I really didn't know what to expect when I met Frank Ruano. He had to be one of the most vilified men in Seattle history, which is an interesting role for someone who never actually hurt anyone else or broke any laws.
Ruano had worked for RKO Radio Pictures and American Express before settling in Seattle in 1949, where he became a real estate developer. His fame came through his very public efforts to relocate, stall, halt or alter the building of the domed stadium that was to be the Pilots' home. Was he a publicity-hound as some had charged or was he really concerned that the public was somehow being cheated? Several of my interviewees visibly tensed up at the mention of his name, as animosity from long-ago battles flared right back up.
I had lunch with Frank Ruano on January 14, 1994, at what was then the Denny's restaurant by Northgate. I found him to be smart, friendly, charming and well, impish. I came away thinking that he really was trying to blow the whistle on what he saw as injusticebut I also got the distinct impression that he enjoyed it and if my other interviewees were still angry at him 25 years later, well, I think he enjoyed the idea of that, too. Frank Ruano passed away in April of 2005.
You were the first to suggest the King Street site for the stadium. How did you come to that?
When I was putting the Albertson's package together at Madison and 23rd, I had to go to the airportand at that time we didn't have a freewayand I was at a stoplight at Jackson, looking at the two King Street Stations. There had been quite a bit of publicity about building a stadium at that time. Dave Cohn, the restauranteur, was very interested in trying to put one together and he had worked with several bond issues and they'd failed.
In 1966, we had a new bond issue come up for $38 million, which Joe Gandy was putting together. I waited for the light and I'd been hearing all about sites for the stadium and I looked at that and I said, there's a perfect site to put a stadium. You've got plenty of space, you've got endless areas of parking and the area needs rehabilitation. So, I went to, what we call the Kroll Maps, and I looked at the footage and figured the dimensions and a stadium would very well fit there. However, my original plan was to take the two stations down. Preservation at that time was not a key issue, so I don't think it would have been a hassle to take the two stations down. I met with then-Mayor Dorm Braman and I told Dorm about what my idea was and he was very satisfied. He said that'll anchor the city's South end, we've got the World's Fair to anchor the North end, we've got the Puget Sound on the West side and we've got the freeway coming in on the East side, so that'll anchor the city limits, which he wanted to do.
I had drawn some architectural sketches which had a rolling roof on it. We designed it so the building would be open for summertime and the view of it would that you would be looking at Mt. Rainier when Mt. Rainier might be available. We had no real figures whether we could build it for $40 million, but the people I was working with indicated that they felt the $40 million would not be that far out of hand. People like Rod Belcher at KING, Hy Zimmerman who was with The Seattle Times and Bill O'Mara who was with, I believe it was KING, they had been kept informed. I got a call on a Saturday night by Rod Belcher telling me, 'Are you aware that Joe Gandy is going to have a press conference Monday at the Chamber of Commerce, saying that he has decided to use the railroad site as the site of the stadium. Have you given that information to Joe Gandy?' I said, "No, no, no way do I want to be associated with Joe Gandy." He said, 'Well look, I think you'd better do something, Frank, because he's going to take the steam away from you.' I also got a call from Hy Zimmerman. It was the first time I really had any conversation with Hy and he also told me that Joe Gandy was doing this. Hy Zimmerman and I had become quite close in the conversation as to the financing and what proof I wanted to make show up when it was there. I told Hy that I don't have the proof, but I have the money and I think it would be asinine for me to get up but if Gandy's going to do it, I'll have a press conference Monday at 10 o' clock in the morning. Gandy was scheduled to have his with Governor Evans at about 12:15, 12:30 at the Chamber of Commerce building in downtown Seattle. I gave Hy the story, and this was on a Sunday. We had our press conference at the Washington Building where my attorney's office was, Jack England, and we had an array of reporters, both electronic and printed media. I declared this is what I'm trying to do, this is what I've done, these are the people I've met with, this is what's going on. The people who have suggested I deal with the people from New York, I said I wanted something in writing, so they sent me a telegram that morning, but the telegram wasn't worth the paper it was printed on. It had no substance. It had too many outs. Bill O'Mara got very excited about it, because he read it differently. My wife at that time was a legal secretary and because of that, she had a lot of acquaintances in the legal profession and the young lady who was the receptionist at the office where Joe Gandy worked, later told us that Gandy heard about my press conference because the newspaper was out at 11 o' clock in the morning. He rushed over to the Chamber of Commerce to try to see if he could keep Evans from coming. Joe Gandy was so goddamned mad, he couldn't see straight.
