Being a Seattle Seahawks season-ticket holder for 15 years, you learn a thing or two about going to games. From where to park and how to save money, to unspoken stadium etiquette, I’ve experienced it all. So here’s a few tips from a grizzled veteran of the gameday grind:
Leave early in the morning and drive to the game. This goes against everything the city of Seattle wants you to do, but if you want the best experience possible, this is the top option. Go where you want. Tailgate with your friends or find a watering hole to take in the morning games. Take your time after the game and grab a roadside hot dog on the cheap. Avoid the hustle and bustle of packed buses and trains. Yep, nothing beats being in control of your game-day fun.
Forget about parking anywhere near the stadium or to the north, or risk getting a ticket from Seattle’s three-wheeled parking-enforcement tyrants. Head to the SoDo area for a chance at free street parking or more reasonably-priced lots — if you can stomach walking past Starbucks headquarters and the ghost of the Seattle Sonics. Plus, SoDo is the place to be for hardcore tailgaters. And here’s a hidden gem for your ears only: the International District. Great food, easy access to I-5 and a much easier walk to the stadium than from SoDo.
Drink your adult beverages before the game to save a bundle of cash. I like to enjoy a Sunday brewski or a cocktail as much as the next guy, but I’m consistently stunned at fans who buy multiple drinks inside the stadium. At around $10 a pop, the body says yes, but the wallet says no. Do yourself a favor and enjoy a little pre-game funk, but cut it off after that and enjoy the game. For $5 12-ounce cans of Bud Light and a chance at an autograph from a Seahawks legend like Nesby Glasgow or Paul Moyer, head on into Touchdown City at the CenturyLink Field Event Center before the game.
Dress for rainy weather to be safe, but the sun always shines at kickoff. This is kind of a running joke for game-day veterans. Somehow in the rainiest of cities, Seahawks games are rarely played in a downpour. I’ve hoofed it in to many a game in the pouring rain, only to see the clouds part and the sun peek out at kickoff. Maybe it’s a coincidence. Maybe not. If you don’t want to risk getting wet, make sure you buy your tickets in middle portion of the 300 level on either side of the stadium. The views are great and you will stay dry if it starts to rain.
Be prepared to hug a stranger. This might get uncomfortable for some, but trust me, you may be booed out of the stadium if you ignore your neighbors’ advances. I’ve shed tears while in the arms of people I barely knew (Richard Sherman’s tip in the NFC Championship game anyone?) So hug a stranger when the Hawks make a big play. The world needs more of this anyway.
Sit if you like, but don’t yell at the guy who wants to stand. This isn’t a Mariners game, people. This is football. Fans gets rowdy and loud and that’s what makes the experience awesome. So if you don’t want to stand up and yell when the opponent faces a critical third-and-short, that’s your call. But please don’t be the guy who tells people to sit down. Not cool.
Leave a bottle of water and a snack in your car for postgame. A true veteran move here. You will likely have a sore throat from screaming at the refs, booing Seattle’s offense (a rite of passage for Seahawks fans) and trying like heck to get the opponent to false-start. There’s nothing worse than being thirsty and stuck in traffic. And a snack? Well, of course. If you passed on the insanely priced food inside the stadium, you will certainly be hungry. Potato chips are the proper call.
Traveling to a Seahawks game can be a frustrating and expensive experience. I understand why some might throw up their hands and decide to watch from the comfort of home. But then I think about the NFC Championship games in 2006, 2014 and 2015, Shaun Alexander scoring five TDs in the first half on a Sunday night in 2002, the Beastquake in 2011, the Fail Mary in 2012, Russell Wilson vs. Deshaun Watson last season, and on and on.
Is it worth it? Absolutely.