It’s been a long time since fans were allowed to attend a Seahawks game — in fact, one has to go way back to when the stadium was still called CenturyLink Field to remember those cheers. But, after a season of silence, Lumen Field will welcome the 12s back for the team’s first home preseason game against the Broncos on Saturday, August 21. Whether that’s wise, given the alarming rise in COVID cases of late due to the highly contagious delta variant, is another story. Fans going to games this season should at least be aware of what safety measures are in place.
Lumen Field appears to be adhering to state and local health guidelines without adding much in the way of additional restrictions. As such, face coverings for Saturday’s preseason game for indoor spaces at the stadium are still only “strongly encouraged” for those who are vaccinated when not actively eating or drinking. For all subsequent games after Gov. Jay Inslee’s face mandate goes into effect August 23, masks will be required indoors, regardless of vaccination status. If one is sitting in a seat outside (rather than a luxury box), then the mask can technically come off. It should be noted, though, that Washington state’s secretary of health, Dr. Umair Shah, still recommends that people mask up in crowded outdoor settings, like sporting events. Proof of vaccination is not required for entry.
As for other protocols inside the stadium, concession stands will now have self-ordering kiosks where fans can place orders and pay via touch screens, with minimal contact — and here’s a reminder that there are no cash payments anywhere in Lumen Field (only cards or apps Apple Pay are allowed for transactions). Fans without cards will be able to convert cash to prepaid cards at kiosks around the stadium. Over 300 hand sanitizer stations have been added throughout the venue, and the stadium made adjustments to the HVAC systems to improve ventilation. Meanwhile, items can be ordered through QR codes in premium seating areas.
While it’s been some time since Seahawks fans roamed the concourses, many of the old food and drink standbys are returning this season. One will likely recognize vendors such as Great State Burger, Ivar’s, Pecos Pit BBQ, Din Tai Fung, and Kidd Valley, although Ethan Stowell’s Ballard Pizza Company replaces the former Sodo Cucina locations. And some newer dishes have been added to the mix at the general concession stands, including pork carnitas nachos, Cuban sandwiches, and grab-and-go salads.
Those looking for some food bargains can peruse the options at Touchdown City (free admission with a game ticket) and the Muckleshoot Plaza, where there are hot dogs, fries, pretzels, nachos, and other snacks in the $3-$7 range. In a new feature this season, there will be live music on the concourses and in the Muckleshoot Plaza, with rotating bands throughout the season. And the offerings at the PNW Marketplace and Night Market will rotate each game. On Saturday, pop-up vendors such as Swine Dining will appear at the former, and Hiroshi’s Poke Bowls and Thai Curry Simple at the latter.
While many fans will no doubt be excited for the full Seahawks experience again, the lack of vaccine protocols may raise some eyebrows, though, given that a couple of other teams in the league are instituting stricter mandates. The Las Vegas Raiders and New Orleans Saints have announced that fans attending games must show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test (in the case of the Raiders, fans can also get a shot at the gate instead).
But, thus far, that’s not the case for Lumen Field — and, unlike what nearby T-Mobile Park did earlier this summer, there are no options to get tickets in “vaccinated sections.” Given that the Seahawks played things cautiously last season, keeping the stadium empty as COVID cases rose, it bears watching whether these less restrictive policies will continue.