Exterior of the Kingdome in 1985
|Location||201 S. King Street|
Seattle, Washington, United States
|Operator||King County Department|
of Stadium Administration
|Broke ground||November 2, 1972|
|Opened||March 27, 1976|
|Closed||January 9, 2000|
|Demolished||March 26, 2000|
|Construction cost||US$67 million|
($295 million in 2018 dollars)
|Architect||Naramore, Skilling & Praeger|
|Structural engineer||Skilling, Helle, Christiansen & Robertson, Inc.|
|General contractor||Peter Kiewit Sons Construction Company|
|Seattle Mariners (MLB) (1977-1999)|
Seattle Seahawks (NFL) (1976-1999)
Seattle Sounders (NASL) (1976-1983)
Seattle SuperSonics (NBA) (1978-1985)
The Kingdome (officially King County Multipurpose Domed Stadium) was a multi-purpose stadium in Seattle's SoDo neighborhood. Owned and operated by King County, the Kingdome opened in 1976 and was best known as the home stadium of the Seattle Seahawks of the National Football League (NFL), the Seattle Mariners of Major League Baseball (MLB), and the Seattle SuperSonics of the National Basketball Association (NBA). The stadium also served as both the home outdoor and indoor venue for the Seattle Sounders of the North American Soccer League (NASL) and hosted numerous amateur sporting events, concerts, and other events. The Kingdome measured 660 feet wide from its inside walls.
The idea of constructing a covered stadium for a major league football or baseball team was first proposed to Seattle officials in 1959. Voters rejected separate measures to approve public funding for such a stadium in 1960 and 1966, but the outcome was different in 1968; King County voters approved the issue of US$40 million in municipal bonds to construct the stadium. Construction began in 1972 and the stadium opened in 1976 as the home stadium of the Sounders and Seahawks. The Mariners moved in the following year, and the SuperSonics moved in the next year, only to move back to the Seattle Center Coliseum in 1985. The stadium hosted several major sports events, including the Soccer Bowl in August 1976, the Pro Bowl in January 1977, the Major League Baseball All-Star Game in July 1979, the NBA All-Star Game in 1987, and the NCAA Final Four in 1984, 1989, and 1995.
During the 1990s, the Seahawks' and Mariners' respective ownership groups began to question the suitability of the Kingdome as a venue for each team, threatening to relocate unless new, publicly funded stadiums were built. At issue was the fact that neither team saw their shared tenancy as profitable, as well as the integrity of the stadium's roof as highlighted by the collapse of ceiling tiles onto the seating area before a scheduled Mariners game. As a result, public funding packages for new, purpose-built stadiums for the Mariners and Seahawks were approved in 1995 and 1997, respectively. The Mariners moved to Safeco Field, now known as T-Mobile Park, midway through the 1999 season, and the Seahawks temporarily moved to Husky Stadium after the 1999 season. The Kingdome was demolished by implosion on March 26, 2000; the Seahawks' new stadium, Seahawks Stadium (now known as CenturyLink Field) was built on the site and opened in 2002.
King County paid off the bonds used to build and repair the Kingdome in 2015, 15 years after its demolition.
In 1959, Seattle restaurateur David L. Cohn wrote a letter to the Seattle City Council suggesting the city needed a covered stadium for a major professional sports franchise. A domed stadium was thought to be a must due to Seattle's frequent rain. At the time, the city had Husky Stadium and Sick's Stadium for collegiate football and minor league baseball, respectively, but both were deemed inadequate for a major league team.
In 1960, the city council placed a $15 million bond issue measure on the ballot to fund construction of a stadium, but voters rejected it due to doubt the stadium could be built within that budget, and lack of a guarantee the city would have a team to play in the stadium. By 1966, the National Football League and the American League were both considering granting the city an expansion franchise, and as a result the King County Council placed another bond issue measure on the ballot, which was also rejected by voters.
