Husky Stadium Dropped As New Home for Seahawks

Strong resistance from the local community and a zooming price tag prompted potential Seahawks owner Paul Allen in December to drop his bid to renovate Husky Stadium for the NFL football team.

Husky Stadium
Allen, a co-founder of Microsoft, has an option to buy the team from its present owners, but he insists on having a new home for the team before he exercises his option.

In the fall, Allen's organization, Football Northwest, seemed to be leaning toward a renovation of Husky Stadium. Its other options were building a new stadium at a suburban site, renovating the Kingdome or tearing down the Kingdome and building an outdoor football stadium on the plot.

The Husky Stadium option was attractive in the beginning because of its price tag. Original estimates started at $100 million, but when the architectural firm HOK submitted its renovation plan in early December, the cost had zoomed to between $347 million and $378 million.

While not adding more seats to Husky Stadium, the HOK plan would have lowered the field and put 100 luxury suites between the upper and lower decks.

Vigorous protests by community groups and some faculty, students and staff also convinced Football Northwest that Husky Stadium was not a realistic option. Though the organization promised to mitigate traffic and parking problems, many citizens were not convinced that professional football games would leave the neighborhoods unscathed.

A view of the proposed new football stadium on the site of the Kingdome.
Football Northwest is currently working with the Legislature on a measure to fund a new stadium on the site of the Kingdome. Politicians have promised that any plan would have to be approved by the voters.

In another stadium issue, Regent Shelly Yapp resigned from the Public Facilities District, which oversees the construction and leasing of the new baseball stadium for the Seattle Mariners. The Mariners' owners threatened to sell the team unless changes were made in the lease.

In her resignation letter to then-King County Executive Gary Locke, Yapp wrote, "The balance of public and private interest has shifted radically and wrongly, in my view, to the welfare of the Mariners' ownership over that of the public."

Despite Yapp's protests, the district board voted 4-3 in favor of the baseball team's conditions for a new lease. The Mariners were granted additional concessions worth at least $50 million over the life of the contract. UW President Emeritus William P. Gerberding also holds a seat on the board and voted in favor of the lease. The stadium is scheduled to open in 1999.

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