Seattle sellout: Seahawks move to San Diego!

San Diego, here we come: The sell-out at the Seattle Seahawks is currently not limited to players like Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner. So now the Pacific Northwest must also prepare for a future without its own NFL franchise! With less than a month to go before the draft, owner Jody Allen will announce the sale of the team next week, according to reliable sources! The new owner will be one of the richest people in the world: Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. And he has big plans for his new team. Among other things, the Seahawks will move to California and find a new, permanent home in San Diego.

Nothing is known yet about the sale price. However, there has been speculation in the past that the Allen family had called for at least US$4 billion before considering a sale of the Seahawks. By comparison, when David Tepper bought the Carolina Panthers in 2018, he had to transfer US$2.3 billion to the previous owners for an NFL franchise that plays in a similarly limited market to Seattle in the northwestern US at its East Coast location. In total, the industry magazine Forbes estimates that each NFL team is worth at least US$1.9 billion. In the event that Bezos really does transfer more than 4 billion US dollars for the Seahawks, the Seattle deal is likely to go down as one of the biggest in the history of the already oversized US sports world.

The sale was probably approved a few days ago at the most recent meeting of the 32 NFL owners, at which the change to the overtime rule was also decided. In the vote behind closed doors, Bezos' plans received an overwhelming majority of 31 to 1. Participants in the meeting revealed at the end that only Cowboys owner Jerry Jones voted against the takeover. His alleged reasoning: no NFL owner should have a bigger yacht than he does. Jones had decided to vote no after it was reported that a historic bridge in Rotterdam had to be dismantled especially for Bezos' new sailing yacht because the ship is too high to pass the structure.

Seattle Seahawks likely to move to San Diego in 2023

The sale of the Seahawks is a move that has been speculated about since the death of owner Paul G. Allen in October 2018. Unlike her brother, the sister of Microsoft's co-founder has always been seen as more of an executor of estates and thus an owner who has largely kept her fingers out of sporting affairs. Thus, in her leadership of Vulcan Inc, the company she co-founded with her brother in 1986, she focuses on the scientific, artistic and philanthropic branches of the business. Allen left the leadership of the Vulcan Sports and Entertainment group, under whose umbrella Lumen Field is operated alongside the Seattle Seahawks and the NBA's Portland Trail Blazers, to CEOs Peter McLoughlin and Chris McGowan after Paul's death.

When and how the move of the Seahawks to San Diego will take place is still unclear. According to insiders, however, things could happen very quickly. Jeff Bezos, as the new owner, wants the team to move to California as soon as possible, so as not to leave the market there to the two teams from Los Angeles alone for too long. It is certain that the team will still complete the 2022 season on Puget Sound. For the new ownership, that is enough time to clarify all the necessary details with the NFL so that the transfer of the franchise can take place the following year. Until then, the 12s in Seattle now have time to come to terms with a reality from which Paul Allen, of all people, saved them 25 years ago. In 1997, then team owner Ken Behring had already moved large parts of the Seahawks organisation to Anaheim, California, to build a new franchise in the Los Angeles region.

He also wanted to enter the lucrative sports rights market in the Sunshine State. But the league initially put a spoke in his wheel, as the plans had not been agreed with the NFL. Behring was threatened with a fine of 500,000 US dollars per day that the Seahawks were not back in Seattle. In the end, it was Allen who, as a hometown hero, stepped into the breach after wild protests by the 12s against the old ownership and bought the Seahawks for what was then still 200 million US dollars. The transaction was preceded by a referendum in King County, the Seahawks' home community, in which the population voted by a narrow majority in favour of building a new stadium, now Lumen Field. This was the condition Allen had set. For without the approval of the people in his hometown of Seattle, the billionaire would have relinquished his right of first refusal.

In San Diego itself, the franchise will initially use the old Chargers Park on Murphy Canyon Road as its team base and training facility. After the Chargers moved to LA in 2017, the complex, which is currently still owned by the city of San Diego, has remained empty to date. However, it should be able to be restored to NFL-worthy condition within a few months. Jeff Bezos apparently wants to build a new, state-of-the-art facility on the same site in the future. Initial sales negotiations are said to be underway with the city, which has already hired a consortium of real estate agents to estimate the value of the site. The Amazon founder and soon-to-be owner of the Seahawks is also putting pressure on the stadium issue.

For example, the municipality is to take the plans for a stadium construction in downtown San Diego, which was initially rejected by a majority of citizens in 2016 and therefore led to the Chargers' final move to LA, out of the drawer again. In order to convince the residents of San Diego, Jeff Bezos is planning a number of measures. One of them, for example, is that the stadium should be designed to be open straight towards San Diego Bay - following the example of Husky Stadium in Seattle right on Lake Washington. This idea is probably not entirely altruistic, after all, the eccentric multi-billionaire is known to particularly enjoy spending time on his luxury yacht. This way, he could watch the games directly from the water and would not have to move to the owner's lounge. Here is a picture of what that might look like:

The stadium is also set to become the first in the USA to be completely robot-operated and modelled on an Amazon distribution centre - so the food and drinks will be delivered to the pitch fully automatically. However, it will be several years before the new stadium is ready. That is why the former Seattle franchise will first share the new Snapdragon Stadium with the San Diego Aztecs college football team. The new stadium will open in 2022 where the old home of the San Diego Chargers, Qualcomm Stadium, stood until three years ago.

Will the Seattle Seahawks become the San Diego Amazons?

And since there are no sea eagles in California, but rather seagulls, the days of the name "Seahawks" in San Diego also seem to be numbered. How the team should come up with a new name is still a big mystery. Jeff Bezos is said to be a fan of letting Amazon customers around the world vote on the new team name, rather than the citizens of the city. In doing so, they will reportedly be able to choose one of five names for a new franchise of the then-former Seahawks, in addition to the option of receiving a gift box, when they place their first Amazon order starting June 1, 2022. The names to be chosen are to be chosen jointly by Bezos' four children.

The founder of the world's most successful internet mail-order company is apparently not averse to another idea. After Bezos' first expressions of interest in buying the Seahawks a few years ago, the NFL's Equal Opportunity Committee is said to have approached him and asked the billionaire if he could imagine renaming the franchise "Amazons" after a successful takeover. By choosing a female name, the league, with the express blessing of Commissioner Roger Goodell, wanted to send a far-reaching signal that it would like to be one of the biggest advocates for women's rights in the US. A decision in favour of the San Diego Amazons could also mean that a team in the NFL with an Amazon will have a female mascot for the first time in the history of the league. Unfortunately, this would also mean the end of the popular lightning bolt.

By the way, the loss of the Seahawks does not mean for Seattle that the Allen family will also sell Lumen Field. In addition to concerts and other sporting events, the stadium is to be shared by the MLS football team Seattle Sounders and the NHL team Seattle Kraken from 2023. This will make the former home of the Seahawks the first outdoor stadium to become a permanent home venue for a team in the history of the world's biggest hockey league. Let alone, with a capacity of almost 70,000 spectators, the largest permanent arena in NHL history. The city of Seattle and the owner of the naming rights, Jeff Bezos, want to compensate for the short-term departure of the Octopuses from the newly renovated Climate Pledge Arena with a new old sports franchise. The return of the Seattle SuperSonics for the 2024 NBA season is now said to be in the bag.

You can read what the Seahawks players have to say about the move here.