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REALLY SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE: ABSENTEES GNAW AT STADIUM LEAD
Published September 22, 1995
The latest from Seattle: The tally of 36,000 absentee ballots yesterday has dropped the lead for approval of a new Mariners stadium to only 310 votes. About 15,000 ballots are yet to be counted. The results will be posted Monday. Before the absentee votes were counted, the measure led by more than 4,000 votes (AP/L.A. TIMES, 9/22). In King County, the issue generated a record turnout. The estimated 52% of registered voters who participated in the election is a State record for a primary ballot. Typically fewer than 20% turn out for such elections (SEATTLE TIMES, 9/21). In a front page piece in yesterday's SEATTLE TIMES, the paper examined what will happen after Monday's announcement: "YES" MEANS: Tom Farray writes that a "yes" vote will bring immediate action on work on a stadium design, approval of a site, cost estimates and a lease. The team will contribute $45M to the construction of the ballpark, and county officials would elect a Public Facilities District board to operate the ballpark. A timetable calls for the park to be built by the '99 season (SEATTLE TIMES, 9/21). "NO" MEANS: The King County Council would consider re- running the measure on the November 7 general election ballot. David Schaefer reports that council members "clearly were surprised by even the chance that the measure would pass." Some are calling for the vote to be resubmitted to capitalize on pro- stadium momentum. Other possibilities are to create a new stadium plan and put it before voters again. Other members of the county council say the state should help fund a new ballpark. Meanwhile, Tom Farrey writes that even if the issue fails, "the Mariners appear bound to Seattle at least through 1996," due to the lengthy process of moving a team and a potential local fight to keep it in WA. Farray notes the known contenders for the club include Northern VA and Orlando, but he notes that Vancouver may also be an option. A group led buy businessman Stan Sosin plans to talk to the team about moving to B.C. Place if the vote fails. Sosin says B.C. Place could be converted to a retractable dome stadium for just $150M in renovations (SEATTLE TIMES, 9/21).