The Seahawks want to bring their home-field advantage back to Seattle.
To that end, there are going to be upgrades to Lumen Field for the 2022 season.
That’s what team president Chuck Arnold said on KJR-AM radio Monday.
“You ready for some breaking news?” Arnold teased KJR host Dave “Softy ” Mahler. “If all things go according to plan — and that’s with production, shipping, installation, those things — we are going to have two new video boards in the north end of the building in 2022.”
That’s the downtown side. It’s in the SoDo stadium’s open spaces between the metal end-zone bleachers from the old Kingdome the team calls the “Hawks Nest” and the main structure of decked seating that wraps around the opposite, south of end of Lumen Field. That north end currently has two small, “hustle-board” statistical boards flanking a small video board atop the end-zone bleachers. The south end of the stadium features a giant, main video screen.
“They are going to be double the size of what you currently see there with the hustle boards on the east and the west side of the Hawks Nest,” Arnold said of the two new video boards.
So the total number of large, horizontally oriented video boards in Lumen Field will double in 2022, from two to four.
For Arnold, the video boards are part of his biggest goal for the direction of the franchise, in the non-Xs-and-Os dimension: Lumen Field at now 20 years old needs an upgrade in fan experience.
The Seahawks went 3-5 this past season at Lumen Field. They have lost seven of their last 12 home games dating to December 2020. That includes the thudding playoff loss to the Rams in the wild-card round of the playoffs in January 2021 when Seattle had just finished a 12-4 regular season and won the NFC West.
The Seahawks’ home-field advantage of noise, weather and wins renowned across the NFL hasn’t been so much the last two seasons.
Arnold is keenly aware of that.
“Coming out of a pandemic, we’ve got to kind of re-imagine of guest experience a little bit,” Arnold said. “We’ve got to figure out what it’s like to continue that home-field advantage, and how we can make sure that we are exceeding our — the 12s’ — expectation every time they come to Lumen Field.
“We are also learning how to communicate with the 12s outside of game day. This business is not just a Sunday business anymore. It’s 365 days a year. …
“For us, it’s keeping the brand strong. We feel like we do have a place in this community, but we want to feel that we are impactful in this community, as well.”
Arnold is a Tacoma native and graduate of Curtis High School. He became Seahawks president in September 2018. He replaced Peter McLoughlin, who served as team president for eight years including through back-to-back Super Bowl appearances. Arnold began working for the Seahawks as an intern in 1994.
On the radio Monday he addressed another popular topic among the team’s fans: having a throwback game with uniforms from the team’s original threads from 1976-2002. That is, the Jim Zorn-to-Steve Largent look: silver helmets and blue jerseys over silver pants, with blue and green trims and the original, Native American totem-style seahawk head in a more block, straight-horizontal style on the helmets.
Arnold reiterated one issue the Seahawks have had in not joining other teams in having a throwback uniform for a game has been the NFL requiring any old-school, alternate uniform include the same-colored helmets a team wears for every other game. The Seahawks have been wearing dark-blue helmets since they had their first major uniform change, in 2002.
“The league has now, in 2022, allowed the second helmet option,” Arnold said.
“With that, we’re getting closer. We won’t see it in 2022, but we are making progress. We know the fans are going to love the throwbacks.”
Arnold said the throwbacks won’t happen until 2023 at the earliest because the manufacturer of the throwback uniform needs time to design and produce mass quantities the team can sell on its retail markets.
Seahawks in Germany?
The NFL announced this month it will stage five games in the 2022 regular season outside the United States. Three will be in London, where the league has been playing games for decades, one will be in Mexico City and one will be in Munich. That, this fall, will be the first NFL regular-season game played in Germany.
Will the Seahawks play in one of those international games?
In December the league made Germany the new international home market for NFC teams Tampa Bay and Carolina. The Seahawks will play the Buccaneers in a Tampa Bay home game in 2022.
Will that “home” game for Tampa Bay be Seahawks-Bucs in Munich? Will the Seahawks play any of those NFL international games this year?
“We haven’t heard anything yet,” Arnold said. “But that doesn’t mean we are or we’re not.”
The league will announce the six international games as part of its entire 2022 schedule release in May.
When the Seahawks played in London in 2018, a 27-3 rout of the Raiders at Wembley Stadium, throngs of Seattle fans from Europe came to England for that week. Germany was particularly and heartily represented with Seahawks fans at that London game.
A German television reporter explained to The News Tribune that week in England the Seahawks became a favorite of Germans when the NFL’s popularity in Germany was rising about 10 years ago. Often the NFL game shown on German television then featured the Seahawks, because Seattle’s was often the featured game of the league week. That was when the team was on its way to winning the Super Bowl at the end of the 2013 season and going to another one the following year.
Ring of Honor add in 2022
Matt Hasselbeck and Mike Holmgren from the team’s first Super Bowl run of the 2005 season went into the Ring of Honor a week apart during last season. It was the first time the Seahawks inducted someone into what is essentially their Hall of Fame since 2019.
Arnold said the Seahawks are planning to have another member of the team’s past inducted into the franchise’s Ring of Honor in the 2022 season.
“I think you are likely to see another one this up-and-coming season,” Arnold told KJR. “There are lots of worthy candidates, and I think we are going to go for another one this year.”
The team president refused to say or hint who the inductee may be.
Arnold said despite one season without fans at home games in 2020 and a depressed economy regionally and nationally during the pandemic, the team’s renowned number of accounts for season-ticket holders and the waiting list for seats in Lumen Field (capacity for football just over 69,000) did not decrease.
“We had a 97%-plus renewal rate over those periods of time,” Arnold said. “We had our 154th consecutive sellout; that was the last game of this (past) year. And things are really strong from a sponsorship level and from a ticket-sales level.”
Arnold said the Seahawks’ “Blue Pride” waiting list to purchase season tickets “is still strong.” He did not specify a number, but the last time the team did, it said that list of people who have deposited $100 per seat to be on the waiting list remained at its capacity of 12,000. That list typically cycles in about 600 new season-ticket holders each year, filling the vacancies of those 3% or so that do not renew their season tickets.
“That’s one area of our business that has really maintained through the pandemic.”
Arnold said financially, the Seahawks owned by the Paul G. Allen Trust and backed by his Vulcan, Inc., company with Jody Allen, the sister of the team’s late owner, as the franchise’s chair, continues thrive. That’s despite two years of reduced stadium and in-game revenues from the coronavirus pandemic.
“As the state of the organization goes, we continue to be incredibly strong coming out of this pandemic. So much so, I’m looking out my window right now and we have all these bulldozers and backhoes, and we are putting a brand-new practice field down here at VMAC,” Arnold said.
“Everyone is just powering ahead towards 2022 right now. I think the word that Clint Hurtt (the Seahawks’ newly promoted defensive coordinator) used was ‘aggressive.’
“So we’re ready to roll.”