Disgruntled Seahawks season-ticket holders and Kingdome-area businesses joined forces Wednesday to sue team owner Ken Behring.
The class-action suit in King County Superior Court asks a judge to prevent the team’s departure.
If that fails, fans and businesses want Behring to pay to cover the losses of ticket holders, sports bars, restaurants, and sports paraphernalia stores and other enterprises dependent on team.
Seattle attorney Steve Berman said more than 10,000 season-ticket holders and 500 businesses would be affected by Behring’s flight south.
He pegged their losses over the next 10 seasons at about $100 million. The team’s Kingdome lease runs through 2005.
“What Behring did was deceptive,” Berman said. “He told us he had no intention of moving his team, and he didn’t tell us because he wanted us to buy season tickets anyway.”
Federal Way attorney David Larson filed a similar class-action Tuesday on behalf of season-ticket holders. He said he expects eventually a judge will consolidate the cases.
Larson said ticket holders are third-party beneficiaries to the lease and deserve to be reimbursed for their investment if the team leaves. He said he bought six “lousy” season tickets two years ago based on the promise that over the years, he would get better seats. If the team leaves, that will never happen, he said.
“It’s the principle of the matter,” Larson said. “We are entitled to enforce that lease just as much as any other party.”
No trial date has been set in either case, and Seahawks attorneys in Los Angeles didn’t return calls.
Mark Collins, a plaintiff in Wednesday’s suit who has held season tickets since 1976, said the courtroom shouldn’t be the only arena in which fans try to block the team’s exit.
Collins heads Save Our Seahawks. The group plans to rally in front of F.X. McRory’s steak house, just north of the Kingdome, on Saturday
“If we can get 10,000 people, think what kind of message that sends to the rest of the county, to the National Football League and to Congress,” he said. “We have to tell them we’re not going to let free agency with sports teams go on any longer.”Save Our Seahawks also organized a small group of fans that left Wednesday night for Chicago to attend the NFL owners’ meeting Thursday and Friday.
Meanwhile, King County Prosecutor Norm Maleng said he will decide early next week whether to ask the state Supreme Court to settle a jurisdictional dispute over lawsuits filed back and forth between the county and the Seahawks.