In 1967, the American League granted Seattle an expansion franchise that would be known as the Seattle Pilots. The league clearly stated Sick's Stadium was not adequate as a major-league stadium, and stipulated that as a condition of being awarded the franchise, bonds had to be issued to fund construction of a domed stadium that had to be completed by 1970; additionally, the capacity at Sick's Stadium had to be expanded from 11,000 to 30,000 by Opening Day 1969, when the team was scheduled to begin playing. The Pilots were supposed to begin play in 1971 along with the Kansas City Royals. However, when Senator Stuart Symington of Missouri got wind of those plans, he demanded both teams begin play in 1969. The American League had birthed the Royals and Pilots as a result of the Kansas City Athletics moving to Oakland, and Symington would not accept the prospect of Kansas City waiting three years for baseball's return.
In February 1968, as part of the Forward Thrust group of bond propositions, King County voters approved the issue of $40 million in bonds to fund construction of the "King County Multipurpose Domed Stadium." That year a committee considered over 100 sites throughout Seattle and King County for the stadium, and unanimously decided the best site would be on the grounds of Seattle Center, site of the 1962 World's Fair. Community members decried the idea, claiming the committee was influenced by special interest groups.
The Pilots began play as planned in 1969, but Sick's Stadium proved to be a problematic venue for fans, media, and visiting players alike, and it soon became apparent that it was inadequate even for temporary use. The Pilots only drew 677,000 fans that season, not nearly enough to break even, and a petition by stadium opponents brought the Sick's Stadium project to a halt. The Pilots' ownership group ran out of money by the end of the season, and with the stadium plans in limbo, the team was forced to declare bankruptcy. Despite efforts by Seattle-area businessmen to buy the team as well as an attempt to keep the team in Seattle through the court system, the Pilots were sold to Milwaukee businessman Bud Selig, who relocated the team to Wisconsin and renamed it the Milwaukee Brewers a week before the start of the 1970 season.
The push to build the domed stadium continued despite the lack of a major league sports team to occupy it. In May 1970 voters rejected the proposal to build the stadium at Seattle Center. From 1970 to 1972, the commission studied the feasibility and economic impact of building the stadium on King Street adjacent to Pioneer Square and the International District--a site that ranked at the bottom when the commission originally narrowed the field of possible sites in 1968. This drew sharp opposition primarily from the International District community, which feared the impact of the stadium on neighborhood businesses located east of the site. The King Street site was approved 8-1 by the county council in late 1971, and the groundbreaking ceremony in 1972 was held on November 2. Several protesters attended the ceremony, disrupted the speakers, and at one point threw mud balls at them.
On December 5, 1974, the NFL awarded Seattle an expansion franchise to occupy the new stadium; the team was later named the Seattle Seahawks. Construction lasted another two years, and the stadium held an opening ceremony on March 27, 1976. It hosted its first professional sporting event two weeks later on April 9, an exhibition soccer game between the Seattle Sounders and New York Cosmos of the NASL. It set a record for the largest soccer audience in North America at 58,120.
The expansion Seattle Seahawks of the NFL played their first game ever on August 1, 1976, a preseason game against the San Francisco 49ers at the Kingdome. The Seahawks' first regular season game was against the St. Louis Cardinals at the Kingdome on September 12. At the end of that season, the venue hosted the Pro Bowl, the NFL's all-star game, on January 17, 1977.
The Seahawks hosted Monday Night Football games at the Kingdome twelve times in its history and were 9-3 in those games. The Seahawks and the Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders played five Monday Night games in the Dome in the 1980s with Seattle holding a 3-2 edge including a 37-0 blowout victory in 1986. The next year, in 1987, Bo Jackson of the Los Angeles Raiders rushed for 221 yards, the most ever on MNF, and scored 2 touchdowns. One of his scores was a 91-yard touchdown and the other was a historic plowing into Seahawks high-profile rookie linebacker Brian "The Boz" Bosworth.
The Kingdome's final NFL game was played on January 9, 2000, a first-round playoff loss to the Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins scored a fourth-quarter touchdown to win 20-17; it was the last NFL victory for Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino and head coach Jimmy Johnson. It was also the last event the Kingdome ever hosted before its implosion.
The Seahawks had an overall record of 104-84 (.553) in the Kingdome, and were 2-1 in the postseason.