Why didn't you want to be associated with Joe Gandy?
I didn't trust Joe Gandy. I couldn't trust him any further than I could move this building. The people who worked the World's Fairand I got to know a few of themdespised the man. Everybody did the work and he took the credit. There was a question that came up of conflict of interest because he was trying to promote a site wherein the Ford Motor Co. had the ownership and at the time, he was a Ford dealer. We tried to hang that on him and it didn't work. I didn't want him in my activities and he later ended up torpedoing the financing we were arranging. In 1968, the state legislature had passed a senate bill allowing a hotel-motel tax and because I had been involved in this other one, I was a natural person for people in the media to call and ask my opinion of the thing, particularly Hy Zimmerman. Hy Zimmerman must have written a million words and he was accused of creating the Frankenstein of this community [Note from Mike: points to himself.]. I testified for the hotel-motel tax, but I said the way it was written, it's political. My argument was that there was no provision to guarantee that the politicians would stay out of it. We got figures on the amount of money on the hotel-motel tax and the debt service would not be met with it. Therefore, when the 1968 bond issue came up, the 1968 bond issue people, particularly James Ellis, came out with a figure of $1.24, which is what it would cost property owners in King County and we proved that substantially to be wrong. The election was held, the bond issue passed and now comes the selection of the six member site selection committee. A number of people submitted sites, there were over a hundred people as I understand that submitted sites, and included in that was a fellow by the name of Dick Young. He suggested Riverton and Tony Ferrucci suggested Southcenter. The process of selecting a site was given to an outfit out of San Diego and they came up here and made rather an expensive reportI think it was $146,000and they listed Southcenter, Riverton, Bellevue and another site and the fifth site was the Civic Center [Note from Mike: The Seattle Center is sometimes called the Civic Center, mostly by longtime residents.].
Yesler Way. That's the one that Dorm Braman wanted. Braman was a very religious person and that was the first time I ever heard him use the word "damn" or "hell." 'That those damn stupid people from San Diego didn't know what the hell they were doing!' That he knows this community and he appoints a Committee of Forty. The Committee of Forty with the exception of one man from Mercer Island were all downtown merchants, such as the Nordstrom family, the Bon Marche people and the fellow who at that time was the prime owner of Pay 'N' Save drugstores. They decided that they would look into it, but they asked for six months delay to support the idea that the Civic Center would be the more practical site, rather than Southcenter or Riverton or any other site. Joe Gandy as the chairperson of the site committee, wrote to Charles Prahl, who was then the director of highways for the State, to try to get Prahl to acknowledge that the Civic Center was a satisfactory location. Charles Prahl wrote two full pages, plus a half of a third page in which he said all of the problems that they would face if they went to the Civic Center, including traffic backup on I-5 in both directions for as much as eight to nine miles. Not to mention that the ingress/egress at the site itself was so difficult that he didn't feel that those patrons in that area could get out. The last paragraph made a remark something to the effect, if we may be of further assistance, I'd be very happy to cooperate with you.
So Gandy gets on the tube and said Mr. Prahl said he will cooperate with us, acknowledging to the public that the Civic Center site was a location. There's a side-issue. The last function of the three-member County Commissioners was to select and set the site in motion and that's John Spellman, John O' Brien and Ed Munro. Ed Munro did not approve of the Civic Center. John Spellman and John O' Brien chose the Civic Center.
You've mentioned the financing a couple of times. Was that your main interest?
