Citizen Sounder : Matt Storm

Name: Matt Storm (yes that’s his real last name)

Section: 111

Occupation: Owner of the Masonry, a pizza and beer joint on lower Queen Anne

Claim to Fame: His family has had season tickets to the Seahawks since 1998

We first met Matt outside the North entrance to Century Link field. Within the last 60 minutes we had exchanged a handful of tweets, a direct message, and a text message or two. All that Matt knew about us could have been summed up on the back of a matchbook (it wasn’t very much). Yet here we were, finding him and his Dad in a crowd of Sounders fans, shaking his hand for the first time. Matt greeted us warmly, and proceeded to hand over two of his season ticket match passes. These were no single game tickets, no, these were the hard plastic, real deal, legitimate match passes, being handed over to complete strangers. “See you inside,” were his only instructions.

Blind trust like Matt’s begs to be taken advantage of, but that’s not the way the Sounders faithful choose to do business. And it’s interactions like these, between relative strangers, that make being a part of the Sounders community so fun. As we made our way inside the stadium and found section 111, Matt and his family greeted us as instant friends, and even though this was their section and their tradition, they welcomed us with open arms, all for only the price of a beer and some shared team loyalty.

Don’t get me wrong, this didn’t turn into a big share your feelings fest, and no one was hugging that I can remember, but there was definitely something in the air. The sense of community, and of belonging to something bigger than yourself, was tangibly present. It looked a lot like soccer, and like screaming fans with a beer in their hand, yelling insults at the referee. It wasn’t particularly obvious, but it was there.

After our one night soccer stand with Matt it would have been easy to never call, but we did the honorable thing instead, and set up a time to meet with him at his bar, The Masonry, in hopes of learning more about him and this idea of community that was hanging in the air that night.

The Masonry, Matt’s bar on lower Queen Anne, opens at 11:30. We arrived around 10:30 to begin set-up. “Would you guys like a drink?” Those who meet Matt quickly find out his affection for finely crafted beers. Socially I felt the need to ask if was too early for a drink but secretly I was hoping for the quick answer that Matt gave me: “It’s never too early for a drink.” You see, drinking to Matt isn’t about excess or addiction, it’s about community. When he started The Masonry a little under a year ago, many of his old co-workers came with him. When he needed high quality ales, many of his best in industry beer vendor connections gave an emphatic yes answer. “We’re getting beers we have no business getting,” is how he described it to us (consider this your queue to go check out that amazing beer selection). Just as was his automatic greeting to us when we arrived that morning, and when we first met him at the stadium, Matt extends a hand of welcome to all he meets, and he makes a lasting impression. Creating community in the process.

As we got deeper into the interview, we asked Matt, “Who’s the most interesting person you’ve ever met at a Sounders game?” His recalled story perfectly illustrates Matt’s ability to extend an open hand of community even in the face of apparent differences. “That’s an easy one,” he begins.

The Sounders had just beaten the Timbers and Matt and his section (that’s section 111 for those of you keeping score at home) were exiting the game. He found the first Timbers fan he saw and said, “We just kicked the shit out of you! Let me buy you a beer?” This random fan, named Chris, turned to his pregnant wife, got the nod of approval, and off they went. This was no casual, one night interaction either. As he finished his story, Matt pulled out his phone, and the background picture was of Chris, this same random Timbers fan he was now close friends with.

The Masonry came to existence only after Matt had the guts to quit his previous job and take the leap of faith into business ownership. He recounted a childhood raised in a conservative Christian home, where the thought of hand crafted ales or bar ownership were the farthest things from his parent’s wishes for their son. How did Matt and his parents overcome this potentially huge moral disagreement, an impasse that many families never find the courage to tackle head-on? His answer was Seattle sports, both attending the games, and discussing the teams.

The Sounders provided common ground, something they all shared together, a topic they could always come back to, and, he joked, “Seeing me drinking in a social setting helped open their minds to the idea.” Now his parents not only tolerate his drinking, they act as his landlords and biggest fans in seeing his new venture succeed.