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This 1996 map of the Pioneer Square-Skid Road Historic District shows the location of the Kingdome (at the lower right in the map).

The Kingdome (officially King County Multipurpose Domed Stadium[2]) was a multi-purpose stadium in Seattle, Washington, located in the city'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 served as both the home outdoor and indoor[3] venue for 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. 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 $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, 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 and opened in 2002.

King County paid off the bonds used to build and repair the Kingdome in 2015, 15 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 of Missouri 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 $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, site of the 1962 World's Fair. Community members decried the idea, claiming that the committee was influenced by special interest groups.[6]

The Kingdom pictured behind USS Leahy (DLG-16) in 1982.

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.[6][7] 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. In 1972, a groundbreaking ceremony was held on the King Street site on November 2. 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 was later 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 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.[8]


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).[9] 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.[10] 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 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, defeating Arkansas.

Other sports and entertainment

The Kingdome's first sporting event was a 1976 game between the NASL's New York Cosmos and Seattle Sounders on April 25, with 58,128 fans in attendance.[11]

The Kingdome 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 Template:Baseball year, 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 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.[12][13][14]

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.[15]

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.[16]

The Rock and Roll Grand Slam 1982 played the Kingdome on July 23, 1982, featuring Bryan Adams, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Blue Oyster Cult, Loverboy, and Foreigner.[17]

The Who, with The Clash as an opening act, played the Kingdome on October 20, 1982.[18]

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

Madonna performed at the Kingdome for her Who's That Girl World Tour on July 15, 1987.

Pink Floyd performed a show at the Kingdome on December 8, 1987 during their A Momentary Lapse of Reason Tour.

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 as the opening act.

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.[19]

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.[20] 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 Template:Convert/lb, 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.[20][21] 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.[21] 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.[21] 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.[22] 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.[21]


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.


The Kingdome imploding in March 2000

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.[23] 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.[24][25] 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.[26][27] The 2 percent of the 15.6 percent hotel/motel tax earmarked for the Kingdome debt not longer needed will instead go to the county's 4Culture program for arts, heritage, and preservation.[4]


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)[28]
  • 59,438 (1981-1987)[28]
  • 58,850 (1988-1990)[28]
  • 57,748 (1991-1993)[28]
  • 59,166 (1994-1999)[28]


  • 64,752 (1976-1979)
  • 64,759 (1980-1983)[29]
  • 64,984 (1984-1992)[30]
  • 66,400 (1993-2000)[31]


