Pro Sports Stadium Review: CenturyLink Field

The Seattle Seahawks play their home games in the NFL at CenturyLink Field in Seattle, Washington. In addition to hosting the Seahawks, the stadium is also home to the Seattle Sounders Football Club, Seattle’s Major League Soccer franchise. The venue itself was actually name Seahawks Stadium initially, and then changed its name to Qwest Field in 2004.  It was in 2011 that the field was renamed to CenturyLink, following that company’s acquisition of Qwest Communications. The complex is mammoth, and doubles as a complete Event Center that include the WaMu Theater, a more than ample parking garage and a public plaza. CenturyLink Field hosts numerous concerts, trade shows, and consumer events, in addition to sporting competitions. The venue is great from a location perspective, being located less the 2 miles away from Seattle’s central business district, and it is easily accessible via numerous freeways in the area, in addition to the ready availability of mass public transportation options.

Graphic via centurylinkfield

Construction on the stadium began in 2000 and took roughly three years to complete. The design process itself encompasses an open-air concept, and it mean to provide fans and spectator with an intimate viewing atmosphere. It is an ultra modern facility that has tremendous views of the skyline that is Downtown Seattle. As is pretty standard with newer stadiums in the NFL, roughly 67,000 fans can attend home games for the Seahawks, while more can be accommodated for playoffs and special events as necessary.

The crowd at this stadium is known to be among the loudest in all of professional sports. In fact, a Guinness World Record was set on September 15, 2013 for the loudest crowd ever recorded at an outdoor stadium at 136.6 decibels. The fans of the Kansas Chiefs subsequently broke the record, but the Seattle reclaimed the title once again on December 2, 2013. That was a Monday night games played against the New Orleans Saints. The title now goes back and forth between the two cities, but suffice it to say, quite simply, that CenturyLink Field is loud, and this has given the Seahawks team quite the home field advantage.

Back in 2002, CenturyLink Field gained the distinction of becoming the first stadium in the National Football League to install an actual FieldTurf Artificial Field. This particular field surface is composed of plastic fibers that are rooted in a mixture of ground rubber and sand. Again, this was the first time that such a field was used, and immediately the complaints started rolling in. Eventually, the field was replaced in 2008 after tests did reveal that the compression of the sand and rubber actually served to increase the risk of injuries to players. FieldTurf was also awarded the contract to install the new surface, which contained one-inch of a pour rubber foundation that was meant to prevent the compression of sand from occurring again. Within just two years, however, the field had degraded again to the point the blades were matted down, and it even failed FIFA’s quality testing, potentially disqualifying it from international soccer games being held there. The field itself continues to be a source of controversy in the Seattle area, with fans calling for natural grass, but stadium management claiming it would be too expensive and cumbersome to do so in Seattle’s constantly wet climate. If that is the only controversy, however, then they must have done something right.

In the end, this is one field that NFL fans from all over the country should consider visiting. The fan experience is almost unparalleled in all of football, save for maybe Green Bay, and that atmosphere is electric.

Graphic via seahawks

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