By Liviu Bird
SEATTLE — If CenturyLink Field looked unusually empty at kickoff between Seattle Sounders FC and D.C. United on Wednesday, the mess outside was the exact opposite.
Angry fans posted multiple photos on Twitter of long security lines that resulted from new stadium-entry protocol. On June 26, the Sounders announced that they would be implementing the new procedures, which include using handheld metal detectors, starting with this match.
“This is the same program that was implemented at Seahawks games last season,” Sounders president Peter McLoughlin said in a club release. “The process is smooth and moves quickly.”
However, lines still wrapped around the building so far that the club decided to cancel the wanding process for the remainder of the day at about kickoff time.
Fans posted the following photos on Twitter as they waited in line:
On the south side of the stadium, lines traveled as far back as the WaMu Theater, which stands between CenturyLink Field and Safeco Field, the Seattle Mariners’ baseball stadium. The distance shown in this photo is approximately a two-minute walk from CenturyLink at normal pace:
Within 20 minutes of the match starting, the stadium appeared to fill up as expected. Attendance was announced at 39,180, the third-largest of the season behind Cascadia Cup games against the Portland Timbers (40,150) and Vancouver Whitecaps (53,679).
After the match, head coach Sigi Schmid started his press conference with an apology to the fans.
“We noticed that, at the start of the game, a lot of the fans hadn’t been able to get to their seats,” he said after his team’s 2-0 win. “Hopefully, that will all be resolved as we move forward in the future. … As a team, we want to make sure they they know we missed them at the beginning of the game.”
The Sounders’ next home game is July 20 against the Colorado Rapids. By that time, general manager and part owner Adrian Hanauer said the situation would hopefully be resolved.
“I’m not sure I’m quite to the point where I can tell what went wrong,” Hanauer said 10 minutes after the game ended. “I don’t know what went wrong, but for sure, we’re going to figure out what went wrong. … I think we probably need to start collecting some information first, before we make huge statements about it. If it was a problem, which it appears it was, we’re going to fix it.”
He added that the preference would be to fine-tune the extra security measures and perfect them rather than eradicate them altogether.