Thousands of Seahawks fans are making their way from Seattle to the Phoenix area for Super Bowl XLIX, with or without tickets, and making the area their own.
As she wound her way past the TSA security checkpoint at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on Wednesday, Sue Martinez of Des Moines heard a lone voice call out the single syllable “Sea.”
“And hundreds of people hollered back, ‘HAWKS!’ ” Martinez said.
The message was clear: A great Seahawk migration is under way.
From Seattle, Everett, Bremerton, Olympia. From Tacoma, Auburn, Oak Harbor and Federal Way. By the thousands, they are swooping south toward a temporary desert habitat.
On the streets of Phoenix, you can spot them by their plumage: torsos of green or blue, often bearing the number 3 or 12, 24 or 25. Some of them sport wild hairdos of the same colors. At any moment, one of them may call out “Sea” and others nearby respond with a hearty “HAWKS,” confirming their kinship, marking their territory.
Hawks fans are easy to spot at “Super Bowl Central,” a downtown Phoenix event that’s part street fair, part exposition and part Mardi Gras. It’s open to all ages, and adult visitors get wrist bands that allow them to carry an open drink, New Orleans style, as they wander the attractions in some 10 downtown blocks.
For a $5 donation to a charitable fund, visitors can try their skill at a 30-foot climbing wall. Another popular photo op is a 20-foot-tall football. There’s also a booth where visitors use huge slingshots to try to land footballs into giant soda cups.
Other good haunts for spotting Seahawks this week are two Scottsdale bars, the Skeptical Chymist and Wasted Grain, each the home base for a Sea Hawkers Booster Club, the team-affiliated fan-club network.
Skeptical Chymist owner Trevor Kingston is hosting a 6 a.m. rally Friday morning — admittedly an odd time for football fans, but timed to get national TV exposure, with visits by the Sea Gals, Seahawks mascot Blitz and the Blue Thunder drum line.
Not all Hawks fans who have traveled to Phoenix have tickets to the big game.
Seahawks season ticket holders Char Trobee and Terry Giles of Marysville, came just for the ancillary attractions, such as the NFL Experience, with interactive and informative displays, a chance to throw or kick a football, and get a look at the Vince Lombardi Trophy and all past Super Bowl rings. Tickets are $35 for adults, $20 for kids under 12.
Trobee has good news for any Northwest travelers who may have wondered how they’d be received in Phoenix following a season in which the Seahawks defeated the Arizona Cardinals twice. “Everybody’s been superfriendly and helpful,” she said. “We’re very impressed.”
Giles agreed. What he’s hoping for now is a game Sunday in which the Seahawks will kick it into gear early, not wait for last-minute miracles like the ones they got in the NFC Championship Game, which he attended.
New England Patriots jerseys have been much harder to spot on Phoenix streets.
“Seattle is a lot closer than Boston,” said Steve Santiago, a former Massachusetts resident now living in Surprise, Ariz. He’s a “die-hard Pats fan” and in Phoenix was wearing a No. 87 jersey of Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski.
One question being pondered by ticketless Seattle fans in Phoenix is whether New England fans, stuck under a blanket of snow, may dump their tickets at the last minute, possibly producing a late reduction in prices.
But through Thursday afternoon, asking prices for resold tickets stayed sky-high. NFL Ticket Exchange and StubHub, another online seller, both showed a minimum price of more than $8,000, with only a couple of hundred tickets available.
Vicki Lenti of Tacoma, said she and the four relatives she’s traveling with aren’t likely to get into the Super Bowl, but are delighted to attend other activities, such as Saturday afternoon’s “Seahawks 12 Fest in the Desert,” at Chase Field, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
She’s already thinking ahead to next year’s Super Bowl in the San Francisco Bay Area. “Never say never with the Seahawks,” she said.
Rod and Debbie Dickinson of Spokane, who do have tickets to Sunday’s game, joined their nephew, Army Master Sgt. Richard Giertz, who escorts the military color guard before every Seahawks home game. “Hawks all the way,” Rod Dickinson said, predicting a 24-17 Seattle win.
Paul Gates, who grew up in Olympia, traveled to Phoenix from his current home of Brighton, Colo.
“I’ve been a Seahawks fan since Day 1,” he said. It hasn’t always been easy, but he said true fans weather the tough times. “I’ve seen them go 2-14, and I’ve seen them in two Super Bowls. And now I’m on my way to a third. I’m a Seahawks fan until I die.”
By Jack Broom | Seattle Times | January 29 2015