Demise of the Seattle Dumb Dome

Another Seattle political farce bites the dust.


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It was awkward to work in and we called it the Dumb Dome, but it has been home to a lot of Seattle history and now the Seattle King Dome is gone.

In 1968 Washington state voters approved construction of the King Dome pending expert recommendation of the best location for the Dome.

The expert (don't recall who it was) recommended Tukwila (home to Southcenter, one of the oldest shopping malls), but then-King County Executive John Spellman sided with county oligarchs who wanted the dome where it would do Seattle Money the most good - in Seattle.

"It was built with all the best advice available." - John Spellman, The Seattle Times, May 18, 1997

That might explain why it was built on the soft ground of the old Georgetown railroad yards, which settled so much beneath the compressing weight of the Dome's massive concrete frame that the "ribs" of the roof failed to meet in the middle and the original construction company, faced with more cost overruns than it could handle, defaulted on the project leaving it to be finished by a new contractor who made the modifications necessary to bring the ribs together and finish the job.

Truth is, the dome was built to suit The Money (not taxpayers - we still owe $206 million for the dome), and it was destroyed to suit The Money. Only this time, it's Paul Allen's money.

Although only an engineer or an architect could appreciate its "beauty," and from the start many Seattle natives (those few of us who are left) felt it was destined to be nothing more than an eyesore, the Dome turned out to be a good thing for Seattle (too bad, Tukwila). So maybe - maybe - like the Dumb Dome, the new stadiums will surprise us, too.

Or, maybe we won't be surprised - open air stadium in Seattle? Don't they know it rains here?



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Rod Van Mechelen

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