On Tuesday, January 19th, the Community Partnership Forum met at Qwest field to review upcoming changes in the operations of Qwest field. Led by David Young of First and Goal Inc., community members Alan Kurimura of Uwajimaya Asian Specialty Stores and Theodore Choi of CHOI Investment, sat down to discuss the effects of the stadium on the operations of the three surrounding neighborhoods: Pioneer Square, SoDo, and the International District.
Currently, Qwest field and it’s associated partners institute various programs towards supporting local community, which include The Spirit of 12 Community Partners, supporting Women and Minority Business Enterprises, and consorted efforts towards hiring local residents. During each Seahawk home game, Qwest field allows one of five charity organizations to sell event programs, where revenue is matched by Paul G Allen Family Foundation and donated towards that charity. The Spirit of 12 Community Partners has raised a total of 1.3 million dollars.
The biggest change discussed at the forum comes at a federal level, as 2010 welcomes the first year of repealing the 2008 Federal Transport Administration’s (FTA) Charter Bus Service, which halted the popular bussing services from city Metro, and instead contracted transportation to private charter companies. With prices set at an astronomically high price, fans that once congregated in the parking lots of Bellevue, Northgate, or Renton, now found it more economically viable to park on the streets of the International District. This inflated influx of people noticeably affected small local businesses as non-patrons were occupying the few stalls of street parking. Those that did not have private parking lots saw dramatic drops in their operations during Qwest Field events. The true effects of repeal have yet to be seen as the first Qwest stadium event of 2010 will take place in March.
The presence alone of a sports stadium near the International District has not dramatically changed business in the recent years, most likely because of the community adaptation to the Kingdome construction in the mid-1970s. However, there could be another major shift in less than a decade as Qwest field has officially been advanced in the bid for FIFA World Cup of 2018 or 2022.