JANUARY 6, 1997

 The Edwards Agency

Opinion

Mariners not worthy of new stadium

new stadium On Dec. 23, 1996, the Public Facilities District Board voted 4 to 3 to approve extortion by the Seattle Mariners. Bob Wallace cast a conditional "yes" vote. All seven board members were upset with the behavior of the Mariners.
   Shelly Yapp, in the most eloquent expression possible, noted the utter total absurdity of the new lease terms for the proposed new baseball stadium. The Mariners were not bargaining in good faith. Ron Judd and Ruth Massinga were clearly upset that the Mariners took back promises already made, by engaging in extortion.
   The terms of the lease are so absurd it is an insult to the University of Washington that William Gerberding, the former President, would declare he was supporting the lease "with conviction and enthusiasm!"
   Joan Enticknap disgraced Seafirst Bank when she said the lease was within the range of agreements elsewhere in baseball and cited a study by Deloitte & Touche which was done before the Mariners took the PFD to the cleaners. She also said she was mandated to vote "yes" by Washington State Legislation. How ridiculous! When it is crystal clear the cost is way too high and extortion is being used to hold King County, the City of Seattle, the PFD, and the State of Washington hostage, you vote "no!" She was appointed to protect taxpayers and keep the stadium project within budget, not to advance the interests of specific businesses and lobbyists.
   Tom Gibbs said the new ballpark will have more low-price seats than any other new ballpark. Big deal. Those seats total only 2,000 out of 45,500. He said the public is protected against having to pay more taxes for operating expenses or construction-cost overruns. Tell that to the taxpayers in Cleveland ($46 million of additional debt). Mr. Gibbs offered no compelling reason to approve the new "highway robbery" lease.
   Bob Wallace, the conditional swing voter, said he didn't think it is necessary or appropriate to "babysit" your tenant. Just let the tenant do whatever they want. Is King County going to build a $780 million baseball stadium (total cost) and just turn it over to the sleazy, dishonest Mariners to do as they wish?
   House Bill 2115 specifically states the county shall create a public facilities district to acquire, construct, own, remodel, maintain, equip, re-equip, repair, and operate a baseball stadium. The Public Facilities District will do all these things, not the Seattle Mariners!
   Bob Wallace called this a triple net lease. This is more like a double net lease because no property taxes are being paid.
   It is incumbent on the King County Council that all seven PFD Board Member statements be read in their entirety. It will be totally obvious that no bonds should be authorized for this project.
   If the very board they created thinks the lease stinks, the King County Council must take note and not continue spending $780 million on an unsatisfactory arrangement!
   The average cost increase of this project is $166,200,000 (an embarrassment and betrayal to the public).
   The State Legislature has been duped!
   King County has been swindled and made a scapegoat!
   The PFD has been mugged while being played for fools!
   The City of Seattle has been suckered!
   By the "Been there, done that, didn't work out" Seattle Mariners!
   And now, we learn the Ackerley Site has much worse soil conditions than previously thought. Contamination and earthquake issues are now major construction concerns.
   Common sense, intelligence, and fiscal responsibility demand that no bonds be authorized for this disastrous project. They have showed a total lack of integrity. They are not worthy of a $780 million dollar baseball stadium project.

Frank Ruano, Chairperson, and Vincent Koskela, Treasurer,
Taxpayers on Strike, Lake Forest Park