Sports in Seattle

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Seattle's sports history began at the start of the 20th century with the Pacific Coast Hockey Association (PCHA)'s Seattle Metropolitans, which in 1917 became the first American hockey team to win the Stanley Cup. Seattle's sports history continues today with the city's six major professional teams: the National Football League (NFL)'s Seattle Seahawks, Major League Baseball (MLB)'s Seattle Mariners, Major League Soccer (MLS)'s Seattle Sounders FC, the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA)'s Seattle Storm, the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL)'s Seattle Reign FC and Major League Rugby (MLR)'s Seattle Seawolves. Seattle also boasts a strong history in collegiate sports, with two National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I schools: the University of Washington and Seattle University, and one NCAA Division II school, Seattle Pacific University.

Major professional teams[edit]

At 4.5 million residents by 2018, rapidly-growing Seattle is now the 13th-largest metropolitan area (between metro Detroit at #12 and metro Phoenix at #14) in the U.S. In 1976, the NFL's Seattle Seahawks began play. The Seahawks played at the Kingdome until its implosion in 2000. The Seahawks now play in CenturyLink Field.

Professional soccer in Seattle has always involved the Seattle Sounders, whose original team played in the defunct NASL in the 1970s through to its demise in 1983. The name lived on in a second incarnation of the team, which played in the second level of US soccer from 1994 through 2008. In November 2007, Major League Soccer announced that Seattle would host the league's fifteenth franchise to start play in 2009. The team held a vote among its fan base for the team's name between March 27 and 31, 2008 and Seattle Sounders FC was chosen. The current version of the Sounders plays at CenturyLink Field.

In 1977, following years of legal wrangling over the move of the Seattle Pilots to Milwaukee (to become the Milwaukee Brewers), the MLB awarded Seattle a new baseball franchise, the Seattle Mariners. From 1977 the Mariners played in the Kingdome until mid-season 1999 when the team moved across the street to Safeco Field where they continue to play today. The WNBA's Seattle Storm arrived in Seattle in 2000, and they currently play in KeyArena. In 2013, Seattle's professional women's soccer team Seattle Reign FC, including several members of the decorated US women's national team, opened their first season at Starfire Sports Complex and have since played at Memorial Stadium in Seattle Center.

In September of 2012, the Seattle City Council agreed to move forward towards building a $490 million new arena in the SoDo, Seattle neighborhood [1]. This commitment was intended to help bring the NBA back to Seattle along with the NHL. Instead, five years later, on December 3, 2017, the Council approved the expansion of Key Arena in Seattle Center, under the direction of the Oak View Group [2]. Three days later, on December 6, 2017, the NHL awarded a new franchise opportunity to Seattle [3]. In 1976, Seattle was awarded a conditional NHL franchise; however, this opportunity did not come to fruition. The new professional hockey team is expected to be named in the Fall of 2018 and to join the league in the 2020-21 season, given an on-time completion of the Arena expansion project [4]. A new Seattle franchise brings the 31-team NHL to an even 32 teams, equaling the NFL in size and re-balancing the NHL's regional divisions.

Current major professional teams[edit]

National Titles* include all-league level championships. In U.S. professional men's soccer, there are currently three annual national champion honors: the MLS Cup, the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and the Supporters' Shield. In U.S. professional women's soccer, there are currently two annual national titles: the NWSL Shield and the NWSL Championship.

Club Names Sport League Home Venue Founded First Season National
Avg Attendance
(Last Complete Season)
Seattle Seahawks Football NFL CenturyLink Field 1974 1976 1 68,976
Seattle Sounders FC Soccer MLS CenturyLink Field 2007 2009 6 43,666
Seattle Mariners Baseball MLB Safeco Field 1977 1977 0 26,363
Seattle Storm Basketball WNBA KeyArena 1999 2000 3 7,704
Seattle Reign FC Soccer NWSL Memorial Stadium 2012 2013 2 4,037
Seattle Seawolves Rugby union MLR Starfire Sports Complex 2017 2018 1 4,500
Seattle Hockey Club (Name TBD) Hockey NHL KeyArena 2020 2020 0 17,400


The city of Seattle has a total of fifteen national championship honors, including one Stanley Cup, one NBA Championship, one Super Bowl Championship, three WNBA championships, four U.S. Open Cup championships, one MLS Supporters' Shield, one MLS Cup, two NWSL Shields and one MLR Championship Shield.

Seattle's first professional sports championship was brought to the city by the Seattle Metropolitans in 1917, when they became the first American team to win the coveted Stanley Cup by beating the Montréal Canadiens three games to one. They returned to the Stanley Cup finals twice more. Their first return, again versus Montreal, was in 1919; that series was cancelled due to an outbreak of influenza with the two teams tied at 2–2–1. The Metropolitans last went to the Stanley Cup finals in 1920, when they lost to the Ottawa Senators.

