Jason Holt had awaited the moment for 37 years. The moment he’d be able to relive an important and historic piece of his childhood and witness another World Cup qualifier in Seattle.
Holt was in the eighth grade when Seattle last hosted a World Cup qualifier. The result was a 2-0 victory for the United States over Canada.
At the time, the Seattle Seahawks were a first-year NFL franchise and the Seattle Sounders had recently lost in the North American Soccer League semifinals. U.S. starting goalkeeper Tim Howard was just 3 years old.
“It was right here, in this very location,” Holt said.
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In the same location, metaphorically, that is. The game was played in the Kingdome, which at the time served as the mecca for professional sports in Seattle.
Approximately 17,000 fans attended the match played on the Kingdome’s artificial turf. Game tickets, Holt recalled, were approximately $30 or $35.
Ahead of Tuesday’s match, ticket prices and stadium space became the topic of much conversation. The cheapest ticket sold for $50 and U.S. Soccer put a cap on the amount of tickets available due to a home Mariners game that started around the same time.
“It’s definitely worth it, but maybe that played into it not selling out,” said Dan Burwell, who made the trip from Bellingham with Holt.
Yet the price doesn’t appear all that steep compared to what Holt paid almost 40 years ago. Especially considering that a game of this caliber may not find its way back to Seattle in the near future.
Tyler Watterson and Colton Reeves of Phoenix made the match against Panama part of a soccer-themed college graduation trip. As members of the American Outlaw supporter group, a national organization, Watterson and Reeves each paid $52 for their tickets, a price they believe is worth every penny considering the limited opportunities they have to watch international soccer at this level.
“Honestly, there’s not many U.S. soccer games every year, so it’s the elite players of the country,” Watterson said. “I think the higher ticket prices are pretty valid.”
They were certainly valid enough for the Panamanian fans who made the long excursion from their home country.
Felix Maduro, a Panama City native, is well aware of Seattle’s soccer scene and felt the need to experience the hype himself.
“As soon as they went on sale on Ticketmaster, we bought them,” Maduro said. “Everybody is going to be watching this game back home. … We’re the only Central-American country that watches (soccer) and Seattle is very well known back home.”
Theo Lawson: firstname.lastname@example.org