The Seattle Seahawks headquartered themselves in Renton nearly a decade ago, and it has helped the city’s economy in many ways
The NFL’s Seahawks might fill a Seattle stadium on Sundays, but the team’s economic impact stretches to the Eastside. Renton in particular has enjoyed a windfall since the team moved its headquarters there in 2008 from Northwest University in Kirkland.
It’s helped that the Seahawks have risen to prominence during their time in Renton. After one Super Bowl victory, in 2014, and another appearance in the NFL’s title game, the team’s value has climbed to $1.87 billion, up from $989 million in 2010, according to Forbes. Revenue has jumped from $241 million to $334 million in that stretch, and the organization employs more than 160.
The team’s recent success has led to a rise in popularity, which drives crowds to the Virginia Mason Athletic Center, or VMAC, in Renton each August to watch training camp. The 13-day event brings in 3,000 Seahawks fans per day, and many of those fans pass through the Renton shopping center, The Landing, on the way. The Landing’s stores and restaurants enjoy constant foot traffic as people are dropped off and picked up for camp.
Renton’s director of economic development, Cliff Long, believes the Seahawks have played a major role in the city’s recent growth. “They just do a lot of good in the community as an organization, and individually the players contribute a lot of wonderful things to our economy and our community,” he said. “A lot more people seem to know about Renton than they did in the past.”
As long as they’re winning, the Seahawks gin up extra traffic throughout the season. “There is nothing like putting ‘Seahawks’ on something for an event right now that generates as much excitement for us,” said Rodney Swift, who manages The Landing for JSH Properties. For example, The Pro Shop, which is owned by the Seahawks, can see an 80 percent increase in revenue during training camp.
Another team-themed event that attracts similar crowds to Renton is the Seahawks 12k Run at The Landing. The run starts at The Landing, then skirts Lake Washington and passes the VMAC before finishing back at the mall. Seahawks players help staff the run.
Swift estimated that more than 10,000 runners participated in April. “It’s one of the bigger runs in the region,” he said. “The only thing that rivals training camp is the Seahawks run.”
The Seahawks impact more than The Landing, though. Overall, the organization’s scope of impact across the city of Renton is wide. It sponsors local programs like Five Star Football’s youth program. Thanks in part to its partnership with the Seahawks, the program has increased enrollment and paid for any member who can’t afford to play football.
“We’ve never turned away a kid in the eight years I’ve been here,” Five Star president Charles Burnham said. “Everybody plays, and everybody is paid for, and because of that, it has allowed for us to foster a great relationship with the Seahawks because they want that full community.”
During Seahawks training camp, Burnham and many of Five Star’s young players are front and center at a fundraising tent situated near the cheering fans. At its booth, the group sells Talking Rain water, several types of snacks, and takes donations for the program. Their partnership with the team has led to other corporate sponsorships, with Talking Rain and Starbucks.
“They are a huge resource for us,” Burnham said. “These corporate partnerships I have with them, with Talking Rain and Starbucks, would not exist without (the Seahawks).”
The Seahawks partner with other charities, too, including the YMCA of Greater Seattle, Rainier Scholars, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Washington, and more to help build stronger communities by bringing in more revenue for these programs.
“The Seahawks are a huge community partner supporting the schools, the chamber of commerce, and a lot of different local nonprofits. They just do a lot of good in the community as an organization,” Long said.