kind of egg shaped with the north end zone being slightly open save, a section called the Hawk’s Nest. The design intended to make the stadium louder and up until five years ago, the Seahawks probably needed that boost in crowd noise. My contact for the game, Sandy was going to meet me at Touchdown City at 4:00 pm. I thought it was going to be outside, similar to the areas I’ve seen in San Francisco and Indianapolis. Walking through the crowds I didn’t see anything, so stopped to ask a fan where I could find it. He told me it was inside the building next to the stadium. Ahhhh, so that’s what those lines were for. I was right next to Safeco Field and stopped by to take a look, it’s one of my favorite ballparks. I saw the big banner of Robbie Cano hanging and wondered how much the Mariners enjoyed paying him this year (probably a lot). Can’t tell you how glad I am the Yankees made the postseason (very short lived, boo Houston) and the Mariners stayed home. Ca-no more contending! Though I really can’t fault him too much for leaving, this city is way better than NYC and that money, it’s ok too.

Walking back towards CenturyLink, I got in line at the building in between the stadiums and entered into Touchdown City. This was a full blown Seahawks party. The Blue Thunder (drum line) were on stage performing and there were games and booths set up all over for fans to visit. I met up with Sandy quickly and we set up our meeting location for after the game. TC was connected to the stadium, so I entered in there and walked around the lower concourse. It was tall and open, fairly sparse with decorations, save a sweet Super Bowl XLVIII sign and display of Washington high school helmets. There was a wall that was the team’s Wall of Legends, but it wasn’t much to look out. The Seattle Sounders also play at this stadium and their signage was very prevalent as well. For what the place lacked in concourse décor, they more than made up for in the amount of food and drink variations available. It had to be the most diverse of all the stadiums I’ve visited thus far. The prices weren’t bad either.

I walked out to the field to watch warmups, but it was still too early and the only people out on the field were the kickers. They weren’t too exciting and I ended up looking around the stadium and admiring the view of the city to the south. My phone battery was fairly low, so I headed to the next concourse level to charge it for the game. Usually, I bring my own charger because the stadium ones tend to be slow, but I realized I’d forgotten it at the apartment. I found myself actually wishing I was back in Denver for their mobile phone chargers. I can’t wait for those to catch on to all the stadiums. Settling for the Verizon charging station, I plugged in my phone and passed the time people watching. This fan base is great for that. They were painted up and I saw some fun costumes. I noticed quickly that Seahawk fans have a lot of pride in themselves and take the 12th man thing to a whole other level. What’s way more surprising, is the team actually embraces this and encourages it. Typically, it is teams that aren’t very good that show love for their fans, but the Seahawks seem to be bucking that trend. I know I don’t feel appreciated by some of the team’s I root for, so this mutual love had me a little jealous.

With the game about to start and my phone charged up a bit, I switched on the airplane mode and headed to my seat in section 324. I was in the last row of the north end zone and had a great view of the team’s entrance and the raising of the 12th man flag. Told you the team is passionate about their fans! Because I was in the last row, I was right above the crowd noise and could feel the volume, but not fully hear, if that makes sense. Everyone was on their feet cheering loudly during the Lions’ opening series. I thought with the 12s there might be an emphasis on defense similar to the Broncos, but there wasn’t. The stadium announcer was very mellow and aside from the flag raising, there wasn’t much in game production. When the Seahawks scored they set off those small, quick banging fireworks and ran flags down the field. Here was another team that celebrated first downs. But man, some of those first downs thanks to Russell Wilson scrambling out of trouble and connecting with his receivers had me joining in, complete with the arm motion. Maybe I can get over my elitist view on organized first down celebrations… at the NFL level at least.

I watched the first half from my seat, but after the halftime, I wanted to head down lower to fully experience the crowd and see the stadium at different angles. As soon as I descended from my perch, I was immersed in a deafening level of crowd noise. Yeah, the 12s are loud. In my walk towards the south end zone, I found that standing to the side of section openings was frowned upon in this establishment. I could feel the ushers’ eyes on me as I stopped for a play or two and to take pictures. Not looking to get in trouble, I moved on. Similar to Heinz Field, there were a couple tall ramps on either end of the south end zone that fans could stand and watch the game. There weren’t many fans utilizing this option, as the field view was slightly obstructed. I had grabbed a coffee (Starbucks of course) and watched most of the second half with a Packers fan. We gushed about Lambeau a bit… I need to do the tour next time. Though we were a little removed from the stands, the crowd noise still carried better than at my seat.

The fourth quarter felt like it flew by and all of a sudden it was the two-minute warning timeout. I still wanted to get lower for the full crowd experience and ran down thinking I could squeeze into the small standing room I saw below the ramp. The Lions had made this a game and it was packed now with Lions fans that had second thoughts of leaving early. Instead of pushing through them, I went to the first section of the main stands and found that I could stand against the wall for the final two minutes. The crowd was up on their feet as the Lions were in the red zone about to go ahead. I couldn’t have picked a better place to stand as Calvin Johnson fumbled into the end zone. Now I wondered how a defensive player batting the ball out could yield the same result as the offensive player doing the same, but I was cheering for the Seahawks and not about to disagree with refs. I was surprised that the Lions didn’t challenge the ruling, though I thought maybe they couldn’t. Regardless, it was a huge change of events and the crowd went nuts… I got so many high fives!

After the game ended I met Sandy near the media entrance and she signed off on my game completion. It was stadium #11, I’m over a third of the way there! I decided to charge my phone a bit before leaving the stadium in case I wanted to get an Uber or check in with Kyle. While it charged, I talked to a season ticket holder who beamed with pride talking about the team and how the stadium had improved over the last few years. He also shared with me that during his last physical his hearing had gone down and that’s why the team hands out complimentary ear plugs. It’s something I had never thought about, though I should as I’ve woken up a few times with my ears ringing after big games. What kind of damage have I been doing to my ears over the years of going to live sporting events? Maybe the home bodies are on to something?! It’s not enough of a concern to deter me from games, but I might have to snag some ear plugs next time I’m visiting Seattle or Kansas City.

Remember I am raising money for the Ronald McDonald House in Central Ohio. Please donate by clicking here.

Special thank you to Sandy for her time and assistance during my visit!


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