Monday, January 21, 2008

The Monday Morning Wash

The big story of the week while I was away was the announcement that the University of Washington was going to ask for $150 million from the state legislature to pay for approximately half the cost of rebuilding the stadium.

The funds are proposed to come from an existing entertainment tax that was set up previously to pay for Safeco Field, and take care of the existing debt on the Kingdome. The temporary tax is has generated more income than expected which means there will be a surplus of funds available. The Sonics of course wanted those funds to pay for a new basketball arena. The Mariners also have had an eye on them to help refurbish Safeco Field if needed in the future. The Sonics under two different owners were rebuffed by the state when they asked for those funds.

The proposal would use King County's hotel-motel, restaurant and rental-car tax revenues. Property taxes are not involved, and most of the tab has been picked up by people who visit the area, and by the way spend a lot of money while they are here which helps the economy in general. Husky football has always had a large impact on the local economy as was illustrated by Todd Turner in a study he commissioned only last year.

I kept an eye on the the public commentary while I was in Florida and was amused by all the morons who were against the idea, and of course their idiotic reasons for being against it. Most of course are Cougars, Ducks, and Beavers. Some are just people who don't like sports and see absolutely no reason for anymore new public facilities.

Here are a few of my favorites, and my rebuttals.

1. No New Taxes!

There will be no new taxes, the money will come from a surplus from a tax that is meant to fund and maintain local sports stadiums.

2. The UW athletic program shouldn't be subsidized.

The entire UW athletic program has been self supporting for over 100 years. WSU, Oregon, and OSU on the other hand have always depended on money from their respective state legislatures to make up for deficits in their sports programs.

Husky sports bring in about $211 million in sales for state businesses, $83 million in labor income and almost $13 million in tax revenue every year."

3. WSU should get money too!

I have no problem with WSU getting money from the same pot if they need it to refurbish Martin Stadium. The same goes for WWU, EWU, and CWU. The point is WSU doesn't need the money at this time, but they have had no problem taking $9-$10 million in public money per year forever to make up for deficits in their sports programs. Without a state subsidy WSU would have to drop out of the Pac ten.

4. I have nothing against the Huskies, but I think the government of Washington state has got other priorities right now, namely the 520 bridge, the Viaduct, the ferry system, and education.

The money comes from a fund that was meant to fund and maintain sports facilities in King County. It has nothing to do with the 520 Bridge, the Viaduct...etc... . This money if not used by UW, or someone else it will go toward future maintenance of Safeco Field, or the tax will be terminated early.

5. Why not use Qwest field?

If you really want to kill a self funded sports program at the UW you move the football team to Qwest. Football pays the bill for all the sports at UW. If football doesn't pay those bills the state legislature will as it does at WSU. College football belongs on campus, and bulldozing Husky Stadium would be a mistake that would be lamented by future generations.

The University of Minnesota made this grave mistake in the early 70's and just have broken ground on a new on campus football stadium.

6. Not sure, but tell us who funded the first stadium renovation, the renovation of the basketball arena,the new softball field, the new crew house, and all the other sport venues at the UW. I'm sure it was the taxpayers.

It was funded completely by private donations.

7. How would this benefit the Engineering School, or any other school at UW?

The same people who donate to Husky football also are among the same people who donate to support educational programs at UW. When the football team wins the generosity of giving goes up for educational programs at UW.

All thirteen Husky football games were televised last year to a regional or national audience. The value of that type of advertising is priceless, and it benefits all programs at the UW, not just athletics. Look at every Husky game that is televised as a three hour commercial for the school. When the games are broadcast nationally think of it as a three hour national commercial. Calculate what that would cost, then calculate the total value.

8. College sports is big business and has less to do with education than it has to do with acting more as a small pro teams farm club.

Less than 3% of college athletes ever turn professional once they graduate. For most it is a great opportunity to get an education and live a better life as productive members of society after graduation. I agree that sports are big business, but so is law and medicine for that matter. Since doctors make money maybe we should stop supporting medical schools? Athletics, like music, or math is a talent, and talent needs to be supported because it enriches all our lives.

