The turf at CenturyLink Field will look quite different Friday than it normally does for Sounders FC games.
The Seahawks logo will be painted on midfield and there will be end zone lettering, as well. Based on the weather, there could also be thick outline to the football field. There won’t be the grid lines that stretch across the field or hashmarks, but safe to say, this isn’t the ideal situation for the arguably the biggest home game of the year in front of a national audience.
Here’s explanation from general manager and part owner Adrian Hanauer: “Look, we have a fantastic partnership with the NFL team, obviously joint ownership of the MLS team. We thought competitively that Friday was much better for us than Monday. Friday meant there was a compromise on football markings. I know that the field crew is doing everything they can to have as few football markings as possible. We’re also working on some pretty cool technology that we think might make the process even faster and sort of lead to no conflicts ever, but that’s a work in progress. Anyway, we came to this compromise together, and we’re certainly satisfied with the process.”
And here are some thoughts from coach Sigi Schmid: “I think our organization and this club has been tremendous about making sure that we always played our games on a soccer field and that it was pretty pristine. But we are an organization that works together — the Seahawks and ourselves — and they’ve done things to help us, and we’ve done things to help them. For us right now, from a physiological side for the team, it made more sense to play the game on Friday. We realize that we’d have to deal with some markings. The end zone markings and the midfield markings, we’re fine with. If the border could be avoided along the sidelines, that would be great for us, but we understand that we’re a cooperative organization, and there’s been so much cooperation between the two organizations that this is a small thing for us to do and it was the right thing to do in terms of choosing the date of the game for the team.”
So is there any concern that people tuning into Friday’s game will think lesser of the team or the league if it looks like this big game is being played on a football field?
“Sure. That’s always a concern,” said Hanauer, “but I also am empathetic to people tuning on Sunday and not having any football lines on the field because they’ve washed away in a torrential downpour. Again, this was a compromise. Our preference would be a totally clean soccer field, and football’s preference undoubtedly was a completely lined football field so that they don’t have any concerns for Sunday, but it’s the reality of a two-sport stadium. Again, not to deflect, I am really excited about the potential of this technology that we’re working on. We’re using it in this situation to come up with a compromise we’ve come up with. In the future we may even be able to push it further and get to a point where in a 12 or 18-hour period we can be 100-percent confident that the transition is going to work. Other then technology changes, the reality is we play our playoffs in the middle of the Seahawks, and we would never ask them to play five or six games on the road, nor would they ask us to reverse a home-field advantage or reverse the order in which we play our games at home. Again, is it a perfect situation? No. But we’re pretty comfortable with the end result.”
Hanauer said he didn’t know who has the ultimate say in the circumstance that the Seahawks and Sounders couldn’t agree on what to do, but deferred again to the new technology in the works. He explained it a little bit, as well.
“It’s the drying process,” he said. “It’s like a blowing/painting/covering/heating process … because, as is, if you paint the lines in the pouring rain, you’ve got wet paint and lines going down and the rain potentially can just wash it away. So it’s a way to sort of seal it dry immediately.”