Feature Article

Skateboarding on the Kingdome

date: 03.20.00 by: Yom Tov

Being a skateboarder I look at life with a different perspective. When I see a slope, bank, curb, handrail, ditch, ledge or hill, I want to skate it. It doesn’t even have to be skateable. I still want to skate it. Sometimes driving through a neighborhood you see yards with perfect grass transitions or dirt roads that make great ollie bumps and you think to yourself man if that was cement I’d be riding that. People who don’t skate can’t relate to it, nor do I expect them to.
Skateboarders are creative people to say the least. We create our own moves out of our expression through the art of skateboarding. We draw lines in our heads visually and act them out, or just let things flow naturally and not think at all. It depends on the individual skater. There are no rules or regulations in skateboarding. No boundaries telling you how far you can or can’t go. No limitations. You create whatever you want. And it’s fun.

Determination is a key factor in a skateboarders life. It takes more than balls to grind or slide down a handrail. It takes more than guts to bomb down a steep hill. It takes more than skills to fly out of a 11 foot tall halfpipe. It takes determination and thousands of hours of practice. If a skateboarder decides he or she is going to do something they will do it because they are determined.

On February 21, 2000, Presidents Day, I was determined. Determined to skateboard on the roof of the Kingdome Stadium. It was something I’d been wanting to ride for years since they built it in the 70’s. Driving past it looking at the transitions on the roof how could I pass it up? I couldn’t. I knew that at some point in my life I would be up there riding it, and this had to be the day. They were going to blow it up soon. Time was of the essence.

The Video is in the first 2 minutes of Urban Rubble – a great Seattle Skate Video.

It was a typical day in Seattle, wet and slightly raining off and on. Myself and two of my friends were ready to roll. I put on construction clothes. Boots, hard hat and safety glasses along with my skateboard that was strapped to my backpack.

They dropped me off a couple hundred feet from the Dome at 6:45 a.m.. Then they proceeded to get into position to videotape me from the viaduct freeway which was about 200 yards away. They had clear view of me. We had walkie talkies to keep in contact with each other.

I walked on the site at 7:00 a.m. and immediately ran into a worker. I calmly asked him how to get to the roof. He showed me where the stairs were to get into the Kingdome, but not the roof.

Boneless on the Kingdome
Throwing up a boneless on the Kingdome roof!

Once I reached the top of the stairs, I opened the door and was on the 300 level. It’s where the hallways lead to food stands and bathrooms. It was dark and torn up.

From there I went into the lit up Dome where the bleachers are and looked to see if there was a way to the roof. Two bulldozers were digging up the ground. Then I saw a man walking up the bleachers as far as he could go, and he disappeared into a doorway.

I said to myself that must be the way’. I walked up the bleachers as far as I could, and I saw the ladder to the roof. Bingo!

I climbed up. I was on the roof only 10 minutes after I walked onto the site. I couldn’t believe I made it to the top. But, there was another worker there as well, and that was a problem. I couldn’t help but think how am I going to ride this with this guy up here too. When he approached me, I asked him where everybody else was. He just shook his head and shrugged his shoulders. I don’t think he understood English that well. Then I told him maybe he should see if everyone’s at the safety meeting, something I had overheard a few workers talking about. He went down back into the Kingdome.

Whew! That was easy! I radioed my friends to start filming.

I took off my jacket, grabbed my board and started running up the long flight of stairs on top of the roof. Halfway up the roofsteps I stepped off, where there was a safety net, but, I was on the wrong side. The only safety device I had now was a rope connected to the top of the roof that lay flat on the surface. My thoughts now were what am I going to do. It was seriously steep and slick as ice. I prayed that all my years of experience would be with me. From the ground it looks like the riding surface is cement, but it’s like formica. Real slippery.

The transition is like a mellow bank. I took one push toward the transition and slipped out and began to slide toward the edge of the roof- 500 feet above ground.

Luckily, I grabbed hold of the rope. I actually tried this twice.

I then went back onto the roofsteps up past the safety net. It wasn’t as steep but just as slippery.

I pushed off and jumped into a frontside boneless. I landed it, but now I had to stop and I couldn’t do a speed check, so I bent over and picked up my board. My hard-hat fell off as soon as I did this so I had to chase after it. At that point I started sliding again, only this time I went into the safety net. I landed a few frontside bonelesses and I was ready to leave. I headed back down the roofsteps.

As soon as I reached the bottom of the roofsteps and set my board down, a worker popped up onto the roof. Talk about a close call. Then two more workers popped up. One of them said why do you have a skateboard up here? I told him that the boss said go ahead and try it, but I wasn’t going to, no way. He shook his head and said “I wouldn’t try that.”

I strapped my skateboard back onto my backpack and put it on. I asked that very same worker if he would put my jacket over my backpack and skateboard. He did.

The workers started to do their work. I was already done with mine and was ready to get the hell out of there.

I headed down the roof ladder into the Kingdome. When I reached the bottom, I looked over my left shoulder and there was a foreman talking to 6 or 7 other workers. I stepped off the ladder and my skateboard got caught on a piece of do not enter tape. The foreman grabbed my wheel and lifted it off the tape. Still holding it in his hand he said “skateboard, what are you doing with a skateboard in here?” I thought for sure I was busted. I told him I use it for transportation to and from work. He told me to take it to the annex (the office next to the Kingdome). I said, that’s where I’m heading now, and walked away down the bleachers and down the stairs.

Almost home free, I still had to get past a security guard. I didn’t know if I should say anything to him or not, so, I didn’t. I just walked on by and kept walking to the place my friends had dropped me off. I radioed for them to come pick me up. I was in shock.

I just SKATEBOARDED on the top of the KINGDOME roof.