Even in the corporate culture of today, unanimity is generally hard to find. With so many different opinions, it's almost impossible to get everyone to agree. Unless, of course, you're talking about that new tin rattrap south of downtown, ever so creatively dubbed Seahawks Stadium (until someone shells out $5 million to change the name). The Hawks unveiled their new digs last month, and everyone from here to Missoula gave the thumbs-up. Radio DJs salivated on their microphones. The Puget Sound Business Journal went a step further, performing fellatio with headlines such as "Economic enigma: New stadium's impact hard to measure, but value to community is incalculable." Everywhere you turned, it seemed—in the papers, at the local pub, wherever—there was such uniform ass kissing, Paul Allen's butt must have been sore.
I toured the stadium with thousands of other fans, and I'm not sure what the hell everyone is cooing about. First of all, we didn't need it—the Kingdome was one of the best places on earth to watch football, and that glorious hump like a snow hill served as a city icon to boot. Secondly, the new stadium has as much personality as Dick Cheney, and it's not much different from any of the other sterile new football parks in Baltimore or Pittsburgh, to name a few. Next, the press box and locker rooms look exactly like the ones down the street at Safeco Field (at least there, everything can be covered with a gimmicky retractable roof). Finally, and perhaps most disturbingly, the $430 million tin can will be used no more than 30 times a year. Even if we all had terrible hygiene, taxpayers would get more return on investment from a lifetime supply of toothbrushes.
Seahawks management touts the new stadium for its spaciousness, its state-of-the-art playing surface, and its killer views of the Cascades, Mount Rainier, and Puget Sound. This strategy is hopeful at best, but let's put things in perspective. Spaciousness doesn't matter when the underachieving team won't win enough games to draw a sellout. A whizbang playing surface does nothing for the fans who sit on their fat asses and drink $7 beers the whole game. And the views? Give me a break. How many days in the fall and winter is it cloudless enough to see Mount Rainier unless you're standing on it? Furthermore, at $55 a ticket, in order to get your money's worth, you better watch the game, not the scenery. You can see the mountains on TV.
The truth is that Seahawks Stadium is just about the biggest travesty to be perpetrated on this town since Woody Woodward traded Derek Lowe and Jason Varitek for Heathcliff Slocumb back in '95; Allen would have been better off spearheading efforts for a new aquarium or natural history museum, two things this city actually needs. The Kingdome was a classic—quirky, futuristic, and quintessentially Seattle. This new place is just new—it says very few unique things about our city and our team. In many ways, the stadium is like a pair of fake tits—eye-catching yet predictable, flashy but ordinarily so. Sure, both are fun to experience at first, but ultimately, each proves to be nothing but a big bust.