I got very curious about the amount of money involved, because I'd been in the development business. We had figures from all over the country. When they begin a structure, they figure it out by seat, so much per seat and what they paid for it. It came up to the conclusion that $40 million was nowheres near the amount of money, more like maybe $80 million if we were to get what we were promised. During this process, the cost factor became a problem. The initiative process was completed. An attorney who recently passed away brought in a lawsuit saying the initiative was not legal and we were hurting King County. We must have been in court 10 or 12 times, trying to stop this, stop that and every time we went there, we lost. We go into King County and both sides had agreed no matter who prevailed, it would go to the state Supreme Court. The case was heard and the judge in King County ruled that the initiative was illegal. Within a matter of days, we took the process down to the state Supreme Court. The state Supreme Court was going on vacation and they would be coming back in April. Throughout this process, Hy Zimmerman had been writing articles every day, referring to Joe Gandy as "Mahatma Gandy." He got his ears pinned back on that one. I think it was 1972 when we had the election.
It was in April when we finally took the matter to the state Supreme Court and they told us they would hear the case the first few days in May. We all trot down on the assigned date and both sides make their presentation. Judge Rosellini is one who questioned an awful lot of the detail [Note from Mike: That would be Justice Hugh J. Rosellini, who was no relation to restauranteur Vic Rosellini or former governer Al Rosellini, both mentioned elsewhere in this site.] and so is Justice Bob Evans. My daughter, Maria was appointed a state senate page and I had become acquainted with Jim Dolliver, chief assistant to Evans. I went to see Jim Dolliver after court, just to say hello and had lunch. By the time I got back, it was about 1:30. My wife greets me out on the sidewalk and says, 'You won, you won!' I said, "What the hell did I win?" I'd forgotten all about it. 'The court says you can have the election, but you've only got until May 13th to have the election.' Thirteen days we have to prepare for an election! Dan Brink took a deposition on Joe Gandy, which became a major issue. In the deposition, Joe Gandy was questioned about whether he was giving any attention to the people who submitted other sites. He said, 'I didn't give a damn then and I don't give a damn now.' He goes on to say he's going to do what the hell he wants to do. We had the depostition, so the first thing we did, we managed to get I think something like $3,000 to run our campaign. We bought a newspaper ad in the Times that quoted Gandy's 'I didn't give a damn then and I don't give a damn now.' We had a terrible time getting a paper to print it because they wanted us to prove it. Dan Brink had a deposition. Apparently, the Times called Gandy and from what I've heard, Gandy threatened to sue the hell out of them and sue us, but the Times had no recourse, they had to print it. That appeared the Sunday before the Tuesday election. Gandy, you could see him on television, he was going completely out of his mind; he was actually berserk. We prevailed by 60-odd percent, so it wasn't built there. One of the more interesting TV programs was on Art McDonald's Viewpoint. Dick Page, who was involved with the Metro program and Slade Gorton, who at that time was the attorney general, myself and a member of the city council were on the other side of the fence. Art McDonald and I had become very good friends, because I had appeared so many times on the station, answering their rebuttal. I said, "Art, I want you to tell me when you're down to the last 15 or 20 secondseither pull your hair, or wink at me or smile or something" and when he did, I said, "And by the way, Art, this building doesn't have a roof." Because it didn't have anything mentioning a roof at all. In this climate, we have to have a roof. With that, Slade Gorton got up and was pounding on the table and that's how it ended. I'll never forget that scene. In this process, a couple years, the price of $40 million did not ring true. Spellman spent over a million dollars at the Civic Center and we couldn't stop him from doing that.
How did you get involved with Tony Ferrucci and Dick Young?
