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Mariners want $180 million from taxpayers for Safeco Field

The Seattle Mariners want taxpayer money to fund the future of Safeco Field.
A look at the new sod inside Safeco Field, Nov. 9, 2017. It's the first full-field replacement since the stadium opened in 1999. (Credit; Bob Christofferson)

The Seattle Mariners want taxpayer money to fund the future of Safeco Field.

The team made a formal request to the King County Council on Monday. The Mariners are asking for $180 million to cover upkeep at the stadium.

When the team recently agreed to a 25-year lease extension at Safeco, lodging taxes were part of the deal.

The suggestion for public funding to pay for Safeco Field was met with pushback from King County Councilmember Dave Upthegrove.

"I'm proposing we not subsidize the investments in Safeco Field and instead spend it on other public priorities," Upthegrove said.

He said under state law, these funds can be spent on affordable housing, services for homeless youth, and other tourism promotion that generates a greater economic benefit.

"The decision we make will be a statement of our values and a test of whether our political process can work for all people, not just the privileged few," Upthegrove said in a statement.

The motion was sponsored by Councilmembers Jeanne Kohl-Welles, Joe McDermott, and Peter von Reichbauer.

"We've been through this before," said Von Reichbauer. "And we almost lost this team."

"For me it doesn't have to be an 'either/or,' a mutally exclusive situation," said Kohl-Welles.

The Mariners point out that the team would pay for the majority of the $800 million in needed upkeep and improvements to the Safeco Field over 25 years. But without the public money - the Public Facilities District and the Mariners would have to renegotiate a lease on the stadium.

The team says it's committed to staying in Seattle.

"The PFD wanted to prevent a Sonics-like situation. The Mariners fully agreed with that," said Fred Rivera, Mariners Vice President and General Counsel. "And we've incorporated terms in the term sheet."

Seattle Councilmember Kshama Sawant also spoke out against the measure, calling it "shameful, yet not surprising."

"Dow Constantine wants to give billionaire John Stanton a nearly $190 million handout rather than address the affordable housing crisis by funding publicly owned permanently affordable housing," Sawant said in a tweet.

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