It will be interesting to see if the Sounders reconsider their thinking on seating around CenturyLink as the Clint Dempsey effect demonstrates its ongoing influence at the gate.
The Sounders have always resisted the urge to open up more seats, careful to retain the benefit of “demand,” even if it is artificially created.
The calculation ahead is fairly straight-forward: Can the far-and-away MLS attendance leaders consistently generate even more ticket revenue by opening additional seating areas? We know this for doggone sure: they can sell plenty for one big, massive, humdinger of an evening.
The humdinger in question is, of course, the U.S. international’s home debut. The Sounders play twice on the road, at Toronto this weekend and at Houston a week later, before home fans get a chance to see their new money man in person on CenturyLink turf.
It’s not just the ballyhooed DP Deuce Debut (high-priced lawyers are trademarking that as we speak), it’s a Cascadia Cup contest against rival Portland as well.
CenturyLink is already the site of the second-largest stand-alone MLS crowd in 18 seasons; a crowd of 66,452 roared in the Pacific Northwest last fall for another Sounders-Timbers contest there.
The MLS stand-along record (that is, a match that was not part of an international doubleheader) is 69,255 for the Galaxy-New York match in 1996.
Here’s what Sounders GM Adrian Hanauer said during Monday’s news conference on the CenturyLink seating matter going forward: “We’ll take it day by day, kind of see and get through this initial period and go into a deep dive with the business group and figure out the best way to monetize this, but because the reality is that generating some additional revenue would be good to defray some of the costs. But we’re a little too close to know exactly how we’ll do it.”