9. That is what this is really all about and the average citizen is tired of footing the bill for the rich.

The UW is a public institution, and we are the public. Everyone in the Northwest gets something out of the UW whether they went there or not. For once we are paying ourselves, not subsidizing pro sports which by the way needs no subsidy.

10. Can anyone out there show us, definitively, where the money that is taken in by UW football ends up?

All the money goes towards supporting the intercollegiate athletic programs at the UW. Once again UW athletics have been self supported for over a century. Once again WSU, Oregon, and OSU depend on money from their state legislatures to subsidize their sports programs. Any surplus is put away to pay for the maintenance of facilities which have also been self funded for over a century.

11. Husky Stadium is only used six to seven times per year.

The stadium is actually used on average around 110 times per year, and it isn't used exclusively by the University of Washington. Husky Stadium is a true public stadium.

The Media View

John McGrath of the New Tribune who only a month or so ago wrote an article with the opinion that the Huskies should move to Qwest has apparently changed his mind.

The University of Washington – needing $300 million for the renovation of Husky Stadium – announced Thursday it will ask the state Legislature to earmark $150 million toward a stadium upgrade. Money for the project would be taken from an existing King County hotel-motel, restaurant and rental tax. Lawmakers are expected to grant the request, which should add further crevices to the perpetual frown on the face of Sonics owner Clay Bennett.

This in from Art Thiel over at the PI

As with nearly all big-time jock factories, the UW's football moneymaker is a slick, smart, sophisticated and high-paying industry that exists at such a level only because it does not have to pay even minimum wage to the labor that generates billions (yes, I know about scholarships; but given the required hours versus perceived value, no employed person reading this would ever work that cheap).

Husky Basketball Team Sweeps

The Huskies swept the Oregon schools this past weekend which was a big shot in the arm for this years team. the two wins were nice, but UW is going to need to pick up some road wins if they are going to be playing in March. This team has a lot of holes that can only be filled by future incoming talent. As Steve Kelly said in the Times the future is brighter than the present.

Chow to UCLA

Norm Chow has accepted a position on Rick Neuheisel's staff to become offensive coordinator. Norm isn't the easiest guy for head coaches to get along with, but Rick won't have that problem. Rick is a great guy to work for according to anyone who has ever been on his staff. Keith Gilbertson described him as a dream to work with, and Keith is as grumpy as they come.

Rick's first goal is to make life miserable for Pete Carroll in LA, and he is off to a good start. Revenge over the school who dismissed him a couple of years ago is also on the menu, but USC is his first priority.


bigdave967 said...

Two comments...

First, I would work that cheap...I did work that cheap. The value of a free college education is more valuable than most jobs that college football players will receive. The perceived value is far greater in terms of hours worked into $$ received after college. Just think, there are plenty of college football players that would, under normal circumstances, not go to college ie. to expensive, not good enough grades, etc. Football gives THOUSANDS of kids an opportunity to create themselves as upstanding contributors to society. I agree with what you said, athletic talent should be supported. Put it like this, you take 2 kids (for this example lets say they are clones) (brother X) goes to college and plays football and the other (brother Y) doesnt go to college. The one that doesnt go to college starts a full time job right out high school while the other goes to UW and plays football. After 4 years Y may have more money than X and to be honest probably didnt work any more than the football player, but brother X will, in the long run have a better chance to succeed because he played football. I may have lost track on this rant but I am sure you get the point.

