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Stadium Proposal Deserves Support

Sun., June 1, 1997, midnight

The 1997 football season and Seattle seem far enough away that you may be tempted to vote against a proposal to build a new home for the Seattle Seahawks.

Resist the urge.

The public-private package offered by Paul Allen’s group not only will keep professional football in the region but also will provide a world-class soccer field and top-notch convention center.

If it’s built, Major League Soccer has promised to come.

Best yet, all this will cost Eastern Washington residents nothing - unless they choose to visit the stadium, play special lottery games or stay at a King County hotel or motel after the year 2012.

This one’s a no-brainer.

The Spokesman-Review editorial board urges voters to support our state economy, our quality of life and the Seattle Seahawks by voting yes on Referendum 48, a measure that authorizes a $300 million public investment in the proposed stadium.

This measure isn’t about taxpayers subsidizing a rich-man’s football team with millions of dollars that could be used for schools, roads and social programs. The public portion will be paid off by the stadium, Seahawks, fans and commercial beneficiaries through lottery games, on-site admissions and parking fees, and an eight-year extension of the existing 2 percent King County hotel/motel tax.

There will be no increase in sales, property or general taxes.

For his part, Allen has agreed to spend more than $400 million of his own money to keep the Seahawks home - $200 million to buy them from out-of-state owner Ken Behring, $100 million for stadium construction, $100 million to cover losses incurred by the team and the Kingdome between July 1 of this year and completion of the new facility in 2002, and $10 million for local youth playfields across the state. Allen also has agreed to pay for cost overruns, which can be significant in projects of this size.

The stadium proposal retires the $135 million debt of the obsolete Kingdome and eliminates $42 million more needed in Kingdome repairs.

It’s foolish to waste money on a jalopy once it starts burning oil.

Allen, of course, could afford to pay for the whole project himself. But why should he? Initially, he didn’t want to own the Seahawks - just to keep them in the Northwest, where they combine with the Mariners and Sonics to deliver an important entertainment package.

Our professional sports teams boost tourism and economic development. Year round, they provide a positive antidote to the negative image foisted on us by Northwest hate groups. They put us on the map.

They deserve our support - especially for referendums where taxpayers don’t stand to lose anything.

, DataTimes The following fields overflowed: SUPCAT = EDITORIAL, ENDORSEMENT, COLUMN - Our View CREDIT = D.F. Oliveria/For the editorial board

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