Sportsball: Reign Forecast for Seattle Center

Lost in the justifiable Seahawks hype was some of the best off-field sports news of the year: Reign FC will play its home games at Seattle Center’s 12,000-capacity Memorial Stadium this summer.

The Reign—Seattle’s franchise in the National Women’s Soccer League—employs some of the best-known female athletes in America. Like Hope Solo, who I believe is the only active Seattle athlete who’s written an autobiography.

Megan Rapinoe and Sydney Leroux will also be familiar names if you followed the 2011 World Cup or the 2012 Olympics. Each took home a gold medal from London as part of the U.S. women’s national team, each scored a goal along the way, and each will start for the Reign.

Last year the Reign played at Starfire Sports Complex. If you don’t know where that is, you aren’t alone—barely 2,000 people made their way to the average Reign game in 2013. For the record, Starfire is in the outskirts of Tukwila, along the Green River, next to that trendy hot spot, the “Family Fun Center & Bullwinkle’s Restaurant.” Starfire is a terrific location if you like to pre-funk by ruminating on serial murder or playing Skee-Ball. But most soccer fans—especially young ones who can be reliably expected to show up and make noise—prefer to hang out in bars and drink. Lower Queen Anne provides many agreeable options.

“Being a Seattle team, it’s ideal to be in Seattle,” Reign owner Bill Predmore told the indispensable local soccer blog Sounder at Heart, and it’s hard to argue.

Of course, nothing’s perfect, and questions must be asked:

1) Will suburban family types brave the parking challenges of Queen Anne?

2) Will Memorial Stadium’s archaic bathroom facilities discourage return visits?

3) Will the lack of beer—since the Seattle School District owns it, Memorial is bone-dry—keep fans away?

4) When, on the night of June 28, Cher plays KeyArena and the Reign hosts New Jersey’s Sky Blue FC, how will I choose?

Season tickets are on sale now, starting at $14 per match. (High rollers can snag a $200/match VIP table for four.) Had I not already sprung for Storm tickets—which I’m regretting now that all-World forward Lauren Jackson is out for the season . . . again—the Reign would already have my credit card on file. As it stands, I’m sure I’ll make it to a few games, especially among the five July and August home dates.

Queen Anne bar-hopping followed by world-class soccer? What better way to spend a long, sunny Seattle summer evening? And if the Reign don’t end up doubling their attendance in 2013, I’ll eat Christmas dinner at Bullwinkle’s.

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