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The Kingdome and the Arts

Remember the Kingdome, its falling tiles, and its implosion in 2000? Well, 15 years later, the debt on fixing its ceiling is about to be paid off.

It was 1994 when a handful of Kingdome ceiling tiles floated to the ground during a Seattle Mariners game, forcing the county to pony up $51 million to fix it. The expense was paid for through a 20-year bond scheduled to be expire this coming December.

The Dome’s original $67 million construction debt was paid off at the end of 2012.

Tax revenues gained from motel and hotel stays is predicted to aid King County in retiring the ceiling repair debt nine months earlier than expected, perhaps as early as this March. The early payment is due to an increase in tourism, conventions, and yes, Seattle Seahawk games filling up Seattle hotels and restaurants.

State law mandates any excess revenues generated from the tax for just this year, about $15 million, be allocated to 4Culture, King County’s arts, culture, and heritage agency.

4culture_white4Culture’s $10 annual budget supports more than 240 arts, heritage and cultural-preservation programs in King County, mostly through lodging-tax revenues since about 1986.

From 2016 through 2020, 4Culture won’t receive any lodging-tax revenues. Instead, those revenues will pay for the remaining debt on $300 million in public bonds that helped build the 2002 CenturyLink Field. 4Culture’s $15 million in new revenue this year will help it survive until 2021, when it once again will receive next lodging-tax revenues.

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