The Kingdome was located in Seattle
from November 2, 1972, when construction began, until March 26, 2000, when the dome was imploded. Located in an industrial part of town located directly south of the downtown and Pioneer Square
neighborhoods, the Kingdome was big, ugly, somewhat controversial at times, and hard to miss (in most senses of the word). Over it's quarter-century of active duty, the facility hosts professional baseball
, professional football
, many amatuer sports events (dirt races, high school football, high school tennis
, monster truck rallies
), concerts, conventions, and other assorted gatherings.
The notion of a large, national-caliber sports facility kicked around Seattle for a while; discussion began in 1958, but a bond issue to fund a stadium was defeated in 1960, and again in 1966. By the mid-1960s, both professional football and baseball were looking towards Seattle as an prospect for expansion, but the National Football League and baseball's American League were holding back for an appropriate facility. The push that really got things moving was the American League vote in late 1967 to grant a franchise to Seattle, contingent on a new facility being built. In 1968, an $800 million dollar city imporvement bond was passed that included $40 million for the construction of the Kingdome.
Before construction began (it was held up in city paperwork and the courts for a while), Seattle got a baseball franchise in the 1969 expansion, but due to the construction delays, the Seattle Pilots played just one year in the city, before becoming the Milwaukee Brewers.
The Kingdome finally opened in 1976 with a soccer game on April 9th. The final cost came in at $67 million. Capacity for the space depended on usage; for sporting events, it was about 35-40,000 people, while conventions and concerts could accomodate as many as 75-80,000.
The first concert held in the new venue was a Wings show in June 1976. The attendance of 67,000 fans set a record for an indoor, single-act show. Over the years the Kingdome would host Led Zepplin (July 1977), The Who and The Clash (October 1982), Madonna (July 1987), Pink Floyd (December 1987), Guns and Roses and Metallica (October 1992), several Rolling Stones shows (December 1994, November 1997), and the final show under the dome was U2, in December 1997. Shows at the Kingdome tended to be very noisy, with sound engineers finding it very difficult to control echoes off the hard concrete walls.
Football's Seattle Seahawks began play in the fall of 1976, and played there until the stadium was demolished. They are currently playing in the University of Washington's Husky Stadium until construction of a new football stadium is complete. The Seattle Mariners took up residency in 1977 and played in the Kingdome until the outdoor baseball stadium Safeco Field opened in July 1999.
The stadium's demise began in 1994, when the stadium was closed for repairs after a number of huge cement celing tiles fell into the stands. Repairs cost $70 million dollars, with suggestions that more repairs would follow at similar or greater costs in the years to come. Additionally, the sports teams that occupied the space began grumbling about the loss of revenues associated with an outdated, general purpose facility. After a lot of political manuvering (outside the scope of this node, I think), plans were approved for the $450 million Safeco field and a $300 million football field.
The demolition of the stadium was huge and spectacular. I don't know what else to say about it so I won't. I'm sure there are loads of movies of the implosion on the internet.
The Kingdome was one of the largest concrete buildings ever built. I attended a few baseball games as a child, and what still strikes me about the place is the inability of the television camera, or still photos, to convey the feeling of being in such a massive room. And the acoustics tended to reinforce that sense of space -- when the Mariners first had some playoff success in the mid-90s, opposing players would complain that the roar of the crowd was literally deafening.
Oh, and lest I forget, the Kingdome also brought the world one other thing -- the wave.