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It’s Official: Voters Approve Seahawks Stadium Proposal Passes In Only 10 Counties But Gets 51 Percent Of Statewide Vote

Fri., June 27, 1997

Gov. Gary Locke signed a proclamation Thursday making it official: Voters have approved a financing plan for a $425 million stadium complex for the Seattle Seahawks.

He said he’ll quickly appoint the seven members of the Public Facilities District who will oversee the massive project. Each of the four legislative caucuses will recommend two or three people, but Locke will make the final selections.

Locke said he will look for “tough, tough people” who will look out for the public as billionaire Paul Allen builds the open-air stadium and exhibition hall on the site now occupied by the Kingdome. Locke said Allen will have “no checkoff and no veto authority” as he picks the trustees for the project.

The governor also said he is confident the “revenue stream” from the financing package will be adequate to finance the project and should require no additional general tax funding.

Under Referendum 48, the public’s $300 million share will come from surtaxes on Seahawk stadium parking and admissions, new lottery games, an eight-year extension of the King County hotel-motel tax at the current 2 percent rate, a sales tax credit in King County and interest earned from Allen’s down payment of $50 million.

Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, will pay at least $100 million, including money he makes by selling seat licenses to season ticket holders. He also has agreed to cover any cost-overruns and to reimburse the state more than $4 million for the special election costs and $1 million a year to advertise the lottery.

Allen has said he’ll pay about $200 million to buy the team from California developer Ken Behring and already is spending millions on players.

Locke and Secretary of State Ralph Munro, the state’s chief election official, held a ceremony to sign the election proclamation.

The final tally showed 820,364 votes in favor, or 51.1 percent, and 783,584, or 48.9 percent opposed. The measure passed in only 10 of the 39 counties, but the measure piled up a winning edge in Puget Sound counties.

The “yes” vote ranged from 61.1 percent in Snohomish County to 22.5 percent in Skamania County.

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