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Husky stadium renovation: It's not a Coug vs. Husky thing

I'm against the University of Washington's proposal to use $150 million in taxpayer money for the renovation of Husky Stadium.

And it has nothing to do with me being a WSU fan.

It does, however, have everything to do with being a taxpayer.

It is, in a word, absurd, to think that in this economic climate the state of Washington or King County would be interested in a project like Husky Stadium renovation. Yet fans of UW are forging ahead with e-mails and requests to extend an existing King County tax to be used for the most expensive collegiate stadium renovation in history.

The term "fiscal irresponsibility" has never been more fitting. Mere months after taxpayers failed to finance a multi-million dollar proposal to keep the Seattle SuperSonics from leaving town, it's now the collegiate ranks, and not the Pros, shaking down the local and state leadership for money. This, mind you, while the state is mired in a budget crisis and the Governor is asking Universities to take a look at what a 20% budget cut might look like. I have a hard time believing in the support of University-sponsored athletics without taking care of the actual University first.

Of course, this won't stop Husky fans and the athletic department from insinuating that the only group of people against the UW's proposal are a bunch of disgruntled Coug fans, who are only jealous of the fact that Husky Stadium might actually be able to command said multitude of money.

Certainly the Huskies have their reasons for wanting to update Husky Stadium. It is an outdated facility with an outdated concourse and gameday experience. But allow me, if you will, to pick apart a "Tell the Husky" e-mail circulated by John Buller outlining why the University of Washington wants to garner support for what would be a massive undertaking.

Continue to contact your elected officials!
John Buller

Tell The HuskyThe battle to get Husky Stadium fixed is now up to us!!

We need to continue to win polls, surveys, blogs, and MOST IMPORTANTLY, the minds of our elected officials.

We  must keep contacting our elected officials.

BE RELENTLESS! Use your voice and your e-mail and encourage your Husky friends to do the same.

That's right folks, be relentless. Like Washington President Mark Emmert, who last year came out in favor of ditching the cap on how much you can raise tuition on undergraduate students from year to year. Emmert is one of the highest paid college presidents in the nation, commanding $900,000 in taxpayer money as his salary, in addition to what he already earns sitting on multiple corporate boards. Emmert is fully in favor of the stadium project.

Now, let's have a look at some facts, shall we?

Some facts:

  • The stadium is old and needs to be fixed.

This is true. But honestly, whose fault is this? When I visited Husky Stadium for the first time, I thought it was an ancient relic in need of some modern love. But those narrow corridors and outdated facilities on the North end of the Stadium? Built in 1987. Just over 20 years old - a far cry from the aged South deck originally built in 1950. Certainly someone in 1987 should've had the foresight to accomodate people with disabilities, or that people who would rather not walk down a staircase single-file. Should we really pay for a stadium just because the University failed to do a quality job building it in the first place?

Construction can start in December 2009 and will create 800 living wage jobs and 2,000 other jobs in this budget period.

Probably the best "for" argument so far, but what creates more permanent jobs - funding the education-related aspects of the University, or funding a temporary construction job?

The taxes are King County Only taxes, which are currently being used to pay for pro-stadiums, arts group causes, playfields and other things until 2013 and 2021.

Taxes that were not expanded by King County taxpayers when the Sonics threatened to - and then ultimately did - leave Seattle. And during the Sonics' plight the economy was in much better standing.

These taxes cannot be used for any other purpose and cannot be used to help with the budget deficit.

Yes. But you don't have to be an economist to understand that people paying less taxes generally stimulates the economy. Stimulating the economy stimulates general tax revenue, which would help the budget deficit. Wouldn't Washignton residents rather have a little less to owe Uncle Sam in the current climate? This fact is even more true in economically vibrant King County, home to Microsoft and a substantial portion of Boeing.

Husky Athletic Facilities are used by over 250,000 people per year for non-athletic events [over 40,000 per year attend graduation and over 22,000 visiting fans traveled from outside our state to watch a football game this year.]

And they can still be used for those purposes. And hey - when you take out that annoying track that surrounds the football field, you've cut into the possible usages for the Stadium even more. And, in case you've been living under a rock in Seattle, there's a much better facility that does many of the exact same things Husky Stadium does. And taxpayers have already paid for it.

In fact, why not play Husky games at Qwest Field? Buster Sports' Nick Daschel suggested it earlier this year, and it would go perfectly with the "Pro-style" experience that Steve Sarkisian has been trying to thrust down recruits' throats of late. So why not share grounds with the Seahawks? It's not too far from campus, and people will only notice the blue of the seats when they are empty. Everything else, within reason, can be desecrated in purple and gold.

Cougar athletics organizations receive over $4.4 million from their upper campus every year -- we are self-funded.

This has absolutely nothing, and I mean nothing, to do with Husky Stadium renovation. WSU gets 4.4 million dollars, and somehow that justifies giving $150 mil to the University of Washington? That's 34 times as much money! And it only covers half of the expected costs ($300 million). Oh yeah, and WSU's own $70 million renovation project? We're paying for it ourselves.

You have twice as many students, wealthy alumni and a huge market to draw from. Get the money yourselves. If you think only Cougars share that opinion, then by all means bring Husky stadium renovation to a King County vote. See how far that goes.

We need to win polls, surveys, bogs, and MOST IMPORTANTLY, the minds of our elected officials.

Thanks for your support!

You're absolutely right - I will contact my elected officials. And tell them to crumple up and throw away any piece of legislation that favors giving money to the renovation of Husky Stadium. Being a WSU student is meaningless - as a Washington resident, I don't want to see our largest, most influential county extend a meaningless tax to support an unnecessary building renovation.

In fact, go ahead and pass a tax for $150 million - but give every cent to the students at the University of Washington who are paying overinflated tuition rates and struggling to find ever-dissapearing financial aid. That would make a heck of a lot more of a positive impact than sitting those students' butts in the golden seats of a renovated Husky Stadium.