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Vote On Stadium Seems Imminent Allen Studying Revised Plan While Legislators Forge Ahead

Associated Press

State lawmakers aren’t waiting for prospective Seattle Seahawks owner Paul Allen to sign off on a revised financing plan for a new stadium.

As the billionaire Microsoft co-founder continued to study the new plan Wednesday, legislators were studying the fiscal projections and were drafting amendments in advance of a vote this week in the House of Representatives.

“This is it. I don’t think it’s a hostile take-it-or-leave it, but it’s game time,” said House Minority Leader Marlin Appelwick, D-Seattle.

Bert Kolde, vice president of Allen’s Football Northwest organization, and Allen spokeswoman Susan Pierson both said their boss was still reviewing the new plan to make sure the new numbers add up and that no surprises were added.

However, Gov. Gary Locke said Allen’s representatives have indicated they can accept the new version.

The House could vote on the new plan as early as today, the 102nd day of the 105-day session. The proposal would then need the approval of the Senate, which approved an earlier version April 2 with only the minimum 25 votes.

House Speaker Clyde Ballard, R-East Wenatchee, said Republicans had a healthy discussion about the plan during a private caucus meeting.

“There’s probably a reasonable chance we can get the 50 votes,” he said.

It won’t be easy. Sixteen House members had filed 59 amendments as of Wednesday afternoon.

Rep. Phil Dyer, R-Issaquah, filed an amendment that seeks to provide some shelter for lawmakers who are worried about how a vote for the plan would affect their political futures. The amendment would revise the bill’s section on legislative intent to show that the Legislature neither “affirms or refutes” the value of the plan.

Other amendments would require a constitutional amendment, impose fees on professional athletes, require a 60-percent majority of the state’s voters, prohibit the demolition of the Kingdome and offer the University of Washington’s Husky Stadium as an option.

Still others would prohibit local television blackout of games, require Allen to pay his $100 million share of the project in cash and limit the amount that Allen could spend on his campaign to persuade voters to approve the project.

Most of the amendments were drafted by Rep. Tim Sheldon, a conservative Democrat from Hoodsport who believes that building a stadium for a specific business owner is unconstitutional.

“This is a huge subsidy for an industry that pays employees an average salary of $700,000 a year,” he said.

Under the plan, Allen and the public would share the cost of a $425 million complex consisting of a 72,000-seat outdoor stadium, an exhibition hall and a parking garage.

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