Find of the Month

February 2020 - Floating stadium

rendering of proposed floating stadium

Fresh off the high of the successful 1962 World’s Fair, local developers were looking for the next big building project. Seattle was hoping to attract professional sports teams and needed a stadium plan to do so. In 1963, a group of companies put together a proposal which began, “The Seattle World’s Fair was the product of bold imaginative thinking…the idea within these pages fits that mold…bold, imaginative, forward looking!” That idea? A floating stadium.

The planners envisioned a 75,000-seat multipurpose venue with a retractable roof, at a tentative cost of $15 million. The site could be used not only for professional football and baseball, but also for Seafair water events. Apparently another group was proposing to build a stadium in the Kent Valley; the floating stadium group strongly argued that a more central location was better for financial success.

The proposed site was the waterfront at the foot of Harrison Street in Interbay, with an extension of the monorail built to reach it. The planners noted that the site “has been platted since 1889, with no apparent improvements.” They believed the stadium, “along with the present Century 21 facilities, will afford the world’s foremost civic and athletic complex.” Parking facilities built for the Fair could be repurposed to serve the stadium, and attendees could arrive by water as well as by land.

A stadium on water obviously would have some unique engineering challenges. Naval architect L.R. Glosten wrote a letter of support in which he proposed a system of concrete pontoons spread out under the facility, as well as a wave-dampening breakwater around the perimeter (“which could undoubtedly be worked into the overall design in a very attractive manner”). He noted that stability was a concern not for safety reasons, but simply to maintain a level playing surface on the field.

City Council’s Parks and Public Grounds Committee asked several City departments to look into the plan, and the responses were not as enthusiastic as the boosters had hoped. The proposal was placed on file and apparently not pursued further.