In sad commemoration of the Oklahoma City Thunder reaching the NBA's Western Conference Finals, here's some alternate history of what might have happened had Referendum 48 failed to pass in June 1997- Followed by Paul Allen letting his option to buy the franchise lapse, and a swift move to the L.A. Coliseum for the 1997 season... No matter how ugly or long this lockout might get, we still have our Seahawks, and that's something, right? Enjoy?
CHAMPIONSHIP BUZZ IN LOS ANGELES; BITTERNESS UP THE COAST IN SEATTLE
Associated Press, January 14, 2001
The City of Angels is abuzz with talk of a possible trip to the Super Bowl for the L.A. Blackhawks, who host the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championship Game today in the final NFL game to be played at the L.A. Coliseum. It's a different story in Seattle, where fans of the former Seahawks have to watch from afar while their former team reaches for championship glory.
The tale is told this way in the Pacific Northwest: Californian Ken Behring bought the Seattle franchise in 1988, and after almost a decade of sub-par football and mismanagement, he used falling ceiling tiles in the Seattle Kingdome as an excuse to attempt to move the team to California- Microsoft Co-founder Paul Allen agreed to buy the team in 1996, but only if a new stadium was built for the team. After a public vote on a new stadium failed by less than one percent of the vote, Allen voided his option and Behring quickly moved the team to Los Angeles and rechristened them the "Blackhawks."
L.A. fans saw the Coliseum's new tenants get off to a dreadful start, finishing 2-14 in their tumultuous inaugural season, punctuated by Cortez Kennedy's holdout (based on the claim he signed a contract to play with the SEATTLE Seahawks) and eventual trade to the Dolphins. However, that performance put them in position to draft All-Pro QB Peyton Manning with the #1 pick in the 1998 NFL draft. In January 1999, Green Bay Packers coach Mike Holmgren was lured to L.A. by millions of dollars and the promise of total command of the Blackhawks' football operation. After a 9-7 campaign ending in a Wild Card loss to Miami last season, L.A. now finds itself one win away from a trip to Super Bowl XXXV in Tampa.
A crowd of well over 90,000 fans is expected today for the Coliseum's final NFL game (the Blackhawks move into the 70,000 seat Behring Stadium at City of Industry next fall), many of them still delirious after L.A.'s dramatic Divisional Playoff overtime win over the Coliseum's former tenants: The Oakland Raiders. After a brief absence, L.A. is a football town once again, embracing young stars like Manning, left tackle Walter Jones, and rookie running back Shaun Alexander.
In Seattle there is little goodwill towards the former Seahawks- Most former Seahawk fans actually rooted for THE RAIDERS last week, by all accounts. On the streets of Seattle, attention has turned to the NBA's Sonics and baseball's Mariners (who just moved into their own new stadium, despite losing a public vote much like the Seahawks did). Efforts to lure an existing or expansion franchise to Seattle seem stillborn without a new stadium, so it appears that the Seahawks' 20 seasons in Seattle are destined to be an NFL footnote (beyond the career of Seattle's lone Hall-of-Famer, Wide Receiver Steve Largent).
Los Angeles is on the verge of seeing an NFL team reach the Super Bowl for the 3rd time, something that will likely never happen for NFL fans in Seattle.