For a full decade, often at precisely this time of year, Seattle-area sports observers have been mollified as they realize that the demons of yet another misspent Mariners season may soon be exorcised by the arrival of local football.
Uh ... but 2011 may not be quite the same.
As the seemingly possessed M’s were losing their franchise-record 15th-straight game in Boston Sunday (12-8, for what it matters), some closer to home may have been having glances at the upcoming schedules for the University of Washington Huskies and the Seattle Seahawks.
This observer long-since did. Regarding the college program, I gave up my excellent south-end season tickets after more than 20 years in section 42.
This wouldn’t seem to be the predictable reaction to a program that, last year, finished 7-6, ending with four wins including a victory in its first bowl appearance since 2002. In fact, my decision had nothing to do with the quality of the product, everything to do with an unappealing early slate of Husky home games and the prospect of many events being played later — maybe much later — than half past noon, when I like college-football games to start.
As I write this, only one game to be played at Husky Stadium (which closes for renovation after the Nov. 5 date with Oregon) is scheduled to start at 12:30 p.m. The other five are listed as “TBA,” which is supposed to mean “to be announced,” but, to those who want to be able to make long-term before- or after-game plans, it’s come to mean “too bad again.”
The lack of firm starting-time commitments obviously owes to television-broadcast scheduling. This is terrific for everybody but the paying customers, who, during recent seasons, have found themselves leaving the Dawg House in the driving rain as Sunday morning approaches. Games announced for starts of 7:15 p.m. (late enough as it is) instead kick off at 7:30 or later. For me this is about as welcome as, say, contemplating paying the inflated season-ticket price then finding the “season” for my purposes doesn’t even include the Nov. 26 Wazzu game because the Apple Cup happens at the C(entury)link (nee Qwest) Field this year.
As to the ticket prices: For several decades I’ve been splitting a four-seat buy with three others. Our 24 tickets for 2011 (six games each) would have totaled $3,242, which included roughly equal amounts face value and Tyee Club add-on. That brought my out-of-pocket amount to $810.50, or $135 per event — even if it were to start at 7:45 in the rain and end Sunday in the snow after double overtime. By dollar comparison (admittedly not adjusted for inflation), my first-level, 10-yard-line season ticket to the Seahawks for the entire inaugural year of 1976 came to about $100.
Perhaps less to the point but worth considering: The Huskies play early home games against Eastern Washington and Hawaii, which ought to foster about as much fan appeal as having the Seahawks open at home against the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League.
Now that there seems to be a National Football League season in the offing, sneak a peek if you dare at what awaits last year’s 7-9 playoff stalwarts.
Remember how the Hawks don’t win much on the road? This year they open at San Francisco, where they lost 40-21 last Dec. 12 and where the division-rival 49ers no doubt will be ready to impress new mentor Jim Harbaugh.
More foreboding for the Seattle Road Voyeurs: Three of the first five Hawks games are away, with games two, five, and seven scheduled for the Eastern Time Zone, where the travel-averse Seahawks are more likely to win a Powerball lottery than a football game.
It could be, then, that the only way the Hawks could start the season 4-0 would be if you count their preseason games.
In short, then, local-football prospects may just be dubious enough to have a few of the region’s gridiron fans with morbid sports curiosity instead spending this September watching the Mariners conclude another 100-plus-loss campaign.