The first college football game played in the Kingdome was also in 1976, between the Washington State Cougars and USC Trojans on October 9. With 37,268 in attendance, USC running back Ricky Bell rushed for 346 yards and set the Pac-8 single-game rushing record, and the Trojans won by nine points,
The University of Puget Sound Loggers' and Pacific Lutheran University Lutes' success in bringing large crowds to the newly-opened Tacoma Dome in 1983, 1984, and 1985, enticed the Kingdome to move the rivalry game for the Totem Pole Trophy to Seattle. It was played in the Kingdome for two years - 1986 and 1987. While it was relatively successful for small college football, organizers realized that they would never get the 50,000 needed to fill the Kingdome and the game returned to Tacoma.
The stadium also hosted the annual WIAA high school football state championships in an event called the Kingbowl from 1977 through 1994; the title games were moved to the Tacoma Dome in nearby Tacoma in 1995.
The Seattle and Tacoma Police Departments played a yearly game named the Bacon Bowl to raise money for charity from 1979 to 1999; it continued to be played at Husky Stadium, then CenturyLink Field until it was discontinued in 2005.
Shortly after the Pilots' departure for Milwaukee, the city of Seattle, King County, and the state of Washington sued the American League, claiming a breach of contract. The league agreed to grant Seattle another franchise in exchange for dropping the lawsuit, and the team that would later be known as the Seattle Mariners was born. The Mariners held their first game at the Kingdome in 1977 against the California Angels on April 6.
The Kingdome was somewhat problematic as a baseball venue: foul territory was quite large, outfield dimensions were quite small, and seating areas were set back far from the playing field, with seats in the upper deck as far as 617 feet (188 m) from home plate. Part of the problem was that the Kingdome was not a multipurpose stadium in the truest sense. Instead, it was built as a football stadium that could convert into a baseball stadium. For instance, most fans in the outfield seats on the 300 level were unable to see parts of right and center field; these areas were not part of the football playing field.
For most of the Mariners' first 18 years, their poor play (they did not have a winning season until 1991) combined with the Kingdome's design, led to poor attendance. Some writers and fans called it "the Tomb" (because of its gray concrete and lack of noise) and "Puget Puke." After their inaugural home opener, the Mariners didn't have another sellout until 1990. At one point the Mariners covered seats in the upper decks in right and right-center with a tarp in order to make the stadium feel "less empty". Additionally, the Kingdome's acoustics created problems for stadium announcers, who had to deal with significant echo issues. However, when the team's fortunes began to change in the mid–1990s and they began drawing larger crowds, especially in the post-season, the noise created an electric atmosphere and gave the home team a distinct advantage similar to the effect on football games.
Despite its cavernous interior, the Kingdome's field dimensions were relatively small. It had a reputation as a hitter's park, especially in the 1990s when Ken Griffey, Jr., Edgar Martínez, Jay Buhner, Alex Rodriguez and other sluggers played there.
The large number of in-play objects--speakers, roof support wires and streamers--contributed to an "arena baseball" feel. The Kingdome was somewhat improved in 1982 with the addition of a 23-foot (7.0 m) wall in right field nicknamed the "Walla Walla" (after Walla Walla, Washington), featuring a new out-of-town scoreboard, which was in play. In 1990 and 1991, the moving of home plate closer to the backstop, the addition of box seats down the third base line and the removal of a few rows of seats in left field reduced foul territory and increased outfield dimensions.
The most noteworthy baseball game in the Kingdome's history took place on October 8, 1995, when the Seattle Mariners defeated the New York Yankees 6–5 in 11 innings in the rubber game of the ALDS in front of 57,411 raucous fans. In the bottom of the 11th, Martinez doubled to left, sending Joey Cora and Griffey home with the winning runs and vaulting the Mariners into the ALCS for the first time in franchise history.
In 1996, a game between the Mariners and the Cleveland Indians on May 2 in the Kingdome was suspended in the home half of the seventh inning because of a minor earthquake. The earthquake occurred during a pitching change as Indians' pitcher Orel Hershiser was walking off the mound following a home run by Edgar Martínez. After an inspection by engineers, the game was continued the next evening, resulting in a win for the Indians.
In 1989, Griffey Jr., in his first-ever plate appearance at the Kingdome on April 10, hit a home run. On June 27, 1999, Griffey Jr. hit the last home run ever at the Kingdome against the Texas Rangers.
