Monday, July 28, 2008

Paul Allen's Broken Promise Comes Home To Roost No Real Grass For MLS Sounders

Next year the new Seattle Sounders will take the field as a new MLS franchise. The main problem the MLS has is that the Sounders and several other MLS teams still find themselves playing on artificial turf. This makes the MLS brand a form of phony American soccer.

We all know that REAL soccer is played on real grass not artificial turf.

Many don't remember that as part of the effort to get voters to approve the Seahawks Stadium Paul Allen made a promise that the field would be acceptable for soccer as well as NFL football. Meaning that it would be maintained as a real GRASS field. This promise later was forgotten when push came to shove and the NFL team's coaching staff and the powers to be apparently nixed the idea.

I supported the stadium myself with my vote in part because of this now broken promise made by Allen. As ususal there was little objection from Seattle fans who can't tell real grass from the phony stuff most of the time. Here we qoute from a CNN Sports Illustrated Grant Wahl article on the subject from August 2001, titled: Fasco in Seattle...

"The conventional wisdom has always been that if soccer ever gets big in the U.S., it will do so despite, not because of, the folks who run U.S. Soccer. Further evidence comes courtesy of former U.S. secretary general Hank Steinbrecher, who is almost single-handedly torpedoing efforts to bring world-class soccer to Seattle.

Quick background: In order to help secure public funds for the new Seahawks stadium under construction, the group building the stadium (led by team owner Paul Allen ) pitched it as a football/soccer facility that would have soccer dimensions and be able to house a possible MLS team and future U.S. national team games. "Wonderful!" said the Seattle community, which has its share of soccer fans and voted to help support the project, which was promised to have a grass field.

Now, however, Seahawks coach/GM Mike Holmgren wants to install FieldTurf, the new-age artificial turf that wouldn't get torn up by football games and the ever-present Seattle rain. One problem: Even though FIFA has approved FieldTurf for all soccer events except the World Cup finals, sources say there's no chance that U.S. Soccer will play World Cup qualifiers on the fake stuff.

Enter Steinbrecher, the first-class bloviator who recently sang the praises of FieldTurf for the Seattle stadium. "In my opinion," Steinbrecher told The Seattle Times, "FieldTurf is better than all but the top 10 percent of the grass fields in the world." Well, guess what? Steinbrecher is a paid consultant for the folks who bring you FieldTurf! So now, as Steinbrecher lines his pockets, the football people in Seattle can say, "Look, even the soccer people support FieldTurf!"

But what will Seattle soccer fans get in return for their financial support? No national team games (using a temporary grass field over the carpet would be expensive, impractical and possibly dangerous) and no MLS team (the last thing the league wants to do is pay exorbitant rent to play in another giant NFL stadium on fake turf).

The best solution for a possible MLS expansion team in Seattle would be to modify cozy Memorial Stadium near KeyArena: Install a grass field, expand the partially roofed digs to 20,000 seats and kick out the weekly high school football games -- to, say, the new Seahawks stadium, where the FieldTurf will undoubtedly be able to withstand the wear and tear.

And, oh, yes, it would help to find an MLS investor in the area willing to cough up $15 million or so (plus a few more million to modify Memorial Stadium, since the Seattle voters surely won't be hoodwinked again). Maybe Steinbrecher would be willing to contribute some of his hard-earned cash?"

To me and others nothing looks and feels more inauthentic then watching MLS soccer played on artificial turf fields with the NFL football lines still vaguely showing through. Also professional soccer players complain of injuries and other factors related to play on this phony grass that make it regrettable. Until the MLS eliminates artificial turf fields they are not going to be accepted as being legitimate by true soccer fans here and around the world. Ask any normal soccer fan from another country about the MLS and this often is one of the things their first to point out.


  1. If this is a make or break issue for you, then I suggest not going to matches and supporting the Vancouver Whitecaps until 2011, when they too will join MLS and place on Field Turf at BC Place.

  2. Maybe you should get your facts straight BEFORE running your mouth, uh, er, keyboard. From the Washington State Public Stadium Authority website FAQ's, you know, the OWNERS of the stadium?:
    "Why is FieldTurf installed in the stadium instead of natural grass?
    Qwest Field's playing field is covered with FieldTurf, an artificial surface that has received praise from the football community and has gained considerable acceptance in the soccer community. The PSA Board approved First & Goal's request to install FieldTurf at the stadium only after FGI committed to install and pay for temporary natural grass for major soccer events. If Major League Soccer requires a grass playing surface, the field will be permanently changed to natural grass at the time that Seattle receives an MLS team. In the meantime, FieldTurf provides much greater flexibility in scheduling back-to-back events in the stadium."
    Referendum 48 also states the same thing, pertaining to a permanent grass surface, but, since MLS does NOT require teams play on grass, it is not applicable.

  3. PS: Sounders FC have a crest, and that ain't it.

  4. Well tanatoe80 my point is that MLS should insist on natural grass period. Also the PSA Board is a public entity. That means you and I own the stadium. If you'd taken the time to read my entire article you'd of seen that the guy who recommended the field turf in the first place, claiming that it was "better than" REAL grass, (must of been a Republican) turned out to be a paid consultant for the folks who make the shit. It's called a conflict of interest. By the way have you ever played soccer on turf? Apparently not because most athletes who have know it sucks, it causes injuries, and it not anything like REAL GRASS. If MLS wants to be world class then they should have fields that meet world class standards and Paul Allen is a
    phony for not putting grass in Questfield now that he got his MLS franchise. Just like he promised us voters when he needed our votes to support his right to make millions of dollars by approving tax dollars to build his cash cow stadium.