A little over a week after it was declared dead by the local media, the University of Washington’s bid to tap $150 million in public funds to help renovate its 80-plus-year-old football stadium appears to have been given another chance. “We were working on the bill quietly, and we didn’t even have a bill in when they said it was dead,” said former Washington governor Dan Evans, who heads the committee charged by the university with breathing new life into the aged Husky Stadium. According to Evans, at least eight legislators have sponsored the bill—which, if passed, would allow the university to tap four funding streams in exchange for a guarantee that it will match the funds via a combination of seat license sales and philanthropic donations, bringing the project to a total of $300 million—with more pledging their support. One of the bill’s supporters is State Sen. Debbie Regala. The Democrat from Tacoma, who sits on the Ways and Means Committee, where the bill currently awaits a vote, argues that Husky Stadium, which was built in 1920, does not meet the Americans with Disabilities Act requirements and suffers from “severe maintenance problems.” While the university’s proposal is short on specifics regarding the stadium’s shortcoming, it does feature photos of cracked and eroding concrete stairwells, which, in some cases, appear to be tilting. Also, the proposal calls for the construction of new elevators, the replacement of lower bowl seating (which, like the stadium, is more than 80 years old), the addition of seismic reinforcements to the south upper stands, and a new press box. Athletic Department spokesman Norm Arkans said Husky Stadium was built with grade and concrete on the turf, and “that’s it.” He adds, “The concrete bowl is eroding away. We think there’s been some land shift. Rebar is showing. It’s an old stadium that absolutely needs renovating.” The funding pools the university wants to tap are already being used to pay off the debts on Qwest and Safeco Fields. Since those debts will be paid off before their allotted time, the university would like to redirect them to pay for Husky Stadium’s renovation, said Arkans. Arkans is quick to point out that the university is proposing a 50-50 split with taxpayers. Moreover, he said that the burden only falls on King County, because that’s where the funding streams originate. According to Arkans, the university wants $64.5 million generated by a half-percent tax on restaurant bills; $15 million from a two percent car rental tax; and $37 million from a two percent hotel/motel tax. The university also wants to defer $20 million in sales tax that it would eventually have to pay back. The rest of the $300 million—which is $150 million less than an initial estimate drawn up by Kansas City-based architecture firm HOK Sports—will come from private donors, said Arkans. He adds that the University of Washington’s athletic department is a $60-million-a-year operation, and that 80- to 85-percent of the revenue to maintain it comes from football. The university wants to begin construction immediately after the 2008 season, in part because the South Transit’s light rail line is scheduled for construction right outside of Husky Stadium in 2011, said Arkans. The Huskies football team would play its 2009 season at Qwest Field. Said Arkans: “We don’t think we can do these two construction projects simultaneously.” Otherwise, he adds, the university would have to wait until 2016. All interviewed for this story acknowledged that securing the funding would be an uphill battle. Nevertheless, Evans is hopeful. “We’re working it the way you do it successfully, and that’s one legislator at a time.” But, he adds, “If it’s done successfully, it probably won’t be until the end of the session.” — Kevin Capp Interviewed for this story: Dan Evans, (206) 525-9090; Debbie Regala, (360) 786-7652; Norm Arkans, (206) 543-2560.