Many Eastside offices are decorated with Seattle Seahawks swag. Walls and cubicles are decked out with pennants, posters, or photographs of a particular employee’s favorite player. Logos adorn mugs, mousepads, and computer desktop backgrounds. During football season, employee kitchens are festooned with blue and green streamers and banners, and on Blue Fridays, jerseys are worn in boardrooms and breakrooms.
The Seattle Seahawks are everywhere.
But there’s one Eastside office that’s sacked all the rest when it comes to team paraphernalia: the Renton-based office of the Seahawks organization itself.
The 200,000-square-foot Virginia Mason Athletic Center — commonly referred to as the VMAC — sits on 19 acres of land formerly occupied by a coal tar refinery, nestled between Lake Washington and Interstate 405.
The center was constructed with locally sourced timber, stone, and Douglas fir; it was completed in summer 2008. It is the second-largest practice facility in the National Football League, and the only one built on a waterfront. Moreover, no other team in the league is able to boast that its players and staff can drive a boat to work, thanks to the 150-foot dock and boat house with a 40-foot slip.
Those personnel that prefer land travel will utilize a modest wrap-around parking lot that accommodates up to 275 staff and player vehicles on one side, while the south end of the center is dedicated to three regulation-sized grass fields, which serve as outdoor practice space for players, especially during the open-to-the-public summer training camp, which often is the only time the public gets to see the VMAC.
This summer, more than 31,000 fans attended the 12 training camp practices at the center. During that time, more than $20,000 was raised through the selling of training camp yearbooks by Spirit of 12 Partners, which donates to several local charities, like the Outdoors for All, Boys and Girls Clubs of Washington, Camp Fire Snohomish, and Rainier Scholars. Additionally, more than $38,000 was collected to support local Five Star Football programing, allowing the group to purchase youth uniforms for 140 football players, 20 cheerleaders, and more than 60 scholarships.
While the fields see a stampede of public foot traffic, the rest of the VMAC typically is off limits to most. This may leave many a 12s wondering what lies within.
Beyond the VMAC lobby’s plush seating and glittering trophy case — which predominantly features the (not-so) hard-won Vince Lombardi Trophy from the Seahawks’ 2014 victory over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII — lies 50,000 square feet of training space and 15,000 square feet of meeting space. The center boasts a training room, weight room, and equipment room — there’s even a current pool that allows players to practice low-impact running.
An indoor practice field dominates the center as the largest room (and we use that word loosely) in both square footage and appearance, with 95 feet of space from turf to rafters allowing plenty of room for punting and field goals.
However, the facility is not all locker rooms, gyms, and cafeterias for the players. The VMAC is first and foremost an office, with as much as 48,000 square feet of administrative office space for the 180 professionals who run the business that is the Seattle Seahawks.
There’s the draft room, where the management sits down each spring to strategize the signing of new players; there’s an auditorium with seating for 146 personnel in plush chairs; and each group — such as quarterbacks, defensive backs, etc. — has its own meeting room to discuss plays.
With a home turf like the VMAC, we can see why the Seahawks have been doing so well these last several years. The team certainly scored a touchdown with this facility.