MLS Soccer

Sounders sign on at CenturyLink through 2028

Seattle Sounders FC announced Monday that it has signed a 10-year lease extension that will keep the team at CenturyLink Field through 2028.

“We think CenturyLink has been a fantastic home for us and will be a fantastic home for us,” owner Adrian Hanauer said. “We think we still have opportunities to grow as a fan base. … Certainly there have been conversations internally about whether a soccer-specific stadium would have made sense back when we were starting the franchise. (But) the idea that we would have maybe built a 20,000-seat stadium out in the suburbs today just seems like such a crazy idea that I’m very confident that being downtown in CenturyLink was a good decision back then and still is.”

The Sounders have led Major League Soccer in home attendance every season since joining the league in 2009, including an average of 43,734 last season.

The new lease mandates that a new artificial-turf field be installed every four seasons, starting with a replacement of the current 4-year-old FieldTurf before the 2016 season.

“If (the Seattle Seahawks and Sounders) decide to replace the turf earlier, that could be a decision that’s made as well,” Hanauer said. “The other piece to that is we have a commitment from the Seahawks and have sort of recommitted ourselves to continuing to search for new technologies, better systems of maintenance and repair, and doing as many things as possible to make sure that the turf we do have is optimal for soccer when we’re playing games.”

The Sounders have said their preference would be to replace the turf after one or two seasons, because the blades on newer turf strand straighter and come closer to duplicating the roll and bounce of a ball on natural grass. However, the Seahawks prefer the speed of more worn-down blades.

The cost of a new surface is believed to be in the $300,000-$500,000 range, and was not cited as a factor by either team.

“You get some things and you give some things in every negotiation,” Hanauer said. “Hopefully, it was a fair negotiation and a fair settlement. Like we said, we’d like to be playing on grass but that’s not a reality. We’d like to be playing on turf that’s replaced as often as possible, and the place that we landed was every four years at a minimum.”