SBD/26/Franchises

FRANCHISE DEATH WATCH II: WHEN DOES A "NO" MEAN YES?

     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).
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