Seattle Kingdome

Seattle Kingdome

King County Multipurpose Domed Stadium
The Kingdome
The Dome
Location 201 S. King Street
Seattle, Washington 98104
United States

47°35′43″N 122°19′53″W / 47.59528°N 122.33139°W / 47.59528; -122.33139Coordinates: 47°35′43″N 122°19′53″W / 47.59528°N 122.33139°W / 47.59528; -122.33139

Broke ground November 2, 1972
Opened March 27, 1976
Closed January 9, 2000
Demolished March 26, 2000 (24 years after being built)
Owner King County
Operator King County Department
of Stadium Administration
Surface AstroTurf
Construction cost US$67 million
($278 million in 2014 dollars[1])
Architect Naramore, Skilling & Praeger
Structural engineer Skilling, Helle, Christiansen & Robertson, Inc.[2]
General contractor Peter Kiewit Sons Construction Company
Capacity Baseball: 59,166
Football: 66,000
Basketball: 40,000
Seattle Seahawks (NFL) (1976–January 9, 2000)
Seattle Sounders (NASL) (1976–1983)
Seattle Mariners (MLB) (1977–1999)
Seattle SuperSonics (NBA) (1978–1985)
NCAA Final Four (1984, 1989, 1995)

The Kingdome (officially King County Multipurpose Domed Stadium[3]) was a multi-purpose stadium located 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 was also the home stadium of the Seattle Sounders of the North American Soccer League (NASL) and hosted numerous amateur sporting events, concerts, and other events.

The idea of constructing a covered stadium for a major league football and/or baseball team was first proposed to Seattle officials in 1959. After voters rejected separate measures to approve public funding for such a stadium in 1960 and 1966, 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 1976, the Pro Bowl in 1977, the Major League Baseball All-Star Game in 1979, the NBA All-Star Game in 1987, and the NCAA Final Four in 1984, 1989, and 1995.

During the 1990s both 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 the start of 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 midway through the 1999 season, and the Seahawks temporarily moved to Husky Stadium following 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.

Seattle and King County will pay off the bonds used to build and repair the Kingdome in 2016, 16 years after its demolition.[4]

Concept and construction

In 1959, Seattle restaurateur David L. Cohn wrote a letter to the Seattle City Council suggesting that the city needed a covered stadium for a major professional sports franchise.[5] A domed stadium was thought to be a must due to Seattle's frequent rain.

At the time, the city already 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.[5] 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 that the stadium could be built within that budget, and lack of a guarantee that the city would have a team to play in the stadium.[5] 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.[5]

In 1967, the American League granted Seattle an expansion franchise that would later be known as the Seattle Pilots. The league clearly stated that 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 new 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 originally supposed to begin play in 1971 along with the Kansas City Royals. However, when Senator Stuart Symington got wind of those plans, he demanded that 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 US$40 million in bonds to fund construction of the "King County Multipurpose Domed Stadium."[5] 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. Community members decried the idea, claiming that the committee was influenced by special interest groups.[6]

The Pilots began play as planned in 1969, but Sick's Stadium proved to be a woefully problematic venue for fans, media, and visiting players alike. It soon became apparent that Sick's Stadium was completely inadequate even for temporary use—a major reason why the Pilots only drew 677,000 fans that season, not nearly enough to break even. However, a petition by stadium opponents brought the 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, were forced to declare bankruptcy. Despite efforts by Seattle-area businessmen to buy the team and 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 Milwaukee 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.[6] 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.[6] 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. On November 2, 1972, a groundbreaking ceremony was held on the King Street site. Several protesters attended the ceremony, disrupted the speakers, and at one point threw mud balls at them.[6]

On December 5, 1974, the NFL awarded Seattle an expansion franchise to occupy the new stadium; the team would later be named the Seattle Seahawks.[5] Construction lasted another two years, and the stadium held an opening ceremony on March 27, 1976.[6] It hosted its first professional sporting event on April 9 of that year, a soccer match between the Seattle Sounders and New York Cosmos of the North American Soccer League.

American football

Seattle Seahawks

The Seattle Seahawks 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 on September 12, 1976 at the Kingdome.

The Kingdome hosted the 1977 Pro Bowl on January 17, 1977.

Due to its concrete construction and the Seahawks' raucous fans, the Kingdome was known as one of the loudest stadiums in the NFL. Opposing teams were known to practice with rock music blaring full blast to prepare for the high decibel levels typical of Seahawk home games.

The Seahawks hosted Monday Night Football games at the Kingdome twelve times in its history with the team going 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 37-0 blowout victory in 1986.[7] 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.[8] 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.

Overall, the Seahawks were 104-84 including 2-1 in the postseason at the Kingdome.[7]


The first collegiate football game played in the Kingdome was between the Washington State Cougars and USC Trojans, when Ricky Bell set the NCAA single-game rushing yardage record (later broken by Reuben Mayes of Washington State).[9]

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 only played in the Kingdome for two years - 1986 and 1987. While it was relatively successful for small college football, the event organizers realized that they would never get the 50,000 needed to fill the Kingdome and brought the game back to Tacoma where it has been played ever since.

The stadium also hosted the WIAA high school football state championships in an event called the King Bowl until 1994 where they moved to the Tacoma Dome in nearby Tacoma.[10]

The Seattle and Tacoma Police Departments played a yearly game named the Bacon Bowl to raise money for charity; it has since moved to CenturyLink Field.


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 on April 6, 1977, against the California Angels.

