CenturyLink Field is one of Seattle’s most iconic structures, its largest stadium, and the home of the Seattle Seahawks and Sounders alike. It’s also a legendary stadium that's known for one unusual fact—CenturyLink Field is loud!
Built between 2000 and 2002 to replace the crumbling Kingdome, CenturyLink Field can seat up to 69,000 people, and yet it has one of the smallest areas of any of the major league stadiums in the U.S., which helps to funnel the shouts of fans into a powerful roar.
How loud is CenturyLink Field?
So just how loud is this arena? Pretty loud! Seahawks fans are some of the most passionate fans in football—and some of the loudest. Fans broke a Guinness World Record for loudest stadium in the entire world in September 2013 when they hit 136.6 decibels in a game against the San Francisco 49ers. Unfortunately, the record has been broken at the Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City with a roar of 142.2 decibels (which is louder than a jet taking off for the record...we're talking really loud volumes here)…but there’s still a chance that the 12th Man will take it back someday!
Why is CenturyLink so loud?
This has to do a bit with science and a bit with passion. Paul Allen, owner of the Seahawks at the time of the stadium's building (he's deceased now, but his family still owns the stadium), had the stadium designed to be loud with its relatively small footprint and its steep walls and roof structure.
On top of that, Seahawks fans also aim to be loud. The Seahawks consider their fans part of the team and fondly call the fans the 12th Man. Most football teams have eleven players on the field at any one time, and the 12th Man is the collective of fans cheering from the stands, sports bars and living rooms. In Seattle, the 12th Man is a big deal and fans take their responsibility as part of the team seriously. By cheering! A lot!
During football season in Seattle—especially when the Seahawks are doing really well—anyone in the region will see 12th Man references and flags just about everywhere. If you’re a resident or going to be a resident of Western Washington, it pays to understand the phenomenon. At least then, you’ll understand why there’s a 12 flag flying from the top of the Space Needle.
In fact, the fans are so loud that they once produced a mini-earthquake. In January 2011, running back Marshawn Lynch (often dubbed Beast Mode) ran an incredible 67-yard touchdown where he evaded 9 tackles along the way. Fans were so elated that their jumping and celebrating actually registered on a seismograph run by the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network.
Other Facts About CenturyLink Field
Beyond being loud and being built on a smaller footprint than most NFL stadiums, CenturyLink Field was and is unique in a number of ways. Another way is that it has a vertical scoreboard, which was the very first vertical scoreboard in the NFL.
CenturyLink was also the first NFL stadium to install FieldTurf artificial turf. There were originally plans to have natural grass, but natural grass can be fairly high maintenance (i.e. easily destroyed) in the rainy Northwest weather in an open-air stadium.
When CenturyLink Field was completed, only the Seahawks played there, but today it’s both a football and a soccer stadium. The Seattle Sounders started playing there in March 2009. Seattle almost got a Major League Soccer team before that, but the city didn’t have an open-air venue to accommodate a team until CenturyLink came along.
However, having both soccer and football in the same place, and sometimes in the same months, does bring about some challenges. For one, the field lines are different and neither team wanted to play with the others field lines on the grass. A local company called EcoChemical designed a special kind of paint that could be easily washed away. Switching the field from a soccer field to football or vice versa takes about 14 hours.
The stadium was originally called Seahawks Stadium, and then later Qwest Field, but since 2011 it's been CenturyLink Field. The stadium is open-air, but does have a partial roof that juts out over the seating areas. This roof covers about 70 percent of the seats—so keep this in mind as you select seats, if being fully exposed to the elements is just not your thing. The stadium is shaped like a gigantic U and many seats have a view of downtown Seattle as well as the game.