On March 27, 1976, the King County Multipurpose Domed Stadium, otherwise known as the Kingdome, opens to a crowd of 54,000 celebrants. The Kingdome is located in SoDo, south of downtown Seattle. The opening ceremonies coincide with the nation's bicentennial, and include a number of performances including square dancing, barbershop singing, and log rolling. During its first year of operation, the Kingdome receives more than 2,425,000 visitors. It will be demolished 24 years after the opening.
More than 6,000 performers participated in the Kingdome's grand opening, "the largest cast of performers in the history of Seattle" according to Tommy Walker, the ceremony's coordinator. In preparation for the event, scores of schools, clubs, and community groups from seven counties designed programs to celebrate the bicentennial, and the dome's inauguration.
The scale of the event required 36 coordinators and program assistants. Walker described the festivities:
"We'll be seeing ethnic groups, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Camp Fire Girls, armed-forces color guards, antique and classic cars, log rollers, drill teams, square dancers, barbershoppers, a choral group of 1,717 voices from 23 schools and a massed band of 2,680 instruments from 32 schools.
"Meredith Willson, who wrote 'Music Man,' will perform as the Music Man himself with 76 trombones. Rufus, the Frisbee-chasing dog, will be on hand and we may have a circus act or two" (Halpern).
The Kingdome was a huge success during its first year, with more than 2,425,000 visitors. The Billy Graham crusade on May 14, 1976, attracted the most visitors of any event staged in the dome's first year, drawing 74,000. The best-attended professional football game drew 62, 532 fans on August 14, 1976, in a match with Los Angeles. A boat show drawing 119,007 was the best attended "consumer show."
In a March 27, 1977 article noting the Kingdome's success, local journalist Walt Evans wrote, "It's amazing how quickly something like the Kingdome grows on you. It seems as if it has been here longer than one year." In many respects, the building was already a local fixture.
The stadium's 1976 debut followed a lengthy public debate starting in 1959. Controversy surrounding site and budget continued until the Kingdome was deconstructed by implosion on March 26, 2000.