Because of my involvement in 1966, Dick Young and Tony Ferrucci got together and they were going to challenge the Civic Center location. I got a call from Tony asking me to attend that press conference in which he announced that Dick Young would be the chairperson and he and I would be the vice-chairpersons and that was the first I knew I was going to be involved in it. Tony should have taken the lead on this because he was the one that started it, so did Dick Young. Tony's problem was that when a reporter would ask him a question, Tony didn't know how to answer it. He wasn't direct, he was not a person who could get his thoughts across. Apparently I was, because little by little, the media began to look at me for it, but I did not start the whole deal. The only reason I got into it was because I had been involved in the 1966 issue. Dick Young was a wonderful person who passed away during the midst of another campaign and he did probably 99 percent of the work. He was the one that managed to get the petitions into the Boeing plant and since then, apparently, Boeing has put out an edict you cannot have initiative petitions anymore. That's how we got so many petitions signed all at once.
Just to be clear, your main concern was that you didn't think the stadium could be built for what the supporters said it could?
I kept screaming that the stadium could not be built for the $40 million and Spellman said that it could be. They started to go ahead and I started another initiative. Here again, I was able to get the signatures and again, the County called it an unconstitutional petition, saying that the initiative does not allow you to challenge administrative, only executive actions. In other words, the action by the Council is executive and action by the Executive is administrative. And again, we failed. However, since every time we'd been in King County, I had lost and I felt very dogmatic about the fact that there's no way I could ever prevail in King County. I got a call from an attorney that I could take my case to any adjoining county and there are five counties that adjoin King County, including Yakima County. So, I decided to go to Port Orchard in Kitsap County. I owned some property in Kitsap and I felt that as a property owner there, I felt less guilty about it than if I'd gone to Pierce County, where I should have gone, or even Snohomish County. We'd spent three days there, three days of trial. The judge's name was Oluf Johnson. Had I knew what I learned a couple of weeks later, I wouldn't have allowed him to be the judge. When John Spellman came into the room, I thought the judge was going to stand up and apologize for John Spellman having to take the time to listen to such an idiotic situation. No matter what my attorney, Peter Fisher, would introduce, the judge knocked him down, I don't care how relevant it was. The county had three days of testimony. I testified for maybe 30 minutes. I got a call from attorney. I don't know who it was, he didn't identify himself, who said did you know that Norm Maleng is the godfather to Oluf Johnsen's granddaughter? Oluf Johnsen's son has a daughter and Norm Maleng was the godfather of it and Norm Maleng was the attorney representing the county. It was during this time the movie The Godfather came out. I remember very clearly one day, we were getting into the elevator at the King County Courthouse and here comes Norm Maleng and I said, "How you doing, Godfather?" I was getting a lot of mail from various sources about things that were going on. I'll give you an example of two. I got a letter from someone which was a letter from Spellman to Wes Uhlman, indicating that they were going to need $13.4 million to create a pedestrian overpass and improve the traffic system to build the stadium at the railroad site. I got ahold of Wes and I told him, "If you don't make that letter public, I will, because I'm not about to sit here and let you two by some means or another develop this additional $13.4 million." I then called Spellman and I said, "You've got a leak in your office and I think you'd better be careful because I'm getting this letter."
I received correspondence that was in the stadium file from an outfit in Texas verifying that you could not build the stadium for $40 million. You could not include the seats, you could not include air conditioning and it listed a number of other items that would not be available to build within the $40 million. I had that letter at the court and the judge wouldn't allow it to be entered. Spellman made it very clear that if he knew that it could not be built for $40 million, he would stop it. So I kept saying he was perjuring himself, he was lying and he should be charged with perjury. The judge wouldn't listen, no way. Yet here, we had the document. We went to court, we were at Port Orchard for three days and it ended up by going to the state Supreme Court, which at that point, they turned it down. I kept saying the bond holders had been given misrepresentation and their actual value diminished because of the additional expense, so forth. The lawyer who defended the bond holders met me on the street--it must have been a month or two later--and he said I was the only one, that he felt, who knew what the hell was going on. He made it clear that Oluf Johnsen had no idea what the hell the issue was. He felt the same way I did about John Spellman. The stadium ended up costing just under $70 million, but there were a lot of things we didn't get that we were promised. For example, the building is not air conditioned, it's a free flow of air. Number two, the scoreboard ended up having to be brought in by somebody else. The energy plant was $1.5 million and was not included. When the County put it up for bid, I bid on the energy plant and I made it clear that if I was the successful bidder, I would turn the ownership of the energy plant to some charity, be it the heart people or be it the diabetic. I was the second preferred bidder. A fellow from Tacoma was the one who won.
