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Residents could get to vote whether Safeco Field gets its $135 million in county funding

Safeco Field (KOMO Photo)

SEATTLE -- A new battle is brewing over funding for Safeco Field maintenance.

A group called Citizens Against Sports Stadium Subsidies" is calling for voters to have the final say on how millions of tax dollars should be spent. They filed referendum and now have to collect enough signatures to get it on the ballot. It will be known as Referendum 25.

It comes just over a week after the King County Council approved spending $135 million from the hotel-motel tax on improvements and maintenance at Safeco Field.

The rest of the funding will go toward affordable housing, homeless youth services and tourism.

It's been a contentious issue, and the council vote to approve the money was close at 5-4.

The team originally asked for $180 million in return for signing a new long-term lease to play in the stadium. Mariners Executive Vice President Fred Riviera said the Mariners want to call Safeco Field home for the next 100 years.

"The Mariners will pay for roughly 83 percent of all operations, maintenance and capital improvements over the next 25 years with public funding taking care of the rest and we think it's a fair deal," Riviera said when the deal was approved.

The money will come from the state's lodging tax once the debt on CenturyLink Field is paid off in 2020.

The compromise brokered by Councilmembers Joe McDermott and Claudia Balducci would also spend approximately $600 million on affordable housing and homeless youth services. It would also spend $8 million to promote tourism.

The Mariners will still need to negotiate a new lease with the county.

Attorney Dmitri Iglitzin confirmed to KOMO News that he is behind the initiative, but refused to comment further at this time.

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