Besides the Mariners and Seahawks, the stadium also hosted the NBA's Seattle SuperSonics for a number of years. The 1978–79 season was the first year the Sonics played in the Kingdome on a full-time basis (they had played a few games there over the previous two seasons) with the addition of portable stadium seating added onto the floor of the arena as well as additional scoreboards and a new basketball court. Fred Brown and Gus Williams led the team that year to their first and only championship. At the time it was known in the NBA for being the noisiest arena for basketball as well as the largest crowds with stadium vendor Bill the Beerman taking the duties as cheerleader. In the 1979–80 season, the SuperSonics set an NBA record average attendance of 21,725 fans per game (since broken). In 1978, the SuperSonics set the NBA single-game playoff attendance record at 39,457, and then again in 1980 at 40,172 (also, since broken). The Kingdome regular season, single-game attendance record of 38,067 was set in 1991. The SuperSonics hosted the 1987 NBA All-Star Game there.
Logistics would be a problem during the playoffs, as the Mariners (the Kingdome's primary tenants) objected to letting the Sonics play there in the spring. Therefore, the Sonics would only play home playoff games at the Kingdome while the Mariners were on the road, with most of the games played at Seattle Center Coliseum, and a few games had to be played at Hec Edmundson Pavilion at the University of Washington.
Sonics owner Barry Ackerley made the decision to leave the Kingdome and to build a new basketball arena. Plans were underway to build a new arena south of the Kingdome (where T-Mobile Park stands today) to be called Ackerley Arena, but after financing fell through, the team went back to the Coliseum for the 1985-86 season, playing occasionally at the Kingdome over the next few years when large crowds were anticipated. The Coliseum was eventually rebuilt as KeyArena, reopening for the 1995-96 season. The Sonics played there until the team was purchased and relocated by Oklahoma City businessman Clayton "Clay" Bennett before the 2008-09 season.
The NCAA Final Four of college basketball was held three times at the Kingdome - in 1984, when Georgetown defeated Houston, in 1989 when Michigan beat Seton Hall in overtime, and in 1995 when UCLA won their first championship since the retirement of coach John Wooden 20 years earlier in 1975, defeating Arkansas.
The Kingdome hosted the 1984 NCAA Division I Men's Soccer Championship Final between Clemson University, coached by Dr. I. M. Ibrahim, and defending national champions Indiana University headed by Coach Jerry Yeagley. Clemson University won in regulation bringing home its first national championship in soccer.
The Kingdome hosted the NFL Pro Bowl in 1977, the Major League Baseball All-Star Game in 1979, and the 1987 NBA All-Star Game, making it the only venue that has hosted all star games for three major sports leagues.
Numerous rock concerts were held in the venue, despite significant echo and sound delay problems attributable to the structure's cavernous size.
|Date||Artist||Opening act(s)||Tour / Concert name||Attendance||Revenue||Notes|
|June 10, 1976||Wings||--||Wings Over America Tour||67,100/67,100||--||This was the first-ever rock concert in the Kingdome. It also marked the first time Paul McCartney had toured America since 1966, when The Beatles stopped touring. The performance was filmed and included in the concert movie Rockshow.|
|September 3, 1976||Aerosmith||Jeff Beck
|July 17, 1977||Led Zeppelin||--||North American Tour 1977||--||--||This performance is available on VOIO and ROIO.|
|October 14, 1981||The Rolling Stones||Greg Kihn Band
J. Geils Band
|American Tour 1981||--||--|||
|October 15, 1981|
|July 23, 1982||Bryan Adams
Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
Blue Öyster Cult
|--||The Rock and Roll Grand Slam 1982||--||--|||
|October 20, 1982||The Who||The Clash
T Bone Burnett
|The Who Tour 1982||--||--|||
|May 22, 1983||The Beach Boys||--||--||37,807||--||This concert followed a Mariners game.|
|July 15, 1987||Madonna||Level 42
Hue and Cry
|Who's That Girl World Tour||--||--|
|December 8, 1987||Pink Floyd||--||A Momentary Lapse of Reason Tour||33,700 / 40,000||$710,382|
|July 27, 1988||Van Halen
|Monsters of Rock||--||--||Scorpions lead singer Klaus Meine was hit in the throat by a camera thrown out of the audience. He ranted about having respect for the bands on stage for about 5 minutes, then they did one more song and left the stage. This was about 3/4 into their full set.|
|March 29, 1990||Paul McCartney||--||The Paul McCartney World Tour||--||--|
|September 6, 1990||New Kids on The Block||--||The Magic Summer Tour||45,000 / 45,000||--|
|October 6, 1992||Guns N' Roses
|Motörhead||Guns N' Roses/Metallica Stadium Tour||37,226 / 40,000||$1,023,715|
|December 15, 1994||The Rolling Stones||Spin Doctors||Voodoo Lounge Tour||49,303 / 49,303||$2,311,900|
|November 28, 1997||The Rolling Stones||Third Eye Blind||Bridges to Babylon Tour||42,258 / 42,258||$2,411,261|
|December 12, 1997||U2||Smash Mouth
|Popmart Tour||30,260 / 35,000||$1,539,105|
The largest crowd to attend a single event in the Kingdome came early, during an eight-day Billy Graham crusade in 1976. The Friday night edition on May 14 drew 74,000 and featured singer Johnny Cash; 5,000 were turned away.
