The Seattle Seahawks haven’t lost a home game since Christmas Eve 2011. On Sunday night they broke the Guinness Book of World Records for loudest stadium in the world when they were recorded at 136.6 decibels against the San Francisco 49ers at CenturyLink Field. It has become no secret that the Seahawks have one of the NFL’s best home field advantages, but how has a franchise that has never won a Super Bowl created the best atmosphere in American Sports?
It wasn’t that long ago that Seattle was a baseball city. The Mariners had a lot to offer in 1990s with two “once in a lifetime” prospects in Ken Griffey, Jr. and Alex Rodriguez. They would knock on the door in the playoffs but could never breakthrough. Ichiro Suzuki would follow those stars and would be an immediate hit on a team that won an American League record 116 games, but they too couldn’t find playoff success. Since 2001, the Mariners have failed to reach the postseason. Only twice in the past ten years have they even had a sub .500 record. As a result attendance has been on a steady decline from an average of 43,300 in 2001 to its current 22,174 this season. For most Septembers in the past decade Mariners’ fans have had no choice but to turn their attention away from baseball.
The Mariners decline was discouraging for a Seattle sports fan, but nothing was more of a kick to the stomach than completely losing your basketball franchise. It would be one thing to lose a franchise like say, Charlotte, when the Hornets left in 2002 to go to New Orleans. But I can’t imagine too many Charlotte fans were upset to see the Hornets struggle for a decade in the Big Easy. Seattle, meanwhile lost what would become one of the two or three most exciting teams in all of the NBA. Kevin Durant played only one year in Seattle before they moved to Oklahoma City and as a result, was just enough to think of what could have been. Nobody wants to see their ex with someone richer and better looking than they are and right now Oklahoma City is looking like George Clooney for Seattle fans. Winters haven’t been the same since 2008.
If you want to see how Seattle responds to a winner than look no further than the Seattle Sounders FC. The Sounders became Major League Soccer’s 15th team in 2009 and have dominated on and off the field ever since. They won the US Open Cup each of their first three years and lost in shootout in 2012. Talk about fan loyalty, they average over 43,000 fans which is almost double the next highest average attendance in the league. Seattle has been starving for a winner even if it’s for a sport that is four years old in the city.
Everything has broken just right for the Seahawks rise in popularity. The Mariners’ demise and the Sonic’s departure have both changed the landscape of sports in Pacific Northwest. Seattle has proven with the Sounders that they are dying to root for a winner and now the Seahawks are starting to give them that as well. The hiring of Coach Pete Carroll and three straight successful drafts have given the Seahawks a foundation to compete with the best in the NFL. They had six Pro Bowlers a year ago and Russell Wilson has been a few pundits’ picks as dark horse for MVP this year. The talent level has now justified the 136.6 decibels the 67,000 fans are willing to give each Sunday. No one can specifically state how much value a home field advantage can have but the 8-0 record last year and Sunday night’s dismantling of the 49ers are enough proof that CenturyLink Field is a nightmare for opponents. Vegas has made the Seahawks the favorite for the Super Bowl out of the NFC and their home field advantage could prove to be the reason they get there. Seahawks are now the darlings the NFL with the fans, city and young talent to back it up.
Photo Credits: Photo credits: AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, Joe Sargent, TED S. WARREN,