Seattle mayor supports using tax dollars to replace Memorial Stadium

Oct 4, 2021, 6:05 PM | Updated: Oct 5, 2021, 12:43 pm
memorial wall...
The City of Seattle and the school district agreed in 2017 to preserve the Memorial Wall at Memorial Stadium. (File photo, Feliks Banel)
(File photo, Feliks Banel)

A new agreement means Seattle voters could soon be asked to bump up their taxes to replace the 74-year-old Memorial Stadium, which sits on Seattle Public Schools district property.

A letter of intent signed by Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and Seattle Public Schools Interim Superintendent Brent Jones on Monday builds off a 2017 partnership agreement between the city and the district. The letter creates a pathway for a new stadium to better serve the school district and provide a high-quality venue for arts, sports, culture, and community gathering and music at Seattle Center.

It also identifies a site at which Seattle Public Schools could construct a future school in downtown Seattle — and a co-located park space — if enrollment capacity is needed. The new school would be on city-owned land at the former south portal of the Battery Street Tunnel that was vacated when the viaduct was removed.

Secret room hidden in the Battery Street Tunnel

Durkan says she supports the district’s $66.5 million capital levy to replace the stadium, which is used for sports competitions, graduations, and concerts of all types, not just school events.

“City government and Seattle Public Schools are coming together with a plan to deliver on a downtown school and a new Memorial Stadium – this is a win-win for students and families across Seattle. We have seen the transformative power of Climate Pledge Arena, and now, we have a once-in a lifetime opportunity make progress on Memorial Stadium – one that will provide incredible opportunities for our youth and the community,” Durkan said in a written statement. “Students from across the district should not have to play in facilities that are in disrepair. We owe it to the youth of our City for generations to come to build a first-class facility in the heart of our transforming Seattle Center.”

The levy is expected to be on February’s special election ballot. If approved by voters, the letter of intent would allow the city to work with the school district to expand the scope, scale, and functionality of the new stadium with the city and private philanthropy providing additional funding. Project design, final cost, and timeline would be determined in a future planning process with wider input.

Seattle commits to preserve dilapidated Memorial Wall

Memorial Stadium was built to honor more than 700 Seattle students who lost their lives in World War II. As far as whether or not the Memorial Wall at the stadium will be preserved, the City of Seattle and Seattle Center responded to KIRO Radio with the following statement Monday:

The Memorial Wall will be retained and continue to honor the memories of those over 700 Seattle youth who gave their lives during WWII. We hope to improve its presentation above the current setting in a surface parking lot that was once a plaza that provided a more honorable setting. Memorial Wall will definitely be a priority in the design of the new stadium.

If the current facility is demolished and replaced, the new facility will still be called Seattle High School Memorial Stadium.

“There has been no discussion of changing the name or selling naming rights,” Jackie Kirn with the Seattle Center told KIRO Radio via email.

Currently, the stadium hosts high school football games for schools in Seattle and adult recreational leagues. It was the home field for the Seattle Sounders in the 1970s, and was the home for Seattle Reign FC — now known as OL Reign — from 2014 to 2019. OL Reign now plays in Tacoma.

The KIRO Radio Newsdesk and KIRO Radio’s Feliks Banel contributed to this report.

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Seattle mayor supports using tax dollars to replace Memorial Stadium