Businesses fed up with tailgating trash after games at CenturyLink

SEATTLE -- One business is fed up with the tons of tailgating trash that are generated during every Seahawks and Husky home game.

Shelby Sewell runs a restaurant and catering business a half a mile from CenturyLink Field. Tailgate alley runs for two long blocks behind her First Avenue business.

It's actually a city street, with no city trash bins -- only private ones.

"The tailgaters come out, sometimes they spend the night, they start at 6 in the morning," Sewell said. "They bring out their barbeques... and they party."

She locks her trash bins, but routinely, on Monday morning she finds her locks broken, her bins overflowing with tailgater trash.

"I have to pay extra fees to pick it up, it's a cost to my business," she says. "It's costing me employee time and money and it's a hazard."

It's more than a hazard -- it's illegal to dump your garbage into someone else's garbage bin.

On one Monday, a city worker showed up to pick up some trash, but he stayed just on one side of the street, ignoring Sewell's employee picking up trash on the other side.

"I don't care if the city wants to have people tailgating -- that's fine but, be responsible for what that means because there's a fallout from it," Sewell said.

She says she's called and emailed the city, with no response.

So she called the Problem Solvers. We showed Seattle's Director of Solid Waste our pictures and described how a city worker ignored the piles of tailgate trash near Sewell's bins.

"To me, that's all close to the right of way, our people would get it," said Timothy Croll.

But it turns out, it's not that simple. As part of the 1998 agreement to build what was then called Seahawks Stadium, the Seahawks' stadium management company, First and Goal, agreed to pay for picking up tailgate trash 500 feet from the stadium for any large event, including Husky and Sounders games. It then it grew to roughly 1,000 feet.

But since the stadium has been built, parking has disappeared because of building construction and tunnel construction and that's forced the tailgaters much farther south, thousands of feet away from the stadium. And Sewell's business is located right on the edge.

But things are changing.

"We are just focused on getting the problem solved," Croll said.

After we contacted the Seahawks and the city, both have agreed to extended the pickup boundaries farther south.

So the weekend after the city and Seahawks pledged to fix it, there was a UW home game against Oregon State. We later went back to Sewell's area after the tailgating party and found no mess.

"They came and cleaned up after the game," Sewell said. "We'll see if it sticks."

Of course, the real solution is for tailgaters to take responsibility.

"They can just bag it up and throw it in the car, you have a designated disposer," Croll said.

We'll see if that will really happen.