Went to my first Seattle Sounders match last weekend versus Sporting KC. The Sounders lost 3-2 in an exciting match that saw Jordan Morris with a brace. Here, I wanted to put my thoughts down about everything around the game. Nashville SC is starting MLS next year so I was taking notes for what I hoped to see in and around Nissan Stadium. Also, this is a thanks to a couple of users on the Sounders subreddit that posted some good suggestions.
First, comparing Seattle and Nashville isn’t fair in many ways. Attendance was 37,722 for the Sunday night match. It might take years for Nashville to build a fanbase as big as Seattle. Specifically, their SS is much larger and more experienced than Nashville. That said, given Nashville SC will play its first two years in Nissan Stadium, seeing a match at CenturyLink Field, another NFL stadium where the Seahawks play, is a good preview. Even with almost 38K and the tarp, the stadium didn’t seem full. By no means did it feel empty either. Point is, Nissan is going to be very hard to create good atmosphere.
I stated by checking out the scene at Occidental Park at 5:15 (45 minutes before the march to the stadium). It wasn’t great as there weren’t a lot of people as the vast majority were eating and drinking for what seems to be 2 or 3 blocks in most directions around the park. While there was a small presence of kids games at the center what stood out more in the park was a dozen or more police. So I decided to take Reddit users tips and hit up Tat’s for a quick tuna sandwich. I know, not the best call at deli, but being this close to the coast I go seafood crazy. The deli had a little over a dozen people all of whom appeared to be going the game. The tuna was really good and took 5 minutes. Washed down with a beer, I headed back to Occidental Park for the march.
The march to the stadium is cool. I’ve watched videos and marched with AO many times, but I still found it exciting. Over a full block long with Sound Wave (the Seattle Sounders band) bringing up the rear. The police rode bikes along the edge of the march. @mkstnr of Sounders at Heart reported on a small disturbance and how Drew Carey showed up to keep things calm here. It’s an interesting read, but I didn’t notice anything though I was more towards the back of the march. There were plenty of families in the march as well. Across from the stadium the Sound Wave played a few songs as people entered. While inside the stadium is a different story, outside the Sound Wave is great. This would fit perfectly into the tailgate atmosphere that Nashville SC needs to build around Nissan. I would be in touch with whomever is in charge of the TSU band and start there.
CenturyLink is really beautiful stadium. Given Nashville SC is playing two years in Nissan I immediately noticed the tarp on the third level. The branding rights alone should cover the costs? About the only people in the upper deck were the small section of Sporting KC fans you can see here on the left. I get home filed advantage, but do all MLS stadiums but the away fans in the worst possible seats? I think that is the case. Perhaps MLS would be better served letting away fans have slightly better seating to encourage more away travel? While I loved the Sound Wave before the match, during it they were non existent. Hidden away on the second level first row endzone across from the SS. They played at half, but it wasn’t loud or really good. This may have been by design because the sound of CenturyLink was the SS. ESC, Gorilla FC and others sang from the loud bang at kickoff until the end. Super impressive given the team was down 3-1 at one point. Six capos willing to have their backs turned almost the entire match can’t be easy to staff. You don’t need a band inside when you have a SS that strong. Not sure how quickly Nashville can get there. Being an NFL stadium, the concourse is spacious and with Grab and Go areas getting concessions took no time at all.
I should mention like Nissan there is a clear bag policy but water and I think candy is allowed to be brought inside. Given ticket and parking prices I really hope this is the case at Nissan for MLS. I first saw this fan friendly policy at a Rockies game and thought it was great. I believe this might be a Nissan policy that the club is helpless to change, but this should be the policy in the new stadium for sure if they really want to be affordable for families. Just outside the stadium there where a few games setup for kids and minor giveaways. Nothing great, but every bit helps. I also loved the designated parking for bicycles. Healthy, environmentally friendly and gets a car off congested roads. Not sure Nashville has enough users or how much demand there would be at Nissan, but in Seattle it held dozens and dozens of bikes.
I really enjoyed the match as did my family. The 13 year old is ready for MLS for sure. That sound of the stadium that the home of the 12’s creates had him singing along on several occasions. For a little taste watch the sixty second video below to see the march to the stadium, Sound Wave playing outside shortly before the match and of course BOOM BOOM CLAP.