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Kingdome Dreaming

September 14, 2020

The Mushroom. The Tomb. The Concrete Cupcake. And, of course, Puget Puke.

Seattle’s iconic stadium was known by many names, but answered only to one: the Kingdome. An inextricable staple of the Seattle landscape in the 80s and 90s, the beloved Kingdome was home to some of Seattle’s first major league teams, and the target of many a jab for its awkward appearance.
Jokes aside, the Kingdome was and is beloved, begrudgingly, by all of the Emerald City for its character and its place in history. Up until its conception, Seattle had never had a major league stadium. The Sicks Stadium and Husky Stadium at the University of Washington were well-worn and well-loved, but just not new or big enough to attract major-leaguers in the 1970s. In the end, Seattle got not one, but two, big league teams: enter the Seahawks in 1972, and the Mariners in 1977, with the Kingdome as a faithful backdrop to them both.
Although the Kingdome did get built, it did take a while. A long while. First, it was rejected in 1960 and 1966 before getting approved in 1968. After that, plans for the stadium caught another snag almost immediately, as Seattle planners debated over the stadium’s location. This public debate raged on for 12 years, with King County considering over 100 sites over that time period. By the time the ground was broken on its eventual south downtown site, the Kingdome project was underfunded, having had its budget set by voters nearly a decade earlier.
Despite these growing pains, the Kingdome was built. In its lifetime, it was home, for varying amounts of time, to the Seahawks, the Supersonics and the Mariners, but was most intrinsically linked to the Mariners, having grown alongside Seattle’s underdog sweethearts for nearly two decades.
Unfortunately, by 1994, classic Seattle jokes about the Kingdome’s shabbiness turned into frantic criticisms. The stadium’s famous roof – renowned by architects for its remarkable thinness (a mere five inches, a feat of engineering innovation at the time), and hated by fans for its leaks – began to drop its fifteen-pound ceiling tiles into the stands mere hours before a Mariners vs. Orioles game, forcing the Mariners to take their last 20 home games on the road to avoid the risk of fan or player being crushed. Although the roof was eventually repaired, it was difficult to assuage the fears of fans, and the ‘Dome was doomed. It was demolished in 2000, but the Concrete Cupcake lives on in the hearts of Seattleites.

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