M'S SWEAT OUT STADIUM VOTE FROM NEW POSITION -- 1ST PLACE
In a count released Friday, the vote on a new stadium for
the Mariners remained tight, with 235,591 in favor and 235,281
opposed. The official and final vote count will be released
Friday, with 18,000 absentee ballots to be counted today (TACOMA
NEWS TRIBUNE, 9/23). In Saturday's SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER,
Rebecca Boren and Angelo Bruscas reported that Mariners Chair
John Ellis was "furious" at reports that negotiations with
Virginia Baseball officials had begun. Ellis: "I'm not trying to
sell that damn team. That's the last thing I want to do. ... I
didn't want those sons of bitches to end up doing this to me."
The team's owners had said in the past they would sell if voters
reject the initiative to raise the King County sales tax by .1%
to fund a new stadium, and are "keeping that option open and
refusing to discuss their intentions" until after the vote tally
(SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER, 9/23).
POLITICAL HARDBALL: If the vote fails, local leaders are
calling for WA Gov. Mike Lowry to call a special session of the
Legislature to pass another stadium funding package. Options
discussed include a sports lottery or multi-county tax. Boren &
Bruscas report the Mariners themselves appeared to leave "a
window open for such an idea," but that Lowry "has a big problem"
such a plan. The Democratic Governor would want to limit the
session to the stadium issue only, while the Republican-
controlled legislature "said they would demand an opportunity to
override" a Lowry veto of a $265M business tax cut as their
"price" for a new ballpark (SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER, 9/23).
NOT A BIG SURPRISE? In Tacoma, Larry LaRue reports that
several sources around baseball were not surprised with the
strength of the "No" vote, and "the working theory was that any
time the Mariners wanted to leave town, they were more than
welcome to do so" (TACOMA NEWS TRIBUNE, 9/24).