By the 1990s, the stadium's suitability as an NFL and MLB venue came into doubt. Neither the Seahawks' nor the Mariners' respective ownership groups saw the shared stadium arrangement as economically feasible. After several years of threats to relocate the Mariners due to poor attendance and revenue, owner Jeff Smulyan sold the team to an ownership group led by Nintendo president Hiroshi Yamauchi in 1992. Almost immediately, the new ownership group began campaigning with local and state governments to secure public funding for a new baseball-only stadium. In March 1994, King County Executive Gary Locke appointed a task force to study the need for a baseball-only stadium.
The Kingdome's roof had been problematic from the beginning. Leaks were discovered in the roof two months before the stadium opened, and several attempts at repairs made the situation worse and/or had to be undone. In 1993, the county decided to strip off the outer roof coating and replace it with a special coating. Sandblasting failed to strip the old roof material off, and the contractor changed its method to pressure washing. This pressure-washing resulted in water seepage through the roof, and on July 19, 1994, four 26-pound (12 kg), waterlogged acoustic ceiling tiles fell into the seating area. The tiles fell while the Mariners were on the field preparing for a scheduled game against the Baltimore Orioles, a half-hour before the gates were to open for fans to enter the stadium. As a result, the Kingdome was closed for repairs.
The Mariners were forced to play the last 20 games of the 1994 season on the road after the players' union vetoed playing the "home" games at Cheney Stadium in Tacoma, BC Place Stadium in Vancouver, British Columbia, or some neutral site, as the union believed its members should only play in major-league venues. The extended road trip could have lasted over two months, but was shortened due to the 1994-95 Major League Baseball strike, which began on August 12 and ended up cancelling the remainder of the 1994 MLB season and delaying the start of the 1995 season. The Seahawks had to play both preseason games and the first three regular-season home games of the 1994 regular season at nearby Husky Stadium.
The Kingdome held a reopening ceremony the weekend of November 4-6, 1994, which culminated with the Seahawks returning to the stadium for a regular-season game against the Cincinnati Bengals. Repairing the roof ultimately cost US$51 million and two construction workers lost their lives in a crane accident during the repair. The incident also motivated plans to replace the stadium.
On September 19, 1995, King County voters defeated a ballot measure that would have funded the construction of a new baseball-only stadium for the Mariners. However, the following month, the Mariners made it to the MLB postseason for the first time, and defeated the New York Yankees in the decisive 5th game of the 1995 ALDS on the heels of a walk-off game-winning double hit by Edgar Martínez. The Mariners' postseason run demonstrated that there was a fan base in Seattle that wanted the team to stay in town, and as a result, the Washington State Legislature approved a separate funding package for a new stadium.
In January 1996, Seahawks owner Ken Behring announced he was moving the team to Los Angeles and the team would play at Anaheim Stadium, which had recently been vacated as a football venue when the Los Angeles Rams moved to St. Louis. His rationale for the decision included unfounded safety concerns surrounding the seismic stability of the Kingdome. Behring went so far as to relocate team headquarters to Anaheim, California, but his plans were defeated when lawyers found out that the Seahawks could not break their lease on the Kingdome until 2005. As a result, Behring tried to sell the team. He found a potential buyer in Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, who stipulated that a new publicly funded stadium had to be built as a condition of his purchase of the team. Allen funded a special election held on June 17, 1997, that featured a measure that would allocate public funding for a new stadium for the Seahawks to be built on the Kingdome site. The measure passed, Allen officially purchased the team, and the Kingdome's fate was sealed.
