Friday, November 07, 2008

Seahawks practice facility / HQ tour

So, as I mentioned in yesterday's riveting numbered recap, I got to tour the Seahawks practice facility yesterday. Why? Well, because I'm part of the "Fan Advisory Network" (known by the clever acronym "FAN"), which means I get to fill out surveys after each game, give feedback on how things are going (off the field...), and occasionally get a perk like a tour and a cookie.

Thanks to the rain, the trip there was a pain in the butt. Getting to the East Side in the middle of the afternoon was bad thanks to traffic, but getting from the Taco Time in the Renton Highlands down to the freeway and up to 12 Seahawks Way was bad thanks to dark and driving rain. Give me continual drizzle over torrential downpour any day, thank you very much.

Once I made it to the facility I checked in, got my Visitor sticker, and stood around the lobby with about 20 other people for 5 minutes or so before going in to the auditorium where, I assume, the team watches game film and holds meetings. I assume that because the seats were freaking huge. Nice and comfy, but definitely built for someone wider, taller, and with longer legs than me. So basically the opposite of going to a Parent-Teacher conference at my kids' school.

After a brief greeting from one of the sales guys and the team's COO (I think...) and cornerback Josh Wilson, we went out to look at the indoor practice field, take some pictures (both us taking pictures of the field - see below - and the team photographer taking pictures of us - see farther below). It's pretty dang big. My first though was "oh, they just took over an old Boeing hangar..." Then I realized that a) there weren't any Boeing hangars in that part of Renton, and b) it was clearly a custom build. It's about 150 yards long, 95 feet high, and whatever a football field is wide, plus about 15 yards on each side. Big.

From there we continued our tour, stopping in the weight room (with fancy roll-up walls that open up on to the outdoor practice fields), the observation deck over the indoor field, and the cube farm where all the non-big-shots work (sales, community outreach, etc.) And finally we split in to two groups and went in to conference rooms to give our feedback.

First up was a discussion of the "Fan Conduct Policy", this year's "Keep it PG" promotion. Now, I and the guys I share my tickets with have a bit of a problem with this policy. Not that we're loudmouth drunkards who like to get in fights, nor do we want loudmouth drunkards punching us in the sacks, but we do like the rough edge of an NFL crowd. If we want truly PG behavior, we'll go watch a Mariner's game. We go to the Seahawks expecting emotions to run high, f-bombs to be dropped, and the occasional drunk to fall down the stairs. The "Keep it PG" / "no knuckleheads" campaign seems more nanny-state than anything else. And there were others who shared that oppinion, voicing the belief that on the whole things were good but that certain areas and certain people needed to be dealt with in a more hands-on way. Should be interesting to see how that pans out.

The second session was a review of some feedback we'd provided earlier using a "Start / Stop / Continue" grid (things we'd like them to start doing, stop doing, and continue doing). My request that the team make Jones Soda start putting their pop on tap instead of in evil plastic bottles fell on deaf ears, unfortunately. And I didn't get to bring up the request for a wider sellection of good beer either. Sigh...

Finally, at around 9:30 we left, one last cookie and water for the road, picked up my photo (which I'll post later tonight after I scan it in), and drove home through the continued torrential downpour. And now, the crappy cell-phone photos!

A shot of the indoor practice field from the back of the end zone
On one sideline there's a backdrop that's clearly meant for press interviews. And here's one fan (whose name I didn't catch, but I think he's the guy with the "D-Fence" sign) giving his own press conference. Or narrating his tour. One of those.
A view of the weight room from above. The top balcony of the weight room is all cardio equipment, each with it's own LCD HDTV. The wall of windows behind the weight rack rolls up on nice days to reveal the outdoor practice fields
The final shot, looking down on the indoor field from the observation deck. Apparently this is where the sales guys go to watch practice when it's inside.

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