NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Monday, October 30th, 2017

Stadium opponent Tim Eyman goes to Texans-Seahawks game, brags about his great seats

Yes­ter­day, the Seat­tle Sea­hawks and Hous­ton Tex­ans played a top­sy-turvy, thrilling bout of grid­iron at Cen­tu­ryLink Field, with the Sea­hawks ulti­mate­ly pre­vail­ing 41–38 after com­ing from behind to over­take the Tex­ans in the final sec­onds. The game is like­ly to go down in Sea­hawks lore as one of the team’s most mem­o­rable vic­to­ries, and will sure­ly be remem­bered for a long time by the fans who wit­nessed it — includ­ing every­body’s favorite dis­graced ini­tia­tive pro­mot­er Tim Eyman.

Turns out that Eyman was able to score some real­ly, real­ly good seats to yes­ter­day’s game for him­self and his eldest son, and he felt like telling every­body.

So this morn­ing, he sent out an email blast boast­ing of his good fortune.

Mon­day, Octo­ber 30, 2017

Me and my old­est son Jack­son got front row seats in the end zone of Cen­tu­ryLink field to watch — up close and per­son­al — yes­ter­day’s amaz­ing Sea­hawks game against Texas (thanks to some very gen­er­ous friends).

When the two of us appeared on TV screens across the nation, I got tons of text mes­sage pics of the two of us from friends and fam­i­ly far and wide.

Tim Eyman, thrilled to be on national TV

But as a co-spon­sor of our $30 Tabs Ini­tia­tive, I real­ized after­ward that I was derelict in my duties — I shoul­da wore one of my uber-orange $30 Tabs t‑shirts to the game. As it turned out, I coul­da got­ten our $30 Tabs Ini­tia­tive pro­mot­ed on nation­al TV!


We could not have been clos­er to the action — here we are on the south end of the field before the game started.

Tim Eyman at CenturyLink Field

Here’s Jack­son pet­ting Taima, the Sea­hawk’s [sic] hawk.

And I had the great hon­or and priv­i­lege of get­ting a pic­ture with icon­ic Sea­hawks super­fan Lorin “Big Lo” San­dret­zky (for the unini­ti­at­ed).

An amaz­ing day, an amaz­ing game, an amaz­ing experience.

You know, it’s fun­ny… amaz­ing days, amaz­ing games, and amaz­ing expe­ri­ences are pre­cise­ly what Sea­hawks own­er Paul Allen had in mind when he pro­posed build­ing Cen­tu­ryLink Field with tax­pay­er dol­lars back in the 1990s.

Allen, one of Wash­ing­ton’s rich­est denizens, insist­ed on the sta­di­um’s con­struc­tion as a stip­u­la­tion of his deal to assume own­er­ship of the Sea­hawks. Allen pledged to keep the team in Seat­tle, but insist­ed that he need­ed pub­lic fund­ing to finance a new best-in-class sta­di­um to replace the King­dome. He offered to pay for the cost of a spe­cial elec­tion to allow vot­ers to decide the fate of his proposal.

In June of 1997, that elec­tion was held. 820,364 votes were cast in favor and 783,584 in oppo­si­tion, giv­ing Allen the vic­to­ry he had sought.

Among those in the 1990s who were fight­ing against pub­lic fund­ing for sports sta­dia was a guy who would in a few years become infa­mous for his unceas­ing attacks on Wash­ing­ton’s pub­lic ser­vices and plan of gov­ern­ment… Tim Eyman. In fact, it’s the cause that got Eyman start­ed in pol­i­tics. Not vehi­cle fees, not affir­ma­tive action. As he says on his web­site’s “resume” page:

Got start­ed with an ini­tia­tive to force a pub­lic vote on the first sports sta­di­um (I got a “whop­ping” 100 sig­na­tures at Green­lake Park, a few blocks from our pre­vi­ous Seat­tle home) — ini­tia­tive qual­i­fied and vot­ers said “no” to the sports sta­di­um, but the Leg­is­la­ture said “yes, this sports sta­di­um is a state emer­gency.” That sin­gle, arro­gant leg­isla­tive act was the cat­a­lyst that inspired my polit­i­cal activism.

By “the first sports sta­di­um”, Eyman means near­by Safe­co Field, where the Seat­tle Mariners play. Safe­co Field is owned by the Wash­ing­ton State Major League Base­ball Sta­di­um Pub­lic Facil­i­ties Dis­trict, and Eyman is among its reg­u­lar patrons. He opposed build­ing it, but now that it exists, he sim­ply loves going to games there… both with his fam­i­ly and with friends, as you can see from this April 2016 photo.

Tim Eyman at Safeco Field

Tim Eyman at Safe­co Field

Eyman says the House and Sen­ate’s “sin­gle, arro­gant leg­isla­tive act” was the “cat­a­lyst that inspired my polit­i­cal activism”. And although Eyman has a pen­chant for lying about, well, every­thing, that state­ment could be true.

But con­sid­er­ing that Eyman real­ly seems to enjoy going to games in Seat­tle’s pub­licly owned sta­dia, he ought to be grate­ful to every­one who had a role in get­ting these spe­cial places built. Law­mak­ers serv­ing in the 1990s cor­rect­ly fore­saw that build­ing Safe­co Field would pro­vide fans like Eyman the oppor­tu­ni­ty to hap­pi­ly take in major league sport­ing events, con­certs, and ral­lies for can­di­dates like Bernie Sanders in a classy, mod­ern, ver­sa­tile venue well into the twen­ty-first century.

