The Seahawks' broke their CenturyLink Field attendance record five times during the 2014 season. And they'll continue that record-setting trend during the 2015 season.
That's because 1,000 padded seats are being added above the south end zone, club president Peter McLoughlin announced Monday, that will be ready for use by the time the 2015 preseason kicks off in August. The club also is adding eight suites, and McLoughlin said they already have been sold.
The addition of the Toyota Fan Deck is a continuation of the upward swing that began in 2012, when the team unveiled its new uniforms in April and the Seahawks then began a three-season surge that has seen them go 42-14, including postseason; win one Super Bowl and come a yard short of winning the NFL title in back-to-back seasons; capture two NFC Championships and two NFC West titles; and win the franchise's first road playoff game since 1983.
And now more 12s will be able to join the unique game-day atmosphere they help create at a venue where the Seahawks have gone 26-2 at home the past three seasons, including playoffs.
"We really took our time to access what the possibilities could be in that area," said McLoughlin, who joined the franchise in 2010 – eight months after coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider were hired.
"We could have filled in the whole upper bowl with just bleacher seats. But there's nothing special about that, and (owner) Paul Allen was really a driver behind, 'Let's do something really good for the fans, something different and unique.' "
That sent McLoughlin on a mission to see what other teams had done when expanding their stadiums, or building new venues.
"I talk to a lot of other teams and people at the league, and they said what's really important now for stadiums is adding amenities, not just seats," he said.
So in the middle of the two new sections of seats will be a covered area that will include TVs and a fireplace.
"It's going to be a cool outdoor cabin feel," is the way McLoughlin put it.
Last season, a record crowd of 68,424 turned out for the Seahawks' season opener, when the defending Super Bowl champions hosted the Green Bay Packers; that mark was broken in Week 3, when 68,447 were on hand for the Super Bowl rematch with the Denver Broncos; which was broken for the regular-season finale against the St. Louis Rams, as 68,453 were there to see the Seahawks capture the NFC West title and top seed in the NFC playoffs for the second consecutive season; and they topped that for each of their playoff games – 68,524 for the divisional game against the Carolina Panthers and 68,538 for the NFC Championship game against the Packers.
The additional seating will push the capacity to 69,000-plus, and it won't hinder the pregame ritual of the 12 Flag being raised above the south end zone that began in 2003. In fact, with the additional seating being added on each side of the section, it will enhance the tradition as the flag will be larger and also raised from a high platform.
"It will become even more of a focal point than it has been," McLoughlin said. "And the people sitting in that section are going to be a part of that process and the celebration."
Current season-ticket holders will have priority to relocate to the Toyota Fan Deck, an expansion project that is being privately funded by the Seahawks. The remaining seats will be made available to the Blue Pride waiting list for season tickets, which has been capped at 12,000.
And the south end zone at CenturyLink Field has been the scene of some memorable moments, including the end of Marshawn Lynch's electrifying Beast Quake run for a 67-yard touchdown in the 2010 wild-card playoff victory over the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints; Richard Sherman's Immaculate Deflection that was intercepted by Malcolm Smith to ice the victory over the San Francisco 49ers in the 2013 NFC Championship game; Russell Wilson's 35-yard TD pass to Jermaine Kearse in overtime to win the NFC title game against the Packers in January; and Lynch's 6-yard run in overtime to win that Week 3 rematch with the Broncos.
"Local Toyota dealers are thrilled to partner with the Seahawks to give the best fans in the NFL something extra to cheer about – an even better fan experience," Western Washington Toyota Dealer president Mike O'Brien said in a statement.
Added McLoughlin, "It's going to be a good place to sit. We keep upgrading the stadium to improve the fan experience and make it a great place for our fans to come, in addition to the game."