See also


  • Delta Dome
  • Thin-shell structure
  • List of thin shell structures


  1. "ArchitectDB - Structure Detail". 2000-03-26. Retrieved 2012-10-28. 
  2. Macintosh, Heather. "Kingdome opens to a crowd of 54,000 on March 27, 1976". Retrieved 3 April 2010. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Pittman, Travis (2015-03-26). "Kingdome bonds finally paid off 15 years after implosion". The Seattle Times (Seattle). Archived from the original on 2015-03-27. Retrieved 2015-03-27.  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "debtretired" defined multiple times with different content
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 Crowley, Walt (2 February 2006). "National Football League awards Seattle a franchise for future Seahawks on December 5, 1974". Retrieved 15 March 2011. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 MacIntosh, Heather (1 March 2000). "Kingdome: The Controversial Birth of a Seattle Icon (1959-1976)". Retrieved 15 March 2011. 
  7. "Voters in Seattle reject proposals". Spokesman-Review. Associated Press: p. 1. May 20, 1970. 
  8. "Huge crowd views Pele". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Associated Press: p. 10. April 10, 1976. 
  9. Richardson, Kenneth (January 27, 1989). "Sonics Going Dome Tonight: Hawks in Rare Kingdome Visit". The Seattle Post-Intelligencer. 
  10. "Jordan Finds a Groove In Time to Edge Sonics". The New York Times. November 24, 1991. 
  11. O'Keefe, Vincent (April 10, 1976). "The King (Pele) stars in Kingdome". The Seattle Times: p. D1. 
  12. "Graham packs 'em in". Ellensburg Daily Record. UPI: p. 6. May 15, 1976. 
  13. "Billy Graham crusade drew". Ellensburg Daily Record. UPI: p. 8. May 17, 1976. 
  14. Macintosh, Heather (March 1, 2000). "Kingdome: The controversial birth of a Seattle icon (1959-1976)". History Link. Retrieved September 30, 2014. 
  20. 20.0 20.1 Nalder, Eric; Guillen, Tomas (28 August 1994). "Years Of Fixes Turned Leaky Kingdome Roof Into Sodden Disaster". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 8 April 2010. 
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 21.3 "Ten Years After The Kingdome Tiles Fell.", The Seattle Times, July 19, 2004.
  22. Schaefer, David (3 November 1994). "Dome To Reopen With Repair Budget In Red". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 9 April 2010. 
  23. Satchell, Michael (2003-06-22). "Bringing Down The House". U.S. News & World Report. Archived from the original on 2010-09-08. Retrieved 2010-09-08. "There's the Seattle Kingdome (largest structure by volume)..." 
  24. Reader, Bill (2004-01-26). "Great moments in dome history". The Seattle Times (Seattle). Archived from the original on 2010-09-08. Retrieved 2010-09-08. "Seattle's very own Kingdome (1976) remains the only dome to be imploded." 
  25. "ESPN Classic to air Kingdome retrospective, implosion". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. 2000-03-20. Archived from the original on 2010-09-08. Retrieved 2010-09-08. "...ESPN's SportsCenter will cut in for live coverage of the actual implosion -- the first live event ever televised by ESPN Classic." 
  26. Brunner, Jim; Young, Bob (2005-01-04). "Q&A: Stadium tax proposal". The Seattle Times (Seattle). Archived from the original on 2010-09-08. Retrieved 2010-09-08. 
  27. Belson, Ken (2010-09-07). "As Stadiums Vanish, Their Debt Lives On". The New York Times: p. A8. Archived from the original on 2010-09-08. Retrieved 2010-09-08. "Residents of Seattle's King County owe more than $80 million for the Kingdome, which was razed in 2000." 
  28. 28.0 28.1 28.2 28.3 28.4 Template:Cite book
  29. Jim Cour (July 15, 1981). "Seattle Natives Aren't Restless About the Kingdome Anymore". Los Angeles Times.'t+Restless+About+the+Kingdome+Anymore&pqatl=google. 
  30. John Powers (December 16, 1984). "Ease On Down the Road. NFL Clubs Are Packing It in for New Cities and Sweetheart Deals". Boston Globe. 
  31. "Elway's Super Year May Lead to Super Year". The Gazette (Colorado Springs). November 27, 1993. 
  32. Hec Hancock (October 19, 1980). "Thanks Be to Paul". Tri City Herald.,5281266&dq=en. 

External links

Template:Commons category

Template:S-start-collapsible |- style="text-align: center;" |- style="text-align:center;" |width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"|Preceded by
Seattle Center Coliseum |width="40%" style="text-align: center;" rowspan="1"|Home of the
Seattle SuperSonics

1978 – 1985 |width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"| Succeeded by
Seattle Center Coliseum |- |- style="text-align: center;" |- style="text-align:center;" |width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"|Preceded by

The Pit
Kemper Arena
Charlotte Coliseum
|width="40%" style="text-align: center;" rowspan="1"|NCAA Men's Division I
Basketball Tournament
Finals Venue

1995 |width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"| Succeeded by

Rupp Arena
McNichols Sports Arena
Continental Airlines Arena
|- |- style="text-align: center;" |- style="text-align:center;" |width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"|Preceded by
Reunion Arena |width="40%" style="text-align: center;" rowspan="1"|Host of the
NBA All-Star Game

1987 |width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"| Succeeded by
Chicago Stadium |- |}