The Kingdome was somewhat problematic as a baseball venue. Foul territory was quite large, 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.[11] 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 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 "Puget Puke."[11] After their inaugural home opener, the Mariners didn't have another regular-season 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.[12] However, when the team's fortunes began to change in the mid–1990s and they began drawing large 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),[13] " featuring a new out of town scoreboard. In 1990, new owner Jeff Smulyan added some asymmetrical 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 American League Division Series in front of 57,411 raucous fans. In the bottom of the 11th, Martinez doubled to left, sending Cora and Griffey home with the winning runs and vaulting the Mariners into the American League Championship Series for the first time in franchise history.[14]

One game between the Mariners and the Cleveland Indians in the Kingdome was suspended in the home half of the seventh inning because of a minor earthquake, on May 2, 1996. The earthquake occurred during a pitching change as Indians' pitcher Orel Hershiser was walking off the mound following a home run by Edgar Martínez.[15] After an inspection by engineers, the game was continued the next evening, resulting in a win for the Indians.

On April 10, 1989, Griffey Jr., in his first-ever plate appearance at the Kingdome, hit a home run.[16] On June 27, 1999, Griffey Jr. hit the last home run ever at the Kingdome.[17]


Seattle SuperSonics

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 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).[18] The SuperSonics also set NBA records for single-game playoff attendance in 1978 and 1980 with crowds of 39,457 and 40,172 respectively (also since broken). The Kingdome record attendance for a regular season game was in 1991, with 38,067.[19] 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. Most of the games would be played at Seattle Center Coliseum, and a few of the 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 Safeco Field stands today) to be called Ackerley Arena, but after financing fell through, the team went back to the Coliseum, which was later rebuilt as KeyArena, reopening for the 1995–96 season. The Sonics played there until the team was purchased by Oklahoma City businessman Clayton "Clay" Bennett before the 2008-09 season.


The NCAA Final Four 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, defeating Arkansas.

Other sports and entertainment

The Kingdome's first sporting event was a game between the NASL's New York Cosmos and Seattle Sounders on April 25, 1976, with 58,218 fans in attendance.

The Kingdom hosted Soccer Bowl '76 between the Minnesota Kicks and the Toronto Metros-Croatia on August 28, 1976.

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.

The largest crowd to attend a single event in the Kingdome was 74,000, on May 17, 1976, for a Billy Graham crusade, featuring Johnny Cash.[20]

The first-ever rock concert in the Kingdome was Wings on June 10, 1976. The Seattle concert was the centerpiece of the Wings Over America Tour, which was 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.[21]

Led Zeppelin performed on July 17, 1977, on what turned out to be the band's last US tour (this performance is available on VOIO and ROIO).

The Rolling Stones played the Kingdome on October 14 and 15, 1981.[22]

The Who, with The Clash as an opening act, played the Kingdome on October 20, 1982.[23]

The Beach Boys performed a concert at the stadium following a Mariners game on May 22, 1983.

The stadium held The Monsters of Rock Festival, featuring Van Halen, Scorpions, Dokken, Metallica and Kingdom Come, on July 27, 1988.

Paul McCartney performed one last time in the Kingdome on March 29, 1990, during The Paul McCartney World Tour.

Metallica and Guns N' Roses played the last show of the Guns N' Roses/Metallica Stadium Tour at the stadium on October 6, 1992, with Motörhead and Body Count as their opening acts.

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.[24]

Final years

Relocation threats

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.[5] 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.

1994 ceiling collapse

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.[25] 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.[25][26] As a result, the Kingdome was closed.

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.[26] 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.[26] 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.[27] 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.[26]


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 American League Division Series 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, CenturyLink Field, was being built on the Kingdome's footprint, and would open 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.[28] 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.[29][30] The Kingdome was demolished before the debt issued to finance its construction was fully paid and as of September 2010, residents of King County are still responsible for more than $80 million in debt on the demolished stadium.[31][32]


Two separate facilities replaced the Kingdome. Safeco Field, 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.

Seating capacity


  • 59,059 (1976-1980)[33]
  • 59,438 (1981-1987)[33]
  • 58,850 (1988-1990)[33]
  • 57,748 (1991-1993)[33]
  • 59,166 (1994-1999)[33]


  • 64,752 (1976-1979)
  • 64,759 (1980-1983)[34]
  • 64,984 (1984-1992)[35]
  • 66,400 (1993-2000)[36]


See also

Seattle portal


External links

  • The Story behind the implosion of The Seattle Kingdome
  • Kingdome: The Controversial Birth of a Seattle Icon (1959-1976)
  • Video of Kingdome Implosion
Events and tenants
Preceded by
first stadium
Home of the
Seattle Seahawks

1976 – 1999
Succeeded by
Husky Stadium
Preceded by
first ballpark
Home of the
Seattle Mariners

1977 – 1999
Succeeded by
Safeco Field
Preceded by
Seattle Center Coliseum
Home of the
Seattle SuperSonics

1978 – 1985
Succeeded by
Seattle Center Coliseum
Preceded by

The Pit
Kemper Arena
Charlotte Coliseum
NCAA Men's Division I
Basketball Tournament
Finals Venue

Succeeded by

Rupp Arena
McNichols Sports Arena
Continental Airlines Arena
Preceded by
Louisiana Superdome
Host of the NFL Pro Bowl
Succeeded by
Tampa Stadium
Preceded by
San Diego Stadium
Host of the MLB All-Star Game
Succeeded by
Dodger Stadium
Preceded by
Reunion Arena
Host of the
NBA All-Star Game

Succeeded by
Chicago Stadium
Preceded by
Lockhart Stadium
Host of the College Cup
Succeeded by
Tacoma Dome