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UW Election Eye 2012

Campaign 2012 through the eyes of UW faculty and students

Topic: Proposition 1

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April 18, 2012 at 2:48 PM

Wenatchee dodges disaster from failed arena project

A tax increase in Central Washington that passed on Tuesday will help the Town Toyota Center in Wenatchee pay off its $42 million debt. If the measure had failed, the arena most likely would have had to close its doors. (Photo by Larry Int-Hout)

In a special election Tuesday, voters in Central Washington approved a tax increase to bail out the Town Toyota Center. Debt on the arena threatened to force Wenatchee into bankruptcy.

WENATCHEE, Wash — Seattleites can probably remember when financing for Safeco Field was a topic of heated debate. A 1995 tax increase to help fund the stadium was narrowly defeated with 49.9% of the vote, and the city was left to ask the Washington State Legislature for help.

To help finance the stadium, Seattle formed a public facilities district with other surrounding cities to convince the state to contribute to the project.

Wenatchee had the same idea when they were looking for funding for an events arena in 2006. They formed the Greater Wenatchee Public Facilities District (PFD) with several surrounding towns and got tax money from the state to finance an arena.

But unlike Safeco, today Wenatchee’s Town Toyota Center is in serious financial trouble — to the tune of $42 million of debt that it appeared impossible to pay off, possibly forcing the city into bankruptcy.

That is until a special election in Chelan and Douglas counties yesterday yielded surprising results.

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