Another Summer has come and gone. Every year they seem to go by faster and faster. Since IO was a schoolkid, this time of year has always been bittersweet for me. Sure, it meant the end of long sunny days playing with the other kids and the start of another dreaded school year, but it also meant the coming of the baseball playoffs and World Series and the start of a brand-new NFL season. Even after all these years, I still feel somewhat the same way – even though I don’t get my summers off any more.
So, I am saying goodbye to Summer and hello to football with my first trip of the season and my 4th straight opening day game. This year, it’s clear across country to the beautiful and exciting Emerald City to see the Seahawks take on the Bengals. Unlike my last trip here in 2016 when I saw the Mariners, I plan on spending some extended time in the great Pacific Northwest of Oregon and Washington exploring some of the remarkable natural beauty of the area and getting in some cycling and hiking. Accompanying me on the trip is my sweetie Cathy, although I am not shelling out 300+ dollars for a ticket to a game for someone who’d much rather be shopping anyway.
We arrived by a very early AM flight from Newark this morning landing about 9am and getting to our hotel in Pioneer Square about an hour later. After a breakfast at one of the countless coffee shops in the city, I made my way over to the stadium following an army of bright green and blue clad fans past a bustling assortment of watering holes filled with fans who seem like they’ve been drinking for months getting ready for the new season.
There is an area outside the stadium called ‘Touchdown City’ that is open to anyone a few hours before the. There are live bands, food and booze,etc. which serves as a de-facto tailgate area. In Touchdown City, fans can watch the early NFL games on huge screens while bands entertain the crowd, meet famous former Seahawks, the Sea Gals and the mascot, Taima the hawk. They can also throw passes at targets, kick field goals and run timed 40-yard dashes.
The stadium has wide concourses that offer outstanding views of the Seattle skyline, T-Mobile Park, the Cascades and Mt. Rainier, Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains.
The North and South side seating areas are open air so be prepared to be a part of the elements of mother nature. It’s not at all uncommon to experience some rain in Seattle during football season. What started as a sunny day turned cloudy by the 3rd quarter – then came a 10-minute downpour, followed by more sun – then followed by more rain. Luckily, I was under an overhang and only got wet when the winds picked up. There are two things that I noticed most everyone in the stands brought with them – a rain jacket and earplugs.
There are some great food and beer offerings available in the stadium featuring a lot of local Seattle favorites including Ivar’s Seafood, Lickety BBQ, Kidd Valley burgers, Beechers’ Mac and Cheese , Uli’s Sausage House and SODO Cucina. There are lots of craft beer options including local favorite Elysian – including my favorite – Elysian Space Dust
Possibly the most remarkable feature of this stadium are its fans. Sure, every most NFL venue can brag about the intensity and loyalty of their fan base, but in my opinion, Seattle can stand head to head with any of them. Especially when it comes to making noise. It’s the only team in the NFL that has a designated retired number for the fans! In fact, the #12 can be found displayed all over the city of Seattle during football season.
For me, getting to the stadium was less than a 10 minute walk from my hotel in Pioneer Square. For others not staying in Seattle, the journey can be a bit more frustrating and time consuming, especially if you have to get there via the I-5 freeway.
If you want to avoid the drive and parking costs, other options are buses and the Link Light Rail or you can take the special ‘Sounder Train’ which leaves you a couple blocks away at beautiful and historic King Street Station
The Seahawks trailed for most of the game with Bengal QB Andy Dalton throwing for over 400 yards and 2 TDs leading putting his team out in front 20-14 entering the 4th quarter. But on the first play of the quarter, Hawks QB Russell Wilson pitched a 44-yard TD pass to Tyler Lockett to put them in front 21-20. The Seahawks defense kept the Bengals from putting anymore points on the board and sealed the victory
After the game, we headed over to the Waterfront for a great dinner at the famous Ivar’s Acres of Clams. We have a lot on the agenda for the rest of the week – exploring some of the great Seattle neighborhoods tomorrow, then heading up to Mount Rainier and then down to the Oregon Coast, the Columbia River Gorge for cycling and hiking and finally two days in one of my favorite cities, Portland.
A very nice way to start to the 2019 season. My next stop is New Orleans in 4 weeks.
Welcome back football!
Fans – A – Very friendly, enthusiastic and LOUD – especially with this being opening day.
Features – B- -Touchdown City is a great pre-game gathering place
Location – A – Great neighborhood with lots of pre and post game activity. Easily accessible by car or rail
Food – B+ – Lots of great food options from local Seattle eateries. Elysian beer
Game – B – Surprising close and exciting game. Most folks were expecting a Seattle blowout
Overall Experience – B+ – Great opening day energy. Great city. Fun stadium and crowd