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Saving the Seattle Seahawks

11/15/2013

Saving the Seattle Seahawks

11/15/2013

The Seattle Seahawks have been a rallying point for Seattle’s citizens since 1975. The 12th Man, as Seahawks supporters are known in Seattle, is an enthusiastic bunch known for breaking crowd noise records and shaking the earth with their cheers. But there was a time when Seattle nearly lost its beloved Seahawks. If it wasn’t for Paul Allen, the team might be known as the Los Angeles Seahawks today.

During the mid-90s, Ken Behring, a Californian who had owned the Seahawks since 1988, saw an opportunity to bring the team to Los Angeles.  In 1995, the Rams left L.A. for St. Louis. In February 1996, Behring moved the Seahawks headquarters to Anaheim, California. Seattle was outraged. Behring’s explanation for the move—the seismic vulnerability of the crumbling Kingdome—rang hollow with Seattleites. Who moves a team to Southern California to avoid earthquakes? Who would step in to save the team from this rogue owner? These were the questions asked by the public and the press at the time.

In April 1996, Paul Allen answered. He purchased an option to buy the Seahawks from Behring, but there was one condition: The public needed to partner with him to build a new stadium. Behring was right about the Kingdome; it was unsafe for spectators. Falling tiles from the roof of the stadium endangered players and fans. It had to go.

The Washington Public Stadium Authority Bill, also known as Referendum 48, passed after a special election in June 1997. True to his word, Paul Allen took ownership of the team in August 1997, beginning the process of building the team into Super Bowl contenders. In September of 1998, CenturyLink Field began construction, and in 2002 construction it was completed.

The Seattle Seahawks finally had an owner who lived in and loved Seattle.  The 12th Man finally had a stadium which could handle a Beast Quake. Thanks to Paul Allen, the Seahawks were ready to take flight.

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