Sounders FC

Sounders: 31,000 season tickets sold, 1,000 to go

Seattle Sounders FC already has sold enough 2010 season tickets to assure itself of breaking the Major League Soccer attendance record it set last season.

The club announced Wednesday that more than 31,000 season tickets already have been sold in a Qwest Field seating configuration that has been expanded to approximately 35,500.

The club plans to cap season-ticket sales at 32,000, which will leave some individual-game tickets available for all 18 matches. However, existing season-ticket sales already exceed the MLS-record per-game average of 30,943 that showed up at Qwest Field in the Sounders’ inaugural season.

“That’s a tribute to the fans who have not only come back fantastically with great renewals, but so many out there who want to be part of this great celebration,” said Gary Wright, senior vice president of business operations. “And that’s kind of the way we look at it: It is a celebration. It is a game that the energy of the game is created by the fans.”

Ninety-six percent of 2009 season-ticket holders have renewed for the coming season, which Wright called “an incredible number.”

The 2010 season-ticket package includes 15 MLS regular-season games in addition to three friendlies against international clubs yet to be determined.

“We’re looking at some big ones again,” Wright said. “We feel good about it. ... But now we’ve got so many other games, I don’t think we can fit all three of our friendlies (into the July and early August time period favored by European clubs). So I think we’re going to have to take another of our windows and find a team from another part of the world than Europe to come play in October or May – some time when it fits into their calendar.”

The Sounders also are guaranteed at least one home game in the CONCACAF Champions League, and they are likely to host games in defense of their U.S. Open Cup title. However, early round games in those competitions will be played at Starfire Sports Stadium in Tukwila and are not part of the season-ticket package.

The MLS schedule is expected to be announced next week. However, it already is known that the Sounders will kick off the new season at Qwest Field on March 25 against Philadelphia.

Added time

The Sounders practiced indoors at the Seahawks training facility in Renton on Wednesday and will do so again today. The primary focus on these two days is running the players through a variety of fitness tests. “It helps us establish our base points as we go next week into Phoenix,” coach Sigi Schmid said. “(It helps us determine) where we’re going to go individually fitness-wise with certain players: Who we’ve got to push a little more, who we’ve got to back off on maybe because they are already close to being there.” ... The Sounders will provide the opposition for the Colorado Rapids’ inaugural “Charity Shield” friendly March 19 in Commerce City, Colo. Proceeds will be donated to UNICEF’s relief efforts in Haiti.

Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808

don.ruiz@thenewstribune.com

HIGHEST AVERAGE MLS ATTENDANCE

The highest average attendance for MLS teams in a season:

Sounders FC, 200930,943

L.A. Galaxy, 199628,916

L.A. Galaxy, 200826,009

L.A. Galaxy, 200724,252

L.A. Galaxy, 200524,204

N.Y./N.J. MetroStars, 199623,898

2004 LA Galaxy23,809

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