After the Sounders 1-0 win over Dallas last night in the U.S. Open Cup semifinal, several Sounders credited the home advantage — and especially the home advantage of playing at Starfire Sports Stadium — for playing a part in the club advancing to its third straight Open Cup final. Dallas coach Schellas Hyndman even said he thought his team was “a little bit intimidated by the whole event.”
In assessing the victory Sounders general manager Adrian Hanauer said, “It’s a good group win, and obviously we like playing here as well.”
In light of that, we asked Hanauer about Starfire’s strengths and limitations and whether it will be the club’s Open Cup home in the future.
Q: Do you think you could have drawn two or three times this 4,593 attendance by playing somewhere else?
AH: I think it’s pretty clear we could have drawn significantly more. It’s always hard to know whether it’s 30 percent more or double or triple. I think it’s safe to say if we thought we would have drawn 25,000 or 30,000 fans we probably would have played it over at CenturyLink. But it’s building, and obviously the more we hear from our fans: We’ll get numbers on how many people are watching the webcast. We’ve always said we love this facility as is and we love playing the rounds up until the final, but that doesn’t mean we’re not willing to change our minds if the conditions are right.
Q: Is there a chance of increasing capacity at Starfire?
AH: It’s an ongoing discussion. There’s certainly nothing imminent. I think, again, a lot of pieces would have to fall into place for it to happen. But again, it’s another one of those issues that we consider after we regroup after this, try to figure out what demand was. The challenge is that you put a bunch of obviously capital into building this stadium out, among other things you could not have any Open Cup games. It’s possible that you wouldn’t play a home game for three years if outbid. So it’s a delicate dance, I guess, to sort through.
Q: How nice will it be to play another final at CenturyLink Field?
AH: It’s great. I think it’s great for our fans. … There are going to be some fans now who maybe wanted to (attend the semifinal) that now come and see a final, rewarding all of these fans who come out to Starfire, get their tickets early and get here two hours early and do the Starfire thing.