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Sounding Out Washington Voters Oppose Buying New Football Stadium Support Just As Low On The West Side As In Spokane, Poll Shows

MONDAY, OCT. 14, 1996

(From For the Record, October 15, 1996): A chart in Monday’s paper contained an inaccurate figure. The correct percentage of Washington voters opposed to state funding of a new professional football stadium is 24 percent.

Any plan to spend the public’s money to build a new stadium for the Seattle Seahawks could be sacked for a loss, a new scientific survey indicates.

Fewer than a fourth of voters statewide would approve of such a plan, while seven out of 10 would oppose it, according to the poll taken by Mason-Dixon/Political Media Research Inc. for The Spokesman-Review and KHQ-TV.

Support for using public funds to build or maintain a football stadium is no stronger in the Seattle-Tacoma corridor than it is in Spokane.

“Proximity to the stadium usually doesn’t boost support,” said Brad Coker, owner of the firm which conducts polls across the nation. “Other stadium issues (involving public funds) around the country have generated similar reactions.”

Seahawks owner Ken Behring has threatened to move the team, citing problems with the Kingdome. A group of investors led by software billionaire Paul Allen is considering buying the team, but is also trying to interest state and local officials in public funds for a new stadium or major renovations to the Kingdome.

By some estimates, renovation of the Kingdome could cost as much as $197 million.

The question of a new football stadium has even surfaced in the governor’s race.

The Democratic candidate, King County Executive Gary Locke, has said he would consider using money from the state general fund if the return on investment was greater than the cost.

Although he said money for a new stadium should come primarily from the team and businesses, he would support special lottery games and the sale of Seahawks license plates to help raise some of the money.

Locke also supported state tax help for the new baseball stadium for the Seattle Mariners, a move that drew criticism from one of the losing Democratic primary candidates, Jay Inslee.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Ellen Craswell opposed the Mariners plan and said she would not support public funds for a football stadium.

The poll suggests that twice as many men as women would support using public funds for a new stadium. But even among men, a solid majority - 63 percent - would oppose it.

“That’s not unusual,” Coker said. “We’ve never seen a case where men approve (such a proposal) when women disapprove it.”

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Graphic: Public funding of Seahawks’ stadium

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