1977-1999 - The Kingdome
The Kingdome, officially the King County Domed Stadium, was the home of Mariners Baseball for 22 and ½ seasons, from 1977 through June 1999. Built on the site where CenturyLink Field is now located, the Kingdome was the first domed stadium in the American League, and over the years served as the home of the Mariners, Seahawks (NFL 1976-1999), Sonics (NBA) and Sounders (NASL). The building was owned and operated by King County.
The dome itself was the largest thin shell concrete roof in the world, spanning over 660 feet in diameter and rising 250 above the playing surface. Construction was completed March 27, 1976, at a cost of $67 million.
For baseball, the Kingdome was considered a hitter's park. The dimensions were short, the ball carried well in the controlled indoor climate (68-72 degrees), and the hard Astroturf field benefited hitters as well.
The first regular season game in Mariners history was played on April 6, 1977, when the Mariners lost to the California Angels, 7-0. Seating capacity for baseball at Kingdome varied over the years, but was always close to 59,000. The 1979 MLB All-Star Game was played in the Dome, when first baseman Bruce Bochte singled for the first hit by a Mariners player in the midsummer classic. The National League won 6-5.
Many memorable moments and games and in team history took place in the Kingdome, including the legendary 1995 season when the Mariners won their first division championship in a tiebreaker game, then beat the New York Yankees in the American League Division Series. The Mariners success season led to the eventual end of the Kingdome's lifespan, with first stages of development of a new ballpark, and eventually a new football stadium.
The final MLB game in the Kingdome was played June 27, 1999, when the Mariners beat the Texas Rangers 8-3. Three weeks later, the first game at Safeco Field was played.
The Kingdome was imploded on March 26, 2000…24 years after it was completed.
Facts and Figures
First Sports Event: April 9, 1976 - Soccer match between the Seattle Sounders vs. New York Cosmos (with Pele)
Playing Surface: Astro Turf - Original surface was replaced twice (midseason 1983 and again prior to the 1991 season)
Outfield Dimensions: In 1991, home plate was moved 10 feet toward the first base dugout and the wall was moved back to make the dimensions fairer.
Notes of Interest:
- There were 14 speakers hanging from the ceiling of the Kingdome, and they were in play. In addition, there was a basketball scoreboard raised high above first base when in a baseball configuration. Special ground rules addressed the speakers in both fair and foul territory. The speakers were hit by batted balls several times. In addition, at least three times batted balls stuck in speakers that were in foul territory (ruled strikes).
- The outfield wall from right center field to the right field foul line was raised from 11 ½ feet to 23 ½ feet high in 1982.
- An earthquake interrupted the Mariners game in the Dome against the Indians in July 1996. The building was just fine, and the game was completed prior to the game the next day.
1999-Present - Safeco Field
The Seattle Mariners moved from the Kingdome across the street to Safeco Field in the middle of the 1999 baseball season. The Inaugural Game was played on July 15, 1999, the first game after the All-Star break, before a sold out crowd of 44,604. Over the years, the ballpark has become regarded as a great place for baseball - for fans and players alike.
Safeco Field features a unique retractable roof, which covers the field and grandstands like an umbrella but does not enclose the park, preserving an open-air environment. It extends or retracts in approximately 15 minutes, and has been in use for all or part of 21% of Mariners games through the 2016 season. It is located just a block south of the old Kingdome site, where CenturyLink Field now sits.
The park was considered a much fairer test of baseball, slightly favoring pitchers (vs. hitters) and putting a premium on defense.
The current seating capacity is 47,943, with nearly 21,000 seats on the main level; 3,700 bleacher seats; and premium seating on the main, club and suite levels. The park is extremely "ambient," allowing fans to walk around the park while still following the action on the field. The Pen area in left and center field is a popular area for fans to congregate before and during games.
In 2001, the Mariners and the City of Seattle hosted the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, with eight Mariners on the American League team that won, and showcasing the Puget Sound region.
Facts and Figures
First Game: July 15, 1999 - The Mariners dropped a 3-2 decision to the San Diego Padres.
Playing Surface: Natural grass - designed for the Northwest climate, a blend of Kentucky bluegrass and ryegrass.
Outfield Dimensions: In 2013, the outfield wall was moved in by four feet from the left field corner to the tunnel in right center field, except in deep left center where it was moved in up to 17 feet. In addition, the hand-operated scoreboard in the left field corner, which was in play, was moved back and is no longer in play.
Notes of Interest:
- The outfield wall is eight (8) feet high all the way from foul pole to foul pole.
- The main HD-quality video screen, installed in 2013 above the center field bleachers, is the largest in MLB, just larger than two NBA basketball courts placed end to end.
- WiFi was installed at Safeco Field. It is available for free to all fans.
- The Museum area is located on the main level concourse between sections 132-138. It includes the Mariners Hall of Fame and captures the history of baseball in the Northwest.