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Seattle’s Floating Stadium

Posted by Johnine Larsen on May 31, 2016
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People know Seattle for the Space Needle. That, and all the water. Puget Sound, Lake Union, Lake Washington. Rain. Combine the two—water and iconic architecture—and you’re getting close to the 1960s idea for a floating stadium. No Kingdome or CenturyLink or Safeco Field—this floating stadium would have had Seahawks and Mariners much closer to the origin of their names: right on top of Elliott Bay.

Around the time of the World’s Fair, Seattle was riding on the high of the Space Needle and the Monorail. Construction baron Howard S. Wright Jr. wanted to keep up Seattle’ atypical design trend and attract professional sports teams to the growing city, so he came up with the idea of a floating, domed stadium.

The one-of-a-kind facility would have been built on pontoons at the end of Harrison Street, just blocks from the Seattle Center. A Monorail extension would shuttle downtown fans to games, and ferries would connect other areas to the stadium. Boat parking? You bet. Up to 50,000 people could have come to the stadium for baseball games, and 70,000 for football games (CenturyLink has a regular capacity of 67,000).

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The Chamber of Commerce and King County commissioners loved the idea, and groups started raising funds. So what happened? Here’s what happened:

  • A $15 million price tag
  • Seattle City Planning Commission advised against it
  • The area couldn’t fit the necessary 7,000 parking spaces

Voters shot down the floating stadium. Not until 1972, when Seattle built the Kingdome, did we get our first Major League stadium. Now we’re well established here in Seattle with the Seahawks, Mariners, Storm, Sounders, and Reign, and the idea of a floating, iconic stadium has faded out of all but a few memories.

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