Councilmember Licata left office on January 1, 2016.
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Urban Politics #7: Initiative Status – The Mariner’s New Stadium

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By City Councilmember Nick Licata.

Urban Politics (UP) blends my insights and information on current public policy developments and personal experiences with the intent of helping citizens shape Seattle’s future.



  • Initiative Status – The Mariner’s New Stadium
  • Lobbying Needed Now – Email Addresses Listed Below
  • Update On Mariners Demands

Initiative Status – The Mariner’s New Stadium

Initiative 16 by Citizens for More Important Things is still waiting for final approval from the County Clerk before we can begin collecting signatures. The initiative will require voter approval of county bond issues in excess of $50,000,000 for constructing or remodeling buildings. This will force the county to obtain voter approval for the new Mariner’s and Seahawk’s stadiums.

Lobbying Needed Now – Email Addresses Listed Below

Right now both the City and the County Councils need to hear from you – TODAY. Under Senator Slade Gorton’s influence the Mariners have come up with a new set of demands for the City and County to meet if they are to remain in Seattle. Essentially they want greater public subsidies without any legal guarantees from them to cover cost overruns.

Those on the City Council who seem most likely to oppose further concessions, given their public comments, are: Charlie Chong, Margaret Pageler, Sue Donaldson and Jane Noland. I don’t know where the others stand, although it’s most likely that Jan Drago will support their demands.

On the County Council, only Maggie Fimia has been consistent in challenging the huge public subsidies going to build these stadiums, although Cynthia Sullivan has now started to become vocal in her criticisms as well. Both could use some supportive email. Contacting others, particularly those representing Seattle Districts like Larry Gossett, Larry Phillips, and Greg Nickels, might make them think twice about capitulating to all of the Mariners demands.

Update On Mariners Demands

The Mariners say they pledge to cover any cost overruns but they are not willing to give personal guarantees to cover them. Previously the Public Facilities District (PFD) Chair Joan Enticknap said that they were a necessary part of the lease. The County’s own legal counsel said that without them the lease would have no teeth. This is the biggest escape hatch in the new lease. The Mariners could declare bankruptcy and the county would be stuck with an empty $400 million stadium. To attract another team the county would have to offer even higher public subsidies.

The Mariners have denied responsibility for covering cost overruns to date saying that are due to design changes. Since there are no final designs or construction bids referenced in the proposed lease, they will not be responsible for such increased costs – and that is where most if not all of the cost overruns have come so far. Just this past Monday a new retractable roof design was unveiled and the final design is not expected until sometime after construction begins. The roof’s cost is at least 20% of the overall stadium cost.

The Mariners are breaking their previous agreement to contribute $1.5 million to the city to cover auxiliary costs, like traffic control, street cleanup and police protection and are demanding that the City pay these costs. Previously the city had agreed to contribute over $2 million a year for 20 years by forgoing that much in the admissions-tax revenue from the new stadium.

In addition the Mariners are insisting that the city pick up any pollution clean up costs which might be found on the site. These costs have no cap and could force the city to issue additional bonds to cover them. A hazardous material survey has yet to be completed.

An Independent Financial Review Committee, set up by the council and consisting of construction and financial experts, recommended that the Mariners contribute a $50 million line credit to cover construction overruns. The Mariners are now demanding that it only be 10% of that amount.

This will be the most expensive baseball stadium ever built in the US. And it is scheduled to be designed, built and completed in less time than any of the other new stadiums built in this decade. The experience of other cities indicates that it will take 5 years to build the new stadium, but the Mariners want it done in just over 3 years. By imposing such a tight deadline on the project the Mariners are increasing the chance of cost overruns while refusing to guarantee that they will cover them.

Keep in touch…


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