The Fight to “Save Our Seahawks” Started 27 Years Ago Today
Being easily the most popular professional team in Washington State, you may not remember how close we were to almost losing the Seattle Seahawks. It was 27 years ago today that the fight to keep the Seahawks in Seattle started by one man writing a letter to a millionaire.
The Seattle Seahawks Owner Says He is Moving the Seahawks
In January of 1996, the current Seahawks owner Ken Behring officially said he was moving the team to California. However, it was widely known before that day he wanted to move the team after a long fight with King County. There is one group that is given credit for starting the movement to keep the Seahawks here even when everyone thought it was impossible.
The Save Our Seahawks Movement Was Started with a Letter
Before the official announcement, a regular guy and season ticket holder named Mark Collins wrote a letter to the owner after being fed up with what was happening to the team he loved. Mark starts the letter "I Mark Collins am a lifetime resident of Seattle and have been a season ticket holder of the Seattle Seahawks since 1976!" In the letter, Mark informs Mr. Behring about the formal formation of S-O-S or Save Our Seahawks.
"You on the Other Hand Are a Rich California Developer"
That first line of his letter is the only friendly part of the entire page. The rest is basically a declaration of war to keep the Seahawks in Seattle where they belong. Mark attacks Behring saying "you have taken what was once a mode franchise and drove it into the ground." He points out that the previous owners had no problem filling the stands or making a profit before him.
"We Will Not Let You Move Our Team Without One Hell of a Fight"
Mark tells Mr. Behring in the letter that he is organizing funding for the legal movement to keep the Seahawks in Seattle. He then says that he should leave town peacefully and sell the team to Paul Allen. Yes, he actually mentions Paul in the letter way before there were any negotiations about a possible deal. Mark ends the letter with "we will not sit and listen to your threats anymore! We will not let you move OUR TEAM without one hell of a fight!" Read the entire letter below.
What Happened Next is Shocking
Of course, you know the Seahawks ended up staying, but do you know how? Mark and the Save Our Seahawks movement started a ground roots movement. They fought Mr. Behring in the courts and he gave up after realizing the Seahawks were locked into a contract with the Kingdome until 2005. Even though Behring had agreed to sell the Seahawks, there was one big hurdle that still needed to be cleared for the team to stay in Seattle.
Paul Allen Would Only Buy the Seahawks Under This One Condition
Even though Paul wanted to buy the team, he needed the people of Washington to help with the cost of a new stadium. Paul Allen would not buy the team until the voters of Washington agreed to share the cost and that took a voter proposal . That voter proposal was released as Washington Referendum 48, Public Stadium Authority, and Seattle Seahawks Stadium Funding Measure in June 1997. If it passed, it would "authorize the creation of a public stadium authority to construct, maintain, and operate a stadium in collaboration with a professional football team and provide public financing through sales and use tax deferral, user fees, lotteries, bonds, and local hotel/motel taxes for a new Seattle Seahawks stadium."
The Referendum was Not Expected to Pass
There was not a lot of support to vote for the referendum, especially on the eastern side of the state. Mark and the Save Our Seahawks movement worked tirelessly for months trying to spread the word in any way possible. Mark would even play his drum set outside of business trying to get people to join the cause. Finally, the big day happened and when the election was over, the proposal passed with 51.5% of the vote keeping the Seahawks in Seattle.
Save Our Seahawks Became Saved Our Seahawks
The voter outcome led to a huge party with the now infamous scene of Paul Allen jamming on the guitar on stage to celebrate. That was the beginning of a long and beneficial relationship with the Allen family that still lasts today. Next time you are cheering for the Seahawks or talking about some great memory you have of the team, remember the guys that worked hard to keep them here in Seattle! I am lucky enough to call Mark Collins a friend. Learn more about him and the Save Our Seahawks Movement in the cool video below made by Norbcam. Go Seahawks!
12 Things You Should Never Do At A Seattle Seahawks Game
Seattle Seahawks Game Images from the 1980's