Urban Politics #34: Football Stadium Report

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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.



  • Football Stadium Report
  • Council Votes On Its Rules
  • The Port’s Terminal-18 Project On Hold

Football Stadium Report

This report was written by my Legislative Assistant, Newell Aldrich. Last week the Public Stadium Authority published the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the football stadium.

The Final EIS includes a revised economic forecast, which is an improvement over the previous Draft EIS. The Draft EIS claimed that if the new stadium is sited at the current Kingdome site, the city of Seattle would realize $3.9 million in tax revenue (as compared to the $4.8 million Seattle got in 1997). This figure, however, included over $3 million in revenue from baseball. Both the city of Seattle and the Licata office requested that the economic forecast be revised to remove baseball revenue.

In response, the PSA now claims the city will get $1.6 million in tax revenue; $2.2 million in baseball admissions tax has been subtracted. However, $1 million in tax revenues from baseball is still included in the Sales and BandO taxes. Subtracting this reveals that the tax revenue claim should be a little under $600,000. (The PSA laudably lowered its projected attendance for football, which accounts for the other $0.1 million).

Even this figure doesn’t address that the legislation authorizing the stadium preempts Seattle’s ability to apply the B and O tax or any other parking excise tax on stadium parking revenues, or the 8 year delay in the city’s ability to collect the annual $2-3 million from the hotel/motel tax. Because of the loss in tax revenue, the city of Seattle said that the Seahawks should pay for the cost of police and fire services. The FEIS says that “the PSA and First and Goal would explore options for providing and covering the cost of the fire (and police) protection service needed for the proposal.” This is slightly better than what the Draft EIS said, but still lacks a clear commitment.

Lizanne Lyons, Acting Director of the city’s Strategic Planning Office, noted in the cover letter to the PSA that “because of the loss of over $1 million in admissions tax revenue (note: this will go to pay for the stadium) annually will reduce general fund revenues, the City’s ability to provide traffic control and other services to the facility without affecting other services will be greatly diminished. This impact will be considered in the city’s Master Use Permit decision.”

This is one of the few bargaining positions the city has; the others include the Demolition Permit needed to demolish the Kingdome, and the Council resolution on the use of Husky Stadium during the construction of the new stadium.

North Lot Housing

The city and representatives of the Pioneer Square community-and now Mayor Schell and County Executive Sims -argued strongly in favor of having the new stadium built in the current south parking lot, in order to have the north lot available for housing and it appears this will be the PSA decision. The PSA, however, is stopping well short of a commitment to making the north lot available for housing.

The Draft EIS called for using some of the north lot for consumer show staging in the Exhibition Center to be built in conjunction with the stadium. The city argued that the north lot was not needed for this purpose.

The DEIS offers two responses: first, saying that experience at setting up and taking down consumer shows will be necessary before determining “what portion of the north parking lot, if any, may still be needed for consumer show staging.” Thus, they want any decision to be delayed until after 2003, when the facilities are completed.

In another section, however, in response to comments submitted by the Consumer Show Coalition regarding the availability of the north lot for surface parking and event staging, the PSA replies that “the north lot would be retained for surface parking and event staging” (the same as in the Draft EIS plan).

One other change is that the DEIS talked of “actively supporting Duwamish neighborhoods help prevent industrial land conversion in this area.” The Final EIS no longer includes this commitment, although the PSA says it would not take any action contrary to Seattle’s Manufacturing/Industrial Center Policies or Land Use Code.

Council Votes On Its Rules

Last Monday the City Council took its final votes on making changes to the rules which govern itself. Peter Steinbrueck and I proposed five amendments (detailed in UP # 33). Two were controversial. The one to allow public testimony by a majority vote of the council instead of a two-thirds vote passed 4 to 3. Sue Donaldson and Tina Podlodowski joined us on the aye side. Martha Choe, Richard Conlin and Jan Drago voted no.

The proposal to allow a one week minimum from the date a committee votes on an item, until it appears before the full council was defeated by 4 to 3. Richard Conlin joined us on the losing side.

The Port’s Terminal-18 Project On Hold

This is a $300 million terminal expansion involving 118 acres on Harbor Island, of which 29 acres are of street vacations. The project should lead to the creation of 1,300 new direct jobs and approximately $6.5 million in new tax revenues over the next 7 years.

The project came before the Transportation Committee last week for approval of the street vacations and I voted against it, although the bill still passed out of committee with Richard McIver and Jan Drago voting in favor. However, as I explained to the Port representatives at the meeting, my vote was simply a message that needed to be heard: the bill will probably not be brought before the full Council until the Port amends existing agreements which currently give them free street vacations.

My discussions with all of the Council Members, shows that while we all support the project because of the significant economic benefits that will result, this is also the best opportunity the City has to alter agreements that gave away the City’s right to collect any revenue from the Port on future street vacations.

The Council had passed Resolution 29195 in Sept. of 1995, asking the Port to direct its staff to amend these agreements. Over two years have passed and nothing has been submitted to the City although some Port officials now say that they can be made. Two Port Commissioners have just come forward giving their personal word that those changes will be made. But still, that’s one less than it takes for the Port Commission to approve any amendments. I think the Council will want to see some written commitment from the Port or else the City may end up waiting another two years.

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