Led by Lenny Wilkens, the Seattle SuperSonics made it to the NBA Finals in two consecutive years in the late 1970s. In 1978 they lost the championship series to the Washington Bullets in seven games, but rebounded in 1979 to defeat the Bullets by four games to one to win the NBA Championship. The next time the Sonics made it to NBA Finals was in 1996 when they met the Chicago Bulls, to whom they lost the series in six games.

Another national basketball championship trophy arrived in 2004, when the Seattle Storm defeated the Connecticut Sun two games to one to win the WNBA championship. The Seattle Storm won their second WNBA title in 2010, beating the Atlanta Dream in 3 games. Eight years later, the Storm swept the Washington Mystics in 2018 to take their third national championship.

The Seattle Mariners have won the American League West Pennant three times – in 1995, 1997, and, most recently, in 2001, after a record 116-win season. The Mariners, however, have yet to win an American League Championship or a World Series Championship.

The Seattle Sounders FC won the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup in the team's inaugural season of 2009. The Sounders won the U.S. Open Cup again in 2010, becoming the first MLS team to achieve back-to-back U.S. Open Cup Titles. Seattle continued its U.S. Open Cup dominance in the 2011 campaign, becoming the fourth team ever to win the tournament in three consecutive years (the last being the New York Greek Americans in 1967–69). The Sounders beat the Chicago Fire 2-0 in front of a then record-setting MLS crowd of 35,615 at CenturyLink Field on October 4, 2011. On September 16, 2014, the Sounders captured their fourth U.S. Open Cup title, overcoming the Philadelphia Union – on the Union's home pitch – in extra time by a final score of 3-1. On October 25, 2014, in front of a crowd of 57,673 at CenturyLink Field, the Sounders topped the Los Angeles Galaxy by a score of 2-0 to claim their first MLS Supporters’ Shield. The Sounders captured their first Western Conference title when they defeated the Colorado Rapids by an aggregate of 3 goals to 1 on November 27, 2016 in Commerce City, Colorado. Then, on December 10, 2016 in front of a crowd of 36,000 at BMO Field, the Sounders won their first ever MLS Cup against Toronto FC in a penalty kick on the score of 5-4. The following season - on December 9, 2017 - the Sounders returned to the MLS Cup against Toronto FC (held, once again, at BMO field). This time, the Sounders lost the Cup to the home team by a score of 0-2.

In 2014 – the second regular season of the U.S. National Women's Soccer LeagueSeattle Reign FC attained the highest season point total of all nine league teams to receive their first NWSL Shield award. The Reign became the league's first team to repeat this achievement when they defeated the Boston Breakers at Memorial Stadium on August 26, 2015.

The Seahawks have won nine NFL division titles, including two in the AFC West and seven in the NFC West. They won the NFC championship in 2006, earning them their first trip to Super Bowl XL, where they lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers 21-10. In 2014, the Seahawks defeated the San Francisco 49ers at CenturyLink Field, to clinch their second NFC title and a berth in Super Bowl XLVIII, where they routed the Denver Broncos 43–8 to win their first Lombardi trophy. The following season, the Seahawks overcame a deficit in the NFC championship game with the Green Bay Packers in the final minutes of the fourth quarter to claim their first back-to-back George Halas trophies. In Super Bowl XLIX at the University of Phoenix Stadium, the Seahawks missed the opportunity to claim their second Super Bowl win in the final seconds of the fourth quarter, falling to the New England Patriots by a score of 28-24.

In 2017 the Seattle Seawolves became one of the founding teams of the newly-formed Major League Rugby Association. On July 7, 2018, at the home field of the San Diego Legion located at the University of San Diego, the Seawolves defeated the Glendale Raptors by a score of 23 to 19 to claim the first-ever MLR championship shield.

Other teams[edit]

The Seattle Thunderbirds are a Major Junior league ice hockey team that plays at the ShoWare Center. The Thunderbirds arrived in Seattle in 1977 as the Seattle Breakers, before changing to their current name in 1985. They play in the Western Hockey League, one of three components of the Canadian Hockey League, traditionally a major feeder system for the NHL. The Thunderbirds won their first WHL Ed Chynoweth Cup on May 14, 2017, against the Regina Pats by a score of 4 goals to 2.

Originally arriving in 1974, the men's soccer team Seattle Sounders played in Seattle until 1983 when the North American Soccer League collapsed due to overexpansion. The Seattle Sounders were brought back in 1994 and played in the USL First Division at what was then known as Qwest Field. Six years later the men's team was joined by a women's team of the same name (now known as the Seattle Sounder Angels) which plays in a nearby suburb, Tukwila. In 2008, the USL incarnation of the Sounders played its last season, and in 2009 Seattle Sounders FC began playing in MLS, America's top soccer division. The Sounders play league matches at the since-renamed CenturyLink Field, but use the Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila for matches in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup (except when they host the final). In 2013, a new professional women's team, the Seattle Reign (named after a women's basketball team in the former American Basketball League), began play in the newly launched National Women's Soccer League.

