The Dollar Game: New Stadium Decision Financial Lineups Can Vary State’s Facilities Reflect Different Approaches To Costs
Washington state has tens of thousands of seats where fans watch sporting events. Taxpayers helped pay for most of them.
From the Puget Sound to Yakima to Spokane, domed stadiums and modern arenas provide homes for professional sports teams.
In some cases taxpayers are paying off bonds with sales taxes or property taxes. Other times, legislators agreed to dip into state funds.
One of the most common public subsidies of sports facilities involves taxes on hotel and motel rooms, with revenues used to pay off bonds or to operate the arenas.
Here’s a look at the major existing sports facilities in the state.
Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena
Completed in 1994 with 12,000 seats.
Taxpayers’ contribution: $1 million from state general fund; $44 million bond issue repaid by local sales and hotel-motel taxes.
Major sports tenant: Spokane Chiefs WHL hockey team.
Completed in 1990 with 7,500 seats.
Taxpayers’ contribution: $8.5 million from state capital budget, hotel-motel tax in Yakima, Union Gap and Yakima County.
Major sports tenant: Yakima Sun Kings CBA basketball team.
Completed in 1989 with 6,100 seats.
Taxpayers’ contribution: private construction, City of Kennewick donated land, state credit granted for hotel-motel tax.
Major sports tenant: Tri-City Americans WHL hockey team.
Completed in 1983 with 23,500 seats.
Taxpayers’ contribution: $44 million, city of Tacoma bond issue.
Major sports tenant: Tacoma Rockets WHL hockey team moved out in 1995; West Coast Hockey League franchise to start this season.
Key Arena, Seattle
Completed in 1995 with 17,100 seats.
Taxpayers’ contribution: $8.5 million from state capital construction funds for landscaping and parking improvements to surrounding Seattle Center; $74 million construction bonds guaranteed by City of Seattle, to be repaid by revenues from arena.
Major sports tenant: Seattle SuperSonics
The Kingdome, Seattle
Completed in 1976 with 66,000 seats.
Taxpayers’ contribution: $67 million construction costs covered by King County property tax levy approved in 1968; county taxes also paying off $70 million to replace ceiling. The county also receives a $5 million credit from state on hotel-motel tax.
Major sports tenant: Seattle Seahawks (threatening to move) and Mariners (new stadium being built).