Tacoma Dome Celebrates It’s 20th Anniversary

Tacoma News, Inc.
A nice, round 20
ERNEST A. JASMIN; The News Tribune


Tacomans have a lot to brag about these days. There’s Union Station. The Washington State History Museum. The University of Washington Tacoma. The Museum of Glass. The Bridge of Glass. The new Tacoma Art Museum.

But before them all, there was the Tacoma Dome, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this month.

“When I first got here, there was really a sense of pride and accomplishment,” says David Graybill, Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce president, who started with the Chamber 20 years ago. “It was really a sense of new beginnings. … It was symbolic and it was seminal in a readjustment of our community attitude about ourselves.”

For two decades, the Dome has hosted many of the region’s biggest happenings, including sporting events, trade shows, rodeos and rock concerts. With a capacity of 23,000 for reserved seating events – greater than Seattle’s KeyArena, Portland’s Rose Garden and Vancouver, B.C.’s General Motors Place – one can expect the Dome to continue to be near the front of the pack when it comes to attracting such events.

Here are just a few of the most significant events from the Dome’s first 20 years. See how many you can remember:

1994: Janet Jackson performs in February. In August, a hoarse Whitney Houston downplays tabloid rumors that her marriage to singer Bobby Brown is in trouble: “Like any other family, we go through our things. But don’t believe what you hear and what you read. They’re lying to you.”

During her first tour in a decade, Bette Midler puts a positive spin on T-town’s air: “I’m in the Great Northwest at last, breathing that Tacoma aroma.”

1995: Classic rockers return. The Eagles tour resumes in Tacoma after delays due to singer-guitarist Glenn Frey’s bout with diverticulitis. Highlights include “Hotel California,” “Desperado,” “Tequila Sunrise” and guitarist Joe Walsh playing in a giant polka-dotted top hat.

Robert Plant and Jimmy Page bring a little Led Zeppelin magic to the Dome in May. Elton John plays two sold-out shows after an 11-year absence.

The Sonics squash the Los Angeles Lakers in the first NBA playoff game held at the Dome, but eventually lose the series. The Tacoma Rockets relocate to Kelowna, B.C.

1996: An estimated 28,000 turn out at a campaign rally for President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore.

Kiss rolls into town. Bassist Gene Simmons wags his freakishly long tongue and spews fake blood as he swings 40 feet above the stage during a solo. Later in the year, The Who are joined by Gary Glitter and Billy Idol.

1997: Tacoma lands a West Coast Hockey League franchise, named Sabercats in a contest. Country stars Hank Williams Jr., Jo Dee Messina and Travis Tritt stop by.

1998: The Spice Girls, Dave Matthews and Alan Jackson are among the big draws.

1999: Korn, Jay-Z, ‘N Sync and WCW wrestling roll into the Dome in the first half of the year. The Backstreet Boys come Oct. 26. “There are so many beautiful ladies in Tacoma. … I just might move here,” A.J. McLean says, giving false hope to hordes of 12-year-old girls.

2000: Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s first tour in a quarter of a century stops at the Dome. Springsteen, Santana and the Dixie Chicks are among the year’s biggest headliners.

Notorious rapper Eminem makes his first Tacoma appearances with the Up in Smoke and Family Values tours. He beats up inflatable dolls representing rivals Insane Clown Posse at the former, but plays nice (sort of) at Family Values by skipping controversial gay-bashing lyrics.

2001: Piano men Billy Joel and Elton John headline “The Face to Face” tour, which, with a top ticket price of $175, becomes the Dome’s highest grossing show to that date, $2.1 million.

Giddy teenage girls from as far away as Japan and Israel flock to the Dome for two appearances by the Backstreet Boys in February. Veteran rockers U2 and AC/DC also make stops.

2002: ‘N Sync’s Justin Timberlake breaks up with bubblegum diva Britney Spears while his band is in Tacoma. Dome officials say Spears was at the show and that she appeared content. She headlines her own show in May.

The Tacoma Sabercats fold after averaging a dismal 2,854 fans per game.

Eminem returns with the Anger Management tour.

Paul McCartney sets a Dome record, grossing $2.3 million for his Oct. 19 show, with top tickets at $250. Less than three weeks later he’s outdone by the Rolling Stones, who rake in $2.4 million, the Dome’s current high mark, with tickets maxing out at $300.

Both are part of an invasion of grandpa rockers that includes Springsteen, Aerosmith and Tom Petty.

In November, police are on high alert when Guns N’ Roses plays the Dome, the day after a no-show by frontman Axl Rose sparks a riot in Vancouver, B.C. Rose makes it to Tacoma to launch the band’s first U.S. tour since the early ’90s, but not a lot of fans do; the show is 11,000 short of sellout.

2003: Charismatic country crooner Toby Keith delivers an energetic, patriotic set in February. The Dome officially turns 20 on April 21.

For Full Article: Tacoma Dome

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