The Sounders FC announced Thursday the club is returning to full-capacity seating at Lumen Field beginning with their July 7 match against the Houston Dynamo FC.
The announcement, which was well received by fans on social media, is a change from the club’s plans for a phased transition to reopening the stadium amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The last Sounders match without restrictions was March 7, 2020 against the Columbus Crew.
The Sounders began the 2021 season by social distancing 7,000 fans in the 68,000-seat Lumen Field. Once more people in Washington were vaccinated, the club bumped up the seating to feature “vaccinated sections.” The Sounders drew 24,652 to Wednesday’s win against Real Salt Lake, designating the entire lower bowl as a vaccinated section.
Gov. Jay Inslee recently said the state is on course to fully reopen after June 30, which helped alter the Sounders’ previous announcement that they would wait until after the July 7 match to reassess seating and procedures. Seattle’s other sports teams, including the Seahawks — Lumen Field’s primary tenant — announced this week they are fully opening their stadiums and arenas.
For the July 7 Sounders match, there will not be a requirement to show vaccination verification before entry and there will be no need for children ages 5-15 to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test. Those requirements remain in place for fans to gain entry to the lower bowl during the Sounders’ match Saturday against the Vancouver Whitecaps. The club also advises people arrive early Saturday to allow time for security/verification checks.
“It’s absolutely incredible,” Sounders midfielder Kelyn Rowe said of the atmosphere after the RSL win. The Federal Way native is in his first season with his home state club and made his 250th MLS appearance on Wednesday.
“Every game that we have at home is a record for me playing here,” Rowe continued. “Obviously with no fans, it was a lot easier to hear the person next to you or hear everyone else. But I’d rather have fans yelling in my ear at all times. It’s an absolutely incredible thing and we love playing in front of them.”