In what many fans were hoping was an elaborate April Fool's joke, the merger with CenturyLink and Qwest became final today. The Seattle Seahawks and Seattle Sounders Football Club have a very strong relationship with their fans, and their fans have a strong tie to the building their teams play in.
Qwest Field has become ingrained in the culture of Seattle sports fans. Yes, it is just a name, and not nearly as catchy as Seahawks Field. Granted, Sounders fans would take umbrage with that name at this point.
But, fans are not at ease with the pending changes. In an earlier article, it was mentioned that we are better off having a nice stadium with a corporate name, but we beat the Saints a few months ago. We want to have our cake and eat it too.
Qwest Field doesn't sound overly corporate, and it just flows well—even after fans have had a few adult beverages with questionable volumes of fluid. Is it a large, or is it a medium?
In a prepared statement, CenturyLink President Brian Stading gave a bit of a glimpse into the future of the stadium's name. "CenturyLink is excited to become a vital part of the Seattle community, the Seahawks, Sounders FC, and incredible atmosphere fans of both teams provide. Transitional branding with sponsorship items inside Qwest Field begins in late April at the Sounders FC games. Fans will notice a new look to existing Qwest ads and promotions with this transitional branding."
So in the short term, fans can perhaps expect to see different names on cups and napkins, and maybe changes in the internal signage. However, there is no reason to believe the big, official name on the top of the roof is going to be changed in the immediate future.
We knew it was inevitable, but if CenturyLink is serious on their pledge, and they want to garner some immediate support in their new Washington market, they need to be sensitive to the new name. Granted, Mr. Stading, it is your company to run and your stockholders' money, but you can enter Washington state with a lot of goodwill with one simple move.
Don't name the stadium CenturyLink Field. If you do, fans will call it The Clink. Perhaps that is a moniker that you wouldn't mind, but most of us would think a telecommunications giant would like to have a bit more of a progressive spin to their name.
We have a suggestion for your consideration, given that it doesn't appear you've made final decisions. First would be 12th Man Field at CenturyLink Complex, which truly does honor the fanbase of Washington and beyond. There is a stadium and an exhibition center, which would allow different branding for the latter venue. Option two would be Football Clubs of Seattle Stadium at CenturyLink Field.
You have an opportunity to dedicate the stadium to the fans who make these sports so great in Seattle. The goodwill and additional media exposure from such a seemingly selfless act would do wonders for your reputation. Then again, we can always have The Clink T-Shirts ready by whatever date the NFL takes the field again.