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FRANCHISE DEATH WATCH II: WHEN DOES A "NO" MEAN YES?
Published September 26, 1995
The latest ballot count in Seattle, released yesterday, dropped the total "Yes" votes in the King County Stadium Tax measure behind "No" by a margin of 245,092 to 243,557. In this morning's SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER, Rebecca Boren writes the new margin, while "virtually sealing the failure" of last Tuesday's vote, places the heat on state politicians "to come up with a way to build a new home for Seattle's suddenly wildly popular baseball team." While it is still mathematically possible for the margin of 1,535 votes to be overcome by about 3,000 special ballots that have yet to be counted, "it's highly unlikely." However, Boren notes, although the vote will likely fail, even its opponents "said the campaign won the larger point of convincing the state's political leadership that voters care about keeping the Mariners here." WA Gov. Mike Lowry said yesterday he supports using state money to help keep the Mariners. U.S. Sen. Slade Gorton said the state could cut costs by eliminating the $170M that was on the ballot measure to pay for Kingdome roof repairs and renovations. Boren notes the Seahawks lobbied the King County Council to get the Kingdome improvements added to the ballot, and then they "sat out the election, which may have been enough to kill the proposal" (SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER, 9/26). OPINIONS, REAX: Columnist Art Thiel: "A new baseball stadium will be built. Book it." Thiel writes that just as the Seattle City Council helped Sonics Owner Barry Ackerley fund a renovation of the Seattle Center Coliseum as the Sonics made a playoff run in '93, fan support for the playoff contending Mariners will push politicians to act. Thiel: "This emotional momentum, which should be irrelevant to sober considerations of taxation, construction and design, nevertheless will be the crucial factor in buckling political resistance" (SEATTLE POST- INTELLIGENCER, 9/26). Columnist Bart Wright, quoting a local sports talk show host: "Name me another county anywhere in the country where the baseball team invalidated the democratic process of a ballot measure" (TACOMA NEWS TRIBUNE, 9/25). ESPN's Peter Gammons on the Mariners franchise in light of the Seattle stadium situation: "Two possibilities: Move it, or, maybe sell it and have a regional franchise with Vancouver and Portland" ("Baseball Tonight," ESPN, 9/25).