A special meeting of the King County Council’s Committee of the Whole is expected to attract a large crowd Wednesday morning as council members debate whether or not to spend taxpayer money on maintenance at Safeco Field.
At issue, a $180-million request from the Seattle Mariners for upkeep. That includes structural improvements, as well as maintenance on the HVAC system and retractable roof. Much of it is normal maintenance required after 20 years of use. But the team also points to a construction defect that has led to greater wear and tear whenever the roof opens and closes.
The Mariners point out that the team would pay for the majority of the $800 million in needed upkeep and improvements over the next 25 years.
Without the public funds, the team says it would have to renegotiate it's lease with the Public Facilities District which owns the stadium.
Opponents to the proposal argue the money can be better spent on other things such as affordable housing, and not given to a private for-profit company.
"We all love the mariners. But that community pride and that love of the game can still exist without a public subsidy," said Dave Upthegrove, a King County councilmember who opposes the funding request. "There's a lot of things I enjoy that are generated by private businesses, it doesn't mean I have a responsibility to subsidize those businesses."