Seahawks Moving Practice Facility To Renton

By Associated Press
RENTON - The Seahawks are moving their headquarters from their cramped location in this suburb east of the city to Renton south of Seattle - the same suburb where the SuperSonics are considering building a new arena.
Alex Pietch, director of Renton's economic development department, confirmed on Monday that the Seahawks plan to move onto a 20-acre, waterfront site on the southeastern shore of Lake Washington.
"We have been in talks with the Seahawks for some months in advance of this," Pietch said.
Tod Leiweke, the Seahawks' chief executive, deferred questions on the move to a Tuesday press conference at the team's current headquarters next to Northwest University in Kirkland. In a news release Monday morning, the team said it would be announcing a "new facility upgrade" on Tuesday.
The team's 20-year lease with Northwest University for the land that holds the current, 44,000 square-foot headquarters - remodeled in 1999 - ends this year. The Seahawks plan to break ground on their 120,000 square-foot Renton site this fall and move in time to have their 2008 training camp there.
"I can see Paul Allen and his yacht tied up here swinging on the hook watching the practice from the bridge of his beautiful yacht," said Renton resident Bill Kennamer. "I just have no hesitation to say 'what a great idea.' "
The site is owned by Seahawks' owner Paul Allen's Vulcan Inc., a management company that invests in science, the arts and movie production, among other ventures.
Pietch said Allen, Microsoft Corp.'s cofounder, had purchased the land in the mid-1990s in hopes of making it a headquarters for his "technology and all of his entities." That plan fell apart, Pietch said, in 2002 when various owners of surrounding properties could not come to terms.
The Seahawks approached Renton about six months ago with the idea of using the Vulcan land for a new, far larger and more modern team facility and training camp headquarters. The Seahawks' current training camp is at Eastern Washington University in Cheney each summer.
"We opened our arms and said, 'Please come,"' Pietch said.
Renton is the home of Boeing's Commercial Airplane headquarters and its 737 and Business Jet production lines where they've added a thousand jobs. It's also home to IKEA's most profitable store in North America. It's going to be the new home of the Federal Reserve Bank now under construction.
And it’s home to the new urban village 'The Landing' with shops, restaurants, apartments and a hotel to be built on former Boeing property where Fry's Electronics flourishes.
"As the region continues to densify, we think that the city is going to be one of the most important urban centers around Lake Washington," Pietch said.
It wasn't too many years ago Renton was hurting. Then city boosters came up with the ad campaign 'Ahead of the Curve.'
Public relations man Michael Hamilton says, "You know we started doing this 7 years ago and it's pretty remarkable when you think that back then we said 'Renton was ahead of the Curve' and it sort of just keeps proving itself."
The move follows an NFL moneysaving trend toward keeping training camps at team facilities rather than the traditional, remote college campus settings. More teams prefer staying home in their more lavish facilities with better field and medical conditions. And players enjoy being able to commute to their in-season homes while at training camp.
Renton is also on the list of places the NBA's SuperSonics will talk to about building a new arena should talks with Seattle on a proposed $220 million upgrade of KeyArena fall through.
In February, majority owner Howard Schultz threatened to possibly move or sell the franchise. He said the Sonics have lost about $60 million in the past five years, and blamed a revenue-sharing lease with the city of Seattle.
"The timing of the Seahawks' announcement and our discussions with the Sonics are coincidental," Pietch said. "The Sonics' talks are entirely independent."
The site the Sonics are considering - along with places in suburban Bellevue east of Seattle - is south of the Seahawks' new headquarters, near a Boeing Co. production plant for its 737 aircraft. The Sonics' arena would be part of a developing entertainment and residential complex known as "The Landing."
Pietch said Renton is waiting for the Sonics to determine whether staying within Seattle city limits will be a viable alternative beyond the 2010 end to its KeyArena lease.
"The Sonics have indicated to us all along their first priority is securing a deal with the city of Seattle," Pietch said. "Our discussions with them have always been, 'If not Seattle, then you should take a look at our site."'
For now, Renton is plenty happy with the economic benefits the new Seahawks' facility - and especially their training camp move - will bring.
"This is another championship-caliber entity moving into the city of Renton," Pietch said.

Leave a Reply