The Times has an article this morning about the City and the School Board making planning to tear down Memorial Stadium. This is wrong on several counts.
First, to make clear the Seattle School District owns, outright, Memorial Stadium and the 9 prime acres of real estate it sits on. This is a very important piece of real estate if only because of the Memorial Wall. It is dedicated to those 700 Seattle high school students who went away to fight in WWII and did not come back. Some of their bodies were never found so that wall means a lot to their families. Moving away from the stadium really defeats the purpose. Now, has the district taken care of the wall properly? No. Have they really taken pains to make sure the athletes who use the stadium understand who came before them? No. They certainly can do better. Don't move the wall for design purposes.
It is the home field for both football and soccer for at least 4 of the high schools and is used for graduations. I recalled Mayor Nickels on KUOW one time saying it wasn't used that much. It is and we have nowhere else to go.
I appreciate that it is in the middle of Seattle Center but it existed in that spot long before Seattle Center came into being. I also appreciate that the City wants to do something, great. However, any deal should not cause us to lose any land and certainly not the revenue the district makes from the parking lot.
Apparently there is a preliminary MOU between the City and the District. Neither will talk about it at this point. There is to be a couple of meetings, December 3rd for the Board and December 7th for the Council, to discuss this issue.
What the City wants is more an amphitheater-style structure for concerts in the summer (the article doesn't say this but this is what was presented to the Board previously). That would be nice except that for the other 9 months when parents and other come to games either (1) the temporary seating for one side would be without shelter (it does rain a fair bit here) or (2) both sides' supporters would sit under one covered seating area. Ever been to a big football game? You don't want both sides seated next to each other. Again, to me with the district owning the stadium, the first and best use should go to the district's uses, not the City's.
Interestingly here's one thought:
"Rasmussen said the proposed agreement opens the possibility for a new high school where the Mercer Street Garage is now. The city hasn't had a large high school in the downtown/Queen Anne area since closing Queen Anne High atop Queen Anne Hill in 1981."
They could get rid of the Mercer Street Garage if they built an underground parking area under a new stadium structure. This new high school would be great news for Magnolia, Queen Anne AND Ballard (boy would that make some people very happy). However, where is that money coming from? What would happen to Center School (the City says with a new Seattle Center they could stay but I'd bet the lease price would go up)? I suspect Center School would go away.
I certainly think this could all be worked out. The stadium is decrepit and the money is not there anyway. But moving the wall should not be an option. There is a lot of history in that stadium and it should not be taken lightly.
Last thing: the person who manages buildings and their uses in this district? The same guy who help craft the contract that lost Queen Anne High. And guess who's working on this one?