Marvel to eyesore in just 24 years, Kingdome is blown to bits
SEATTLE (AP) – The Kingdome, which went from engineering marvel to anachronistic eyesore in just 24 years, was demolished in a controlled implosion Sunday to make room for a new, more expensive stadium.
Thousands of spectators cheered from office towers and hillsides around the city as a series of blasts crumbled the massive concrete structure into a mound of rubble and dust.
”It sent chills down your spine. Forget TV, you had to be here to see it,” said John Geoffrey of Amazon.com, whose headquarters overlooks the site.
Sparks from a 21.6-mile web of detonation cord flickered over the ribbed surface of the dome, followed by 5,800 gelatin dynamite charge explosions. The 25,000-ton roof collapsed into a billowing dust cloud in less than 20 seconds.
”It just happened so fast. Everyone started clapping. They were just gasping and yelling and clapping,” said Susan Clark, one of about 130 people who watched the implosion at a fund-raiser from the 11th floor of the nearby Smith Tower.
”The little flashes of light going down between each section (of the roof) like lightning bolts – that was pretty exciting,” said Cheryl Winchester, 33.
The Kingdome – dubbed the mushroom, the concrete cupcake and other less charitable terms over the years – was completed in 1976 at a cost of $67 million. The Seahawks made their debut in the Kingdome that year, and baseball’s Mariners arrived a year later.
The dome was a necessity in the Rainy City, but fans complained that the concrete stadium was too small for football and not intimate enough for baseball.
What’s more, it leaked. And in 1994, four 15-pound ceiling tiles crashed into the stands just hours before a Mariners’ game.
Ken Griffey Jr. found one advantage to the stadium – it was a home-run hitter’s paradise where he once hit 56 homers in a season. And the concrete dome amplified the volume inside, earning screaming Seahawks fans the honorary title of 12th player.
The Mariners abandoned the Kingdome last season and moved to $517 million Safeco Field, a state-of-the-art outdoor stadium across the street.
The Seahawks will share the University of Washington’s Husky Stadium until their new home is finished – built on the site of the Kingdome – in August 2002.
The old Kingdome won’t disappear from Seattle entirely. One third of the rubble produced by Sunday’s implosion is slated for use in the Seahawks new $430 million stadium.
On the Net:
Kingdome’s Last Days: http://www.seattle-pi.com/kingdome/lastdays.shtml
Past implosion videos: http://www.windowsmedia.com/preview/kingdome
Demolition company: http://www.controlled-demolition.com/ver0