The Kingdome is gone. Jason and I walked over to Beacon Avenue, on the west side of Beacon Hill, to watch the implosion this morning. It was quite an event, with tons of people everywhere, lots of loud helicopters overhead, and a gorgeous sunny sky. Before we left the house, I heard the song “Closing Time,” by Semisonic, with the line “Every new beginning is some other beginning’s end.” It seemed appropriate.
Another song I was thinking about was a long-forgotten novelty song that local radio stations used to play back in 1979 when the Sonics played in the Kingdome. It was called “In The Dome,” and it was to the tune of the Beach Boys’ “In My Room.” Supposedly Brian Wilson got upset and threatened to sue, so all the stations pulled it off the air. I wish someone had remembered to dig out a copy this weekend. It would have been nice. The song went like this:
There’s a place where
we can go to
watch the Sonics play
In the Dome, the Kingdome…
The only Sonics’ game I’ve ever attended was at the Kingdome, against Cleveland, in 1979 or 1980. Of course, I spent a lot of time at the Dome for other things. My first time there was in June 1977 (the 11th, I think), when the Mariners played the Oakland A’s. It was also my first major league baseball game, I was 12 years old, and I was in awe of everything. I remember walking from the concourse to the seating area and staring at the roof — so overwhelmingly big and, yes, in it’s own way, beautiful, too. It wasn’t the same beauty as a great outdoor baseball park, but it had its own grace and grandeur.
In later years I attended far more than my fair share of M’s games there, including the 1995 and 1997 playoffs. I sat in the second deck for the 1979 All-Star Game and saw Morganna, the Kissing Bandit, run on the field to smooch George Brett. In ’78 or ’79 the M’s had a mascot contest, and I was there wearing a castoff Halloween gorilla mask and a baseball uniform. I was the “Mariner Maniac.” Of course I didn’t win, but I got to goof off on the field in front of an audience of thousands, and spent the rest of the game signing autographs for a herd of kids who followed me around the park the same way the kids follow the Moose today. (The winner was “Spacey the Space Needle,” a guy whose uniform basically consisted of stilts and a big white hat. The scariest entrant was “The Baby,” an older guy wearing nothing but a diaper who crawled all the way from the leftfield wall to home plate — on Astroturf. His knees looked like hamburger.)
Not every memory there is of baseball. I saw the Rolling Stones, the Who and the Clash, and Paul McCartney play big concerts at the Dome. When the lights went off for the Stones show, lighters went on all over the place like 100,000 Christmas lights. I have never seen so many lighters held up at a rock show since, and it’s an image that has never left me.
I saw one Seahawks game there — I won free tickets from KJR on Halloween in 1980 or 1981. I remember standing in my Halloween costume (a baseball uniform, actually), talking to the DJ. The next Sunday I was there. I think the Hawks were playing Philadelphia.
All of this was going through my mind as I watched the implosion this morning. I heard them give the command on the radio, and for a split second it seemed from our angle as if nothing was happening. Then rivulets of flame ran down the ribs of the roof from top to bottom, as if the finger of God had touched the stadium, and then everything started to fall — WHOMP! — and the dust cloud rose. It happened so fast, much faster than I had expected. As the building died I got a little choked up. I didn’t cheer. Many people around us did cheer, but it was by no means unanimous.
As we walked back up the hill I saw some folks on the roof of an apartment building with a green street sign that said:
It pointed at the dust cloud where the Dome used to be.