Issaquah couple wins seat on Sounders couch
November 19, 2013
By Sam Barbee
Sitting on the sidelines at a professional game is something most fans revere. While watching at home or from the stands, it’s hard not to wonder what it would be like to be close to the action, to see the stadium looking up, not down.
Rob and Diane Young, of Issaquah, recently got that chance.
“It was amazing,” Diane said. “I can’t stop talking about it to everyone.”
At a Sept. 7 match against the Chicago Fire, the couple, who share season tickets with four other families, took their children to a Sounders game. Rob called their family “big Sounders people,” and both of their children play soccer.
At the game, all seemed normal; the action was constant. Except that Diane had entered her and Rob in the Man of the Match contest.
Diane went to one of three booths placed around CenturyLink Field and filled out a ballot predicting which player she thought would be selected as the Man of the Match, a soccer tradition that recognizes the top player in any game.
“It has always been a fun promotion for the fans to participate in,” said Maria Loida, a public relations rep for the Washington lottery. “But since Washington’s lottery and Sounders FC offered the opportunity to sit on the sideline couch to view the game, people make it a point to play Man of the Match before the game starts.”
If the Sounders win or tie, then every fan who correctly predicted the Man of the Match gets entered into a drawing, and whoever wins gets to sit on the sideline couch at the next game and they can bring one guest.
About a week after that normal early September match, which the Sounders won, a person with the Sounders called Rob and told him they had won the drawing, and they would be attending the Sept. 13 game against Real Salt Lake.
Starting in March 2010, the Man of the Match promotion gave out smaller prizes for the contest. The first two seasons, in 2010 and 2011, according to Loida, fans would select a card with the image of the players, and those who picked the winning cards would bring them back to a booth and receive a free scratch card from the lottery.
The next season, 2012, fans would again select a card, but instead of a scratch ticket they would win various game-day experiences.
This season, the fourth of the promotion, was the first with the couch and one winner. And, most importantly, the Sounders have to win.
Brad Posten, who works on the Man of the Match promotion, said they wanted to think of a cool promotion that wasn’t a “freebie.” He says it’s by far the most popular promotion.
“It was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done at a sporting event,” Rob said. “It was totally cool — a great program for promotion.”
“The kids were a little jealous,” Diane added.
The couple got credentials and were ushered along the stands on the very turf the players use. They got a “goodie bag” with a jersey, key chains and water bottles. There was full wait service, with complimentary food and nonalcoholic beverages.
But perhaps what Rob and Diane will remember most is the drastic difference in the experience — the feeling of seeing the stadium above and being so close to the action normally seen from afar.
“You can touch the players,” Diane said. “A bead of sweat can fall on you. It’s such a different perspective.”
Sam Barbee is a student in the University of Washington Department of Communication News Laboratory. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.