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The Biggest Outdoor Spaces of All: Safeco and Qwest Fields

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There are two massive outdoor spaces smack dab in the middle of SoDo that we'd be horrible people if we didn't cover during this week-long celebration of Seattle's green spaces. That's right, we're talking about Safeco and Qwest (Now CenturyLink?) Fields. Like two mismatched eyebrows, they peer incredulously at anyone flying into town, docking in the harbor, or driving down the Viaduct. They're the spots on which many a Seattleite has been utterly disappointed, only to return time and time again to face the same fate. They're also the go-to spots for massive claw-staged concerts. They're both brand spankin' new (as far as stadiums go, that is). Depending on who you ask, they're also ridiculously expensive and sort of unnecessary (though we politely disagree).

But what do we really know about these vast expanses of green in the middle of the industrial side of town? Sally forth for a bunch of fast facts on both stadiums. (Lest Storm fans and former Sonics fans say they're left out, remember that your teams play indoors.)

Full disclosure: here at Curbed Seattle HQ, we're very biased when it comes to outdoor spaces. Without a doubt, hands down, no contest, our favorite outdoor spot in the city is in the left field bleachers at Safeco Field. That said, here are some need-to-know facts about the park (and a few that will get you major points at trivia night): · Built in: 1997-1999
· Construction costs: $517.6 million dollars. Yeah.
· Seats: About 48,000, depending on standing room
· Safeco Insurance has got until 2019 before their naming rights are up.
· It hosted WWE Wrestlemania XIX in 2003.
· It's got the only retractable roof in baseball that doesn't completely enclose the entire stadium -- instead, it just sort of covers the top so you don't get rained on. If a ball hits the roof, it's automatically considered a foul ball.
· The art installation about the entrance at home plate is made of two strings of 1,000 resin baseball bats twisted like a double helix and coiled. One string is the swing of a right-handed batter and one is a left-handed batter, but even the sculptor doesn't know which is which anymore.

Remember when they changed the name of the Seatac Mall to The Commons? Anyone? Bueller? Just the Federal Way crowd? Well this is sort of like that, whether you recall it or not. Qwest Field actually isn't even called Qwest Field anymore -- it's now CenturyLink Field. No, we're not sure we like it. Yes, we'll still call it Qwest for a little. No, we're not sorry. Here's the lowdown on this identity-crisis-plagued stadium: · Built in: 2000-2002
· Cost us: $430 million (but that includes the Convention
Center and WaMu Theater, too)
· Seats: 72,000 people when fully expanded
· The official name change took place this month, but don't count on people to pick it up anytime soon. The sign outside still says Qwest Field as of this week (but Twitter indicates it won't for much longer). It was officially called Seahawks Stadium until 2004 when Qwest originally bought the naming rights.
· The roof is actually designed to cover most of the people attending, since, you know, that's kind of a big deal here. Paul Allen asked that it be designed to look like a bigger version of Husky Stadium.
· It's not real grass -- that sucker's all Field Turf. The Sounders (and the stadium management) are worried that the Field Turf rules them out as a potential World Cup site, even though FIFA says it's not a big deal.
· It's actually not run by the same people as Safeco -- the management (First and Goal) made an agreement with Safeco Field that no two events with a combined attendance of 58,000 people or more can occur within 4 hours of each other.

CenturyLink Field

800 Occidental Avenue South, , WA 98134 Visit Website

Safeco Field

1250 1st Avenue South, Seattle, WA 98134 Visit Website