Despite these drawbacks and the fact that the team never conducted an ad campaign to sell tickets, the Seahawks had to cut the sale off at 59,000 after less than a month. (The Kingdome seats 65,000 for football.) Astonishingly, 50,527 of the requests were for top-price tickets and only 143 for the lowest-priced seats. As a result, the Seahawks will have banked more than $6 million before they hold their first formal practice in July. There also are 5,285 names on the waiting list for season tickets.
The ticket response directly affected the process of hiring a coach. "We didn't need to hire a big name to help sell tickets," says Thompson, "because we had already sold them." In Tampa, on the other hand, the Buccaneers have sold just 36,400 season tickets in a stadium that seats 71,400—and McKay has been under contract for seven months.
Seattle's support of its new team has not stopped at the ticket window. A local NBC affiliate, KIRO, bought the Seahawks' radio package for a reported $150,000 a year for five years (the NFL average last season was $113,365), then sold more than $1 million in advertising rights in 36 hours.
A name-the-team contest drew 20,365 entries, with 1,741 suggestions. If Seahawks doesn't grab you, here are some of the other candidates: Anchovies, Bumbershoots, Clam Guns, Cumulo Nimbos, Diarrheas, Identified Flying Objects, Hookers, Panzies, Red Tide, Ticks, Toads, Wine-O's, Widowmakers, Worms, Zeros and, more to the point, No-Names.
The list was reduced to seven names—Cascades, Evergreens, Mariners, Olympics, Pioneers, Sockeyes and Seahawks—and Seahawks was judged to be most suitable and to have the most graphic potential. The team colors also had to be approved by NFL Creative Services ( Tampa's first choice, orange and pale green, was discarded for being too similar to the Dolphins' colors). Seattle settled on silver, blue and green, the last two representing the waters and the forests that surround Seattle. And Creative Services came up with a wonderfully fierce Seahawk logo. It is creative, indeed, because The National Audubon Society insists that the sea hawk is a thief, a skua or a jaeger that specializes in robbing other sea birds of their food. Thompson, however, claims his Seahawk is a dashing, handsome, graceful osprey that swoops from the sky to snatch fish from the sea.
The people of Seattle have been so stimulated by the Seahawks that neckties bearing the club's logo are selling like, well, season tickets. The company that distributes the ties has had to reorder six times just to keep up with the demand.
It's almost enough to make the club owners feel that the franchise's $16 million purchase price was a bargain.