County Will Not Help Pay Down Debt of Seattle's McCaw Hall

Classic Arts News   County Will Not Help Pay Down Debt of Seattle's McCaw Hall
The 2005 budget released yesterday by King County, Washington, does not include any money to help Seattle's debt-ridden opera house, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports.

The $127 million McCaw Hall, which houses both the Seattle Opera and the Pacific Northwest Ballet, was built with a combination of public and private money: by contributions from the City of Seattle, Washington State, and King County, along with $72 million raised by the opera and ballet.

The public funding side fell short, however, because of the economic recession, leaving a funding gap of $11.5 million, which has jumped to $13 million with finance charges.

King County council member Larry Gossett told the P-I that the county has given about $2.7 million to the performance center. Although city officials expected a larger contribution from the county, Gossett maintains that the county never formally committed any money to the project.

Although it looks likely that the council will accept the 2005 budget, Gossett said that it is not out of the question that more money will be allotted to McCaw Hall in the future. "I have been talking to our [council] members, and other people who support McCaw Hall about what we might be able to do. There is [no money] in there now, but we can add money to the budget any time of the year."

A payment of $456,000 in interest on building costs is coming due, and Seattle mayor Greg Nickels has asked the opera and ballet to cover half of the payment, along with half of the $910,000 interest payment next year. The opera and ballet have protested, saying that the measures necessary to procure such sums: raising ticket prices or rent in McCaw Hall: would be detrimental to the companies.

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