2006 Seattle Elections
General Elections Voters' Guide
Initiative 91 - Below Value Leases to Sports Teams - Statement For And Rebuttal
Statement For Seattle Initiative 91
“Yes on 91” says there are more important things than a new stadium for wealthy, out-of-state Sonics owners, such as keeping schools open, affordable housing, health care, lower taxes, roads and transit, and real economic development.
“Yes on 91” is supported by the King County Democrats; Citizens for More Important Things; 24,000 I-91 signers from every Seattle neighborhood; 43rd District Democrats; SEIU 775, the long-term care workers union; and many others.
“Yes on I-91” means the Sonics pay their own way. That after all expenses, including tax subsidies, the City of Seattle receives ‘fair value’ on its stadium investments. The last owners earned about 72% on their Sonics investment. Shouldn’t taxpayers at least earn ‘fair value’ on ours?
“Yes on I-91” sends a powerful message to politicians in Seattle, King County, and Olympia that voters are fed up with tax subsidies for new stadiums.
“Yes on I-91” helps economic development. Studies show that the Sonics have a limited economic impact on Seattle, that most money spent at pro-sports games is discretionary and would otherwise be spent elsewhere in our region. With “fair value” rent, the Sonics contribute positively to the economy.
“Yes on I-91” means the City can negotiate with professional sports teams. The Washington State Constitution forbids the lending of public funds to private, for-profit enterprises. Recent Supreme Court rulings allow such investment, provided the City obtains ‘fair value’, which “Yes on I-91” simply defines.
“Yes on 91” stops pro-sports tax subsidies. Sonics player earnings average $3.2 million per year, yet the team says it is losing money, demands a new KeyArena, then threatens to leave town. As it is, many of us cannot afford to take our families to Sonics games. Regardless, “Yes on 91” simply requires ‘fair value’ for taxpayers.
“Yes on 91” makes sure team owners don’t leave Seattle taxpayers with another stadium bill. Even if the Sonics leave, Seattle taxpayers must pay the remaining debt for the last rebuild of KeyArena, a remodel the Sonics demanded. “Yes on I-91” says simply, never again.
The Four Most Important Reasons to Vote “Yes on I-91”
“Yes on I 91” stops tax subsidies for pro-sports teams.
“Yes on I-91” makes the Sonics pay their own way.
“Yes on I-91” says education, health care, and transportation are more important than a new stadium.
“Yes on I-91” says voters are fed up with tax subsidies for pro-sports stadiums.
STATEMENT SUBMITTED BY: Nick Licata, Seattle City Councilmember; David Rolf, President, SEIU Local 775; Susan Sheary, Chair, King County Democratic Central Committee.
Rebuttal of Statement For
This initiative will do much more damage than proponents lead you to believe. This initiative puts the Seahawks, Mariners, Sonics, Storm, Sounders, and other Seattle sports team’s futures at risk. The initiative language clearly states that it will impact: “...professional sports organizations.”
The proponents of this initiative want you to believe that sports teams take money away from education, health care, affordable housing, and transportation. Let’s focus on the facts. The reality is that the City of Seattle does not fund education, the state does, the city does not provide health care, the Federal Government does, the city is deeply committed to affordable housing, and transportation is a top priority for all in the region.
Read the fine print. This initiative’s vague and poorly written language could close the door on sports in our city.
STATEMENT SUBMITTED BY: Ralph Morton, Executive Director of the Seattle Sports Commission