More than two decades ago, the City of Seattle found itself close to the top of the sports world. Shortly thereafter, King County took a string of major hits, and its teams fell by the wayside as a result.
The “Emerald City” went from Ken Griffey Jr., Alex Rodriguez and Randy Johnson helping to lead the Seattle Mariners to the American League Championship Series in 1995, to losing all of those superstars and not even qualifying for the postseason from 2002-2020.
From the SuperSonics being two wins away from an NBA Finals win over Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls in 1996, to not even having an NBA team 22 years later.
However, despite all of the up’s and down’s over the course of the 21st century, the city persevered, and it now finds itself with the potential to become one of the country’s biggest sports cities if momentum continues in their favor.
Like anything, any major sports city needs a solid foundation to build off of. It could be a particular player that finds success in a hometown uniform, or a dominant team all together. Regardless, there needs to be a strong base for fans to always be able to fall back on in times of need.
Enter Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks.
At this point in the NFL’s history, Wilson can be considered one of the league’s best quarterbacks and a perennial MVP candidate. All the while, the Seahawks themselves annually have a case as a Super Bowl contender at the start of the NFL season.
And rightfully so, especially when looking back at the team’s success over the last 10 years. During the 2013 season, the Seahawks won their first Super Bowl in franchise history, blowing out the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII.
A year later, they were one decision at the goal line away from a second title in as many years, falling just short against the New England Patriots in a historic Super Bowl XLIX.
In both of those games, Wilson proved his worth to the City of Seattle, starring despite his status as a second-year quarterback in Super Bowl XLVIII, and solidifying his legacy in Super Bowl XLIX.
Against the Broncos, he went 18-for-25 with 206 passing yards, two touchdown passes and 26 yards on the ground. A year later, he put up 247 passing yards, throwing two more touchdown passes and running for 39 yards, as well.
He has continued that positive trend ever since, helping the Seahawks qualify for the playoffs in all but one of his seasons in the league, and winning at least one postseason game in all but one of those playoff runs, as well.
Add in a 5-0 start for the Seahawks in 2020, and MVP-caliber performances for Wilson under center, and things continue to look promising for the city from a football standpoint.
As all of that success has continued, the City of Seattle has been able to develop a strong bond with its Seahawks. It even became known as the league’s “12th Man” in the process, known for its reputation as a loud, raucous crowd when the team plays at home at CenturyLink Field.
“This is one of the great spectacles in sport, playing here in front of our fans,” Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said. “Notably the loudest venue that you can find. The excitement level and the energy and the connection with the people of this area has been unique and extraordinary, nothing but a spectacle.”
From there, the frenzy led to a desire for more. Fans desperately started to hope for a return to glory for the hometown Mariners during the MLB season, and began to push for more teams to come back to such a historic sports city.
Then, 2018 helped to start bringing things back to normal.
In December of that year, the city got a new squad to root for when the NHL’s Board of Governors voted unanimously to approve an expansion team for the City of Seattle.
Two years later, that team got its identity when it was announced on July 23, 2020 that the franchise would be named the Seattle Kraken. So, fans began to prepare for the team to set sail at the start of the 2021-2022 NHL season.
“The roar of the Kraken crowd will be deafening,” a team representative said during the announcement. “I can’t wait to see this city fall in love with the game.”
Positive news kept coming for the Seattle sports world in 2018 and 2020, as the Seattle Storm, the city’s WNBA team added two more WNBA Finals trophies to their already-successful resume.
Led by Sue Bird and Breanna Stewart, the Storm found themselves as the top seed in 2018 and the second seed in 2020, taking down the Phoenix Mercury and Las Vegas Aces in each season to add some more hardware to their trophy case.
Stewart was named WNBA Finals MVP in both cases, and made a compelling argument for a spot on the city’s sports-centered Mount Rushmore, if it is ever to be created in the future.
All of that would likely be exciting enough for many sports cities across the United States, but not Seattle. A common theme amongst the most successful sports “capitals” of the world is the drive, or even the need, for more.
More championships, more superstars, more of everything.
So, did two Major League Soccer championships for the city’s Seattle Sounders do the trick? No, not by a long shot.
In this case, Seattle wants (at least) one more important thing: Another team, specifically in the NBA.
The desire is certainly there if you ask the residents of the city, or even the entire state of Washington. The infrastructure is there, considering the construction of the new, $930-million Climate Pledge Arena being built on the site of the old KeyArena.
And, there’s even the room for the NBA to work with if it wanted to grow, given the expansion that’s happening across numerous leagues in Las Vegas. The city brought in a new NFL team when the Raiders rebranded and moved to a new arena, and “Sin City” found itself an NHL team with the creation of the Vegas Golden Knights.
If the NBA wanted to, when the league’s current nine-year, $24 billion television and media rights deal ends after 2025, it could add two more franchises in both Las Vegas and Seattle to create a 32-team field.
It would make sense to round out both cities’ sports rotation, given the fact that they would already occupy territory in three of the “Big Four” sports leagues by that point. Factor in the added revenue that two more teams and their 164 respective games would bring in, and it seems like a no-brainer.
If that final piece gets added to the City of Seattle’s sports puzzle, then it would officially kick off a new era for King County and its fans.
It would finally give them what they want after decades of pleading and signing petitions, but the work wouldn’t stop there for the residents of the “Emerald City.”
They would likely still continue their drive for more, whether it’s more championships for their NFL, WNBA and MLS franchises, or their first titles for a newly-founded NHL team and potential NBA squad.
That persistent push and endless motivation is what has turned cities like Boston, Los Angeles and New York into such powerhouses in the sports world over the last few decades.
If it continues out in Washington state over the next few years, it could easily propel the City of Seattle into that conversation as one of the nation’s best sports cities.