An overview of the Seattle sports teams and where the Mariners fit into this expanding market.
Almost 70,000 fans packed into CenturyLink Field to watch the Seattle Sounders win their second MLS Cup in the last four years. It was the most attended soccer game in Washington State history.
After the Sounders scored their second goal, the ground started shaking from fans jumping up and down. This brings back memories of the Beast Quake in 2010 when Marshawn Lynch’s touchdown run caused a small earthquake from fans jumping in celebration.
When the final whistle blew, the stadium rang out in “We Are the Champions”. Not a single fan left. Everyone stayed to watch the trophy presentation ceremony.
The next day the Seattle Seahawks went down to San Francisco and beat the undefeated 49ers on Monday Night Football.
The Seahawks have moved to 8-2 on the season and they look to be in contention to make another playoff run.
The Hawks have had their own success of winning championships. In 2014, the Seahawks beat the Denver Broncos 43-8 to win Super Bowl XLVIII. The Seattle Storm have also had their share of success as they have won three WNBA Championships in the last 15 years.
On top of all the success in Seattle sports, the city is adding two more professional teams. The Seattle Dragons who are an XFL football team will play at CenturyLink Field starting in February 2020.
NHL will be coming to Seattle starting in the 2021 season. This expansion team will play in a revamped KeyArena.
So where does a rebuilding Mariners team fit into this whole scheme?
Due to the lack of success for the franchise over the past 15 years or so, they have found themselves at the bottom of the totem pole in Seattle.
This past season the Mariners had an average attendance of 22,122 which ranked 20th in Major League Baseball. For reference, T-Mobile Park has a capacity of 47,929.
The M’s had led the league in attendance back in 2002 with an average of 43,709. Outside of the obvious answer that success has everything to do with these numbers, let’s take a look at how other teams fared over the years.
In 2002 the Seahawks had just switched back to the NFC West and moved into Qwest Field. They finished the season 7-9 under Mike Holmgren.
Since then, the Seahawks have made 12 playoff appearances and played in three Super Bowls.
In 2009 the Seattle Sounders played their first game in Major League Soccer. They have made the playoffs every single year since their inaugural season. The Sounders brand and market has expanded tremendously over the past five years. Partially because of the shift in the soccer culture in Seattle as well as the success.
With the Mariners falling behind in Seattle, I see two options that could dig them out of this hole. The first being easier said than done…win. I am hopeful that the rebuild is successful and the Mariners find a way to make a playoff appearance.
The other option is building an exciting brand of baseball. This doesn’t mean we have to win a bunch of games to bring in the fans.
This could mean close games, walk-off home runs, or spectacular diving catches. Outside of a handful of great catches, I don’t think the Mariners have had very many games that could be deemed entertaining.
The Mariners have a swarm of young upcoming talent that could provide that spark. With the likes of Kyle Lewis, Jarred Kelenic, and Julio Rodriguez getting closer to playing in the Majors, this could be that “exciting factor” that the Mariners have needed.
However the Mariners plan on winning back their fans in the 2020 season, competition is growing in Seattle. With that said, Seattle has some of the most passionate and dedicated sports fans in America and I am excited to see where this all goes.