King County set to fund 100 organizations with 'Kingdome surplus'

Funds previously designated to the former Kingdome are now being relocated to more than 100 arts, cultural and historic organizations.

FEDERAL WAY, Wash. - It doesn't look like much right now, but Theresa Yvonne sees a future on the hill over Federal Way.

"It's a big pile of dirt with a fence," she said. "This is where the old Toys R' Us was. That's a closed down Target. It's a very blighted part of downtown."

It's the spot designated for a 41,000-square-foot Federal Way Performing Arts and Events Center, which just got a big boost from an unusual source.

The King County Council is scheduled to take up an ordinance Thursday to fund more than 100 arts, cultural and historic organizations using money once slated to pay for the Kingdome.

The Kingdome's roof tiles fell apart back in 1994 and led to an emergency closure and repair. That cost was financed, using hotel/motel taxes, and through a 20-year payment schedule that was set to retire at the end of this year. But tourism revenue exceeded expectations.

King County hotel/motel taxes officially paid off the debt in March, about a decade and a half after the building was imploded.

But a state law passed by the legislature in 2011 called for all surplus funds to be redirected.

"When the stadiums are paid off, the money is available for other cultural investments," said King County Councilman Dave Upthegrove, who helped craft the $29 million program.

"We have shovel ready projects all around the county," said Upthegrove. "This money is going to be put in immediately into the county."

The council is expected to vote on the ordinance out of committee on Thursday and could deliver it for a final vote as early as Monday.

The Shoreline Historical Museum is slated to receive $250,000 from the legislation. Victoria Stiles says it comes at an important time. The museum was forced to relocate to a small 900-square-foot building a few years ago, and is in need of more space. Stiles says it will allow the museum to begin the first phase of construction. She believes museums like Shoreline's and funding for the arts is important.

"It can help people understand their community and judgments about the future," said Stiles.

Federal Way is slated to get $2 million in the proposal. She says it will help the project stay on track, with a 2017 opening.

"It got paid off and there was extra money and they decided to give it to the arts. Can I do my snoopy happy dance? That's like awesome. So awesome," she said. "We won!"

Map of King County organizations receiving "Kingdome surplus" funds


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