They lied. Again. Paul Allen’s hand-picked Public Stadium Authority has drafted an Environmental Impact Statement on the Seahawks playpen that says it will bring in extra revenue of $3.9 million for the Year 2003 for the city of Seattle, and that therefore taxpayers should use that revenue to pay some of Paul’s operating costs. Problem is, Allen’s revenue numbers are cooked. Try $600,000 a year… maybe. And Allen’s manipulations have included trying to limit public scrutiny of his dubious projections and a request for still more public subsidies.
First of all, the Stadium Authority took out ads in local newspapers publicizing public hearings on the EIS scheduled for Feb. 10th and 12th. The ads said that a copy of the EIS would be available at all branch libraries in Seattle during the month of February for the public to review in preparation for the hearings. As of Feb. 13th, however, none of the branch libraries had received a copy of the EIS–it was available only at the downtown library. The EIS is a full 3″ thick, and would take several days for anyone to read and analyze. Clearly the “Public” Stadium Authority isn’t interested in letting the public get their hands on this document.
There’s a good reason for that. In the EIS, the Stadium Authority does some shameless number-juggling to make the stadium look profitable. If we take their figures at face value–a shaky position to begin with–a close reading of the EIS reveals some outright lies and coverups. For example, the overall estimate of $3.9 million in revenue for 2003 includes projected income for the Mariners’ ballpark to the tune of $2.2 million. Good try, fellas, but we’re not that stupid! Subtracting that bit of bullshit brings the number down to $1.7 million, which must be further reduced because the Stadium Authority added in a current Admissions Tax that won’t exist by 2003. You’d think, with all Paul’s money, he could find more talented and subtle accountants to lie for him. Then again, being worth $15 billion means you don’t need to be subtle.
Subtracting the bogus Admissions Tax brings the figure down to $600,000. But even that puny figure is predicated on stupid assumptions about “what might happen.” This number assumes that the Seahawks will draw 99% attendance to every game during the season. If there are enough Microsoft millionaires and Boeing engineers moronic enough to spend their 401(k) allowances on prime seats to watch the Seahawks get their ten annual ass whippings, this assertion may actually be true! However, the Seahawks only pulled in 87% attendance this past season, with no evidence that the team is actually improving its performance. If the new stadium operates at 87% capacity, we can subtract another $300,000 in sale tax revenues from the projected income.
Now we’re down to $300,000. Let’s see. That number assumes that Seattle will have a professional soccer franchise by 2003. Anyone remember our last stab at a professional soccer franchise? The Seattle Sounders was a decent team that actually played well, yet they went down the tubes for lack of interest and unprofitability–as did their league, as has virtually every pro soccer league in the U.S. This new league’s attendance, in year 2 (1997), was down sharply. Year 2003 will undoubtedly come and go without a professional soccer team in Seattle, so we can subtract another $300,000 from sales tax revenues, thereby bringing the stadium benefit down to absolute zero, by the Public Stadium Authority’s own rosy calculations.
Now some diehard football fans will point out that it’s just fine if the Seahawks stadium breaks even. Of course, they’re wrong: the Environmental Impact Statement is supposed to assess the impact on the community of increased traffic congestion, crowds, lack of parking, maniacs stabbing ex-fire chiefs, etc. In this case, the EIS is clearly being used as a weapon of mass construction. Stadium backers have always claimed that the stadium will generate excess sales tax revenue to pay for the extra cops needed to direct traffic, fire crews to handle emergencies, and additional bus service. A close reading of the Public Stadium Authority’s bogus EIS proves that this is just not true. They lied. Again.
The information for this piece was obtained from the office of city council member Nick Licata, which analyzed the EIS and is pushing for an extension to the public comment period. Special thanks to Bruce Miller for noticing that the EIS was available only at the downtown Seattle Public Library.