First-Class Facility is the Final Step for Seahawks

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May 10, 2006

building Computer rendering of the new Seahawks facility on Lake Washington.

The latest big step in the burgeoning marketability of the Seahawks took shape the day team president Tim Ruskell walked in the door for his first day of work. Ruskell took a look around the team’s Kirkland headquarters and decided it needed to be expanded in order for the Seahawks to be major players in recruiting free agents and retaining their own players.

Expansion became relocation when Ruskell and CEO Tod Leiweke were out for a boat cruise on Lake Washington and happened upon a plot of land along the lake’s southeastern shore.

map“We weren’t looking for land,” Ruskell recalled. “It wasn’t Lewis and Clark. But he [Leiweke] knew some of the sites that were available. He knew that one of the sites that might be available was on the lake. And he pointed it out to me, and it really got us thinking, ‘Boy, wouldn’t that be something?’ ”

Those whimsical thoughts have become reality. The team announced Tuesday it is moving its headquarters to a sparkling new facility that will be constructed on that same plot of land Ruskell and Leiweke saw last year, a 19-acre site in Renton called Port Quendall. Groundbreaking on the land owned by team owner Paul Allen is set for October. The 200,000-square-foot training facility and base of operations is scheduled to open in time for training camp in 2008.

“Most of all, I want to thank our fans, because the roar of our fans at Qwest Field has really given us so much momentum to do so many things and have so many dreams,” Leiweke said. “We think we’re building one of the premier franchises in all the NFL, and at the heart of that are really our fans. Today is a great day for the 12th Man.”

The big key will be the team’s enhanced ability to attract and retain players by offering all of the amenities the players need in one place. Part of that goes into the team’s drive to sign top free agents; more than once, players have turned down competitive offers from the Seahawks because of the remoteness of where the team plays.

“I feel like we have to work harder than some other teams because of where the flow of players are and where they’re coming from,” Ruskell said. “So we have to go above and beyond. I think the last piece of the puzzle was the facility.”

Ruskell said the facility will be “second to none” in the NFL. “We’re going to be able to compete on the highest level in every category, at every level, to help this team get to the championship, win the championship and sustain that level of success for many years to come,” Ruskell said.

Coach Mike Holmgren joked that he had grown attached to the team’s giant bubble that is erected to practice in inclement weather. The new headquarters will feature an indoor practice facility.

“It’s starting to get just a little bit moldy,” Holmgren said of the practice bubble, “and to have a new state-of-the art facility in an area of the country that can get a little rain on occasion, it’s really going to help and really enhance our offseason program.”

Renton Mayor Kathy Keolker said she doesn’t anticipate major traffic problems with the facility’s location, which is near Interstate 405. There will be no housing dormitory for the players during training camp, so Holmgren said the team might have to arrange to house players in area hotels.

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