Lights-out football at Cheney Stadium

Many fans leave stadium’s broadcast of Seahawks game when power goes out

Staff writerJanuary 12, 2014 

You’ve probably heard some heart-rending cries of disappointment at sporting events over the years, but likely nothing compared with the howls that went up Saturday when the power went out at Cheney Stadium during the Seattle Seahawks’ 23-15 playoff victory over the New Orleans Saints.

About 350 Seahawks fans were enjoying the beer and big screen TVs at the stadium’s Summit Club when suddenly, just as the third quarter was about to begin, all the screens went dark — including the 50-foot video board in center field.

“Nobody could believe it,” said Chacha Andersen, who drove from Federal Way with her husband, Chris, to watch the football game at Cheney. “Everybody was just like, ‘You have got to be kidding!’”

The initial anger cooled when people realized the staff at Cheney wasn’t to blame, said Ben Spradling, the stadium’s director of communications.

“The problem was definitely beyond the confines of Cheney Stadium,” he said. “We were kind of at the mercy of Tacoma Power.”

Thousands of homes and businesses throughout the Puget Sound region lost power before and during the game as heavy rain and wind raked the area.

Still, most of the fans at Cheney stormed out of the stadium when the lights went out — some without paying for their food, according to Irving Lopez, assistant general manager of Ivar’s, which catered the event.

Waitresses ran after some of them and managed to collect, Lopez said, but others who had been running tabs got away.

“We got their credit cards on file, so we’ll be calling them later,” he said.

The Andersens had a full pitcher of beer in front of them when the power went out, so they decided to stay.

They were both wearing 12th Man shirts, and Chacha said the mass exodus gave new meaning to the attire. “There were only 12 of us left in here,” she said.

By the fourth quarter, the Cheney staff had managed to rig up a generator that supplied enough juice to run a single video screen through the end of the game.

Those who stuck around through the blackout to watch the Seahawks prevail over the Saints got consolation prizes: free pints of Miller Lite, courtesy of the management.

“We tried to make a tough situation as easy as we could on those folks,” Spradling said.

Cheney has been hosting Seahawks fans at the stadium all season with a series of “Seahawks Sundays.”

The idea, Spradling said, is that watching televised games at a sports stadium — even one designed for a different sport — adds a layer of authenticity to the spectator experience.

The idea has been enthusiastically accepted by South Sound fans, he said, and he doesn’t expect Saturday’s blackout to change that.

“I’m actually encouraged,” he said. “They wanted to see that game. They are passionate about the game. That’s what it told me.”

Rob Carson: 253-597-8693
rob.carson@thenewstribune.com

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