Paul G. Allen helped bring Major League Soccer to the Northwest when Vulcan Sports and Entertainment joined the ownership group behind the Sounders FC. The 2007 announcement that the Sounders FC would become an MLS team was the result of years of work and enthusiasm on behalf of soccer fans. A Seattle native, Allen’s passion for sports began when he attended University of Washington football games with his father. His enthusiasm for the game and love of his hometown were two of the reasons he purchased the National Football League’s Seattle Seahawks in 1996, a move that saved the team from being relocated to Southern California. In 2014, the Seahawks became Super Bowl XLVIII champions after defeating the Denver Broncos.
Allen had visions of world-class soccer in Seattle soon after purchasing the Seahawks. On June 17, 1997, Washington state voters approved “Referendum 48” to authorize a public/private partnership to construct a stadium, exhibition center and parking facilities in downtown Seattle. One of the keys to the success of the vote was statewide support from the soccer community and its hope to one day see professional soccer, played at the highest level, return to the Northwest.
“From the beginning of this process, my goals have been to work with the community to create a lasting asset for our future and to ensure the long-term success of the Seahawks,” said Allen at the time of purchasing the franchise. He also wanted to create a world-class facility for the state of Washington. That dream became a reality in 2002 with the opening of the Seahawks Stadium and Exhibition Center, renamed CenturyLink Field and CenturyLink Field Event Center in 2011. An open-air facility which many critics argue is the best venue in the NFL, CenturyLink Field is home to more than 165 events annually ranging from soccer, to Supercross, concerts, graduation ceremonies and trade shows. In 2013, CenturyLink Field became the loudest NFL stadium when it broke the Guinness World Record for loudest crowd at an outdoor stadium.
“It exceeds the vision we had originally,” Allen said shortly after the opening of the stadium. “We wanted to create an intimate, elegantly designed stadium that would be great for the fans, and I think we’ve ended up with a fantastic facility.”
Allen has spent his career tackling some of the world’s biggest challenges and pushing the boundaries of what’s possible. Through both for-profit and philanthropic investments, he has sparked important developments and innovations in the areas of science, technology, education, conservation, the arts and community improvement. Allen first made his mark in Seattle when he co-founded Microsoft with Bill Gates in 1975, and he continues to be an innovator in the world of business and technology to this day. He is founder and chairman of Vulcan Inc., which oversees his philanthropic and business interests, and he owns the National Basketball Association’s Portland Trail Blazers.
With lifetime giving totaling more than $1.5 billion, Allen is included among the world’s leading philanthropists who have pledged to donate the majority of their fortunes to charity. His giving is channeled through The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, which works to catalyze change, transform lives and strengthen communities by supporting arts and culture, youth engagement, community development, social change and scientific and technological advancement. He also gives directly, including $281.8 million to Washington since 1990. In addition to his business and philanthropic efforts, Allen has a true love of science. He created the Allen Institute for Brain Science in Seattle in 2003 to accelerate understanding of the human brain in health and disease. The Institute has generated groundbreaking online public resources, including interactive atlases of the mouse and human brain that have become indispensable research tools for scientists worldwide. In 2012, Allen pledged $300 million to significantly expand the Institute’s scientific programs. In 2013, he launched the Allen Institute for the Artificial Intelligence to explore critical questions in AI. His love of science reaches to the far ends of the universe. In 2004, Allen funded SpaceShipOne, the first privately-backed effort to successfully put a civilian in suborbital space. And in 2011, he got back into the space business with the formation of Stratolaunch Systems, which is developing a revolutionary airborne launch system.
His award-winning film company, Vulcan Productions, develops and supports media projects that help audiences understand the world around them and respond to challenges. Vulcan Productions’ projects include the Interdependence Movement Annual Film Award-winning Girl Rising; the 2013 Sundance Film Festival Official Selection Pandora’s Promise; the Emmy Award-winning Rx for Survival–A Global Health Challenge; the Peabody Award-winning Judgment Day: Intelligent Design; the PBS series This Emotional Life; and the PBS series The Blues. Allen is also the founder of the EMP Museum, Seattle’s critically acclaimed interactive museum of music, popular culture and science fiction; the Flying Heritage Collection, an assemblage of rare World War II aircraft restored to flying condition and shared with the public; and the Living Computer Museum, a collection of restored vintage timesharing computer equipment in Seattle’s SoDo district. Idea Man, Allen’s 2011 memoir, was a New York Times bestseller.