The Sounders will call CenturyLink Field – and most likely its turf playing surface – home for at least the next decade.
The Sounders and First & Goal, Inc., announced on Monday a 10-year extension to their CenturyLink agreement to keep the team at its current home through the 2028 MLS season.
Included in the agreement is a mandate to replace the turf after no more than four years, more often if both the Sounders and Seahawks both sign off. The most recent replacement came following the 2011 season, and the previous agreement included no specific timetable for new turf.
“It’s more of a compromise with the Seahawks, who want the field in a certain way,” Sounders owner Adrian Hanauer said in a phone interview. “We prefer it different and possibly replaced more often.
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“We prefer a field that’s a little bit softer, where the blades are still a little more lively and it plays more like grass.”
Actual grass remains a possibility, but only if the Seahawks also agree to the switch.
Hanauer said he doesn’t think the agreement will affect Seattle’s ability to attract major U.S. Soccer events such as next summer’s Copa America. The city has been reported as an early frontrunner to host the inaugural match of the 2016 combined South and North American championship.
Hanauer also said the agreement includes a commitment from the Seahawks “to continue to explore and develop new technologies. If there are better ways to maintain the field, we’ll work together and make sure they’re in place.”
The Sounders have played at CenturyLink since their inaugural MLS season in 2009 and have averaged more than 43,000 spectators per game in each of the past three seasons.
“We look at this franchise as being generational,” Hanauer said. “We want it stable and secure in the long haul. … To secure our future is good for our fan base.”
MLS releases statement on expansion
MLS commissioner Don Garber released a statement Monday regarding expansion, cities in the running for new franchises and whether the league will stop at 24 teams.
Garber confirmed that MLS is in “advanced discussions” with the group headed by Minnesota United owner Bill McGuire to bring a team to the Twin Cities. The statement also referenced Sacramento, San Antonio and St. Louis and said the league had met with representatives from Las Vegas, but it is no longer in the running for a team.
Garber also appeared to open the door for expansion beyond 24 teams, a figure that has long been the league’s stated goal.
The league is set to add teams No. 21 and 22 in Atlanta and a second Los Angeles team in 2017. A proposed Miami franchise, headlined by David Beckham as part of the ownership group, is waiting approval for a new stadium.
“Over the course of 2015, we plan to evaluate potential expansion beyond 24 clubs,” the statement concluded.