Should $180 million go to M's or affordable housing? Council to decide


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    SEATTLE - A plan to spend $180 million on upkeep at Safeco Field is up in the air Wednesday after at least three King County Council members suggested the money might be better spent on affordable housing.

    Council members are meeting Wednesday morning on how to allocate the money, which comes from King County's new hotel-motel tax. And the council chambers are likely to be packed with people who say those millions should be used to help alleviate the area's affordable housing emergency.

    The original plan was to give the Mariners $180 million from the tax to maintain and upgrade Safeco Field over the next 25 years - but that could be cut back to $25 million. If that happens, it's not clear how the M's will respond - but they have said they may not stay at Safeco.

    King County will start handing out that money in 2021.

    Council member Jeanne Kohl-Welles was one of those who decided to pull her support for the Mariners, saying more of the money from the tax should go to affordable housing.

    Now at least two other council members are saying they are not so sure about the idea.

    When the full council meets Wednesday at 9:30 a.m., they could change the proposal and then make a decision.

    The Mariners have said they need the money to help keep up Safeco Field, especially the big roof that rolls open hundreds of times a year. A study predicted the stadium would need $385 million in upgrades over the next 25 years.

    And if they don't get the $180 million, the team says it may not sign another long-term lease.

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