[Note from Mike: He sketched a diagram of the King Street site that became the Kingdome. If I still have it, I will scan and add later.]
The acquisition of the property was made in four parts. This is First Avenue, this is Occidental. They were parcels A, B, C and D. This parcel on First Avenue is D. This parcel has never been purchased. It's now been rebuilt into living quarters and what have you, but we were promised all of this land; this parcel was not bought. The cost to have acquired that property at that time would have been about $8 or 9 million. When the E.I.S. report was prepared, the National Football League wanted a 14,000 car parking space. They didn't have have 14,000, there were only 2,200-odd cars. So the city of Seattle said we will buy this parcel and we'll put up a garage. I testified that it was none of their damn business to get involved and number two, when we looked at what they were talking about, it would take a person four hours to get out of that garage once you parked in it. It was a case where a forklift would put the cars in stalls. The Seattle City Council passed a $9 million councilmatic bond, which means it doesn't take a vote of the people, and they put a $9 million councilmatic bond up that they would build that garage to provide an addition 8 or 9,000 spaces. This was at the King Street site. They put that up and they passed it. Only one person voted against it and that was Ted Best. Where is that garage today? Yet that was accepted as a satisfactory conclusion to make the final approval of the railroad site. If you think government is honest, then wake up, friend. It's the most dishonest form of thing that people can deal with. Our government, no matter which level of government it is, is extremely dishonest. They will work only on what they think will help them to better their position and the hell with you. And I've proven it so many times. This is a good example of dishonesty. I went to [Councilwoman] Jeannette Williams and I said where's the garage? She couldn't answer the question and he voted for it. She chastized me for it. Yet, it was an official document, a councilmatic bond, nine million bucks, passed six to one. Where's the building? Yet it was a necessity of the E.I.S.!
When I say to you we were not given what we were promised, one, the stadium itself was not built to the conditions that we were told, the amount of property that we were to get was not met and third item, which at that time was pegged at $27 million, was the extension of the offramps off of I-5 to feed to the stadium. The Conneticut Street connection was also promised to us, that that would be the way to get traffic in and out as part of the E.I.S. to avoid the problem of the ingress/egress to avoid that $13.4 million that was discussed between Spellman and Wes Uhlman. So, you're looking at over a $100 million project if we were to get what we were told we were going to get.
What was the Comittee of A Thousand that you tried to join in Feb. 1966?
I tried to get to be a member of that committee and I called Brock Adams. He was, I think, the Secretary of Transportation for the United States government. I said Brock, can I be your representatve to this Committee of a Thousand and he said yes. I asked Marv Durning, who ran for attorney general and he was one of the keys. I said Brock Adams has asked if I can be his representive, can you get me on the committee? They turned me down, they wouldn't let me get on the committee. I think part of the reason may have been because I was hostile to Joe Gandy. Number two, I do speak my mind and sometimes people just don't care for it. If I think you're a son of a bitch, I'll call you a son of a bitch and if you can prove to me otherwise, I'll apologize. I don't believe in disguising the truth. As I pointed out to you in what we were promised and what we got, those kinds of things, I think more people should get involved in and the more people get involved, the better government we're going to have. So, the Committe of a Thousand, I didn't get to be a part of it, although I wanted to play a part in it. I wanted to be a part of the Forward Thrust program and Jim Ellis wouldn't let me work with him. If I can work within, maybe can I help to avoid the problems that I was watching him go through, but they didn't want me in there.
You almost got onto the second stadium commission, didn't you?
