Thursday, March 1, 2012

Rumor: Sounders to open up the rafters for Cascadia Cup matches in 2012

In 2011, the Seattle Sounders welcomed Manchester United to Seattle for a friendly. To increase ticket sales, they sold the friendly in a package together with two other matches, a game against Henry and the Redbulls along with Kasey Keller's finale against the San Jose Earthquakes. These games all saw a completely open Centurylink Field, two of which were completely sold out.

This year, if a tweet from Simon Borg (via Sounder at Heart) is to be believed, it appears that package could include games against Portland and Vancouver instead.

Ever since Portland and Vancouver were announced as MLS expansion franchises, there has been something of a war waged between the front offices of the three Cascadia teams and the fans over the number of visiting fans that should be allowed in each city. Because of Vancouver and Portland's smaller parks, Seattle has been reluctant to give them more than the minimum allotment of 500 tickets. The Sounders FO has also maintained that they don't believe the Cascadia clashes are especially huge draws that could support a full stadium. This latest development would seem to fly in the face of at least the latter statement and possibly the former as well.

With such a large capacity, there would seem to be an opportunity to at least expand the visiting section, if not quite meet FIFA's recommendation of 5% of seats set aside for visiting fans (about 3500 in Seattle).

If all of this is to be believed, there will be no more valuable ticket than the October 7th game against Portland. I'm somewhat worried that this is a push from the league office, whom have been pushing the rivalry's advertising aspect hard over the last year. I'd prefer they don't try to rush things. But if this is all going down as it sounds, it's going to be a fantastic thing for the league and for soccer in this country. Drawing these sorts of numbers simply for playing a rival is going to get attention within the country and within the worldwide soccer community.

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