Mayor Norm Rice and most of the City Council are jeopardizing a deal to keep the Mariners in Seattle, and should rethink their “entirely negative response,” says Sen. Slade Gorton, R-Wash.
Gorton said resistance to committing more money to the Mariners’ ballpark project could force the team to be sold.
Last week, Gorton brokered a deal to help persuade the Mariners’ owners not to sell the team. On Thursday, he criticized a letter sent him by Rice and the council members in which they question the city’s responsibility to meet further financial obligations demanded by the Mariners.
The city leaders object to a new demand that the city absorb the impact of 45,500 fans descending on the neighborhoods near the new retractable-roof stadium that is to open in 1999.
Gorton responded that while he “acted as a bridge” in efforts to change the owners’ minds, he was not a negotiator, and does not intend to become one.
However, he said he was “deeply disappointed” in city leaders’ response.
“It is clear that the team’s proposal, if accepted, would produce far more in tax revenues and other income to the city of Seattle than the total of all the modest, normal municipal obligations the city is asked to provide,” Gorton said.
Councilwoman Margaret Pageler, one of those who signed the letter to Gorton, said that “as people responsible for the city’s tax dollars,” council members “have a view of the facts that is very different from Senator Gorton’s.”
Bob Hartley, Mariners spokesman, said the team had no response to the letter from the city leaders and will not negotiate with the city.