Below, more from the various interviews:
Sounders general manager/part owner ADRIAN HANAUEROn FIFA's turf testing: The communication that I’ve gotten from First and Goal/Seahawks is that there was a test done about three weeks ago – I don’t have a specific date – and that we’re waiting for the final lab results, which should be I assume within the next couple of weeks.
On if the current one-star rating is an embarrassment I’m less concerned about FIFA’s rating system than I am about the general playability and what my coaches and players are saying about the field, and the aesthetics of the field for our fans and on national television. I don’t feel as though I need FIFA to confirm or deny what we can see with our own eyes and feel with our feet.
On what he sees and his players feel: To me there’s no doubt that synthetic fields begin to deteriorate the day they get laid. There’s just no denying that over time they deteriorate. In the first year it’s fantastic for soccer. In the second year it’s good. In the third year it’s OK, it works generally. But in a multipurpose situation like we’re in – which is why we’re in continual communication and trying to coordinate the optimal timing for making changes – but we are cognizant to the fact that we have a partner to the stadium, and we’re in a multipurpose stadium, and now we have an evolving relationship where our business groups have separated. So this is one of those situations where we used to be in the office together, and maybe the process is a little clearer. So we’re going through this together for the first time where from the soccer standpoint we think it’s time. We don’t know quite exactly what the football side feels like at this point. But we’re working through it, and hopefully it ends up being a good solution for everybody involved.
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On the process for requesting and getting a new field: We’ve made that desire known already. And really it is a series of conversations and analysis with the football side. There’s a cost piece, which is really a minor part of it. And then there is what the football group is looking for and what the soccer group is looking for, and they’re different, they just are. That’s a reality we have to live with. The reality is we are the second tenant of an NFL stadium. It says football and soccer on it, but we understand that the football business is to a large degree, we’re going to have to work very well with them, that we’re not going to be the tail that wags the dog. But we would hope that as very valuable tenants -- bringing 800,000-plus people through the stadium on 20 dates and averaging 40-45,000 fans a game – that our voice would be heard.
Sounders top assistant coach BRIAN SCHMETZEROn the pitch: From a common sense perspective, every single player would rather be playing on (natural grass) every day. It’s not possible – not here in Seattle. No. 2, if it’s brand-new turf, I don’t think you’d hear any of the players complain. And if we could exchange that every year, if that was financially feasibly possible, that would be their second choice. Their third choice and the pragmatic approach is we play on a nice turf field in a beautiful stadium in a beautiful city with Dempsey, Oba – world-class players – playing in Seattle, and the guys are going to play. And it’s going to be a good event, and they’re going to play at a high level. … We deal with what we have, and we’ve won a lot of games on that field. So I think the players just accept it, they get used to it.
(Stadium facilities and field director John Wright) and I walk the field pregame, and he’ll go over and spend countless hours trying to fluff the infill to make the field softer. Now we’re never going to get the (turf) to come back up again once it drops: that’s impossible. So the visual of the blades laying over is sometimes what people see. But what they don’t feel when you have your boots on on the field is that John does a good job of fluffing that to a point where it feels a little softer and it’s better injury protection for our players.
MLS executive vice president/communications DAN COURTEMANCHEWe have very specific regulations: so much that for the natural grass it has to be x-number of inches and x-number of inches, and the field can be only so wide and so long. ... Part of the policy with all of the four teams (with artificial-turf) is that they refresh the field every few years. … Our clubs closely monitor the playing surface."