When the Vigoro hit the fan, about two or three days later, I get a call from Jim Dolliver and he said Evans is coming back from a trip from Asia and he'd like to discuss with you the stadium situation. I said fine. He called me sometime shortly thereafter and I hightailed it down to Olympia and I meet with Evans. We even had dinner at Jim Doliver's home that night. Evans did not come out and say I want you to be, he implied that he wanted me to be the chairperson because I had been so forceful on the issue and he felt that I should be the person to head up the stadium commission. I was more than anxious to do that. As it turns out, I was scheduled at that time also to go to New York city on a vacation trip. I told Dick Young what was going on, I told Tony and Dick was so happy about this. Evans asked me why I made a political mistake. When I walked into Dan Evans' office and I looked in back of the door and he said, 'something wrong back there, Frank?' I said I want to see if you have the tar and feathers all ready for me. He said, 'Oh, come on, sit down.' So we started talking and he was very encouraging that I should be the chair and so was Jim Dolliver. Then I said the wrong thing. He asked me what did I think about the railroad site? I said something to the effect of, "Governor, if you want me to be the chairperson, to at this point accept any site, I think the best site should prevail, not withstanding where it's located." My mistake was I shouldn't have said that. I should have accepted his remarks and said, "Gee, I think it's a hell of a good site." After all, I recommended it, blah blah blah. That was to satisfy the downtown establishment, but I was too damn stupid. Anyway, I go to New York and Dick Young keeps calling me every day, I went to Montreal and I called him and New York. I called Dolliver and he said he's still thinking about it, he's still going. I get a phone call from Dick and he says the Governor has appointed a man by the name of Wilson, Dr. Wilson to chair the committee. So now, Dolliver doesn't want to talk to me. I remember the first meeting that Wilson had and he starts all over the way Gandy did. This was seven o'clock in the morning! I got up and I said, "Mr. Wilson, we have already gone over this ground, why are you wasting our time?" He told me to sit down and I said to him, "You're not as good as Joe Gandy and I've taken him on, now if you don't want me to take you on, you better comply and listen to what we, the people, want to say." I then wrote a letter to the Governor that this guy was going to be having meetings at six o' clock in the morning, seven o' clock, that's not the time for people to present their views. After that, meetings were held at a more reasonable time. I remember one day I was walking on Union street and this car stopped in the middle of Union street. Woman gets out, 'I'm Mrs. Wilson and I want you to stop picking on my husband!' Wilson was definitely an establishment person and the establishment wanted to prevail.
Why did they want to put the stadium downtown so bad?
It has to be money, it has to be greed, it has to be stupidity, it can't be from intelligence, it can't be from concern for people. It's selfish stupidity on the part of government to allow ourselves to be put in that position.
Why were you so opposed to the Seattle Center site?
It didn't fit, number one. Number two, ingress/egress just wouldn't work. I could see pedestrians getting hit, I could see congestion galore. Three, the configuration was such that it overwhelmed Broad Street substantially and the construction cost would be horrendous. Johnny O' Brien suggested that parking could be underneath and even his own people shot him down on that because an inability of moving people around. But I think the major thing wasand where we got support from the Opera and Symphony peoplethat it would destroy it. Then again, there was a piece of property not far from there that we accused Joe Gandy of having and we just didn't want him making any money off of it. It was illogical, absolutely asinine to think about putting it there.
What was your motivation in doing this?
I mentioned the name Dave Cohn and I'm sure he's not going to confirm this conversation. In the midst of the activity and at one of the Council meetings--this was before the election--he got me off to the side and he said Frank, if you kind of settle back, I might be able and I think I can get you about $25,000. I didn't take the $25,000 and I told him to go to hell. And I could have used the $25,000 very nicely. Can you imagine? $25,000 back at that time would be about $100,000 today. He's not going to acknowledge this conversation, but I'm telling you that it took place and it took place in the county chamber and it took place while I was sitting in the third row. I'll never forget that conversation.
