Seattle Seahawks: 6 Reasons the Seahawks Soar Above the City
The highly unfortunate departure of the Seattle SuperSonics in 2008 represented the end of an era in Seattle, not to mention the departure of the city's only championship within the American "big four" of professional sports—NBA, NFL, MLB and NHL.
It's no secret being a Seattle sports fan goes hand in hand with periods of dull misery—it goes with the winter weather.
For many, general feelings of heartbreak and perceived highway robbery in regards to the SuperSonics' departure will not be forgotten, especially with the budding success of the franchise in Oklahoma City.
Luckily, Seattle didn't lose its only major professional franchise: The Seahawks, MLS's Sounders FC, the WNBA's Storm and the Mariners still remain.
So which franchise has proven most equipped to step into the shoes of the SuperSonics? Coming off a decade chock-full of playoff berths—including a Super Bowl appearance—and now currently under a new regime motivated towards success, the Seahawks are flyin' high in Seattle.
The City's Oldest, Active Major Professional Sports Franchise
The SuperSonics were founded in 1967, and the city still owns the Sonics' rights. Unfortunately, the team is indefinitely inactive, and its records were not taken into consideration for this article.
The Seahawks win the award for oldest franchise, and barely; the Seahawks' inaugural season was 1976, the Mariners' coming one year later. The Seahawks made the playoffs first, in 1983; the only playoff road victory in franchise history is highlighted in the video.
It's fair to note that the Seahawks are defending their division, but the WNBA Storm are currently defending their league. The Storm have two titles in a league of 12 teams and were champions in 2004 and are now defending 2010 champions; the Seahawks won their conference of 16 teams in 2005, to make a rough comparison.
Do consider that the Seahawks' 11 playoff appearances match the total number of completed WNBA seasons the Storm have competed in; the Seahawks and Seattle have been around the block a couple times.
Back to the Mariners being only one year younger than the Seahawks. One measly year means nothing, you may be thinking. Fair enough.
I'll offer this tiebreaker: four total playoff appearances for the Mariners compared to five division titles since 2004 for the Seahawks.
Premier Practice Facilities
The Seahawks do face stiff competition in comparing their practice facilities to those around the area.
The Washington Huskies football team practices at Dempsey Indoor—where the Seahawks held unofficial workouts about one month ago—but share the facility with many other university teams.
The Sounders practice at the premier facility Starfire Sports, but they share the space with the public.
The Mariners share a premier spring training facility with the San Diego Padres—in Peoria, Arizona.
What about the Seahawks? The result of a dedicated commitment by former CEO Tod Leiweke and a $60 million investment by Paul Allen, the Virginia Mason Athletic Center—the official name for Seahawks HQ—opened in 2008. It is consistently tabbed as one of the nicest facilities in the NFL.
Nineteen acres of practice facilities with four fields, a Lake Washington view—correction, on the waterfront—and a seaplane dock for the purpose of flying in prospective players and other important visitors. On the whole, a state-of-the-art facility with few rivals.
The City's Premier Football Stadium, for Now, Packed with No Room to Spare
The current renovation at the University of Washington's Husky Stadium plans to keep the capacity to just under 72,000, making CenturyLink Field the second-largest stadium in Seattle with room for 67,000-plus during NFL games.
However, it's hard to compete with a fanbase that has helped create more opponent false starts than any other fanbase in the NFL—more on the local stadium competition later.
But what about Sounders FC, who also play their games at CenturyLink? For the vast majority of games, only the lower bowl is open at a capacity around 35,700.
No disrespect to the half packed, sold-out house of Sounders FC fans—including the "Emerald City Supporters"—who create a charged atmosphere game after game. However, until the upper bowl is opened for Sounders FC, the advantage of power in numbers will remain for the Seahawks.
The Seahawks currently enjoy the biggest home-field advantage of all Seattle sports teams—though the Huskies will enjoy the CenturyLink confines during the renovation.
Upon completion, Seattle will be lucky enough to have two top-level football stadiums, both packed with raucous crowds. The 12th man will face legitimate competition within city limits, a unique football culture potentially brewing in Seattle.
The NFL Season Ends in the Spotlight of the New Year, with Little Competition
The Seahawks have the advantage of ending their season when other Seattle teams are in their offseason.
Sounders FC and the Mariners effectively share their seasons, spring to fall. The WNBA plays June to September or October; baseball usually ends in October, early November at the latest. The MLS plays into November.
The Seahawks, however, join the fun in September during the heat of all the playoff races; the fast start in 2010 under the new regime generated national buzz.
After Thanksgiving dinner has settled, the Seahawks find themselves in the clear. The college football season winds down as well—over for some teams, while others take four to six weeks off in preparation for a bowl game.
The Huskies grabbed the attention of Seattle football fans with an exciting win over Nebraska in Jake Locker's first and only bowl game—his last game as a Husky—to round out 2010.
The Seahawks, however, played three games in a playoff format after the bowl victory to celebrate 2011.
If we are going to be really picky, it's fair to acknowledge college basketball's season in progress, though still three months from the pinnacle of March Madness.
The Seahawks and Huskies share the quality of being programs on the rise, both dealing with the expectations that follow a good season; however, if Leon Washington's gut feelings come to fruition, the 12th man flag flying on top of the Space Needle could become a new, yearly tradition.
A Bright Future
As noted, the Storm are defending champions. However, from a national perspective, the WNBA can't compete with the NFL—though they may not have to in 2011 if the lockout continues.
Of the two teams, the Seahawks have made the most recent national noise. Their draft approach drew criticism from many media outlets, and there has been constant national speculation surrounding Matt Hasselbeck. On the other hand, the 2011 WNBA season just started.
So where do the major professional franchises in Seattle stand?
The Mariners made the playoffs four times in seven seasons from 1995 to 2001, with 116 wins in the final season of that stretch. The season ended with a loss in the ALCS.
They haven't made the playoffs since, finishing above .500 only four times and less than 10 games out of the division lead only twice. They are currently scratching near .500, simply hoping to rebound from a 101-loss season in 2010.
Gauging success is a little more tricky for Sounders FC, the 2009 and 2010 U.S. Open Cup Champions—the first back-to-back winners of the tournament. Two seasons in MLS and two losses in the conference semis isn't a bad result either. Still a young franchise but a force to be reckoned with in the future.
What about the Hawks? Well, it's no secret Pete Carroll is always up for a competition, and Paul Allen is still chasing a Lombardi Trophy. The Seahawks are also intent on owning the division, taking the attitude that rebuilding doesn't have to be synonymous with losing.
And while the Storm may have won their league last season, they certainly didn't do this...
Earth Shakin', Beast Quakin'
Send a stadium of approximately 67,000 people into a seismic spasm—no better example than clicking to your left.
During and after Marshawn Lynch's 67-yard touchdown run against the Saints, the 12th man registered on the Richter scale—only the third time in recorded history a fanbase has achieved such a feat. The "earthquake game" in 1988 is not noted in the previously linked article—that game a product of the LSU-Auburn rivalry.
The "BeastQuake" run will be remembered as the play that shook Seattle—the moment Pete Carroll and the Seahawks first broke through the ceiling of the notoriously overcast conditions in the Seattle sports world.