The Kingdome, once a prominent feature of Seattle’s skyline, was a multi-purpose stadium that played a significant role in the city’s sports history. As the home of the Seattle Mariners for over two decades, it witnessed key moments in baseball and left an indelible mark on the hearts of fans.
Stadium Facts about Kingdome
- Location: Seattle, Washington
- Opened On: March 27, 1976
- Closed On: March 26, 2000
- Home Team: Seattle Mariners (American League), 1977-1999
- Stadium Nicknames: N/A
- Dimensions: Left Field – 331 feet, Center Field – 405 feet, Right Field – 312 feet
- Capacity: Approximately 59,000 for baseball
- Attendance Record: 57,814 (1997 ALDS Game 4)
- Surface: AstroTurf
- Architect: Naramore, Bain, Brady, and Johanson
- Owner: King County
The Kingdome’s history is intertwined with the expansion of Major League Baseball to the Pacific Northwest. Opening in 1976, it was initially built to attract a professional baseball and football team to Seattle. The arrival of the Mariners in 1977 marked the beginning of MLB in the city. The Kingdome was the Mariners’ home for 22 years and was also shared with the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks.
While it was celebrated for bringing major league sports to Seattle, the Kingdome was also the subject of criticism for its stark, concrete-heavy design and lack of natural atmosphere, typical of multi-purpose stadiums built during that era. Its demolition in 2000 was seen by many as the end of an era and the beginning of a new chapter in Seattle’s sporting landscape.
Design and Features
The Kingdome was known for its distinctive, domed design, a feature that set it apart from other stadiums of its time. The roof was one of the largest of its kind and gave the stadium a unique acoustic environment. Its design was very much a product of the 1970s, focusing on functionality and capacity rather than aesthetic appeal.
The playing surface was artificial turf, which was common in multi-purpose stadiums to accommodate both baseball and football. The enclosed design of the Kingdome protected fans and players from Seattle’s frequent rain, but it also meant the absence of natural grass and open skies, which are integral to the traditional baseball experience.
During its operational years, the Kingdome underwent several renovations and repairs, particularly to its roof, which experienced problems including leaks and falling tiles. The most significant renovation was in the mid-1990s, which included structural repairs and improvements to the facility’s amenities.
These renovations were aimed at extending the life of the stadium and enhancing the fan experience, but they were not enough to overcome the growing movement towards more modern, baseball-specific parks.
The Kingdome’s facilities were typical of the era’s multi-purpose stadiums, offering a wide range of concessions and merchandise stores. The seating was designed to be versatile, accommodating both baseball and football configurations.
While the amenities were not as luxurious as newer stadiums, the Kingdome was appreciated for its ability to host large crowds and for the unique experience it provided, particularly during significant baseball games.
Memorable Moments at Kingdome
- The Mariners’ First Game: Marking the arrival of MLB in Seattle in 1977.
- 1995 ALDS: The dramatic victory over the New York Yankees, known as “The Double” by Edgar Martinez.
- Ken Griffey Jr.’s Stellar Performances: Griffey Jr. became one of baseball’s most iconic figures while playing at the Kingdome.
- Randy Johnson’s Dominance: Johnson’s remarkable performances, including no-hitters and striking out 19 batters in a single game.
- 1997 AL West Title Clinch: A memorable moment in Mariners’ history.
Interesting Baseball History at Kingdome
- First Indoor All-Star Game: Hosting the 1979 MLB All-Star Game.
- Introduction to the Northwest: The Kingdome played a crucial role in introducing and popularizing MLB in the Pacific Northwest.
- Notable Home Run Derby: The 1979 All-Star Game’s Home Run Derby showcased the power-hitting aspect in the Kingdome’s environment.
- Mariners’ Development: The stadium witnessed the growth of the Mariners from an expansion team to playoff contenders.
Apart from baseball, the Kingdome was a venue for a wide array of events, demonstrating its versatility as a multi-use facility. It hosted NFL games, major concerts, religious gatherings, and other large-scale events. The demolition of the Kingdome in 2000 was a significant event in itself, marking the transition to a new era of sports facilities in Seattle. The stadium’s role in these events underscored its significance beyond baseball, as a central hub for major events in the city.