Seahawks “12” flags flown by Canadians in friendly invasion of Seattle

SEATTLE — The two border crossings in Surrey will be super busy with vehicles flying "12" flags Thursday as the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks open another NFL season at CenturyLink Field.

The league’s primetime kickoff game will see the Hawks and their super-loud fans — affectionately known as "the 12s" — show their muscle against conference rivals Green Bay Packers.

Pre-game activities at the stadium, located just south of the city’s downtown core, include a concert by Seattle’s own Soundgarden and the "Happy" hitmaker Pharrell Williams.

In Seattle, Seahawks fever has gripped "the Emerald City" since the team earned its first Super Bowl title last February with a 43-8 win over Denver Broncos in New York City.

Canadian fans of American-style football have also fallen in love with the determined team, led by clean-cut QB Russell Wilson.

(Scroll down to see video of Russell Wilson and teammates in Vancouver with the Vince Lombardi trophy.)

"On average, up to 10 per cent of the Seahawks crowd is comprised of Canadians," Suzanne Lavender, the team’s director of corporate communications, told the Now.

"This is a combination of groups, single game, season ticketholders, Canadian sponsors, NFL Canada guests and an estimate of secondary ticket purchases."

On Wednesday, the "Seahawks Canada" twitter account (Twitter.com/SeahawksCanada), which has more than 6,000 followers, retweeted travel tips from Seahawks.com for Thursday’s regular-season opener at CenturyLink Field.

Given the popularity of the team, Canadians are advised to book well in advance if they want a decent hotel room on Seahawks game days.

"All three hotels (the Monaco, Vintage and the Alexis) will sell out (Thursday), and this is usually not a very busy time in the city, post-Labour Day," Brandyn Hull, regional director of public relations with Kimpton Hotels in Seattle (Kimptonhotels.com).

At the Monaco, the hotel’s "12th Man Package" includes a room, a poster-making bar in the lobby on game days, an upgrade for guests who wear a "12th Man" jersey upon check-in, and in-room gold fish named for Seahawks players – Russell Gilson and Richard Merman among them.

"At least a third of the Monaco guests for tomorrow (Thursday) are from Canada – probably more," Hull added.

Seattle’s official destination-marketing organization, known as Visit Seattle (Visitseattle.org), has taken note of how much of an international draw the Seahawks really are.

"There is a ton of interest and support for the team from Vancouverites, in particular," said Tom Norwalk, president and CEO of Visit Seattle.

"On any given weekend, or day, when the Seahawks are playing at home, we’d see a jump in revenues reported at hotels, and that’s no surprise."

The NFL season kickoff game Thursday is huge for future tourism, Norwalk said.

"Because the Seahawks are the Super Bowl champions, and as the team got better and better over the past couple of years, the networks noticed, of course. We’ve been a good sports city over the past couple of decades, but we’ve had nothing like this to brag about in quite some time. And because of that, we’ve seen worldwide interest in our city from media, as well."

During a preseason home game Aug. 22, CenturyLink was as loud and boisterous as ever as the Seahawks stomped on Chicago Bears 34-6 on a warm Friday night.

Key home games for the Hawks this season include Sept. 21 versus Super Bowl foes the Broncos, Oct. 12 versus "America’s Team," the Dallas Cowboys, and a Dec. 14 tilt with division rival San Francisco 49ers. Details are online at Seahawks.com.

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