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June 21, 2011 at 2:47 PM

Hanauer expects 45-50,000 fans for Thursday’s home game

If you remember, Thursday’s home game against New York is one part of a three-game ticket package that also includes the Manchester United friendly. Sounders FC’s plan is to open up more seats in the newly named CenturyLink Field against the Red Bulls, Man U. and the regular-season home finale on Oct. 15 against San Jose.

As such, the stadium will be more packed than usual for the nationally televised game (ESPN2). General manager Adrian Hanauer said he expects the crowd to be in the 45,000+ range and “maybe as high as 50,000.”

Seats for the 7 p.m. kickoff will be available to walk-up customers.

“Beautiful day. Come on out for a game,” Hanauer said, admitting he doesn’t have to pitch tickets very often.

Seattle’s home “sellout” streak of 40 will continue I’m told, even though there will likely be open seats and tickets available. The team’s benchmark for sellouts has been 35,500. Personally, I’m not sure how important it is to continue that streak if you’re packing a huge stadium with a crowd around 45-50K.

Hanauer was asked today what he hopes to show thousands of potential newcomers to the Sounders experience Thursday night.

“Hopefully it’s a fantastically entertaining, open game,” he said. “Both teams are fighting for position in their respective divisions, so I’m not sure that you’re going to get quite as free-flowing a game as maybe it was in Portland — also the size of field has an affect on that as well. Hopefully both teams play some good soccer and we send 10-15,000 newly exposed fans home with a win.”

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