Guest Column: The stadium issues
Council process moved expeditiously
by Louise Miller, Rep., King County Council District 3
There has been a great deal of confusion caused by the Mariners' announcement that they plan to sell the team. Among all the finger pointing and blaming, there has been much heat and little light.
I hope the following detailed calendar of actions taken by elected officials and voters will give people the facts needed to put this issue in perspective. You should know that in all cases, as your representative, I have voted "Yes," but I've also continuously made sure that money spent would never put any county programs or general operation funds at risk.
July 21, 1995: King County Ordinance passes, by a vote of 7-6, asking the voters to approve a special stadium sales tax of one-tenth of one percent.
Sept. 19, 1995: The state Legislature holds a special session and authorizes King County to levy a combination of admission taxes, a special lottery, license plates, an increase in car rental tax, and a small tax on bar and restaurant services. The law also sets up a Public Facilities District to construct an open-air, natural-grass, baseball-only stadium with a retractable roof. The PFD is the governing body that will build the stadium and execute the long term lease with the team.
Oct. 23, 1995: The King County Council approves the funding package, authorized by the Legislature, by a vote of 10-3.
Mar. 18, 1996: King County Council approves, by a 10-3 vote, funding $20 million for the pre-construction activities for the new baseball park.
Apr. 8, 1996: King County Council, by a vote of 10-3, appropriates $5 million to fund the work of the PFD for 1996.
Oct. 28, 1996: King County Council, by a vote of 11-2, authorizes condemnation of property needed for the new stadium and parking garage. This includes seven properties; six of the seven were all ready to sign agreements and be relocated.
Dec. 14, 1996: King County Council, myself included, holds a press conference with Senator Slade Gorton, Governor-elect Gary Locke, Mayor Norm Rice, and Council Chair Jane Hague to announce that a majority of the councilmembers will support sale of bonds for construction of the new stadium and urges the PFD to move ahead with a long term lease.
The council and the Public Facilities District have never stopped their timely and orderly process of meeting the goal of a new baseball stadium to be open for the 1999 season.