My motive was that I wanted the matter to be dealt with honestly and Spellman didn't want to deal with it honestly. The government wanted to hide everything. The City Council hid, Spellman hid, everybody in government was hiding something. Larry Schlatter, who was handling construction of the stadium had never been involved in any type of construction except his father was a house builder. They had, I don't know how many change orders, I've heard figures as high as 1,000 change orders. It was learning on the job site at my expense. Had they been honest, I don't think I would have been involved. I think my gripes against Joe Gandy went deeper than merely his interference with my project and his kind of acing me out with Dan Evans on that 12 o'clock meeting. It's things like that which I think can get a person riled up.
Some of these elected officials think they're superior to you and me. They tried everything in the world to get me out of the area. Lou Guzzo wrote an article that I should leave the state, I had no business being in the state. I've had character assassinations of the worst kind. We beat the governor, the city council, the county council, the county executive, the P-I, the Times, KING, KIRO, KOMO--how many people can do that? If you're not right, you don't win.
Dave Cohn said the reason they picked the center site was to correct already-existing traffic problems.
Bull***t. When Charles Prahl, the state highway director, tells you that the traffic's going to stack up for miles? Now you're going to add congestion on I-5, four and five miles up the road both ways? And coming out of there, you wouldn't be able to get out of there for hours? And the danger to pedestrians was horrendous?
Did you receive threatening letters and calls?
Yes, quite a few. I received, I would imagine, half a dozen letters threatening my life. They were turned over to the Seattle Police, the F.B.I., the Sheriff's office. On a Christmas eve, my wife and I came in from shopping and Linda, my younger daughter, was by the phone and she was as white as a sheet. She had just finished receiving a telephone call that said, in essence, 'I've a shotgun, your dad will not see the New Year and if I don't get my way, the whole family will not see the New Year.' I did not make it an issue at the time, because if I did, someone who did not write the letter would take the position, 'well, they're going to blame the guy who wrote the letter' and do me in. Tony got one and he blabbed it to the press and I said you're making a mistake. All you're doing now is encouraging somebody else to do it on the basis of that letter.
Anonymous government official from article: Ruano cost the taxpayers a million dollars. Reaction?
If anything, Ruano saved the public, because, had the stadium been built at the time at the Civic Center, the interest rate was, I think, almost two percent higher than it was when they built it at the railroad depot. I didn't cost them any money. If anybody cost money, it was the government. Eddie Carlson was a cause of it, Dorm Braman was a cause of it, Joe Gandy was a cause of it, John Spellman was a cause of it. Had they been honest with us, there would have been no Ruano involvement.
I'd like to do some free association; I'll throw out a name and you tell me what comes to mind. Eddie Carlson?
He once addressed a group in which he addressed me as 'that loudmouth.' As far as I'm concerned, Eddie Carlson is just as guilty as Joe Gandy. He was only interested what was in his hotel-motel business. He had no interest in your or me as a taxpayer, he could care less. As far as I'm concerned, he's just as much a son of a bitch as was Joe Gandy.
Dave Cohn is an opportunist and I think he was trying to do good. I think Dave was in the middle of a situation that he didn't have the power or the ability to form the way he really wanted to do it and I admire him for that. I think his offer to me was genuine and I think he was genuinely interested in getting the deal done. He was not interested in any personal matter. It wouldn't mean anything to his restaurants as far as I'm concerned. I don't think Dave Cohn was a fly in the ointment or a dishonest person.
I think Dewey got a little bit involved in the stadium. He kept arguing that an open stadium would not be satisfactory because, even though it didn't rain, the intent of rain would keep people away. He was very strongly in favor of a covered stadium, which all of us were. But the preliminary presentation did not include a roof, it left it open, as well as no outside walls. There are no outside walls to the stadium. The back of the seats form the outside wall.
What was your first impression when they picked the Seattle Center site instead of Southpark, as the consultants advised?
