The Seahawks have submitted preliminary paperwork to host a future Super Bowl.
According to NFL sources familiar with the pursuit, the Seahawks recently have taken the initial steps to declare their interest. The NFL Super Bowl Advisory Committee vets inquiries to see which cities meet minimum standards before soliciting formal proposals.
Seahawks officials declined comment. But Lorraine Hine, chairperson since the 1997 inception of the Washington State Public Stadium Authority, which owns Century Link Field and the adjacent exhibition center, said pursuit of the NFL's championship is part of the agreement between First & Goal, the team's corporate arm, and the PSA.
"We haven't talked with the Seahawks specifically about it," Hine said, "but the statute in the lease states that, should requirements (for hosting) change, the PSA will will support and cooperate with First & Goal in pursuing a Super Bowl."
The opportunity for Seattle to host, long deemed unlikely because of its February weather and stadium capacity (67,000), increased with the award of the games to Indianapolis (which drew rave reviews for its hosting of the game Sunday at 68,000-seat Lucas Oil Stadium), and MetLife Stadium in suburban New York, which will host the 2014 game in an outdoor stadium in a climate similar to Seattle's.
Hine said an optional build-out of 5,000 seats, mostly in the south end zone area, was included as part of the stadium's original design and construction.
"The minimum requirement was 70,000, and we can go to 72,000," she said. "The lease language says the seats must be comparable in layout and quality to existing seats.
"We knew that extra seats could come (after stadium opened in 2001), but there's been no discussion of it until New York was awarded an outdoor game in a northern city."
In its submission, Seattle did not specify pursuit of a specific game date, but games have been awarded through 2015, meaning the first chance would be 2016.
Seattle has three major construction projects under way that will take years to complete -- the replacement of the Alaskan Way viaduct with a tunnel, the completion of a light rail line and the untangling of the Mercer Street mess. In addition, the city is considering an early proposal from investors for a new arena, probably with capacity for 22,000-plus seats, south of the stadiums on First Avenue South. Such an arena, which could host NBA and NHL teams, would be a critical asset in the bid for a Super Bowl.
If all went smoothly, an arena might be ready by 2016, meaning the first reasonable bid would be for the 2017 game. More likely is 2018, because it will have been four years since the previous outdoor game, and warm weather has been a high priority for the NFL.
However, the New York award also will inspire bidders from other cold-weather sites such as Boston and Philadelphia. The Seattle bid's biggest asset probably would be owner Paul Allen, considered the NFL's wealthiest owner and someone whom other owners would want to engage more fully.
The fact that Allen has given his behind-the-scenes blessing to a statement of interest is a positive sign. There are many other requirements (see Friday column here). But before the Seahawks move ahead to form a host committee to prepare a privately financed bidding process, it has to get a signal from the NFL that it is in the hunt.
A start would be to send a video of the last several days of weather in Western Washington and assure NFL owners that is always thus here in February.