Brian Miller watches last Sunday’s football game inside Hawk One, a converted motorhome
he co-owns with two fellow die-hard Seahawk fans. The tailgate party at Emerald Queen Casino in Tacoma was just an appetizer for Sunday’s real craze before the season home opener against the 49ers at Century Link Field. It may not count as my first authentic tailgating experience, but I sure learned a great deal about a team and a sport I knew little about.
Sketched Sept. 8, 2013
Talk about team spirit.
Gary Buchanan, Brian Miller and Tony Wetzel don’t just root for the Seahawks. They have their own 38-foot tailgating RV to rally fans before games.
The interior of the motor home is a mini-museum of the team’s history. The ceiling looks like that of the old Kingdome stadium, and names of legendary Seahawk players are displayed on a “Ring of Honor.” There’s more Kingdome-era stuff all around: three red chairs from the old stands, a piece of green turf and even a chunk of cement from the arena demolished 13 years ago.
The custom bar, which stands on legs shaped like goal posts, displays the original Seahawk logo, based on Native American tribal art. The osprey doesn’t have the mean eye of the current logo, noted Miller, who is a toolmaker by day and did most of the handiwork inside the vehicle.
Hawk One looks so polished you might think it’s an official marketing gimmick. It’s not.
“We are the core 12th Man,” said Buchanan, who is looking forward to bring the “ultimate tailgating experience” to “Hawk Alley” for a fifth year in a row Sunday, with the game against the 49ers. “A thousand people will show up. It will be crazy.”
Tailgating is quite the ritual. At home games, Hawk One co-owner Gary Buchanan dresses as the “Sea Pope” and leads fans in prayer. “I pray to the football gods for a positive outcome of the game and no injuries for the players,” he said.
Buchanan found the RV on Craigslist and, after a massive rebuild,
it made its official debut as Hawk One in 2009.
Buchanan, Wetzel and Miller gathered around the bar to discuss last Sunday’s game.
The Seahawks beat the Panthers 12-7.
The trio of die-hard Seahawk fans met about a decade ago through their daughters, who played softball together in elementary school. Now grown up, their kids are bringing a new generation of fans to the tailgate parties.
Buchanan said most people don’t start tailgating until 9 or 10 in the morning, but you can expect Hawk One to raise their 12th Man flag at 6:30 a.m. and celebrate with food, music and toasts until an hour before the game starts. For home games, they set up on Utah Avenue South just north of the Starbucks headquarters.