I think my first reaction was why spend $146,000 to do something that it tells you not to do. I felt that it was a very dishonest situation. I felt that Dorm Braman was very out of his character and I couldn't understand why a person whom I had the highest respect for would do what he did. He was an ultra religious man. He had the Lake City Lumber Company and my wife and I built our own home. One Saturday, we were out of cardeckingwe were doing the roof and I called Dorm and I said, "Dorm, I don't have any more cardecking and I don't have anything to do this weekend. Is there anything you can do to have it delivered?" Fifteen or twenty minutes later, he was at my house unloading the cardeckingand he owned the company. You don't find many people in life who do that. So I had the highest respect for the man. He was not in character on this Seattle Center deal and it was very disturbing to me that he would do that, extremely disturbing.
It seemed like he wanted a downtown site, period.
He was part of the establishment. Dorm Braman was a very devout Republican. I suspect that 90 percent of the establishment downtown is Republican.
John Spellman said you just got swept along in the role of the Great Objector. Do you agree?
Hy Zimmerman called me and he said they're selling tickets. Would you have John Spellman take a picture of you buying a couple of tickets? I said, in the interest of relieving as much to the taxpayer as I could relieve, yes, I'll do it that way. So there's a picture where John Spellman and I wearing hardhats in which he's two tickets, which I paid him for. At that time, Hy said are you burying the hatchet? I said, from the standpoint of engineering, this is a marvelous engineering feat. From the standpoint of a stadium, a stadium is needed. How it got here is what bothers the hell out of me. There was a bumper sticker that read "No Stadium." Hy called me up and said are you attached to that? I said no. I said stadiums are just as much necessary to this community as is the library, as is the opera, as is the symphony. It's part of the culture of this community and we must have it, before Portland gets it or somebody else, we should have it. I think it's part of our culture.
Is building stadiums a good use of public money?
No. It's a private enterprise and private enterprise should take care of its own. I was on the verge of doing it via private enterprise and it can be done. It can be done with certain help from government, but not taxpayer's money. Such as adding cost to the tickets. What does a season ticket cost? $2,000? Would you refuse to pay if it cost you $2,200? No. So take that additional amount-, which over a period time can amount to a hell of a lot. Use that. I know that no one is going to ever sign contract that says part of my salary goes to the stadium, but you can at least try. At least you can now prove that the athletes are not interested in your community. Ken Griffey isn't going to stay here when he gets old. Now, if, in this process, government has to guarantee that in order to get the debt service paid and if the government however is not obligated to pay unless the whole thing falls apart, I might go along with that. But I'm not going to go with the government being in the first line.
What was the public mood during the 1966 stadium drive?
I think I played a part in that because I had been talking about a privately-funded stadium at that time. I think the public felt taxpayer money should not be used when there was a possible chance of private money. People like Hy Zimmerman, Bill O'Mara, four or five other sportscasters, Rod Belcher, they gave me an awful lot of play.
Did you know Tony Ferucci or Dick Young long?
I had never met either one of them until he called me up and invited me to be a part of the campaign for Southcenter and Riverton, right after the Civic Center site was considered by Dorm Braman. I had never met him before, nor did I know that Tony Ferucci's parents had ownership of property where the stadium was to be built. Nor did I know that Dick Young had property very close to where the Riverton site was. Quite often people would accuse me of owning property, 'though the only property I had in King County at that time, was the building at Madison and 23rd and my home. I had some property other places, California and across the Sound, so I was not going to gain an increase in my property value. A newspaper story would say that the property that Ferruci's parents had was at the place where home plate would be at the proposed site at Southcenter.
Why did all these stadium drives happen?
I think it happened to try to get professional sports into Seattle and certain people felt that they could make a sizeable amount of money if that could be the case. If you look at all the facts and figures, you will see that that's what the county thought throughout. They wanted a building to accomodate professional baseball, a multi-purpose deal, football, whatever. In so doing, they then would capitalize on the money that they would get. Joe Gandy would gain publicity, he might want to run for governor. Spellman definitely wanted to run for governor. Eddie Carlson wanted some more business for his hotel. Monty Bean from Pay 'N' Save, he wanted more business for his deal. Nordstrom wanted it because he just had money and he wanted to be a bigwig in town. I don't understand what Danny Kaye's position was on this whole thing, unless he was just looking for some tax write-offs.