This time last week reports surfaced about the University of Washington attempting to make a $300 million renovation to its football Stadium. The school sought $150 million in public funding, the same tax revenue from hotel, rental car and restaurants in King County that the Sonics twice asked for and were denied.
House Speaker Frank Chopp originally sounded in favor of the idea, saying he was “willing to talk to them” and calling the University of Washington’s use of public money more legitimate “by light years” than a new building for the Sonics. In the above article, Chopp is quoted as saying the UW football program is “not professional, it’s not for profit and the players make nothing.” He also noted the stadium is used for several events other than Washington football.
Fast forward a week. Now there’s a story in Thursday’s editions of the Seattle Times reporting that the Washington stadium project might be dead because it has no support from Chopp or anyone else in the Legislature. The proposal likely will not be approved this session, according to the article.
“All I said was that I’d consider it,” Chopp is quoted as saying. “Nobody is asking for it, so that pretty much sums it up doesn’t it?”
How’s this impact the Sonics?
On the pecking order of sports in Seattle, Washington football might be above them all. They were there long before the Sonics, Storm, Seahawks and Mariners. And they’ll be around long after. There’s a rich tradition and strong following of the Husky athletic program in and around Seattle. Think OU football.
If this beloved school and its athletic department can’t receive $150 million in public funding despite being willing to pay the other half of the $300 million, that likely does not bode well for the Sonics chances of getting much of anything in the form of public funding. Not now. Not ever.
Maybe it’s Chopp who’s leading the charge against public funding for sports stadiums. Maybe the majority of the politicians don’t support subsidizing sports stadiums. But if the Huskies can’t get backing from the state right now, the Sonics likely never will.