Co-sponsor pulls support for Seattle stadium funding, cites housing crisis

Co-sponsor pulls support for Seattle stadium funding, cites housing crisis
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A county official in Seattle abruptly withdrew her support for a plan to publicly fund a new baseball stadium, saying most of that money should instead be used for affordable housing.

King County Council member Jeanne Kohl-Welles announced Tuesday that she was taking her name off the measure to use about $180 million to renovate Safeco Field, according to The Seattle Times.

Kohl-Welles vowed instead to introduce a proposal to put $25 million toward the stadium and use the rest to fund affordable housing.

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“The bottom line is our region is experiencing a major housing crisis,” Kohl-Welles said, according to the Times. “We can strike the right balance and find a way to meet the Mariners’ stated basic maintenance needs while also acknowledging the immense, immediate need to address our housing crisis.”

The proposed field renovations are part of the Mariners’ plan to upgrade and repair the stadium over the next 25 years. The team’s lease renewal with the agency that oversees Safeco is dependent on approval of the funds. The 25-year project is expected to cost $800 million.

Public housing advocates have said the team and billionaire owner John Stanton should pay for the renovations themselves so that the funds can be used to address the housing crisis.

The public funds proposed for renovations on Safeco Field come from hotel-motel tax revenues, which are eligible to be used on housing costs, according to the Times.

Without Kohl-Welles’s support, the measure has just two out of nine council members who have said they are in favor. Four others have not yet made a decision, and two in addition to Kohl-Welles are against it.