SBD/Issue 195/Franchises

Sounders Weigh Benefit Of More Seats, Intimate Atmosphere

Sounders Expecting To Sell Out
Every Game Of Inaugural Season
The MLS Sounders FC are walking a "fine line between meeting the demand for tickets and maintaining an intimate atmosphere" at Qwest Field, according to Tom Wyrwich of the SEATTLE TIMES. The team yesterday opened up about 4,000 additional seats for sale in the south end zone for its game against the Rapids, "essentially making the entire lower bowl available." With a current capacity of 32,500, Sounders investor & GM Adrian Hanauer said that it is “‘highly unlikely’ any more seats will become available during the regular season.” Hanauer: “We’re pretty much maxed out on the lower bowl, and there are not a lot of options for us.” Wyrwich noted the tarps covering the upper deck and the Hawk’s Nest section “will almost surely not come down” because they have been “sold to the team’s sponsors.” Also, more open sections “would require more staffing.” Meanwhile, Hanauer “stressed the importance of also not messing with what he feels is the best game experience in the MLS.” Hanauer: “We want the best atmosphere, we want intimacy, we want the seating packed -- we don’t want patches of people here and there. We want to try and match supply and demand” (SEATTLE TIMES, 6/28). In Tacoma, Don Ruiz reported no more than a “few hundred tickets are left for any remaining home league game,” and Hanauer said that he “expects them all to sell out” (Tacoma NEWS TRIBUNE, 6/27).

BLUEPRINT FOR SUCCESS: The AP’s Tim Booth wrote the “overwhelming success of the first-year Sounders is providing an example for future MLS teams to follow.” Seattle is “easily on pace to shatter the previous attendance mark,” set by the Galaxy in the league’s first season. Univ. of Oregon Warsaw Sports Marketing Center Managing Dir Paul Swangard: "One of the current examples that we can show of the best practices of starting a team from scratch would have the Sounders all over it. … It’s across the four P’s of marketing: product, price, place and promotion. All the facets of what we would say is sports marketing 101 they’ve accounted for and are doing well.” Hanauer said, “What maybe has surprised me is that it’s become so mainstream, so prevalent, all the way through the community, through every type of sports fan so quickly” (AP, 6/27).

INT'L RELATIONS: In Seattle, Art Thiel noted a “small percentage” of fans yesterday "showed up early to take advantage of the Sounders’ late offer to put the first half" of the Brazil-U.S. Confederations Cup Final on the Qwest Stadium screens. When the Sounders game started, the Cup final “was blacked out,” but “not a peep of protest was heard.” Thiel: “These were the Sounders, damn it, and the rest of the world for the next two hours could fight for second place in the attention sweepstakes.” However, the MLS practice of releasing top players in midseason to play for national teams in international competitions such as the Confederations Cup could “chip away at the league’s credibility.” Sounders G Kasey Keller: “These MLS fans pay good money to see their top players, who now are off with their national teams. You gotta have your stars on the field” (, 6/28).

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