Current teams[edit]

Club Sport League Stadium
Puget Sound Outcast Derby Roller Derby Men's Roller Derby Association Shoreline Derby Center
Jet City Rollergirls Roller Derby Women's Flat Track Derby Association Shoreline Derby Center
Everett Silvertips Ice hockey Western Hockey League Comcast Arena at Everett
Seattle Saracens Rugby union CDI Premier League Magnuson Park
Rat City Rollergirls Roller Derby Women's Flat Track Derby Association KeyArena
Seattle Cascades Drum and Bugle Corps Drum Corps International
Seattle Force Rugby League WAMNRL/AMNRL Memorial Stadium (Seattle)
Seattle Grizzlies Australian Football U.S. Australian Football League Mosier Park
Seattle Lady Grizzlies Australian Football U.S. Australian Football League Mosier Park
Seattle Majestics American Football Women's Football Alliance French Field
Seattle Mist Indoor Football Legends Football League ShoWare Center
Seattle Mountaineers Basketball American Basketball Association Varies
Seattle Sockeye Ultimate USA Ultimate Varies
Seattle Riot Ultimate USA Ultimate Varies
Seattle Rainmakers Ultimate Major League Ultimate Varies
Seattle Cascades Ultimate American Ultimate Disc League Memorial Stadium (Seattle)
Seattle Sounders FC 2 Soccer USL Cheney Stadium
Seattle Sounders FC U-23 Soccer Premier Development League Sunset Chevrolet Stadium
Seattle Sounders Women Soccer USL W-League Starfire Sports Complex
Seattle Ravens Ice hockey United States Premier Hockey League Lane Events Center
Seattle Thunderbirds Ice hockey Western Hockey League ShoWare Center
Seattle Totems Ice hockey Western States Hockey League Olympic View Ice Arena
West Sound Warriors Ice hockey Western States Hockey League Bremerton Ice Center
Tilted Thunder Rail Birds Banked Track Roller Derby Roller Derby Coalition of Leagues Comcast Arena at Everett


The Seattle Sounders (USL) won the A-League championship 1995 and 1996 and the US First Division championship in 2005 and 2007.

The Seattle SeaDogs defeated the Houston Hotshots two games to 0 for the CISL championship in 1997.

The Washington Stealth defeated the Toronto Rock 15-11 for the Champion's Cup in 2010.

The Seattle Sockeye won the USA Ultimate Club Championships in 2004, 2006 and 2007. They also won Seattle the gold medal at the World Ultimate Club Championships (WUCC) in 1997 (Vancouver, BC). They also won the silver at the World Ultimate Games (WUGC) in 2008 (Vancouver, BC) and at WUCC in 2010 (Prague, Czech Republic).

The Seattle Grizzlies Won the USAFL Division 3 Title in 2017 as well as the Division 2 Title in 2008.

The Seattle Thunderbirds were the WHL champions in the 2016-2017 season.

College and high school sports[edit]

College sports[edit]

The University of Washington, Seattle University, and Seattle Pacific University field teams in a variety of sports, including football, basketball, and rowing. Their teams are known as the Huskies, Redhawks, and Falcons, respectively. The Husky football team has a following that ranks with those of the major professional teams in the city. In 1991, the Huskies shared an NCAA Division I collegiate football championship with the Hurricanes of the University of Miami. In 2005 the Huskies volleyball team won the NCAA National Championship.

A Huskies rowing team represented the United States at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, Germany and defeated the Nazi Germany team to win the gold medal. The story was later chronicled in the 2013 book The Boys in the Boat.[5]

In addition to the Seattle-based teams, the Spokane-based Gonzaga Bulldogs play one men's basketball game each season at KeyArena in an event billed as the Battle in Seattle.

Major D1 NCAA college sports teams
Club Sport Division (Conf.) Stadium
Washington Huskies Football Division I (Pac-12) Husky Stadium
Washington Huskies Basketball Division I (Pac-12) Hec Edmundson Pavilion
Seattle Redhawks Basketball Division I (WAC) KeyArena, Connolly Complex

High school and Youth sports[edit]

Rugby is growing in Seattle at the high school and youth level, with several schools adding programs, such as Shorecrest, Roosevelt and Nathan Hale High School.[6]

Former teams[edit]

Former major professional teams[edit]

The first professional team to play in Seattle was the PCHA Seattle Metropolitans, which played in the Seattle Ice Arena between 1915 and 1924. In 1967, the NBA's Seattle SuperSonics (more commonly known as the "Sonics") became the first modern-day major professional sports franchise in Seattle. However, in 2008, the Sonics' ownership group moved the team to Oklahoma City. In 1969, the Major League Baseball Seattle Pilots were established, but only played one year in Seattle before moving to Milwaukee. The Pilots' sole season was immortalized in Jim Bouton's book Ball Four.

