Today started grey. We walked out onto a slightly chillier street than yesterday, and went straight to Top Pot, where I’m happy to report fresh doughnuts taste a lot better than the late afternoon ones we suffered last week. With plenty of fat and coffee inside us, we trooped down to Yesler Street, where we left my parents and sister at the Underground Tour of Seattle, then marched to CenturyLink Field, via an electric bike shop, to get tickets for the stadium tour. After that, we wandered back to pick up the rest of my family, stopping to pet a labradoodle called Zeppelin at Occidental Square. The sun was starting to come out and the day was freshening up nicely, and we also found the Martyr Sauce gallery on Pioneer Square – I’d met the artist behind it when I was at SAM last June, but couldn’t remember the name for the life of me. This blog was also no help in reminding me of her name … ah, if only my outsourced memory was more reliable. http://www.cushtie.com/sam-i-am/
We lunched at a New Orleans restaurant attached to the Underground Tour of Seattle, which was much better than it needed to be. My family had their first po’boys and then we all walked down to CenturyLink Field (the official name of the Seattle Seahawks’ stadium) for the tour.
I’m not particularly interested in American Football (much less so than when I was a teenager) and it’s a sport that is strangely commercialised, lacking in charm and filled with boondoggles and concussion, but this was possibly the best tourist thing I’ve done this week – much better value for money than, say the Space Needle. The tour started at 2:30 and went on until past 4pm; in that time we got to see locker rooms, the press box, the TV centre, the smart stuff where the rich fans watch the game (or socialise while ignoring the game), as well as walk around on the actual pitch.
Many years ago, I was part of a film crew for an internal training video for Ford, which got me to walk around inside Highbury Stadium. The corporate entertainment lounge was nothing compared to what the Seattle Seahawks have, acres of professional, shiny, groomed manicured rooms, all carefully put together, rather than a haphazard arrangement of booze and sandwiches. The groundsman at Highbury would never let mere fans walk around on his precious grass. Then again, there isn’t any grass at CenturyLink Field; the pitch is entirely artificial, part green plastic fronds and part black dots, made from ground up Nike trainers. I threw myself on the grass as an experiment and even rolling with it and not going down at speed, it was a hard thing to land on. I don’t understand how the Seattle Sounders cope with being tackled on it, let alone the American footballers getting pounded into it at speed.
One fascinating aspect of the tour (apart from hearing in slightly cynical tones about how much Paul Allen has done for / purchased Seattle) were the subtle ways to confer a home field advantage on the stadium. I wondered if this was replicated throughout the league. The stadium is oriented so that rain and wind both blow more on the visiting side than the home team, and the home fans are more sheltered from the weather than visitors. (In soccer, with the change of ends for the teams at half time, much of that would be negated.) The home locker rooms are far nicer than the visitors’, but also arranged so it’s less convenient for the visiting team’s manager to brief all his players, and even the way that the visitors get their pre-game dinner is made to be slightly more uncomfortable than what the home side gets. It was glorious to see all the tiny ways somebody had thought about ways to try to make things just slightly more difficult for the Seahawks’ opponents. Oh, and building a stadium on a landfill in an earthquake zone – perhaps not a genius decision, but then you could say the same for most of Seattle.
Our daughter enjoyed most of the tour, because there were lots of corridors for her to run down, stairs to climb, railings to try to clamber over, and unwitting parents to vomit on when she felt the desire to do so. We bought her a Seahawks ball to play with (at a year less one day, there’s nothing that makes her eyes light up quite like a ball just as big as her head). It was spherical, despite the Seahawks branding, but at this age she probably wouldn’t enjoy struggling with an (American) football. I did think about getting her a jersey as well, but the only one that would fit her was marketed as being for dogs. And I don’t want to suggest La Serpiente is at all canine.