Urban Politics #27: Special Urban Politics Press Release

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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.


Special Urban Politics Press Release

Re: The Draft Environmental Impact Statement published by the Public Stadium Authority on the economic impact of the new Football Stadium.

The football stadium Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) was prepared in a manner that grossly overstates the football and exhibition hall financial contribution to the city of Seattle. More Importantly the shortfall could lead to the City further subsidizing professional sports. It is critical that the Seahawks pick up all auxiliary costs, such as traffic control and fire safety concerns, and not the city.

Unfortunately, the public did not have ample opportunity to review the DEIS and reach this or any other conclusion because copies of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Football/Soccer Stadium and Exhibition Center Project were not available for public review at neighborhood branch libraries in the city of Seattle prior to the Public Hearings on February 10, 1998, and February 12, 1998. As of February 13, 1998, they were still not available.

In addition, ads in various newspapers announcing the public hearings said that copies of the DEIS will be available at local public libraries… . The Central Library was the only library where the DEIS was available in the city of Seattle.

The DEIS documents are over 3 inches thick. Obviously a large amount of time is necessary to review it. Seattle residents without other means of reviewing the DEIS have missed at least half the period for written comment without an opportunity to view it.

As a Result, I have requested that the PSA extend the public comment period for the DEIS beyond the March 9 deadline. In addition, I believe an additional public hearing may also be warranted.

Summary Of My Office’s Analysis Of The DEIS —

The DEIS forecasts a net fiscal benefit to Seattle of $3.9 million for the year 2003 (in 1997 dollars). However, this figure includes $2.2 million in revenue projected from the operation of the baseball ballpark . This reduces the net fiscal benefit to $1.7 million. In addition, $1.1 million currently collected under Seattle’s Admissions Tax generated by non-baseball revenues will no longer be available, reducing the net fiscal benefit to $0.6 million. This yields a figure of $0.6 million.

This figure is based on two major assumptions:

1) football attendance will be at 99% capacity for 20 years, for eleven games per season (eight regular-season games, two preseason, and one playoff). How many teams have that kind of record?

2) that there will be a Major League Soccer franchise in Seattle in 2003. The actual existence of the league by 2003 is questionable.

If, for example, Seahawk attendance is at 87% capacity (what it was last year) for the new football stadium for the entire 11 games, a loss of $0.3 million is sales tax revenues would be seen. The same is true if a Major League Soccer franchise does not come to Seattle. Consequently the projected net revenue of $600,000 to the city is based on some fairly big premises. If these projections fall short, the City’s net revenue could approach zero.

The DEIS proposes that increased tax revenues to Seattle from the new football stadium pay for covering the cost of police and fire protection. This is an unreliable assumption given the above figures.

The City must be adament that the Paul Allen’s enterprise pick up all additional costs associated with both the new stadium and the exhibition hall. Otherwise the City will be asked to provide further public subsidies.

Special thanks to my legislative assistant, Newell Aldrich, for working on the analysis of the DEIS and to citizen Bruce Miller for alerting my office to their absence in our neighborhood libraries.

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