Opinion #2- People have a hard time understanding what a sports team can do for society. There are 75-80 thousand people in a concentrated area that are willing to spend, food, hats, jerseys, shirts, etc. The average fan spends over $40 when they go to a sporting event. That times 75-80 thousand people can generate a lot of revenue and like you said having games broadcast is like a commerical. It also adds a since of pride and accomplishment when the team succeeds. People are for the most part idiots when it comes to something they dont understand. I will never understand contemporary boss lines the walls with this crazy art everywhere...he spends millions on it. they literally have tourist walk around to see it (if your interested google West Collection). Not everyone understands football. Football is like players are the brushes and the field is the canvas...sometimes what they doesnt make sense to everyone, but every so often, they just do something that makes you sit back and say "Wow"...almost brings tears to your eyes. Thats what football is to me. Art.

I rant to much...hope your vacation was relaxing and I look forward to the next installment.

t9odawg said...

Dino Rossi, the republican's candidate for governor, was asked by King 5's political reporter about the UW proposal for state money. He said that, for safety reasons at HS, the proposal should get serious consideration from the Governor and legislature. As far as the hysteria of WSU and others wanting state money too...they already get state money. Some folks like to wring their hands too much. I have no problem with UW using the surplus tax money.
Dave is right, the education the players get, and for Husky players, the business connections in Pugetroplis are worth more than minimum wage, a lot more. The stats supporting the worth of a college education are overwhelming. Even if they never quite get their degree, the fact they were in college helps them in their work life.

John Berkowitz said...

I think it is apretty good bet that UW gets the money. If there was little or no chance they wouldn't have moved in that direction. I find it amusing that people think that UW woke up a few days ago and came up with the brilliant idea to ask the state for money. This obviously has been a long term goal that has had the blessing of many legislators for a long time.

prrbrr said...

johnb, since 1993 we have missed only 1 home game. Every home game and basketball PAC10 homestands, we have flown up to SEA on AlaskaAir, rented a car, and go to numerous restaurants. Does anyone not think the Huskies are an economic boon to the state and city. This last weekend alone for the Oregon games, we left over $1000 in the state. We ate at various restaurants nine times in our 4 days there. Prior to our purchasing a condo, we stayed at hotels when we didn't mooch off our relatives. People who are shortsided enough will oppose this, but it makes sense for the UW to ask for this, and the state to back it. I know there are a lot more fans like myself that contribute to the economy by their Husky support travels. By way of contrast, We have attended 2 mariner games and no sonic or seahawk games ever, yet have paid the rental car, restaurant and hotel port of seattle (read stadiums) tax for years. If the dawgs ever have to move to qwest on a permanent basis, we will sell our condo and likely will never appear in SEA again except once every 3- 4 years or so to visit relatives. Sports are big business, not just what you see ticket wise, but the affiliated expenses and collateral income. Oh yes, we also took our alaska cruise out of Seattle with our family because it coincided with the spring game, otherwise we would have gone out of Vancouver. I will be happy to spend our limited dollars whereever Washington legislators want, if in California then so be it.

bigdave967 said...

I couldnt agree more with you Prrbrr. University sports, more than professional, bring in untold amounts of money into an area. I hate to always use Penn State but when in Rome...on Saturday afternoons during football season, State College becomes the 3rd largest city in the state of PA, only behind Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. 110,000 people in the stadium and most likely another 20-50,000 that come for the tailgate then hit the bars (they banned tailgating during the games due to DUI's or DWI's, however you want to say it). That is close to 200,000 people in a college town on Saturdays...tell me that doesn't affect in a positive way, whether economically or socially, an area like that. People know of State College because of it. And from experience, its a sight to see...miles and miles of motor homes and tents next to the stadium. Like a sea of Blue and White. Nuts. To bad i only go for the food and beer...girls arent bad either!

John Berkowitz said...

Watching games at Qwest would likely kill the whole thing for me. I have been going to games at Husky Stadium since the early 1960's. For me the venue is just as important as the team I am supporting, at least it does when the Huskies are concerned.

Husky Stadium is simply a historic place with great vibes. I want people to be able to experience the same things I have experienced long into the future.

Husky football at Husky Stadium has had a positive financial impact on the northwest since the turn of the century, it needs to continue, and it needs to stay unique.