Whether they're "belligerent drunk types" or "Starbucks, over-caffeinated types," Seahawks fans "believe that we truly play a part in the outcome of the games, and it is our mission to get into the opponents' heads as best we can." With fans yelling loud enough to leave one's "ears ringing for at least 24 hours after a game," Qwest is one of the few stadiums that actually provides the home team a distinct advantage, evidenced by more than 25 false starts in the last three years than the next closest stadium. "The Seahawks, as an organization, really cater to their fans, from ancillary pregame events to honoring the 12th Man (as the crowd is nicknamed) before every game using local celebrities and former players" to raise a 12th man flag above the stadium. Those "wearing another team's jersey" can expect to get "heckled from start to finish," but "fans are friendly to outsiders," even "when the 'Hawks are on defense and there is less than 20 seconds on the clock and every fan is on his or her feet screaming like Rocky at the end of the first fight." "Other teams should send their fans to Qwest to learn how to do it right."
9 out of 10
FOOD & SOUVENIRS
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"Qwest is cool because most of the vendors are local restaurants." "If you like seafood, you can't beat Ivars," which has "a great clam chowder bowl" and "fish and chips." "Kidd Valley burgers are decent." And Bruchi's "has great Philly cheesesteaks." Completing the Seattle culinary experience, the stadium "sells local favorite, Jones Soda instead of Coke," while also offering Thai, sushi, "several espresso stands" and "microbrews ... at all concession stands." The "only drawback is the high prices," which prompt many to take advantage that "food can be brought into Qwest Field" since it's a publicly funded stadium. Of course, "if you've got the cash and want a VIP experience, you can watch the game from incredible seats in the restaurant." No matter where fans eat, there are so "many places to go, you rarely have to wait in much of a line, ensuring you can get something and not miss any action."
7 out of 10
"Two interstates and another highway serve the area around the stadium," but "for the speed at which Seattle traffic moves on I-5 and I-90, the freeways might as well be parking lots for the stadium." That might represent an expansion of the "very limited parking in the nearest areas around the stadium," making it hard to "find without shelling out the cost of another ticket" or "walking a distance." The "stadium is downtown," which offers "multiple routes to the stadium," but "a lot of one-way streets around Qwest Field make a simple left-hand turn a four-block production." Ferry rides from nearby Bremerton or Bainbridge Island across Puget Sound, though, are "easy as can be" and "enable fans ... to get within walking distance of the stadium." Back on land, Amtrak offers "an extremely handy train" from as far south as Portland, and the Sounder commuter trains "help out a lot" on its routes from Tacoma to Everett and "drop you off three blocks from the game."
5 out of 10
Tailgating at the "designated lot north of the stadium is tiny" and "heavily policed," perhaps the "city will not allow alcohol in parking lots." "The real action is down the alleys and near the stadium." "People are drinking, throwing the ball around, making great food and watching the early games." "The best tailgating goes on in an area about a block away from the stadium called Tailgaters Heaven," "where plenty of food, kegs of beer and TVs with the morning games" can be found. "You can have crab, steak, wine" and "everything from burgers to smoked salmon." Many, though, bypass the "sprawling" scene and "go to local bars within a few blocks." And while that discounts an atmosphere that's "gotten a lot better over the last few years," it also acknowledges the Seattle scene will remain "modest due to limited parking."
Qwest Field "is nothing fancy; it doesn't have a retractable roof or giant glass walls." What it does have are "great sight lines from all over, super wide seats and lots of bathrooms" for a facility "designed for maximum fan enjoyment." "It's an open-air stadium, so football can be played in the elements - the way football should be," "yet most seats" are "covered by the roof overhang," "which is important in the Northwest." It also "amplifies sound," making the stadium "feel intimate despite being so large." Qwest's cozy confines are also evident from the stadium's furthest corners, which make "you feel so close to the action, it's as if you are in the huddle." A little farther away sits Mt. Rainier and the Cascade mountains, which comprise a "gorgeous" -- and visible -- vista to fans "from the west concourse," while the stadium's "open north end provides a view of the Seattle skyline" that is "picture-frame beautiful." The embrace with which the Seahawks hold their surroundings is equally apparent in the "State of Football" display on the lower concourse, "with little miniature football helmets, complete with logos, for every school in the state of Washington." "There is a place for everyone [here]... If you are rich you can stay in the boxes. You can sit in the south end zone with the crazies and have a good time but get wet. You can sit along the sidelines and stay dry. [Or] you can get an inexpensive seat in the Hawks nest," an uncovered section of metal bleachers behind the north end zone that offers a "bird's eye view of the field" and is "perfect for making tons of noise." Add in a "college-style drum band" and a "trained hawk flying around the stadium right before the players are announced," and it's no surprise most fans feel the Seahawks "do a great job making the fans feel welcome."
9 out of 10
"The neighborhood immediately surrounding the stadium is still growing into an attractive place," but right now, the southern edge of downtown "is mostly industrial," populated by "docks and machine shops" on the "edge of the harbor." "A couple of blocks" north is Pioneer Square, "a bar hopper's heaven ... where every taste can find a place, from live jazz to hip-hop clubs," and "where everyone hangs out prior to the game." Not far from the county courthouse, "Pioneer Square is kind of infamous" for attracting a fair amount of "homeless" and other "characters," "but it's not really dangerous" as long as "you watch yourself." The area "gets a bad rap sometimes," but with "some great bars and places to eat," this "urban" landscape "pretty much turns into the Seahawks fans' personal playground" on game days.
6 out of 10
Although we can't give one of the world's richest men credit for squeezing a publicly-funded stadium out of Seattle, Seahawks owner Paul Allen does deserve kudos for building a facility -- and an atmosphere -- that caters to the team's fans. The local food chains, the coffee bars, the view toward downtown, the hawk flying around before the game -- all offer fans a sense that the team is of the city. That's no small thing when a team's performance is not guaranteed from year-to-year. And while efforts to show fans that a team is at least trying to offer them what they want may not make a huge difference for a playoff contender now, it will likely keep the crowds coming when the lean times arrive.
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