Groz: I had a key to the Kingdome, and more memories of the gray behemoth

Mar 26, 2020, 12:12 PM | Updated: 12:34 pm
The Kingdome was demolished in 2000, making way for CenturyLink FIeld. (AP)

They demolished the Kingdome 20 years ago today, soggy tiles and all. When those ceiling tiles fell in 1994, forcing the Mariners to play the last 20 or so games of that strike-shortened season on the road, you knew its time was short. It was gray, drab and ugly, but there were many good times had.

Full schedule: Classic Mariners games to air on 710 ESPN Seattle

For me, my first trip to the Kingdome was 13 years before I moved to Seattle. I was a college student in New York and came to visit my family in Sacramento for the summer. My dad was managing a group of radio stations that included KMPS in Seattle and had secured tickets to a game. We took the train up and it was one of two highlights of my first trip to Seattle (the other was a Van Halen concert at the Seattle Center Coliseum). Like every first-time visitor, I suppose I found it was truly unusual and pretty cool.

Flash forward to 1992, I was hired by KIRO Radio and part of my duties were hosting pregame and postgame shows for the Mariners. Now back then the Mariners were getting about 8,000 to 10,000 fans a game and the place was emptied out after games it seems in 10 minutes. So I was approached by a legendary character, Carol Keaton, who handled PR and a whole lot more. Since I was usually staying in the building for an hour and a half after the games were over, she asked if I wanted a key for the Kingdome.

I was puzzled, but the key got me in and out of every door and gate in the building. It was a totally cool thing to have when friends visited from out of town. I’d casually ask if they wanted to see the Kingdome and give them tours of the locker rooms, take them to the field, the works.

When I left KIRO in 1996, I gave the key up.

Of course seeing the prime of Ken Griffey Jr., an NCAA tournament final, Seahawks games and even several Sonic games were my Kingdome highlights. But so was smoking cigarettes in the King Street bar, and going to concerts (which sounded terrible because the sound would echo off the concrete), and watching baseball games from the suite where you couldn’t see fly balls, or sitting in the part of the stands where the seats faced the outfield.

Now 20 years later, I don’t actually miss the Kingdome as a place to see a game or concert. But it was what it was – a part of Seattle’s past – and I’ve always treasured a drawing I bought in Pioneer Square shortly after I moved here, picturing what Seattle looked like when the Kingdome dominated downtown in all its gray, drab glory.

Follow 710 ESPN Seattle’s The Groz on Twitter.

More from The Groz: Seahawks telling familiar story in free agency

Date Starting Pitcher
Sunday, September 25 @ 11:10 am

Mariners Roof Report

Brought to you by
Haze then Sunny
High 81° | Low 55°
Roof is open
Rangers at Mariners today at 6:40pm

Seattle Sports Pit

Mariners Taylor Trammell... Staff

Where to find Mariners-Angels, Seahawks-49ers on the radio

With the Mariners and Seahawks games on Sunday afternoon overlapping, we're here to help you find you the radio broadcasts.
8 days ago
George Karl Hall of Fame...
The Associated Press

Basketball HOF enshrines 2022 class, including George Karl

Former Seattle SuperSonics head coach George Karl was one of 13 people inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame on Saturday.
16 days ago
Sonics George Karl...
The Associated Press

Basketball HOF set to welcome 13 new members, including Sonics HC George Karl

Former Seattle Sonics head coach George Karl will be among 13 new inductees to the Basketball Hall of Fame on Saturday.
17 days ago
Seahawks K.J. Wright... Staff

The K.J. Wright Show joins Seattle Sports’ weekly Seahawks coverage

Former Seahawks linebacker K.J. Wright will do an hour-long weekly show with Brock and Salk on Seattle Sports during the NFL season.
20 days ago
Mariners Mitch Haniger... Staff

Where to find Mariners-Guardians, Seahawks-Cowboys on the radio

The Mariners' game Friday night against Cleveland will air on 770 AM and 880 AM due to overlapping with the Seahawks' preseason finale.
1 month ago
Chet Holmgren...
The Associated Press

Chet Holmgren out for NBA season with injury suffered in Seattle

Oklahoma City forward Chet Holmgren, the No. 2 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, will miss the 2022-23 season because of a right foot injury.
1 month ago
Groz: I had a key to the Kingdome, and more memories of the gray behemoth