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The beginning of the Kingdome implosion in 2000. Photo by Seattle Municipal Archives.

The beginning of the Kingdome implosion in 2000. Photo by Seattle Municipal Archives.

KUOW News

This NOT Just In: Kingdome Implosion

Feliks Banel
03/25/2011

It was the home of the Seattle Seahawks, the Mariners and the SuperSonics. But interest turned towards more modern sports facilities, and the Kingdome was dispatched with a bang.

TRANSCRIPT

It was the original home of Seattle's NFL heroes —

Pete Gross: "Touchdown Seahawks!"

A field of dreams where the 1995 Mariners won the hearts of a skeptical city —

Dave Niehaus: "I don't believe it!"

Homecourt for the World Champion Seattle SuperSonics —

Bob Blackburn: "It's Freddy Brown in the corner screen. Brown from 22 good!"

And a great place to get out of the rain and check out the latest nautical gear —

Seattle Boat Show theme: "The boat show, the boat show, the big Seattle Boat Show!"

The Kingdome: It was the pride of the city, and the symbol of a new era.

In 1968, voters approved funds to build the stadium with the hope of attracting major league sports to Seattle. The people who wrangle over these sorts of things chose land south of Pioneer Square, and decided to build a concrete multipurpose domed stadium. It took five years to construct, but the Kingdome — named after its home county — finally opened with great fanfare in 1976. Big events that year included a Billy Graham Crusade.

Billy Graham: "And when you sin and persist in sin, it's going to lead you down ... "

Paul McCartney and Wings: "So live and let die!"

And a sold–out rock concert by Paul McCartney and Wings.

The Seahawks played their inaugural game in the Kingdome that August, and the Mariners threw out their first pitch the following spring. Then the Sonics moved in, and so did the original Sounders of the old North American Soccer League.

Announcer: "The whistle blows, and it's a goal! Seattle leads one to nothing early in the first half."

It was an exciting era in the city's history, and it was all happening at the Dome. But then came the 1980s. Even though all the pieces seemed to be in place, a few key ingredients were missing. One was a winning team.

Other than the Seahawks, who reached the NFL playoffs for the first time in 1983, Seattle's pro teams had some of their worst years in the 80s. After their championship, the Sonics flopped and moved back to Seattle Center. The original Sounders went out of business, along with the rest of the league. The Mariners struggled, and ticket sales collapsed.

But what really doomed the Dome was the lack of luxury suites. Franchise owners in other cities began creating these high–priced private seating areas in new facilities. These exclusive viewing boxes were fast becoming a key part of many big league teams revenue packages. Seattle teams wanted in on the luxury suite action, too, but the Kingdome just couldn't deliver.

The Mariners moved to a new home at Safeco Field in 1999. That same year, construction began on Qwest Field for the Seahawks and the new Sounders. What was once the centerpiece of Seattle's rising sports dynasty — the Kingdome — now stood empty and in the way. But not for long.

WSDOT Announcer: "This is the Washington State Department of Transportation Highway Advisory Radio. The Kingdome implosion is scheduled to occur the morning Sunday, March 26. Traffic control will be extensive as crews work to clear major highways near the Kingdome in preparation for the blast."

That's right. They decided to blow it up.

The stadium that was nearly a decade in the making was reduced to rubble in seconds. The debris was cleared away in a matter of weeks.

And though the Kingdome's been gone for more than a decade, memories of the place — and the little matter of bonds that were used to build it — still remain. As of March 2011, public debt on the Dome is right around the $80 million mark.

I'm Feliks Banel for This NOT Just In.

© Copyright 2011, KUOW

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