And not long after that, a major­i­ty of vot­ers rea­soned that Cen­tu­ryLink Field would com­ple­ment Safe­co Field as an out­stand­ing venue for grid­iron and foot­ball (soc­cer). So both sta­di­ums were built, part­ly with pub­lic dollars.

It’s fine to believe that there are bet­ter uses for pub­lic dol­lars than sports sta­di­ums. I hold this view myself. The own­ers of Amer­i­ca’s pro­fes­sion­al teams are rich. Very rich. They have the means to finance the sport­ing palaces of their dreams with­out mak­ing demands of tax­pay­ers. Dit­to for bil­lion­aires who aspire to own a team.

In the 1990s, though, vot­ers and elect­ed lead­ers were told that if tax­pay­er dol­lars weren’t pro­vid­ed to build new sta­di­ums for base­ball and grid­iron, Seat­tle could lose its teams. Those weren’t emp­ty threats, either. Ken Behring was ready to move the Sea­hawks to Cal­i­for­nia before he sold the team. The state was giv­en a choice: put up the mon­ey or lose the teams. Was it a false choice? Maybe, but at the time, nobody stepped for­ward with a cred­i­ble alter­na­tive plan to keep the teams.

Had those Wash­ing­to­ni­ans who were opposed to build­ing the SoDo sta­di­ums with pub­lic mon­ey pre­vailed, it’s very pos­si­ble that the Mariners and Sea­hawks might have left town, leav­ing Seat­tle most­ly bereft of pro sports fran­chis­es. There would have been a per­son­al cost, to Tim Eyman, of get­ting his way: no “amaz­ing” expe­ri­ences with his son in the stands on days like Octo­ber 29th, 2017.

The polit­i­cal and eco­nom­ic land­scape has changed since the 1990s, and thank­ful­ly, here in the Ever­green State, we’re see­ing progress on the are­na financ­ing front.

A group with sub­stan­tial means has now stepped for­ward with an offer to ren­o­vate KeyAre­na exclu­sive­ly with pri­vate dol­lars — a project the Seat­tle City Coun­cil may sign off on by the end of the year. (KeyAre­na, like the SoDo sta­di­ums, is pub­licly owned.) Com­ple­tion of this project, if it is green­lit, could result in Seat­tle being award­ed new NHL and NBA fran­chis­es down the road.

And that would be an excit­ing devel­op­ment for our region. Just as the con­struc­tion of our two SoDo sta­dia were back at the turn of the century.

To para­phrase the ghost­ly voice from Field of Dreams, one of the best base­ball themed movies ever made: if you build it, they will come.  That mantra part­ly sums up the phi­los­o­phy of those of us in pol­i­tics who are builders — who believe in cre­at­ing, main­tain­ing, and sus­tain­ing pub­lic goods and pub­lic ser­vices. I am a builder: I believe we become stronger as a soci­ety when we roll up our sleeves and work togeth­er to build what we and future gen­er­a­tions need.

Tim Eyman, on the oth­er hand, is a destroy­er. He believes in destroy­ing pub­lic goods and pub­lic ser­vices. Accord­ing­ly, his pol­i­tics are incred­i­bly destruc­tive. (Solv­ing prob­lems like home­less­ness or pol­lu­tion does­n’t inter­est Eyman; it’s why you nev­er hear him express sup­port for ideas that would improve or save lives.)

Yet despite being a destroy­er, Tim Eyman is a user of pub­lic goods and ser­vices just like the rest of us, as he per­haps inad­ver­tent­ly remind­ed us today. That’s what makes his boast­ing espe­cial­ly amus­ing. The irony here seems lost on him.

Eyman’s behav­ior and choice of lan­guage sug­gest that he either does­n’t have the capac­i­ty to think long term and appre­ci­ate the con­se­quences of the ini­tia­tives he sells, or he does and he just does­n’t care. Those of us who want Wash­ing­ton to be strong can’t afford to think that way, though. It’s extreme­ly self-defeating.

Cen­tu­ryLink Field and Safe­co Field are built and most­ly paid for. But oth­er need­ed pub­lic goods are still on the draw­ing board and in the plan­ning stages.

Like light rail.

Gut­ting light rail is Tim’s lat­est obses­sion. Eyman and his amen cho­rus on talk radio (that means you, Dori Mon­son) want to “stick it” to Sound Tran­sit, which is try­ing to lib­er­ate com­muters every­where from grid­lock by giv­ing them mobil­i­ty options.

Tim may think that light rail is a waste of mon­ey, that “choo choo trains” will soon be obso­lete, that Sound Tran­sit is an insid­i­ous con­spir­a­cy against tax­pay­ers, and oth­er such non­sense. But I have a sus­pi­cion that one day, his kids will be Link rid­ers even if he him­self nev­er decides to Trav­el Light. And I imag­ine that they, like young peo­ple every­where, will be glad that light rail got built and that schemes to defund it — such as Eyman’s I‑947, which we must defeat — did not come to pass.

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