Given all the to-do about traffic in SoDo with a potential third sports facility, what, you may ask, is the deal with nearly simultaneous Mariners and Sounders games Saturday night?
It’s the Rule of 65,000.
The Sounders/Seahawks, the Mariners and the city had a re-negotiation a few years ago in which simultaneous games can be played on the same weekend day as long as the forecasted combined attendance is under 65,000.
But the option for simultaneous games can be invoked only twice in a calendar year. For games Monday through Friday, the limit is 58,000.
The policy previously had been that no games could start within four hours of one another, which is still generally observed.
A tepid conclusion to another dismal season for the Mariners made the exception possible. The Mariners’ announced paid attendance was 17,671, likely with many no-shows, for the 6:10 p.m. start against Texas. The Sounders drew 38,948 for the 7:30 p.m. for the match against conference-leading San Jose.
The Sounders originally booked the San Jose match for 7 p.m. Sunday. But when the Seahawks’ NFL schedule came out with a game against the Green Bay Packers Monday, the Sounders moved the Earthquakes game to Saturday to avoid the NFL yard-line markings that would have been in place for a Sunday soccer match.
The Mariners’ game also had a 1 p.m. start time option Saturday in case there was interest in a national-network telecast. Turned out there wasn’t, so they ended up with Saturday night, The Sounders moved their game to 7:30 p.m. from the usual 7 p.m. apparently to ease the “ingress/egress” issue the Mariners have made famous in their opposition to Chris Hansen’s proposed hockey/basketball arena just south of Safeco Field.
According to one Sounders official, if the arena is built in SoDo, “all bets are off” regarding the current rules of play with the city governing stadium usage.
Starting with Saturday night soccer match, CenturyLink will have four football/futbol events in eight days: Seahawks-Packers Monday, Washington-Stanford Thursday and Washington State-Oregon Sunday.