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Washington voters approve funding for new Seahawks Stadium on June 17, 1997.
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On June 17, 1997, a narrow 50.8 percent majority of state voters participating in a special election approve a $300 million funding package for a new Seahawks Stadium to replace the Kingdome. Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen (b. 1953) finances the campaign and later follows through on his pledge to purchase and revitalize the Seahawks National Football League franchise. He also commits $100 million of his own funds to the new stadium, which formally opened on July 20, 2002.
Following the failure of a 1995 King County bond issue to build both a new Mariners Stadium and rehabilitate the Kingdome for football, Seahawks' owner Ken Behring threatened to sell or move the franchise. Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, who owns the Portland Trailblazers, pledged to acquire the team if a new stadium could be built. Governor Gary Locke (b. 1950) and the State Legislature crafted a proposal for a Public Stadium Authority and funding through various special taxes chiefly levied in King County. Allen also guaranteed to cover any construction cost overruns.
Allen formed Football Northwest to acquire and run the team under the direction of Bob Whitsitt, former executive with the Seattle Supersonics and Portland Trailblazers. He also retained Seattle political consultant Bob Gogerty to strategize a winning campaign. This was complicated by the fact that 27 of Washington's 39 counties voted entirely by mail ballot. Although Proposition 48 prevailed in only seven counties, strong support in Seattle suburbs was enough to edge the ball into the end zone.
The Kingdome was imploded on March 26, 2000, and Allen's "First and Goal" construction team immediately went to work. The Seahawks shifted their games to Husky Stadium, which was Allen's first choice as a permanent team home. Paul Allen opened the new 67,000-seat stadium on schedule on July 20, 2002.
The Seattle Times, June 17, 18, and 19, 1997; Ibid., July 21, 2002.
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