The Mariners played their final game in the Kingdome to a sold-out crowd on June 27, 1999, and played their first game at their new home, Safeco Field, on July 15, nearly 3 weeks later. The Seahawks, meanwhile, temporarily relocated to Husky Stadium following the 1999 season. While the Kingdome was demolished, their new stadium, Seahawks Stadium, was being built on the Kingdome's footprint, and opened on time for the 2002 NFL season.
Controlled Demolition, Inc. demolished the Kingdome by implosion on March 26, 2000 (approximately the 24th anniversary of the Kingdome's opening), setting a record recognized by Guinness World Records for the largest building, by volume, ever demolished by implosion. The Kingdome was the first large, domed stadium to be demolished in the United States and the demolition of the Kingdome was the first live event covered by ESPN Classic. The Kingdome was demolished before the debt issued to finance its construction was fully paid and as of September 2010, residents of King County were still responsible for more than $80 million in debt on the demolished stadium. As of January 2015, the debt was expected to be retired by March 2015, nine months ahead of the original bond maturity and 15 years after the demolition in March 2000. The 2% of the 15.6% hotel/motel tax earmarked for the Kingdome debt no longer needed went instead to the county's 4Culture program for arts, heritage, and preservation.
Two separate facilities replaced the Kingdome. T-Mobile Park (originally named Safeco Field from completion until January 2019), a purpose-built baseball park for the Seattle Mariners, broke ground in 1997 on a site located adjacent to the Kingdome, across Royal Brougham Way, and opened in 1999. CenturyLink Field, a multipurpose stadium built primarily for the Seattle Seahawks was built on the Kingdome's former site beginning after the demolition of the Kingdome in 2000. CenturyLink Field (previously known as Seahawks Stadium and Qwest Field) has been the home field of the Seattle Seahawks since it opened in 2002, and has been home field for the Seattle Sounders FC of MLS since 2009.
The Kingdome made an appearance in the 2007 RTS game World In Conflict, in which the Kingdome was destroyed by Soviet artillery during the Soviet invasion of Seattle.
In 1978 the Kingdome served the backdrop for a rescue in the Emergency! TV movie "Most Deadly Passage", featuring work of Seattle Medic One paramedics.
Also mentioned in Full House episode "Crushed" Season 5 Episode 6 by "Tommy Page."
The Kingdome is mentioned in a 1998 episode of the Seattle-set sitcom Frasier. In Season 6 Episode 6, "Secret Admirer," Martin describes Daphne's frustrating driving that repeatedly takes them right into various traffic delays: "So then Daphne takes a left on Madison. Bumper to bumper all the way to Pike. Then a right on Pike. And what do you know? King Dome [sic] traffic!"
The Kingdome is mentioned in the Foo Fighters song 'New Way Home' featured on the 1997 album 'The Colour and the Shape'
Playstation's Gran Turismo Racing series featured the Kingdome in the Seattle Circuit race track, a street circuit based on the roads of Seattle. Seattle Circuit is featured in Gran Turismo 2, Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec, Gran Turismo 4,Tourist Trophy and Gran Turismo PSP. (In GT3, GT4, TT, and GT PSP you race between the Kingdome and Safeco field towards the end of a lap, in GT2 you race between the Kingdome and a series of grandstands because the real Safeco field was not yet completed while GT2 was being developed.)
In rapper Macklemore's song and subsequent music video for "my oh my", he talks about growing up in Seattle and going to the Kingdome, and recalls the moment the Mariners "made history" in the 1995 game against the Yankees. The music video also contains footage of the Kingdome being demolished by implosion in March of 2000.
Shortly after the Kingdome's final event--a Seahawks playoff game on January 9, 2000--the same blueprints used to erect the stadium were dusted off to give demolition crews a good idea of how to bring it down.
There's the Seattle Kingdome (largest structure by volume)...
Seattle's very own Kingdome (1976) remains the only dome to be imploded.
...ESPN's SportsCenter will cut in for live coverage of the actual implosion -- the first live event ever televised by ESPN Classic.
Residents of Seattle's King County owe more than $80 million for the Kingdome, which was razed in 2000.