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Herman Sarkowsky

Herman Sarkowsky (born June 9, 1925 in Gera, Germany) is a Seattle, Washington, United States businessman, philanthropist, thoroughbred breeder, and former sports executive. He was a co-founder of two Pacific Northwest sports franchises, the Portland Trail Blazers and the Seattle Seahawks.


Early life and career

Sarkowsky was born in Germany in 1925[1]. A Jew[2], he and his family immigrated to New York City in 1934[1] after Hitler came to power. The family moved to Seattle, Washington in 1937.[2] A 1949 graduate of the University of Washington, he entered the home building and construction trade the following year.

Portland Trail Blazers

In 1970, an investment group consisting of Sarkowsky, Larry Weinberg of Beverly Hills, California, and Robert Schmertz of Lakewood, New Jersey paid US$3.7 million and was awarded an expansion NBA franchise in the city of Portland, Oregon. This team, soon to be named the Portland Trail Blazers, started play in November 1970. Sarkowsky was named president and managing partner of the team. His stake increased two years later when he bought out Schmertz, when the latter purchased the Boston Celtics. He reduced his stake in the team the next year, and sold the remainder of his stake in the Trail Blazers to Weinberg, who became managing partner in 1975.[3]

Seattle Seahawks

At the same time that Sarkowsky was owner of the Trail Blazers, he was also attempting to bring a football team to his adopted hometown of Seattle. In 1972, he and Ned Skinner formed an organization called Seattle Professional Football, which was created to bring an NFL franchise to the city. A franchise was awarded to the city in June 1974. After the NFL made known its ownership terms (any ownership group must include one entity with controlling interest in the team), Sarkowsky entered into a partnership with the Nordstrom family in which the Nordstroms would have a 51% stake. The NFL granted the Nordstrom/Sarkwosky consortium ownership of the new Seattle franchise, which would be christened the Seahawks, in December of that year.[4] The Seahawks began play in 1976. Sarkowsky would sell his stake in the team in 1988.[3]

Horse racing

Sarkowsky's greatest sporting love is Thoroughbred horse racing. He got started in the sport in 1960, when he purchased a US$2000 claimer. He would later be an investor in Northwest Racing Associates, which would construct Emerald Downs, a racetrack in Auburn, Washington. Several horses he owned would have success in the Breeders' Cup, including Phone Chatter, which won the 1993 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, and Mr. Greeley, which placed in the 1995 Sprint. As of 2007, Sarkowsky owns 37 thoroughbreds, including 11 mares.[1]

Business and investmants

In addition to his investments in team sports and horse racing, Sarkowsky is one of the most successful builders and real estate developers in Seattle history. He developed the Key Tower in Seattle, was a partner in the Frederick and Nelson department store chain,[2] and founded the United Homes Corporation in the 1960s,[1] which would become the largest homebuilder in the Seattle area at the time. As of 2007, Sarkowsky operates a private investment firm. He is a Lifetime Board Member of the National Association of Home Builders.[2] He is presently a director of HLTH Corporation.[5]


Sarkowksy has contributed to several philanthropic causes. He is a generous donor to the University of Washington, his alma mater, and sits on the board of the UW School of Medicine.[2] He also has served as a director of numerous charitable and cultural institutions, including the Seattle Foundation, the United Way, Seattle Repertory Theatre, the Seattle Symphony, and the Seattle Art Museum[1][2]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 "Profile: Herman Sarkowsky". National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) Official Website. National Thoroughbred Racing Association]]. http://www.ntra.com/stats_bios.aspx?id=2226. Retrieved 2007-11-12. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 "UW Medicine Board: Herman Sarkowsky". University of Washington School of Medicine, official site. University of Washington. http://www.uwmedicine.org/Global/AboutUWMedicine/BoardOfDirectors/Herman+Sarkowsky.htm. Retrieved 2007-11-12. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 James P. Quirk, Rodney D. Fort (1992). Pay Dirt: The Business of Professional Team Sports. Princeton University Press. 
  4. "Herman Sarkowsky". Norm Evans' Seahawks Report. 1979-11-04. http://www.beckys-place.com/sarkowsky.html. Retrieved 2007-11-12. 
  5. "Our Board of Directors". HLTH Corporation official website. HLTH Corporation. http://www.hlth.com/our_board_of_directors.html. Retrieved 2007-11-12. 


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