Club Name Sport League Championships In Seattle Last Venue Fate
Seattle Metropolitans Ice Hockey PCHA 1917 Stanley Cup 1915–1924 Seattle Ice Arena Folded, league collapsed
Seattle Pilots Baseball MLB none 1969 Sick's Stadium Moved, became Milwaukee Brewers
Seattle SuperSonics Basketball NBA 1979 NBA 1967–2008 KeyArena Moved, became Oklahoma City Thunder

Other former teams[edit]

Club Sport League Championships In Seattle Last Venue Fate
Everett Hawks Indoor football NWFL, NIFL, AF2 '03, '04 (NWFL), '04 (NAFL) 2002–2007 Comcast Arena (Everett) Folded
Everett Raptors Indoor football IFL None 2010–2012 Comcast Arena (Everett) Folded
Seattle Reign Women's basketball ABL None 1996–1998 Mercer Arena, KeyArena League folded
Seattle SeaDogs Indoor soccer CISL 1997 CISL Championship 1995–1997 KeyArena League folded
Snohomish Co. Explosion Basketball IBL, NABL None 2007–2010 Monroe Sports Arena Folded
Washington Stealth Lacrosse NLL 2010 Champion's Cup 2010–2013 Comcast Arena (Everett) Relocated

Other sports[edit]

Swimmer Helene Madison (1913–1970) of Seattle won three gold medals at the 1932 Olympic Games.

The Seattle Dojo[1], which was founded before 1907, is the oldest judo academy in the United States.

Sporting events[edit]

Seattle has been host to a number of important sporting events. It hosted the NFL Pro Bowl in 1977, the Major League Baseball All-Star Game in 1979 and 2001, the NBA All-Star Game in 1974 and 1987, the MLS Cup in 2009, the Goodwill Games in 1990 and the NCAA Final Four in 1984, 1989 and 1995. On July 22, 2017 at Key Arena, the Seattle Storm hosted the WNBA All-Star Game for the first time.

In 1998, the Seattle City Council rejected a resolution 8-to-1 that would have allowed Seattle to be considered for the 2012 Summer Olympics.[7]

The Seattle Marathon has taken place annually since 1970.

Seattle has hosted several United States men's national soccer team and United States women's national soccer team events in the past, including men's FIFA World Cup qualifying matches in 1976 and 2013.[8]

CenturyLink Field has hosted CONCACAF Gold Cup matches in 2005 and 2013.[9] The stadium was also proposed as a 2016 Copa América venue and was considered, along with Husky Stadium, in the failed U.S. bid for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.[10][11] CenturyLink Field is now one of several dozen U.S. venues being considered for the country's joint bid with Canada and Mexico for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Murphy, Patricia (October 15, 2012). "King County And Seattle City Councils Say Yes To Sodo Arena". KUOW-FM. Retrieved September 26, 2015.
  2. ^ "Seattle City Council Passes MOU for Oak View Group's $600M+ KeyArena Redevelopment". December 4, 2017. Retrieved December 17, 2017.
  3. ^ "Seattle can begin NHL expansion process". December 7, 2017. Retrieved December 28, 2017.
  4. ^ "NHL Seattle CEO on deadlines, creating an 'epic' bowl in KeyArena". July 11, 2018. Retrieved July 13, 2018.
  5. ^ Stricherz, Vince (June 2, 2013). "New book tells stirring story of UW crew winning Olympic gold". UW Today. Retrieved November 2, 2015.
  6. ^ "Seattle Launching Single-School HS 7s Competition", Gof Rugby Report, December 8, 2015.
  7. ^ Halverson, Matthew (June 20, 2012). "Inside Seattle's Unsuccessful Bid for the 2012 Olympics". Seattle Metropolitan. Retrieved November 2, 2015.
  8. ^ Petterson, Joel (June 9, 2013). "It's been a long, successful road back to Seattle for U.S. Soccer". The Seattle Times. Retrieved September 4, 2015.
  9. ^ "CenturyLink Field to Host Gold Cup Matches on July 11". Seattle Sounders FC. March 13, 2013. Retrieved September 4, 2015.
  10. ^ "USA Bid Committee Announces List of 27 Cities Still in Contention For Inclusion in U.S. Bid to Host FIFA World Cup™ in 2018 or 2022". United States Soccer Federation. August 20, 2009. Retrieved September 4, 2015.
  11. ^ "Centennial Cup America 2016 Venue Selection Process Draws Interest from 24 Metropolitan Areas across U.S." (Press release). CONCACAF. January 8, 2015. Retrieved September 4, 2015.

External links[edit]